A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


This past weekend my kids and I, along with their families, (and, of course, Gnorbert the Gnome) visited Tucson. The three of us haven't been back there together in at least four years so it was a special trip. In spite of the "ohmigod" heat, we had a great time. All 10 of us stayed in a 2 bedroom condo close to the foothills. We took walks in the desert and also managed to hit a couple of Tucson tourist attractions like the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Monument, and Pinnacle Peak Restaurant in Trail Dust Town. One of the highlights of the vacation was our "trip down memory lane" as my kids called it. They wanted to show their spouses and kids where they grew up.

The first stop was the house my ex-husband and I bought two years before the kids were born, and where we lived until they were one year old. Of course, the kids don't remember it, but I sure do. How excited we were with our first house! Planning the landscaping, the rock wall and fountain we built in the back, our Palo Verde tree. So many memories of the kids crawling around in that kitchen, playing on the front porch, looking out the front window. The house where you have your babies is always a special place. We bought the house in the early 70's and hung beads in the front arch windows. Those beads are still there! 35 years later! The current owner was on the front porch so I decided to go up and let him know why these three carloads of people were stopping in front of his house. He said, "Are you Sandi?" I was a bit shocked that he knew my name, but it turns out that he is the man who bought the house from us. He even took a picture of me in front of the house to show his wife.

The sad thing is that the place was a shambles. Front yard overgrown, dead plants everywhere, an old car up on blocks in the side yard. In fact the whole street looked so tired and neglected.

Our next stop was the apartment complex where the kids and I lived for many years. Again, the place is so run down and there is now a wall along the whole front. But we did managed to walk through Ft. Lowell Park which was across the street and show everyone where my kids used to have a fort, and some of the places they hung out (most of these I didn't know about and that's probably a good thing!).

There were so many memories brought to life through the weekend. Stores where I used to shop, the area where my mom lived, my schools and my kids' schools, familiar streets, and streets that were no longer familiar, our favorite restaurants.

On Saturday night we had a wonderfully fun dinner with the whole family - aunts, cousins, siblings, grandkids - practically everyone who is left in Tucson. Being with my family has always been important to me and these types of events are few and far between.

But leaving Tucson on Monday I felt a great sadness - my history was there, some of the happiest years of my life were there, but my mom and dad aren't there anymore, my brother is in Chicago, my grandparents are gone. So much has changed. So much time has gone by. I feel like a visitor who barely knows her way around. It's home, but doesn't really feel like home anymore. I felt like I was in a limbo state - between my old life and my current one. How I wish I could go back to the days when Tucson was a quiet Western town - like it was when I was a kid, only go back as an adult to be able to really appreciate it. To truly enjoy my grandparents and appreciate the stories they had to tell. How I wish I could spend one more day with my Mom just hanging out or shopping. We always laughed so much when we were together and she kept me centered.

But I can't. Those days are gone. It seems like every time I go back there the "old days" are more faded and harder to grasp. And at times I want so desperately to be able to grab them and hold on for just a little while. I guess that's all part of getting older - the feeling that you want to go back in time and just be able to bask in the feelings and the people that are no longer here.

We're all home now and soon these feelings of being a little displaced will also fade. And someday my kids and grandkids will look back on these days as the "good old days" they wish they could recapture!


Kathy said...

Hi Sandi!
I am so disappointed that I missed you. Barely made it to see Jenni, Jeff and the kids and I am so happy we did make it. I can honestly say it made my birthday weekend the BEST to be able to visit with her (even just for a little while). I will share some pictures that my mom found for the occasion.

So glad you all got to revisit... hope to see you soon!

ira said...

So thats where you've been!! Mustav been fun! It would have been abnormal for you not to have felt sad about leaving. But, I guess home is where family is!! Isn't it?

Wendy said...

I hate to drive by places that I used to live. Makes me sad, especially if they haven't been taken care of.

Jenni said...

I understand how you feel. Arizona no longer felt like home to me, which was so depressing! It was strange to see so many familiar places with memories attached, mixed in with all these new and unfamiliar sights.

It was amazing seeing the family and Kathy again though! I'm so glad we were able to do that and spend time together.

Tricia said...

What a lovely, touching post.

I bet you're a great grandma!