Chris, Ezra, and I will be in Reno for the entire months of November and December. I have become so excited about this fact that I have grown to hate the month of October- simply for getting in the way. Ezra will spend eight full weeks getting to know his very own family better, and there is nothing more that I want for Christmas than that.
When I was growing up, my extended family lived far away, too. It was a very long drive to go and see them, so we didn’t get to go very often. My mom’s mother died when I was very young, but I still remember her being larger than life- someone who was glamorous and could sew outfits for my dolls simply by glancing at them once. Beautiful dresses would arrive in the mail, and they would always fit my dolls perfectly. She always made my mom’s clothes as she was growing up, and my mom’s girlfriends would beg my grandma to make their clothes too. She was also an amazing artist. One Christmas, she stepped on one of those funny, oversized, bright plastic thumb tacks and it poked a hole in her foot. I have hated those dumb plastic thumb tacks ever since.
My grandma’s husband was my grandpa Bill. He was loving and jolly and was missing a few fingers. I don’t think I ever really found out why, because the story changed every time I asked him about it. hehe. He gave great big hugs and sloppy cheek kisses, and he always made me feel like a million bucks. He knew all the pretty waitresses’ names in the restaurants by his house. He passed away a few years ago.
My mother’s real father was named Bud and I don’t remember very much about him at all. Except that one time he was chosen to go on that game show called ‘The Big Spin’, and we went to watch the taping of the show in CA. I gave him a little white bear that had a rattle in it’s tummy, and he took that bear on stage with him and proudly told the game show host that his granddaughter gave it to him for luck. I remember crying with joy when he said this on TV because it was the first time I felt like my grandpa Bud thought I was something special. Before this, he’d sent me a couple of letters over the years. They always had ‘Sarah’ written on the envelope. He didn’t do very well on the game show that day. Like, he won the very least amount of money that he possibly could have. I remember feeling like it was my fault, because the “lucky” bear didn’t work.
My mother also had an amazing sister who was so full of life and love and laughter that you couldn’t help but feel embraced and welcomed and joyful in her presence. She was one of the most amazing women I have ever known in my life. She was sick for a long time- battling with Lupus since she was just a teenager. We spread her ashes by the Joshua Trees near her home because she loved the desert and wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. I miss her and think about her still to this day. I am honored to share the same middle name as her, and I think about her every time I write it out by hand. Josephine.
My father’s parents were brilliant human beings. Really amazing, generous people who loved us well. We got to spend a lot more time with them because they had long, full lives and we always saw them over the holidays. Grandpa Bob had a crooked pinky that, no matter how hard I tried, I could never get to go straight again. He was loved by his community and a very hard worker. I had a big soft spot in my little heart for my Grandpa Bob, and I think he had one in his big heart for me, too. I gravitated towards him when I was around him because he had a gentle spirit just like my daddy does. His laugh was like a slow, breathy guffaw- his head tilted back in quiet merriment. My dad is like him in so many ways.
My grandma Peggy just recently passed away. She was the full embodiment of the word ‘Matriarch’. Noble and lovely and proud. Her eyes were a piercing, clear blue and she was always sharp as a tack. She was a passionate gardener; President of the California Garden Club. Hands in the earth. Some of my fondest memories from growing up were running around in her gardens- picking good things to eat and throwing salt on snails with my brothers. (And then always crying afterwards because they slowly melted to death.) Her house always felt peaceful to me, and that’s how I will always remember her. A woman of peace who sowed good seeds in her children and her children’s children.
How did this post turn into a recap of my own extended family growing up? Where did all of this come from? I don’t really know. It’s not the post I set out to write. But I am just so excited to spend more than a whirlwind few days with family- to be intentional about time and stories and laughter in crowded kitchens.
All I know for SURE is that family is precious. That becomes so painfully clear once you have children and live far away. No one will ever love Ezra the way that Auntie Candace or Uncle David or Momar & DooDad or Grandma & Grandpa do. No one will love him like Uncle Jared & Aunt Kristy or Uncle Jaxon can. Seeing the looks on their faces when Ezra is around is SO refreshing to me as a parent, because, as a parent, you only want the best things for your child.
And those looks of love and delight are some of the very, very BEST things that this life can ever offer.