While they are gone, I am supervising my seventeen-year-old grandson, Bridger.
I'm also getting to know him better. That is a real treat! When he was younger, I think he was always busy with his older brother and sister, or with the other cousins when I was around, so he and I never had much one on one time. I've come to know some things about Bridger that I didn't know before:
- He makes his coffee really strong. I learned that the first morning I was here when I poured myself a cup of coffee from the pot of coffee he had made before school. He loves to brew his special coffee and add frothed milk before he starts his day.
- He usually fries himself two eggs over easy before he heads out to school. As I watched him cook, I said, "Bridger, you make your eggs just like I do. Not many people can cook eggs for me because I am so picky. I will eat eggs the way you fry them."
- Bridger has great social skills. He is able to strike up a conversation, and keep it going, with nearly anyone. I have so enjoyed talking with him. When he is speaking with someone, he asks questions that show he in genuinely interested in the person he is speaking with, and he remains engaged in the conversation. He is intelligent, has a great sense of humor, and truly is just a pleasure to be around.
- He goes to bed early and gets up early. He is quite self-suffient.
- He works hard three days a week after school. This means that he drives great distances on those days because he works because he has a commute to school, then he commutes to work, and while on the job he also commutes. He is the courier of products between the stores in the family owned business. He loves his job because he gets to drive, gets a tank of gas out of the gig, and he gets paid also. All of that adds up to a winning deal for him.
- He has good friends that have pretty much been his lifelong friends. He likes hanging out with them too.
- While his older siblings are away from home in college and working, he is also an awesome brother to his two step-brothers. He called to see if they could take in a movie this week while they are with their dad and while their mom is gone.
While I've been in Utah, I've had plenty of time to spend with my oldest daughter, and I've made plans to meet up with old friends that I don't often get to see. I've also had time to read, walk, and explore my surroundings, or learn to find my way around areas that once were familiar years ago.
Before Ryan and Sheridan took off on their trip, they showed me the ropes so I could stay here with Bridger. Then, after lunch with them, I drove them to the airport. I snapped a quick photo before they left, and then they were off.
I was so excited for them. They have been working so hard that they barely had time to plan this get away. Being young and adventuresome is an advantage when one travels. Once they landed at their destination, they jumped into vacation mode and were ready to explore and enjoy the new sights, museums, foods, and culture.
Family Time in Utah
The next evening after Ryan and Sheridan left, I was able to go to a concert with my daughter Keicha at Red Butte, a nature center in Salt Lake City near the University of Utah.
The performer for the concert was Kacie Musgrave. The show was fun and upbeat. The setting was spectacular. It was so much fun to spend the evening with Keicha. We have too few of these experiences together where just the two of us can have a fun night out. I made us a pasta salad, bought some meat and cheese, fruit, and other picnic food for us to eat while we at the concert. I loved being with my girlie. We talked, and laughed, and giggled over other times when we have made some pretty funny memories.
The next night, I was again able to go out with Keicha. This time, we attended a fund raiser for the Nature Center in Ogden, Utah. I took no pictures. I wish I had because everything about the event was perfect: the setting, the people, the food. Over the years, I've met a number of people whom are friends of either my son Ryan or my daughter Keicha. It is nice to connect with their friends again on an evening such as the one we had.
After the fund raiser, Keicha and her friend Kelly went to the baseball game. I had planned on going, but I wanted to head the forty miles towards Ryan and Sheridan's home before it got too dark. It was actually the first time I've ever done any highway driving since my cataract surgeries this spring, so I was a bit anxious about getting the drive over.
On Sunday, Keicha, Bridger, and I had Sunday brunch together. Keicha was taking her turn at taking a meal to her grandfather on Sunday afternoon, so we all went with her to deliver the meal she had prepared. It had been a longer time than I wish since I had been to see my former father-in-law. In fact, I had not been to see him since my former mother-in-law passed away several years ago. He has always been a very dear and special person to me.
While we were at Grandpa's house, Keicha made sure Bridger's height was measured and recorded on the wall where family members record growth records. Grandpa and Bridger caught up on things in each other's lives. Bridger was quite fascinated to learn Grandpa had gotten his pilot's license in his younger years.
I think we all have places that have become central to us when we look back on our lives. Certainly the home of my former in-laws is one of those places for me. It was in this home where I first got to know my former husband and his family. Fifty years ago last month, I left this house to walk across the street to the church on the corner to marry my former husband and father of my children.
This past Sunday, as I walked to the front door of that house, so many memories flooded back. In 1966, I sat on those front steps with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law on long summer evenings or on Sunday afternoons eating sour apples sprinkled with salt that we had picked from the tree out back while my new husband was away doing his basic training for the Army in Ft. Ord, California. It was during these summer evenings that I not only got to know my new family, but I bonded deeply to them.
Nearly every Sunday afternoon or evening during the years my family was young when I lived in Utah, we would visit Grandma and Grandpa at their home. Often we were treated with homemade raspberry ice cream made by Grandpa. The raspberries came from his garden. His garden kept his grown family and probably half of the neighborhood in fresh produce throughout the summer for as long as I can remember. How I loved those fresh tomatoes from his garden. Often, my lunch consisted of just garden fresh tomatoes from Grandpa.
The backyard was the gathering place for so many summer evening picnics to celebrate a birthday, a baby shower, or Father's Day. I asked Grandpa how his garden was doing, and he said he only had a few tomato plants that had not done well this year, oh, and of course there were the raspberries. And, there had been some good peaches earlier, he said.
Hoping to find some raspberries, Bridger and I headed to the backyard. We were in luck. There were a few delicious ripe raspberries waiting to be picked and eaten.
Keicha came out to see what we were doing. As she stood on the stairs of the deck memories of the day she walked down those stairs on her wedding day to be married in this very yard also came flooding back.
My former father-in-law, now in his early 90's, is a bit stooped over, and he said he can't hear or see "too good," but his voice was strong as he asked for all of the the children and grandchildren, my husband, and for my mother. He told about a book he was reading. He reminisced a bit about the days he was a pilot for Bridger. His once youthful, handsome face now seemed as if it had been refined by the years he has lived. He has always been such a kind and good man to me. Always. I kissed him on the cheek when we left and told him I loved him. He remains "Dad" to me. It was hard to visit him and know that "Mother" is no longer there with him. I'm so grateful to have had this short visit with him.
One evening, my granddaughter Regan stopped by with one of her girlfriends to visit. She is living working and living up in Logan, Utah, with her brother Parker. He is going to Utah State, and she will attend school up there next semester. That girl lights up my life. She looked well and happy. She is becoming an independent young lady.
Last night I had dinner with Keicha, Bridger, and Gillian, Keicha's daughter. Gillian, now a senior in high school, is working after school, so it is hard to find time to spend with her. She is doing so well. She told me she had just gotten a raise at work. I'm so proud of her. It was good to have a quiet, grown-up dinner with these two. Aren't they beautiful? I love their dark, thick curly hair, their smiles, and their personalities. What a blessing grandchildren are.
I marvel at the way my grandchildren have grown-up. It happened way too fast.
In the evenings, I have tried to get my 10,000 steps in by walking. The altitude is lower in Utah than in Colorado, but I have quite a climb to make as I head towards a beautiful walking path near the place I am calling home this week. Actually, the path is not really a path; it is a boulevard which is situated on a bench created thousands of years ago when the water from the pre-historic Lake Bonneville receded and evaporated. This great walking area also provides me with the perfect place to gaze west out over the valley where below the city the landscape changes from cityscape to flatlands, marshes, and then mudflats that meet the Great Salt Lake in the distance. Beyond that, I watch the sun set on the horizon behind the mountains in the distant west.
It always takes me a while to adjust to what I see as the "weirdness" of Utah. The landscape of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah fascinate me, and I find them beautiful, but I am always struck by how different it is from the landscape along the Front Range of Colorado. The mountains in the Wasatch Range are not as wooded as the foothills and mountain near my home. The mountains themselves are not as tall as the mountains near my home. In fact, when I first moved to Utah over fifty years ago, I was asked if I liked living by "our beautiful mountains" by a neighbor. I looked at the mountains near our home in Ogden, Utah, and replied in an unintended rude way, "Where I come from in Colorado, we call these foothills." In my defense, I had just left Leadville, Colorado, where the city at over 10,000 was surrounded by mountain tops all over 14,000 feet in elevation. I was just trying to wrap my head around how odd the landscape appeared to me at the time. I find I still do that.
I wish I had brought my camera with me on this trip, but since I didn’t, I attempt to capture the beauty of these sights with my iPhone camera which I aim through a chain link fence that surrounds the golf course just below the sidewalk where I walk.
I was in Utah in late May this year. As I walked the evening path this spring that I am now walking in the fall I note that the early brightly colored spring flowers no longer appear on the hillsides at all. The daisies have given way to jaunty sunflowers now having their last days of glory. In someways, I have felt that same way. The life I have ahead is so much shorter than the life I have behind me. So much has changed. The springtime of my youth spent in this valley seems so long ago. Summer is over. The days of harvest seem to be here. I am reaping the benefits of years of work that went before me when I was busy raising children, going to school, and working. Now I am retired. The children of my children are now teenagers and young adults. I am seeing the generation that was before me fade away.
Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. As summer gives way to fall, I want to capture the sunflowers before they see their last days of glory. As the sun sets on another day, another season, I too want to hang on to each day of beauty illuminated by the evening sun before day gives way to night.