Saturday, June 21, 2008

Future memories of Papa's house

Today we spent the day at my in-laws. It's almost a two-hour drive, which for us on the verge of being too far to go just for the day, but that's usually how we do it. Occassionally my husband will take D and those two will spend the night down there, leaving me in the strange world of having just one kid to take care of; but today the whole fam decided to head down.

My in-laws live near a river that empties into a bay; they're also Native American, and things like clam digging, fishing and hunting are a normal part of life. A lot of members of that part of our family make their living harvesting shellfish and fishing. My college student brother-in-law spends most of his summer alternating between digging clams with the tide and long lining for black cod and halibut off the coast with his dad. Since they're Indian, they get certain privleges with regards to fishing and shellfish and the like - so for a lot of people, it's a decent way to make extra money.

In any case, it's clam digging season and my BIL was off digging clams this morning. After we arrived, it was decreed that we should meet him down at the docks and go for a boat ride. The area that was open for digging today is only accessable by boat, so after he'd brought in and sold his buckets of clams (he dug over 300lbs, which is an enormous amount of clams when you see it all piled up) we piled in the boat and rode around the bay for a bit.

There's this tiny little town on the edge of the bay where we rode; it isn't the town where my in-laws actually live, but it's a place my husband (and myself, actually, thanks to the number of years I've been with my husband) has spent a lot of time in. My FIL grew up there, and his father grew up there; it's actually the ancestral home of the Indian tribe my husband descends from. Anyway, it's this tiny little place where people don't lock their doors, there are two churches, one tavern and a little convenience store that still sells penny candy to the kids. The rules of the modern world don't seem to apply there, like it's a place suspended in time. Sure, the buildings look older and more worn than they did a decade ago, but you can do things there that you don't often see people doing in other places these days.

Like let your three year old sit on your lap and drive.

I had this great moment while we were driving around this little town today, after our boat ride. We'd made a quick stop at the beach and D had jumped into my FIL's car with him. I watched as my FIL sat D in his lap, turned the car on and lightly gripped the wheel to guide the car as D enjoyed the thrill of "driving". What was so great about that moment? I happen to know that's one of my husband's fond memories of his dad, and of that place - sitting on someone's lap and driving around, and even as an older child, being given the keys to the car and driving himself (long before the legal age to drive). I'm sure people do that kind of thing still - up and down their street, or in a parking lot. But something about seeing my son, in that place, on the lap of his grandpa with his hands on the steering wheel - it made my heart happy.

There is nothing like watching someone else enjoy your child to endear them to you all the more. If you love my kids, I'm pretty much going to love you - simple as that. And my FIL adores my boys. It becomes all the more apparent as D gets older; he likes babies ok, but he's great with kids. He's the kind of grandpa who loves to play, to entertain, to invent games and indulge their ideas for pretend. He'll drink endless cups of "coffee", push him for what seems like forever on their swing, exclaim in delight at a relentless slough of silly faces or peekaboos, and snuggle in the chair at the end of the day when even the vast trough of three-year-old energy runs dry.

I feel more a part of their family than I ever have in the past. I've known them a long time and enjoyed their love and acceptance. But being the mother of their grandsons makes me feel like they truly are my family. They are my sons' family. Their house is the place my boys will remember going to. They'll remember the boat rides, digging clams on the beach, fishing for crawdads in a bucket with a strip of bacon on a string, swinging in the yard and driving on Papa's lap through Bay Center.

Good times.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

This brought tears to my eyes. What wonderful memories, for all of you!