Turning onto Washington, driving toward my parents' house, is like turning pages in an old photo album - everything is much greener and the trees are much taller, but that's Chris Santiago's house on the corner...there's Karen LaRue's house - she had a big playhouse in her backyard...the Astons' house, the Andersons', the Farr's first house, Uncle Joe's...that used to be the vacant lot where we played kickball and freeze tag and where we cut through to the horse pasture.
Across the street, on the corner of Sherbrooke there's the Pleasance house, then the Patterson-Underwood-Farr house, then ours, right in the middle. Farther down is the Costs', then the Loyds'.
Kim and Kathy Bailey lived right across the street from us - my hands slipped climbing down from their huge ash tree once, and I fell flat on my back, knocking the breath out of me. Donnie carried me home and laid me on the couch. (I survived.)
I think my parents are the only ones left on the street from those days, though. After moving dozens of times in a just a handful of years, my mother swore when she moved into that house over fifty years ago, she'd never move again. We believe her now.
TG, Daniel, and I made a quick one-night-trip to Pasadena this past Saturday because we realized Daniel hadn't seen his grandparents since Christmas, and he would be heading back to college soon. Also... Sunday was my sister Brenda's birthday.
I try to go back as often as I can now to see my parents, Brenda, my brother Donnie, their families, and if there's time, my high school friends. When we were in the middle of building the house, we were in such a time crunch that we couldn't get away for years. I'm trying to make up for it now.
I realize too well how time can get away from you.
We spend the time talking, drinking coffee, watching television, and talking some more. We do a lot of "remember when"-ing.
Donnie and his daughter, Christin, came by Saturday night for dinner. I made him promise to ride his Harley - his new passion - the next day so I could get his picture. We were all meeting at Chili's to celebrate Brenda's birthday after church (and after Brenda and her husband Ralph returned from her business convention in Denver.)
The past two years have probably been the hardest in my brother's life, but everytime I see him he seems more and more his old self - the big, contagious smile of our childhood isn't ever far away, hiding just under the surface of the stern face he puts on most of the time. And he's finally laughing again.
Here's my Harley-riding big brother, trying to look tough and mean...
After lunch we all headed back to Mama and Daddy's for cake, ice cream, off-key singing, presents...the usual.
A bonus to the day was a vintage car show in the neighbor's yard.
He rebuilt the red one himself - I don't know who the others belonged to, but we met the man, Lupe, who did all the painting. I've always wanted an old truck like this one, but my favorite paint job was the turquoise one - I loved the lightning flashing all over it.