This weekend took the family to Traverse City – we attended some seminars, spent some time with the kids at Great Wolf Lodge, ate a lot of greasy hotel food (seriously, would it hurt ANYONE to put fruit on a buffet? Thank you and you’re welcome), and when there was some time, I decided I’d like to drive past my grandparents’ old cottage.
My grandparents lived in both Florida and Michigan – this wasn’t something that only started when they grew older – they did it back when my dad and my aunt were younger. They’d spend the school year in Florida and mosey up north to Michigan in the summers. Later in life, they would spent about equal time in both states.
When my grandfather died in 1989, my grandmother continued to make the trek each year – often accompanied by her sister, my great aunt.
My Great Aunt passed away two years ago in April. My grandmother died a month to the day after her. The last time I saw my grandmother’s cottage was at her memorial service, two years ago in July. While we were in town, I decided I wanted to see the place again. Already, the visit was steeped in memories – driving past the restaurant my grandmother would take us for breakfast. The place she took me shopping for dresses. The roads and the signs and the familiarity enveloped me.
We approached the dirt path driveway and I saw their sign with their last name and house number still hanging up, and it was like an unexpected twinge. I thought for sure the sign would have been removed. We drove towards the cottage and came to a stop in front of the house. Nothing had changed. Sure, unfamiliar trucks were in the drive – but the structure, the face of the cottage was the same as it’d always been. It was a relief.
It felt weird to have a nostalgia and to be hit so hard with emotion for my grandmother – we weren’t even close. She didn’t much care for me, and I knew it and that was confirmed at her memorial service. But yet, I’m like her in a lot of ways. Part of me thinks maybe she’d have liked seeing that I love to make cookies too – that I’m most at ease when I’m measuring and mixing and baking – like her. Part of me wonders if that would have made any difference.
And part of me is sad because my daughters are these spectacularly awesome little people – and my grandparents won’t know them. And vice versa.
Such a flood of emotions at the end of a driveway.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
It’s a part of life – the circle, if you will – and I’m okay now. It’s just amazing how a memory can take over your brain, and make you wish for what never was, what you never knew, and that surely, things would be different if they were back with us. Maybe it would be, maybe it wouldn’t be. But we don’t get do-overs. Sometimes we just end up at the end of a driveway, wishing things had been different, better, or that we had more time.