And that….is privilege.

I have to confess that I grew up with a fair amount of privilege.

We had some pretty great toys as kids, and we grew up able to to hang out on this great space in Colorado in the summers especially…riding horses and motorcycles and exploring.

Most all of that was due to having a Dad and a grand father who were diligent in their work and who were wise and who blessed us. We didn’t always know how blessed we were, and we didn’t always appreciate it…and we didn’t always know the sacrifices that were made so we could enjoy these adventures and this life.

Now, when I’m a little older and hopefully a little wiser, and more importantly now that I am a parent as well, I am aware of how special my life has been. I am also aware of the privilege we are in the midst of now. This privilege is different, and yet it is also the fruit of my Dad’s diligence and his sacrifices.

grandmagrandpa

This is the privilege of watching my mother age in the care of those who love her, and I am aware that it is a privilege. There are so many who are simply not able to keep their loved ones at home because of the need for constant supervision…but we have been able to do so because my Dad has made that sacrifice and my brothers have as well, along with my nephews. These men take great care of this lady.

CadeGrandma

That is pretty remarkable.  

MomDadFamily

So on this trip I was able to chip in some of the time and watch Mom, to take my part in caring for her. To be part of the privilege of seeing her in the moments of confusion and know that even though that look of lostness comes over her…to know that she in a place filled with laughter and with children. A place filled with memories and filled with thought and care…a place which she designed to be welcoming and hospitable to those who would come. A place made to be home. Sometimes that makes things all the more difficult because if she was in her “right” mind she would be rejoicing in these moments and she would delight in this laughter and the place would be alive with her touches of hospitality. There are times the awareness of her dementia makes that sting…and it should. Brokenness hurts and reminds us that this is not as it should be.   Still…in this imperfection, she is in a place where she is known.

grandma1

She may not know it, but she is in a place which embraces her, and in the moments when she is silent and does not have words, or when she is flooded with words that simply repeat and express confusion…she is still surrounded by laughter and life.  She is not left on her own or isolated, and when she has those moments where she is alert…there are those there to laugh with her and embrace her.

SammyGrandmaLaugh

And that is privilege.

GrandmaWatch

And the richness of that privilege is not lost.

I spent much time this trip with just Maddie and Mom. It always amazes me how children just accept things and Maddie never was troubled that there was something amiss with Grandma. She would light up and embrace her, kiss her, or scold her…whatever the situation called for…with great enthusiasm. And she drew Mom out.

GrandmaMaddie

That was privilege that could not happen in a “home”.

I think often of Madeleine L’Engle’s book, The Summer of The Great Grandmother where she talks of the last summer with her mother, and I think she would smile at our gatherings in Colorado. Our generations mix and aging happens in the midst of development.

The children learn that we are frail, and they learn that we have to not be afraid of that and sometimes life is hard…but it is a lot easier when we handle it as a family in the midst of a place filled with laughter and life and memories.

MomDad

And that is privilege. 

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3,000 Miles, Snakes and Memories…

We began at 4:00 am.  We picked our mascot the night before, a giant blue Puffle…a stuffed, well, puff-ball of sorts. We had snacks sorted and we had the cooler with water. We had little surprises wrapped and we had stops planned.

I had spent the required hours on Pinterest planning the Road Trip.

We planned for pictures like this.

Boysbehaving

Did you notice someone is missing. Yep.

That is because Maddie was running down the sidewalk at the rest stop and Steve was chasing her. The blue puffle, however is in the picture. After I stopped being stubborn and I let the boys pose how they wanted.

boysmisbehaving

Then we started having fun.

Honestly, I don’t need Pinterest. My kids are used to this. We do it every year. Nearly 3,000 miles of driving to get to our destination and get home, plus driving around while we are there. They know the drill, and they actually are really good at the adventure. On the way home Maddie, 2, and Sammy, 7, sat in the far back of the truck for the duration and Maddie only really fussed about 7 minutes of the whole trip. Not bad. We stopped a few times and found some cool stuff…like an old caboose we hadn’t seen before, and we even got Maddie to stop running long enough to get in the picture.

Caboose

Folks always think we are crazy to drive when we could fly, but with six of us it is still cheaper to drive, and honestly…you don’t get to just pull over and pee on bushes when you are flying. Or, when you are really desperate and pull into abandoned gas stations you might find things like this:

Seriously, though, you can’t see things like this from the airplane:

bayfield 9bayfield 12bayfield 11bayfield 5

Silo

I know there are great adventures in flying, and we loved our trip to California last Fall, but we love driving as well. Of course, the final destination is part of the adventure, and that is what makes the journey worthwhile. The objects we can find in the clouds and the snakes we can outrun and the cabooses we can climb on…they are fun, but we still have to climb back into a small confined space with sweaty siblings who annoy us after awhile.

We still have to listen to the Wiggles more than we want to keep the 2 year old happy, but we do it so we can end up in a place where we only get to be for a week out of the year.

BackPorch

A place that has a special hold on my kids, a hold it had on me when I was a kid.

GrantMaddie

We have had this place in Colorado since I was four years old. When my Dad built the house and garage that now stand there, we tore down an old barn that was built with wooden nails. I remember swinging from a rope in the hayloft and spraining my ankle.

Now my kids run around the place with their cousins and make their own memories. They never complain about making the road trip to go out there, and they always want to stay longer. When I ended up in the hospital with some complications after Madeleine was born there was a day Sammy had been shuffled around a few places and was feeling frustrated (he was 5). Someone asked him where he wanted to go, and without hesitation, this was the place he named.

CadeGrandmaThey hear about their history.

No wifi. No stereo.

Limited electronic games.

Limited noise.

Family.

Lots of stories.

Shooting guns.Boysshoot

Fishing.

grandmagranpa1

boat

Laughter.

Building rafts.NateTessa

Exploring.

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