It seems as that I go “home” to Ferndale less and less. Part of that is because it is tough to pack up two adults, two kids and two dogs for a weekend trip. Part of that is because the price of gas has skyrocketed in recent years. But really it is because going home is painful. Going to Ferndale is a reminder that my Grandma has passed. I left town and moved to Everett just before my 21st birthday. I have traveled home for many holidays and gatherings in the decade since. But because I have lived away it is easy to trick myself in to not thinking about my Grandma being gone... Until I go home and I don’t see her smile or hear her voice.
When I go to Whatcom County it seems everywhere I go in the area holds a memory of my Grandma. Tyler luckily never complains about my endless stories that start with; ‘Once, My Grandma took me there and…” AND I get angry when things change like how dare they tear down the original Shrimp Shack? And now there is a “NEW” shrimp Shack? I remember the last time I enjoyed a meal at the original shrimp shack with my Grandma; it was the last night they were in business. We arrived unknowingly for a typical dinner date and immediately tried to figure out why it was so busy and we were told they were shutting down. I remember that the onion rings were too salty and the shrimp was delicious as always. We sat in our booth for over an hour as I let my Grandma share her shrimp shack memories. My great-great Grandma Willis owned & lived in a house just a couple blocks north for many years and had a plethora of stories.
I guess the good part of going home is that most of the memories are good and the tears are shed and run down my checks along the lines of my smile. This trip was honestly the first trip since my Grandma died that I truly enjoyed every minute of the weekend and I didn’t want it to end. It was one of those weekends that made me think, maybe I could move back home. MAYBE.
We arrived Friday evening and made our first stop was emotional at the Bellingham Relay for Life. We walked the loop with my Aunt Nicole, enjoyed some hot dogs and located the decorated bags with the names of my family members on them. It was emotional for me to see my grandma’s name, my great Auntie’s name and then Tina’s name. Seeing Tina’s name was tough because it was that very morning that she lost her battle with cancer. Tina was my Uncle John’s wife; she put up a good fight and let her faith guide her, may she rest in peace.
On Saturday we visited a big box store to locate a life jacket for Josie before driving to Lynden. In Lynden we enjoyed a SUPER COOL tree house park with Grandma Melanie, Uncle Philip and Aunt Nicole. We snacked and enjoyed the weather by cooling of in the creek. After dinner Saturday night, Tyler & I went downtown Bellingham to meet up with my friend Kathy. Over the years she is the one person I have kept in contact with from high school, even before social media, so I always try to carve out some time for a meet up.
Sunday morning while the kids rode their scooters outside, my Mom fried chicken and packed a big lunch for us to head out to Lake Whatcom. We spent the day out on the water enjoying Uncle Warren's boat with Uncle Philip, Aunt Nicole and Grandma Melanie. The kids LOVED being on the boat, the were smiling ear to ear the entire time. Uncle Warren even let them each "drive" the boat for a little bit. We drifted around in the water and cooled off by swimming along the boat's side.
It was a nice relaxing day. It was my adult family and childhood family; minus my Grandma. It was a perfect day. I could feel my Grandma's presence with us. She was happy to see us all together and enjoying the day. At one point a black and orange butterfly was flying around the front of the boat where my Mom & I were sitting & I said to my Mom, "look, Grandma is here." She isn't a believer. Maybe life would be a little easier for her if she was. Either way, I will remember that butterfly and remember my Grandma spirit being there with us.
The Kids slept the almost three hours in the car home. They truly enjoyed the busy weekend and the family time. Issac was telling all the neighbor kids about driving Uncle Warren's boat for days. What a great weekend filled with wonderful memories.