Ahh, summer vacation! I loved it as a child, and I love it as an adult, but not for the same reason. Growing up, our summer break from school never came before June 15th. Once the school year was finally over, it meant lazy days doing anything to keep cool, but more importantly, it meant a trip to visit my grandparents in Texas.
As we only saw my grandparents once a year, it was always a very special time being with them. To this day, I can still recall the smells of the bushes and flowers that surrounded their front porch. They were always sitting there in rocking chairs waiting for our arrival. Our days were spent going fishing with our granddad, shopping downtown with our grandmother (always making sure we took home a special gift), riding horses, and anything else to make our time together fun. It always went by much too fast. The fishing trips were my favorite. My grandparents owned some property outside of town that had a pond my granddad kept stocked with fish. He would take a cooler filled with sodas, sandwiches, and potato chips for my cousins, sister, and me. We piled into the back of his truck that he used only for our fishing trips, with bamboo poles and bait buckets, and we’d come back hours later with more fish, and mosquito bites, than we could count. My granddad, who was a much-respected and -loved man, took our excess catch and gave them to people he knew could use them. So many memories collected in such a short visit.
Leaving there, we drove across Texas to see my paternal grandparents. It was equally as memorable, but a totally different experience. My grandparents owned a restaurant, and I loved going to it as often as possible while we were there. My grandmother had a garden room added to their home, and she grew numerous flowers and plants. They had a beautiful yard filled with different fruit trees, flowers, and a lily pond. We had picnics out by the lily pond that included a peach we’d pick right off the tree. My grandmother loved to bake, and their home was filled with the sweet aromas of freshly baked cookies and pies. We played games around the table in the garden room, had tea parties, and drank lemonade. Even after all these years, I can recall time spent there and how, like my other grandparents, they made it so special.
My memories, combined with watching my daughters with their grandparents, are something that is important for me to share with my precious grandchildren. I am so lucky to have them close by. I am getting to watch them grow up and be there to share, not only special occasions, but be there as part of their daily lives. Summer vacation now means a freer schedule. It will be easier to do things more spur-of-the-moment, such as going to the beach, the playground, to a movie, taking trips, or whatever comes to mind. As they grow up, so will the activities and ways we spend time together.
My hope is that many, many years from now, when they reminisce, they will remember special times with their Gigi. How she was always there for them, loved them unconditionally, and was always up for anything, as long as she had the ability. I want their memories of their grandparents to be as wonderful as the ones of mine.