Age 17, expecting her first child but she didn't know it yet.
Age 75, our road trip together three years ago.
To celebrate 78 of them, this Wednesday she and I will climb in the car, sun roof open, even if we have to turn the AC to full blast to beat this horrid Texas heat, and we'll set the radio to Bruce Springsteen (nobody has told her she's not 30). We'll turn the car south and sing together, off-key, hair blowing crazy and possibly gaining texture from the hot Texas grit of the road.
The agenda? Time together. No wearing watches. No rushing. No counting calories. A girl trip we've talked about for years, but never knew we'd really, really get to take together. I take deep, cleansing breaths just thinking about such a simple agenda - time together.
We're headed to the place she was born, to the cemetery that has seen family members we never have. A place, if you looked it up on google, would only be known for past tragedies and a logging trade, but we're confident there are stories there for us to discover. And memories waiting to be made.
A two bedroom cottage just for us. Chips and salsa, fritos, whoppers, the Scrabble game and dictionary for rematches promised last fall. The name of a few good restaurants in town - italian, cajun, mexican - whatever her heart desires. All my heart desires is to have this time with her, listening, soaking in all the stories that I might easily have missed. Seeing her face as she revisits her past. I want to memorize it, what she looks like now, when she looks back again at all those places from 40, 50, 60 years ago. Will I be able to see her, bobby socks and saddle shoes, dark, wavy hair pulled to the side and tamed with a barrette, smooth skin and full cheeks, life full of promise? I hope, I pray so.
So many questions to ask! Tell me again about why your family gave you away. And why you went back. Your father deserted you all, and we never saw your mother, my grandmother. Tell me the funny story about the dead alligator in the bushes, and Uncle Benny and the fig trees. And tell me where I fit in all of it, what puzzle piece am I?
Did you really bring all six of us home to the same house, and we lived there more than once? Tell me your dreams, the ones you realized and the ones you let go of. And your heartaches. What and why. I want to know. Need to know, because I'm finally old enough to understand that I begin where you leave off, and it's important to know, to connect the dots. So we take a trip.
Giddy. Lump in my throat. Giddy. Lump in my throat.
And of course photos to follow when we turn the car back north and head home. Possibly we will have gained a few pounds, and that may just be from hearts full to overflowing :-)