As a kid we spent just about every holiday at my grandparent's place in Sandy. The times we had out there were so awesome that the ride out to their was excruciating. It was bad enough that the family Chrysler had a top speed of 35 MPH but it was made all the worse because we had someplace great to get to.
Easter always meant a big easter egg hunt; rain or shine. If it happened to be raining the eggs would be neatly packed in ziplock bags with the name of the individual grandchild who was supposed to find them written on masking tape.
The Fourth of July was the BIG holiday of the year and the one I think we most looked forward to. Grampa would barbecue and smoke hamburgers with grandma's special recipe. Grandma would make a couple of her famous apple pies. I would fight anybody who tried to eat the last piece.
There was homemade wine aplenty which we kids would steal snorts of while the grown-ups weren't watching. At some point my folks bought me a go cart which we left out there. We cousins would drive that thing for hours. G-Ma and G-Pa must of had the patience of Job having to listen to that angry red bee circling non-stop. That and the illegal fireworks we grew fond of had to make them a nervous wreck.
Months before Christmas G-Ma would pass around the Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Wards catalog and let us circle and initial the gifts we wanted. I bet there wasn't a GI Joe or Hotwheels accessory that didn't have my initials scribbled next to it. Sometimes I would try and be clever and cross-off the pages with clothes on them just in case. As I got older I would circle the toys then check out the lingerie section. Ahem.
No matter what the holiday it would generally wind-down with the adults getting a little tipsy, G-Pa whipping out his banjo or ukele and breaking out into warbly singing. As a kid this was the only part of the holiday that I dreaded. The songs they sang were WAYYY before my time and the definition of uncool. Mom would always try and get us kids to sing and I remember thinking something along the lines of "Right. When pigs fly."
G-Ma wasn't much of a singer but would sit and listen when she wasn't busy in the kitchen. She wasn't part of the choir but rather the biggest fan. Sort of our family band groupie.
It's funny but the things I miss about those days have changed radically over the years. I used to wish for the fun of the impromptu softball game with family or wish I could ride that go-cart just one more time or eat another of those burgers.
As I've gotten older it turns out that the thing I really miss, the thing I would give my left arm to be a part of just once more isn't that kid stuff. It's that "uncool" family choir. All the voices that have left us that I wish with all my heart we could hear sing again.
The high-pitched voice of Grandma Fern. Dad's baritone. Chuck's better-than-expected harmony. Grampa's banjo playing and singing. Auntie Joyce's love-of-life coming through in her singing. All quiet now.
Today the band lost it's biggest fan. If there's any sort of sense to this big, stupid universe she's sitting somewhere listening to the caterwauling of the rest of the family that have passed before and maybe, if they're really lucky, baking them an apple pie.
When we left G-Pa and G-Ma's house we'd wave goodbye even when we got to a hedge that blocked our car and they couldn't see anything of us but our waving hands.
We love you G-Ma. Here's a low wave from us all.