This past weekend Chris and I met up with some of my extended family in California. After spending two very full days at DisneyLand we had what my mom referred to as,
The Heritage Tour
Although most of my mom’s family has moved away from her hometown in Torrance, California there are still some places very near and dear to her heart that she wanted to share with me and my younger sister.
All Aboard the Heritage Tour. First Stop: Mom’s Home Ward
On Sunday we went to the church my mom attended while she was growing up. Surprisingly there were still a few people there who had known her as a young girl. I got to meet her Beehive adviser (her Sunday School teacher when she was 12 years old)! I know we all know our parents used to be young at one point in time, but to meet someone (other than a relative) who knew her when she was that young was incredible. I don’t even remember who my beehive adviser was and I’m sure she doesn’t remember me. My mom was able to walk up to this woman who recognized her and remembered her as a trouble making twelve year old (imagine..my mother…a trouble maker. ha.) and they could reminisce. Although they were not blood relatives they knew each other like a family. I’ve enjoyed moving my whole life, and sometimes it was fun when our ward split and we got to meet new people, but looking on the relationships my mom has created with people who know her family and their history, I kind of wish I had that in my life.
My mom’s old college roommate showed up as a surprise…they also grew up together. I loved listening to her talk to my Grandma about when she was a kid. She said how she felt like my Grandma was a second mother to her, when people came to her house they became one of the family. She remembered how my Grandma’s house was always full of kids, besides her own 5, and if the kids were doing chores you did chores. If you stayed for dinner you cleaned your dish like everyone else. If you were there, you were immediately accepted as one of the kids. It’s things like that, that my Grandma will be blessed for. It’s an example I hope to follow when I have children of my own.
I heard fun stories about my mom as a kid and even found out that she too had mono when she was a teenager…twice! Just like me! I suppose she must have just forgotten about that when I was sick. Or she didn’t want to admit that she knew who she got mono from (I know I was slow to admit it). As much fun as it was to sit in the church building and watch my mom talk to people, I got bored and, I’m embarrassed to admit it, became a bit of a brat. hehe.
After I FINALLY ushered my mom out of the church building and into the car we moved on
Next Stop on the Heritage Tour: The Cemetery.
This stop was a less happy one and more of a thoughtful one. In this cemetery one of my family members bought a plot of land some time ago. Now that land holds my great grandparents, my mom’s sister, Donna, my Grandpa Wood, my mom’s cousin’s husband, as well as my great Uncle. I hadn’t been there in a long time and neither had a lot of my family since they had moved out of the area. It was disheartening to see the graves in such disrepair. They were in desperate need of an edger and a sponge. Thankfully my mom found a pair of scissors, a bottle of water and some paper towels in the car (Just call her Macgyver) and we were able to use them to tidy up the graves a little bit.
It was strange to see my Grandma, my Great Aunt and my mom’s cousin’s name on a tombstone despite the fact that they are still alive. They will share a tombstone and grave site with their husbands, all of whom have passed away. So the tombstones have all been created and have everything except the wives death date. The whole thought is kind of romantic if you ask me.
Third Stop: Aunt Leola’s House
My Great Aunt Leola is the surviving matriarch of the Wood Family. Her brother was my grandfather and she is the oldest sibling still alive (She’s 82 and healthy as can be). Her house was beautiful. Covered in pictures of family members extending to all parts of the family tree. She was happy to talk about her recent cruise with her sister.
I just loved watching Aunt Leola and my grandmother talk. These two women who knew each other when they were young and became apart of each other’s family, now both widows and yet they continue this wonderful friendship. I couldn’t help but picture myself in their shoes: Living in the same house I raised my children in, alone, and still able to talk about life and everything that has changed in the area over the past 30 years or so. As much as I hope I will not be alive without my husband, I could see myself sitting next to my sister in law, both our children grown with families of their own and the two of us just left. I don’t want to get old…but that wasn’t such a bad picture.
Last Stop: Mom’s Childhood Home
The last stop we made was more of a slow drive by and less of a stop. My Grandmother lived in that house in Torrance from the time my mom was 2 until just several years ago (time reference: my mom is about 5 decades older than 2 now). I had been to the house a lot when I was younger but now it didn’t look so familiar. I vaguely remembered pictures that were taken on the front porch or in the driveway but i couldn’t remember having been there myself. Maybe if we had seen the inside of the house it would have been different. But for my mom I’m sure she remembered a million memories and then some about that house. From the time she was a little girl and walking to church or school or the grocery store, to when she was older and coming back to visit from college, to when she was married and coming back to visit with her husband, to even older when she came back to visit with her kids. And now here we were, just glancing at the house from the windows of the van. And after all those memories flowed through her head, the one she decided to share with us was when the neighborhood boys put a black tarp in a tree down the street and convinced her it was a witch. It apparently took A LOT of convincing to assure her that there was no witch in that tree.
Watching my mom look back on her life has made me think about what mine will be. I’m only 20 now. I’ve only been married for a little over a year. But someday, one day, I will settle down in a house somewhere with my husband and we will have children and those children will grow up in that house and they will have memories about their own witch in the tree. Right now this seems like a long time from where I am. But I have noticed that time really does move fast. Even faster when you’re enjoying your life. So all these years to come will come before I even know it.