It’s about to get pretty personal up in here. FYI.
Last weekend we took a last-minute trip up to Oregon to see Chris’s grandpa, Tom. On Wednesday we got the news that he was diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer that’s already spread to the liver. It’s not looking very good. Chris and I looked at each other and both felt that if we were going to see him any time in the near future, we would have to leave the next day. So we made our preparations and packed up the car.
The travel was grueling - Felix and Penelope were sick (vomit and diarrhea) on the car ride up which made the 14 hour trek last over 18 hours. Longest. Day. Ever. I was so glad that Chris was right along side me to help with clean up and keep it all in perspective.
But boy, did it sure pay off. We were able to see Chris’s grandparents, and they got to meet Felix for the first time. I think the best moment was when Felix and Gramps fell fast asleep on adjacent recliners. Felix was so sweet with Gramps, giving him some really great hugs and lots of knucks (bones).
What struck me the most about this trip was how delicate life is. It’s crucial to focus on loved ones and building them a legacy. You never know when someone will be called away from this life.
Just days before Grandpa Tom was in the hospital with his diagnosis, he whipped up two side table lamps (above). From scratch. While we were visiting we wandered through his workout room, drafting room and workshop to see so much evidence of hard work and creativity.
It was inspiring to see all of the things that he’s made, some new and some old, and look at all of the details. He’s made everything from side tables and lamps to bikes (15 bike frames from scratch!), golf clubs and buildings (he’s an architect).
Being in their home made me think of how I want to decorate my own home. I’m having a really hard time nailing down a style that’s my own (that Chris can call his own, too). I want to put things in my home that are beautiful, meaningful and/or useful. Of course it doesn’t need to be perfect, my home will never be close to perfect; but it’s given me new perspective on the artwork and objects I put on display.
It’s also made me think about my DIYing. I’ve pulled back on home decor DIYing lately (Chris and I used to DIY home projects all the time), and I think I know why. If I can’t do it right, I don’t want to do it at all. Laziness doesn’t need to be in my DIYing vocabulary (even though it often times is).
Look at that side table and lamp. There’s nothing lazy about the construction of either of those, and those are the kinds of pieces that are meaningful, beautiful and useful.
They also decorated their home with unexpected pieces with a story or great history. The above is a light fixture from the old SF bay bridge. They flipped it upside down and mounted it to the ceiling. It’s a huge piece in the room, too. It’s simply stunning.
Original artwork was all through the house. And in a wide range of styles. This was my favorite of all of the pieces. I love this style from the late ’70s – dark, slightly impressionistic with the most delicious color combinations and brush strokes.
I also noticed a lot of tapestries on the walls in varying styles and colors. Color schemes are really great, but I love all color and the variety it brings. I really should branch out of my crutch colors more often.
• • •
This visit was so important for us to take, and we will never regret those grueling hours on the road with screaming and sick kids. It reminds me of when I was able to say good bye to my grandma several years ago.
Back when I was in college and without a car, a friend asked me to drive with him to a wedding up in Salt Lake (40 miles away). He gave me keys to his car while we were downtown and I decided I needed to go shopping with the time I was going to kill. Then my mind turned to my grandparents who were just blocks away. Surely I could visit and go shopping, but which to do first? I decided to call them and see what their plans were and go from there.
My grandma picked up the phone, which was a huge surprise. Because of her Alzheimer’s and Dementia, she left that up to grandpa. Not knowing who I was, she politely said that I could come and visit and I hung up the phone. I got the distinct feeling this would be the last time I would see them together, but I brushed off the feeling thinking that I was going crazy.
We had a great visit, grandpa snapped a picture of grandma and me and I said goodbye. Grandma gave me a hug and said, “I love you.” It felt like she was saying it to me and not a girl she didn’t remember. It was a special moment. I went home and three days later she passed away. Upon hearing the news I took so much comfort in the visit I was able to have.
And I’m so grateful that we could take the time to visit Chris’s grandparents. I don’t think we’ll be able to see Grandpa Tom again in this life. It was a really hard goodbye for all of us, especially Chris who looks up to him in many ways.