I took my kids on an adventure yesterday to visit my 88 year old grandpa and my hip and still cool Aunt Suzie in White Cloud, MI. The trip is an easy and short hour away straight up Alpine Ave. yet I fail to get up there very often. I think about White Cloud often but then time goes by and I start to feel guilty that I have not gone to visit and then I feel worse and still do not go. Thank goodness for Aunt Suzie because I feel like I redeemed myself and have a clean slate now in which to go back and now more often.
White Cloud for me holds so many memories. I would spend summers at my grandparents and the time I spent one on one with my grandma molded me for life. I think the conversations, wisedom, and just her presence in my soul got me through the toughest times in my life. Even now when I have a bad day, my patience is thin, I am moody or say too quick a word to someone without thinking I think of her and know that even in the worst of times carried her with such grace and patience. In those moments I try to summon most times in vain this grace she carried. She was an amazing human being. Her life was not without struggles but she never was without a smile for me or someone she knew. And my grandma knew everyone. We would go into town and whether it was the grocery store, church, or the Ben Franklin (remember those?) she would know everyone and everyone would know her. I bet there was not a soul that did not know and love my grandma.
Now when I talk with my aunts about my grandma I realize even more about amazing things about her. She had friends that were women that lived together. I never thought twice about them but now I realize that these women were gay and my grandma accepted them when most people might not have. She loved my dad who raised me after my real dad, her youngest son had died. My dad that raised me is black for those of you that might not know. Many (not all) of my own mother’s family who are hispanic had a hard time accepting my dad but not my grandma. My grandma was a divorcee and a single mom when things like that were taboo (she remarried and had more wonderful kids) and it is amazing to think back on all this and realize how strong and accepting she was. She loved life to the fullest and showed me and her family so much. I know my love of the outdoors, swimming, plants, gardening, baking, adventure, camping, crafts, animals all come from her. All of this I hope to pass along to my own children. She was my grandma and mom all rolled into one when in times during my life I needed one.
The funny thing is when my husband and I got together we realized we both probably spent the same summers in White Cloud because he parents have property there. We even swam at the same lake. The difference is my husband is not an outdoorsmen and calls the city I have such great memories of Dirt Cloud but I will always remember it as my salvation and with loving fondness.
Not many things in White Cloud change and for me that is a comfort. Take this swing my children are on, it is the same swing I used as a child. What a wonderful life!