Saturday, August 4, 2007

30 Year Family Legacy Ends

In June of 1977 I moved to Pacific Grove, California on the Monterey Peninsula to join my sister, Valori, who had just moved there from Denver. Actually I was only supposed to go for the summer and return to college in Texas. But the first time my sister took me to Big Sur all that changed. I saw the rugged mountains hugging the beautiful Pacific and I declared to Valori right there, "I'm never leaving.". Then when we got home I wrote to my parents and shared the same news with them. Yes, Virginia, we had phones way back then but I was too chicken. They, however, were not. They called as soon as they got the letter and said, "what tha?". Then they got in the car and drove from Texas to see what the deal was and they "got it" hook, line, and sinker immediately. They fell in love with the area, too. This photo is the four of us at our friends, Pam and Jim's, home across the street from the Pacific on Highway 1 in Big Sur in the little old, white schoolhouse. We have so many wonderful memories of dinners at Pam and Jim's. They were, at the time, the king and queen of the hip society of the Peninsula and for good reason. And we were blessed with their friendship for, well, still my sister keeps in contact with Pam, thirty years. A dinner at their home meant many hours of pot, beer, intellectual conversation, lots of laughter, love, and fun. Oh, and the food...Pam was a fabulous cook, feasts every time, like Babette's. And sitting mellow on their front porch watching the sun set. Always my dad's favorite part. Okay this will be the world's longest blog post if I don't fast forward a little more quickly. So after my parents' first visit my mom had a mission. She's never aborted a mission. She was hell bent to move to PG. So she spent a couple of years wearing my dad down then the next couple of years they worked together to wind up over 25 years of home, business, and friendships (with many car trips back and forth as often as possible to remind my dad why). A life they had made, where I was born and they raised my sis and me. They left behind friends that they'd had all our lives, our church, our beloved Texas A&M, our lives, and bought a motel on the Peninsula and began their 15 years of innkeeping. Their friends thought they were crazy, I think they'd still say that as I'm still not sure that the folks in Bryan/College Station have ever caught onto the B & B semi-retirement angle that so many burnt out folks embrace in their 50's. Meanwhile, while my parents were leaving Texas I had since returned, married, and was pregnant with my first child, Lucas. I still remember the phone call from them from CA telling me they had found the perfect real estate they were looking for and they were coming home to pack up (I fell off the denial wagon I had been clinging to). On July 4th 1983 my mom, sister, my 18-month-old niece, Maya, and I left College Station. My mom, Maya, and I drove in my mom's VW Rabbit and my sister followed us in her SCHOOL BUS. Yes, she had purchased a school bus in Texas and her friend, Ed, had converted it to a rolling home. It was wonderful. My dad stayed behind to wrap up the strings of his architectural and engineering firm and drove out a month later with my grandmother, my mom's mom. I stayed a few weeks and help get Mom moved in, settled in, and support her while she learned the new business. Valori and I were the housekeepers and Mom ran the desk. What an adventure; that first hooker and drug dealer really through us for a loop. Valori and Maya parked their bus next to the motel and when my dad got there he built a privacy fence around it. When Lucas was 18 months old we moved from Houston to PG for a few years. My first husband, Jim, and I had lived in Carmel when we were first married for about a year. So this was time number three for me. Our second child, Justin, was born in Monterey. We moved back to Texas when he was a year old, then to Wyoming, then divorced, then I moved back to PG with the boys. I lived there until 1997 when my husband, Paul, Justin, and I (pregnant with Matt) moved to Maryland leaving my family there. By then Valori and her then-husband, Eric, had given our family Aaron. Eric had moved to PG from Boulder when Valori discovered she was pregnant after one of her visits to Boulder (they had been boyfriend and girlfriend when they were 14 in Texas and had, obviously, kept in touch), they were 42 by then. That fourth bout in Pacific Grove was the most special for our family. Mom, Dad, Valori, and I all worked within two blocks from each other in this very small, close-knit, coastal town. I worked for Stuart, a State Farm agent. My desk sat next to a huge window where I could wave to all the folks who drove by, the firemen, police, friends and neighbors, everyone knew each other there. But best of all was when my dad drove by several times a day on one of his deliveries in the Pacific Grove Florist green van to wave. I walked over a block to have lunch with my mom who worked at Alpha Stationers (two doors down from PG Florist) many days. My sister worked at Sweet Earth where they make heavenly veggie burgers. I could see Justin's school through my work window from across the street. For several years we didn't have a car and could walk everywhere supplemented by my mom's car when necessary. The four of us, along with Maya and Justin, had dinner at least once a week and it was always wonderful. Valori and I (children in tow, of course) took turns during those years living with my parents in their very small three bedroom house. I mean small, 1000 square feet for 2, 4, 5, or 6 people. There were times when even with three jobs she and I couldn't afford to live independently as single mothers in that area. And my parents were always open-armed, one bathroom, they always made it seem like more fun than trouble. Then I met Paul. He was the assistant coach of Justin's baseball team. We had friends in common, Pat and Sally, who nudged us together. We married after 5 months. The same day I found out I was pregnant, less than a year later, Paul was offered this opportunity in Maryland. It was a very tough decision but we knew it would be best for our future to make the move. Paul's dad, Art, moved from Monterey here with us and has lived with us ever since. Two years after we left my parents decided to return to Texas, not to our hometown but to another very cool place, Fredericksburg. They were there a year, and when my dad knew his only sibling, his 10-year-younger sister, was dying they moved back to my dad's hometown, and where my parents met in high school, San Angelo. Not long before my aunt passed away my dad found out he had the same cancer that his sister had. He made the decision to not pursue any treatment. My niece, Maya, had been dating and talking about marrying her boyfriend, Eder, for a few years so they decided to go with sooner than later when my dad got his diagnosis. In 2003 Maya and Eder got married in Carmel Valley and we were all in California together for the last time. Maya and Eder got an offer they couldn't refuse for their future's sake in Oregon and moved there. After my dad passed away my mom wanted to leave all the memories behind and decided to move to Oregon, too. Last May, Valori and her S.O., Courtney, moved to Oregon as well. By then Maya was pregnant with Ben who decided to come a month early. With the help of Lucas in tow, they barely got settled in before Ben made his entrance. Aaron decided to stay in PG with his dad, Eric, and spend summers and long breaks from year-round school in Oregon. Until...it's almost over, I promise...Eric decided this year that he'd had enough of the treadmill-too-fast trying to survive financially on the Monterey Peninsula as an innkeeper. Oh, did I forget to mention that Valori and Eric became innkeepers after Aaron was born and that Maya ended up as an innkeeper and won the Innkeeper of the Year Award for the Monterey Peninsula as the youngest ever to achieve at 21? Three generations of innkeepers. No, thank you. Seen, done, and helped with all I want of that, I know too much. Now Maya is a manager for Hilton Inns. Soooooooooooooo, Eric decided to leave and last month, July of 2007, Eric and Aaron left the Monterey Peninsula and ended a 30 year family legacy. Whew, how time flies!!! Unless you're reading this post. They are going to be in Eugene, less than an hour from the rest of the family, it's perfect. And, my sister and I being a little numerically-obsessed, it's perfect that it is exactly 30 years to the month. What a wild ride it's been...

2 comments:

Erin Earls said...

WoW! It is aways hard and exciting to end something. New places, and things to see. The good thing is you can take all the memories with you.(I love Oregon. I was born and have lived here, all but 4 years of my life.)

shelleyroneill said...

love this entry!
Can't wait to see the redecoratin' going on!