After January’s relative quietude, February felt full, with trips to the snow and the sun, much talk of big changes (the house-hunting bug bit us hard), subsequent talk of little changes (should we just clean out our closets, repaint our bedroom, and stay put for awhile?), and great big joys held in tension with deep, deep sorrows. A few (dozen) photos to recap…
It’s been an unusually snowy winter in Seattle, and I find myself giddy with child-like “hope-school’s-cancelled” excitement each time flakes start to fall. School actually was cancelled one Monday a few weeks ago, which meant that Shane and I both stayed home from work to hang with Jules because, well, it takes two. Plus, which one of us was really willing to head into the office and miss out on this magic?!
We kicked off the day with a walk through the whiter-than-ever greenbelt across the street…
We heard a tree come crashing down in the forest as we were on our walk, likely due to the extreme snow loads, so we high-tailed it to the Columbia City Bakery to seek shelter and coffee with our southside friends.
And then right back out we went, to Jefferson Park for sledding and fort-building.
Shane had this snowman up in about six minutes – his Minnesota roots really shine on days like this.
An hour in, we were all soaked by the downpour of huge, wet snowflakes, but this girl wasn’t the least deterred.
Eventually we bribed her indoors with the promise of pizza and gelato at Tutta Bella…
And then set her loose for the catching of a few last flakes before this all turned to slush. It was fun while it lasted.
My mom spent a couple of days in Seattle in the middle of February, and Juliette was attached to her hip throughout her stay. “Sit by me, Grandma! Hold my hand, Grandma! Read to me, Grandma!”
We took our annual winter stroll through the Mercer Slough on a clear(ish) Saturday…
I feel like I snap the same photos here year after year, but…the colors!
Juliette looks like such a big kid in this picture, doesn’t she?
And finally, in news that cast a melancholy shadow over last month’s goodness, my dad’s dad, Grandaddy, passed away two weeks ago. He had been weak for quite some time and living under the care of my aunt and uncle in their home for the last several months, but still, saying good-bye was obviously painful.
As I mourn, I’m feeling all the feelings, often all at one time…gratitude for the man Grandaddy was and the lives he touched; sadness over the fact that this giant piece of the Jarrell family puzzle will be physically absent from all future family gatherings; comfort that he passed away in a home filled with love and that his hand was held more often than not in his final days; and intense regret that I didn’t make it out to Maryland to see him in the past several years.
Gosh, how I wish I’d spent more time with him.
Growing up, I usually saw Nannie and Grandaddy once a year – they’d come out to visit us in Colorado or Oregon or California, arriving with suitcases heavy with country ham and homemade fudge, or we’d make a family trip out to Maryland to stay at their cozy home on Windy Hill Road. I loved that house – sneaking hard candies from the well-stocked crystal dish that Nannie kept on the coffee table, flying down the gravel driveway in a plastic wagon that rattled so hard I thought the wheels would fall off, the sound of crickets in the backyard on those hot, humid East Coast nights. And the merriment. Where two or more Jarrells are gathered, there will inevitably be laughter.
The visits became fewer and farther between in my college and post-college years – my grandparents were older and less prone to travel, and I was eager to spread my traveling wings wider than the reaches of Maryland. But still, even when I went several years without visiting, there was reassurance in knowing that Nannie and Grandaddy were there in Maryland, holding down the fort and anchoring our family with love and joy. The boat was rocked when Nannie died in 2008, and then it wobbled again when Grandaddy sold the house on Windy Hill Road to move into a senior apartment, but even in his grief, he was ever the steadfast, thoughtful, fun-loving patriarch. He was faithful in his letter-writing and I received a page or two of hand-written updates each birthday and Christmas. I saved a handful of those letters and dug them out this afternoon, desperate to draw close to him as his absence hit me with a new wave of sadness. I chuckled through my tears when I read this snippet from a few years ago about his senior living experience at “The Home”, as he so fondly referred to it…
Last week the social director arranged a “fashion show” for the old ladies. She thought it a good idea to have an escort to help steady their walk down the runway. Guess who was asked to be “the escort”? I said, “Why not?” I told the social director after the show that I had admired models for 70 years but had never touched one before! Bear in mind, these models were mostly in their 80’s, so the thrill was dampened just a bit!
His funny anecdotes are all knit together with an overwhelming tone of kindness, generosity, and unwavering devotion to all things family. As I sniffled through a letter from 2007 in which he marveled at how quickly 61 years of marriage to Nannie had gone by and wished Shane and I the same good fortune, Juliette looked up from her coloring book and asked, “Why are you sad, Mama?” “I just really, really miss my grandpa,” I replied. She furrowed her brow, a look of utmost concern on her face, and then followed up with, “Well, why can’t he just come over?”
Oh, if only, kiddo. If only.