When I was in my thirties my parents sold our childhood home and moved into their dream home, designed and built by them with a yard big enough for huge gardens. Although I loved it, and I was so happy for my parents, I missed our comfortable old home, the one I was raised in, the one that inspired a previous blog here: (OCEAN VIEW)
Strangely enough, the one thing I did really love about that gorgeous new home was the neighborhood. It was a typical Alaska neighborhood. There were big, one acre lots, the people behind my parents had horses and the people next door had a sled dog team, but about one block over was an old gravel quarry. It is there, in that quarry, where most of my memories of that house lie.
It was a busy time back then. My sister had three boys, I had three girls and once in a while my brothers would show up with their kids. Yes, we spent many, many Sundays as a big group at that house. But a passel of kids gets restless fast and we always ended up taking them to the quarry to play. I know. It sounds like a horrible, barren play-yard, and it was. But it was also huge and empty and they could run and run and chase and tag and throw pebbles to their heart’s content.
But the best part of this quarry was a section that had not been mined for some reason. It stood there, huge, right in the middle. My dad called it “Treasure Island.” My dad, who was as imaginative and joyful as his grand-kids would tell them stories and climb with them to the top. They stood, at the edge of the steep drop off and he would tell stories and make up worlds. I was fussy and would worry about the kids plummeting three stories down a cliff face, but not him. And they loved that about him.
It wasn’t long after that when my mother died. My dad lost some of that story-telling along with her. He was sad and alone, sitting in that dream house, by himself.
The spring after my mother died, I brought the girls and stayed at the house with my father. And this is where Linda enters the picture. Her name was passed along to my father from his cousin.
“I have her email address,” he told me, “But I don’t know what to say?” My dad was asking me for advice…. truthfully, I think he needed help with the concept of email, it was the 90’s and I don’t think he had used it before, but he also wanted help with what to say.
“Tell her about yourself, your kids, your grand-kids. What you like to do. Skiing!”
I never heard another word about Linda until the day before I was set to leave, I had been there for six weeks. My dad came downstairs, “Linda would like to see pictures of your family and the girls.” I rounded some up and put them in the mail.
Flash forward to today. My dad and Linda just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. Linda has been the most amazing addition to our family. Not only is she welcoming and kind, more importantly she gave my dad back that spark! Those swashbuckling adventure stories were back. And better yet, Linda joined in. We refer to those Arroyo Beach years as the Fairy Years. Linda and the girls worked together to build elaborate fairy houses and while the boys wouldn’t admit it, they loved it just as much.
Not only were these the Fairy Years, they were also the years my dad introduced the kids to the classics. Classic movies. “Oh, No! Not Black and White….” The kids would groan when the movie would start, but secretly they loved them, the over-acting corniness of those classic old movies. They sat with him, watching his favorites, snuggled on a couch with popcorn after a day spent in new adventure grounds…. the beach outside of their house. Yes, my dad sold that dream house in Anchorage, with our blessings, and moved with Linda into a gracious beach home in West Seattle.
That house in Seattle is what my girls remember, not that house by the quarry, but that is OK with me, you see, I remember the house by the quarry, the house from Ocean View and I will help them remember them too.
prompt words: Quarry, eloquence, comfortable