Dad, Kate, Jocelyn, Meredith, K.D., and her beau Nic and I all met at Valley Center this afternoon to commemorate the one year anniversary of Grandpa Don's passing and to honor his life. We walked the grove, shared stories and pictures, made a memory box, and spent time sitting on Grandpa's Rock, from which he used to watch the sunrise...
Being out in nature and walking the places he used to walk made Grandpa's soul feel close to ours. Even though Grandpa is gone and even though we have had to let part of the grove dehydrate to pay inheritance taxes, something about Valley Center remained and felt fundamentally the same as it always has. Everything around it can change superficially, but the land---the earth itself and its contours and the way the light hits the mountains from our point of view---will always be familiar, will always be unchanged.
We watched Meredith's slide show of pictures from Grandpa's life, and it was cathartic to cry together in a way that seemed more palapable and less surreal than when we had viewed the slide show at the funeral a year ago. We watched it twice in a row, and then we wrote letters to Grandpa and added other things we had brough to a memory box and put it in a safe location.
The day was perfect, the breeze welcoming. I felt so lucky to have in my life my cousins who are of like sensibility...women who will share the trait of sentimentality with me and hopefully through this, our family connections will never die. I love my cousins. So many times today, I felt profoundly grateful for the gift of family my grandpa gave to us. He made sure we spent time together as an extended family...so that one day, like this one, our bonds would be strong enough to start our own traditions. We have reached the era in our lives where now we as the young generation are making a stand about what we value---and we could see that today. I pray that the value we place on family and family time will always continue.
Katie enjoyed herself, feeling freedom to wander about and explore. She loved picking avocado fruit with Grandpa. During our Pat and Oscar's lunch, she colored on the porch and got to know her cousins. The crazy thing was that she obviously remembered quite a bit about Valley Center from her New Year's there. She knew where the bathrooms were, and when we were in one of them, she knew that she had taken a bath in there before. She also knew her way back from the garden to the kitchen sink (actually, we have tested her on her directional ability in other ways, and she seems to have Bill's genes this way). Grandpa Matics picked some sun-kissed strawberries for her. She ate one this afternoon, and then devoured the rest of them during dinner tonight.
We are a lucky family...
Katie walks with the new Grandpa
Hunting for avocado fruit
Grandpa's Rock. We miss you.