27 Years ago we moved our little family from Pittsburgh PA to Farmington UT, taking with us the only grandchildren of David's parents. I ache with guilt at having done that, not that it was the wrong thing to do, but because we removed from our children the daily impact of good grandparents. Since I am now Gummy to five little ones I also ache knowing that this decision kept the joy of little arms around the knees from Dave's parents. We knew when we moved to SLC that we would be spending every vacation back east, either in Pittsburgh or on the lake in Michigan. Two generations back Dave's Grandpa Roy gave each of his five daughters beautiful lots down the beach from their cottage on Lake Huron. Dave's Mom, Helen, finally built her own wonderful cottage on the Lake in 1992. It is a most delightful and beautiful place, full of her charm and personality. Two years after she built it we spent a great week here, playing on the beach and toasting marshmallows around a fire at night while the waves lapped against the shore and the Huron breezes swept through the trees. At the end of the week Helen drove us to the airport early in the morning. We flew home to our new house in Farmington. As we walked in, the phone was ringing. When I picked it up it was Dave's Dad. He asked for Dave. I handed Dave the phone and watched him back up against the door of the fridge with the phone to his ear. He called his father's name and groaned, then slid down the fridge door until he landed with his head in his hands repeating "No, No, No". Helen had been in a car accident somewhere between the Saginaw Airport and the cottage in Tawas. Her spirit rose up to heaven before we got home. I imagine she paused to peek in the window of an airplane on her way up, checking one last time on her four young grandchildren and her son. It remains among the deepest of life's sorrows for us.
This week we are at her cottage. All of our children and grandchildren, along with Dave's two sisters , Brother-In-Law Joe and nephew Ned. Seventeen of us. It's cozy. And it is wonderful! At this moment it is well after Midnight. Chelle has just arrived with her 9 year old puppy, Jessie. The kids are all laughing about an ice hotel in Sweden, where they are planning to take a vacation. This conversation evolved from their sand castle conversation, which led to a Google slide show of world class sand castles, which led to ice castles, which led to the ice hotel where they are planning a family reunion. Someone has re-discovered the pot of chicken noodle soup and the Mooney's ice cream in the freezer. The fans are spinning and spoons are clanking and a slap of laughter just rose up when Sarah announced that the ice hotel is only $2100 a night. The little ones are sleeping soundly in their sun tinged skin, all worn out from a long day at the beach.
Gramma Connors, too, is here. In the colorful dishes she placed behind the glass doors of the kitchen cupboards; in the red checkered couches where I snuggled with her great-grandchildren and read storybooks this evening. She is in the aroma of baked beans heating up in the oven. We're cooking them through the night tonight so the kitchen won't be so hot tomorrow. She has put marshmallow chocolate puffy cookies in the cookie jar, though our hands. We can taste her.
This morning I awoke to the sound of Helen. There was a light rain in the trees and I could hear her voice in the living room. When my waking state pulled me completely to reality I understood it to be Jill talking. She has music in her voice, like her mother. And she is the best of who her mother was, in all respects.
So here we are, Mom. We're here in your place and missing you and thinking how lucky we are to be together; to like each other besides loving each other. Thank you for building this home; for building this family. Huron keeps calling us back, and you are always here.