Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Glory Days

My house is not going to be as clean as I like it to be before I leave on long trips and I had to dump a few less than savory projects I had planned to do the last two days on the intern fleet but every single cliche about family funerals came true in the last 48 hours and I am so relieved that I went.

My dad picked me up at the airport yesterday and we got to spend some father-daughter time together which we haven't done in a long time. We get together in groups and piles when I am in Utah and neither of us are big phone talkers so it was nice to sit in a restaurant and listen to him talk about my Uncle and how he was feeling.

I hadn't been to Idaho since my grandmother's funeral almost 20 years ago.  But I was born there. And we spent glorious weeks there as kids, climbing trees and sliding down roofs and searching for-and sometimes finding-wild kittens in the tall grass of my grandparent's field. My grandma let us drink Coke out of the bottle and eat candy until we were borderline diabetic. On those vacations there were always trips into Rexburg to see my Uncle Kyle and Aunt Julie and our cousins. I have good memories of those trips and even though we drifted far, far apart as adults, it was stunning to me how familiar they felt as my Dad and I went through the line at the viewing last night.

A collection of my siblings were driving up from Utah so it was just Dad and me last night, hin running into all manner of old friends and family he hadn't seen in ages. Everyone looked so old and it was something of a jolt to realize how fast my own father is suddenly 66. I remember him when he was my age and that feels a bit surreal.

After the viewing I asked if we could drive by my grandparent's house. He was a little hesitant-it had been a long time since he had the seen the place he grew up in-but we made our way over anyway. Menan, Idaho looks exactly like I remember it. Maybe a new house or two down the road we drove a million times as kids but mostly unchanged acres and acres of farmland. We got to the house and it looked tired. There were a lot of cars in the yard and two somewhat unsavory looking characters were in the yard. I said I wanted to go in, Dad was uncharacteristically emphatic in saying no. But he pulled down a dirt road behind the house and let me take a few photos. I am an emotional gal and I like nostalgia as much as the next guy but I still wasn't prepared for the weight of emotions that are tangled up in places where you spent so much time as a wee person. That house was the most consistent brick and mortar of my first 18 years and it was bittersweet to see weeds and junky cars surrounding it.

We left the house and went to get gas and then suddenly the other kids had arrived and they wanted to see it too so back we went.  We caught up to a carload of them on the deserted street leading to the house so I got out of the car and chased them for a minute much to the delight of my nephew Garrett who was so hopelessly sugared up we didn't get him to bed until 11:30.

We drove up to the house and the eight of us spilled out, trying not to freak out the people who lived there and probably not succeeding. All my dad's city mice, walking around in the pasture next to the tiny tiny place where my grandmother taught two little farm boys to dream beyond the borders of their little town. I know he was sad to see the place in disrepair but I could tell he was also overwhelmed with all the support crammed into those cars. There was a time before my parents got divorced when lots of us didn't get along with him very well and he's worked pretty hard the last twelve years to make things right. He's taken responsibility for a lot of the mistakes he made with us and been incredibly supportive of all the decisions we've made as adults.

It's no big secret that I love my family right? I think it's well documented here that I think they are great.  But seeing them all there, knowing that it wasn't a perfect or easy time for anyone to take a time out, I felt even luckier to have them. Sometimes I get so lonely I can actually feel it in my bones but when I'm with all of them, all of that melts away and I just think I'm blessed beyond reason to be part of this crew.

The funeral was really nice, my Dad did the life sketch and because he's a terrific writer, it was beautiful. He got more emotional than I have ever seen him, I know this is harder than he knows how to show.

Uncle Kyle was buried near my grandparents. We walked through a cemetery with lots of "Clifford" headstones. I guess maybe all the moving around I've done as an adult and still being pretty rootless I just forget how nice it is to be in a place with a foundation.

We finished off the event with a big fat pizza buffet in and then Emily and Aaron dropped me off at the airport.

Very selfishly, I can't believe how calm I feel now on the eve of this crazy summer. My friend from USA Track and Field who is already in Eugene texted me today to say my NINE PALLETS were at the hotel. This is happening and I am really, really excited. But I'm also really sure that whatever else happens in the next 60 days, these last 48 hours were the most important of the summer.

A few highlights of the trip

Dad over the Snake River. I made him stop so we could walk across it. 

My sister the fashion queen-classing up the joint

Garrett's first funeral. He was pretty great. 

I call this "dad couldn't figure out the iPhone" 

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