Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Great Aunts...They're Pretty Great!

April 1, 2010

Among other obvious reasons for loving Spring Break, I was especially looking forward to this week off because my great aunts are out from Texas and Oklahoma to visit Grandma. I'm fortunate to live only about five minutes away from Grandma, but visits with her sisters are too rare, since they live so far away. Spending time with these women always makes me realize what an amazing group of strong, funny, charming, and animated females my own sisters and I come from. It explains a lot, of course, since we (naturally) share these characteristics.

Grandma really wanted to take Margaret and Dolores to our local pizza hangout, so one of our first evenings we had one of our Me 'n Ed's pizza nights. I was thrilled that my sister Laura and her boyfriend Jonathan could come up for the weekend to join us. Unfortunately, my other sister got swamped with other obligations at home (because she's a super-woman who packs about 27 hours into every day), so she couldn't make the trip. I know she was completely disappointed about missing the visit.

The next day, Grandma had a trip planned to a local architectural wonder, the Forestiere Underground Gardens. I had always wanted to visit this place, but had never been. Danielle and I decided to join them for the tour. It's just fascinating! The owner bought 80 acres in Fresno in the early 1900s, but realized the combination of hardpan and the extreme heat in the Fresno summer was a barrier to his dream of cultivating a successful citrus orchard. So what did he do? He made lemonades out of the lemons on his land. He changed focus and put his experience as a subway tunnel excavator (from time he lived in New York) to work. To escape the sweltering sun he began digging his home downward underneath his lands, eventually eeking out somewhere near fifty rooms, including his own private living quarters. Eventually, once enough progress was made, he turned his sights toward opening up his home as a tourist attraction, and continued to dig and develop throughout his life. After he died his family continued the tradition, though some of the land was sold off the extended family. The remaining 40 acres have been designated a Historical Landmark, and people from all over the world come to visit annually.

This was our tour guide. He was an incredibly patient and knowledgeable guy. As you can see from his t-shirt, he's in the reserves for the Marine Corps. When Dolores asked him about his service, she gave him a big hug and heartfelt thanks. She said, "God bless you, and stay stateside." I thought that was so sweet, and I could tell he was touched, too.

Last night, Doug and I wanted to share our favorite restaurant with Grandma, Aunt Margaret, and Aunt Dolores. We took them to DiCicco's, an Italian restaurant right up the street from us. The food was delicious, as always, and we spent about two hours just talking and laughing and reminiscing. I thought Doug was such a good sport for coming along with me to the chatty girl party, but he said he really enjoyed the conversation and had a great time. (My aunts think he's a pretty great guy too, since he's so sweet and affectionate with me. I happen to agree with them, by the way.) We talked about my mom and dad, travel, education, raising children, food (of course!), family history, memories...just about everything. I really could have sat there for another two hours, but they started turning down the lights and shutting down the restaurant, so we decided we'd head out the door and let our poor waitress get home to her family.

While I was sitting across from Grandma, Dolores, and Margaret, having our dinner and completely relishing the conversation, it occurred to me that I could be looking at me and my own sisters in another 35 years. If one day my granddaughters are sitting across from Lisa, Laura, and me, and we are as intelligent, fascinating, and full of vitality and fun as these ladies are, then we will certainly have done something right in our lives.

They leave bright and early tomorrow morning. I am even more motivated than ever to take a summer trip back to the mid-west for a visit. I definitely don't want another ten years to go by before I get to see them again!


  1. Thank you for sharing this great post. I'd LOVE hanging out with you and your awesome fam!

  2. One more time ...(dang the comment gods)
    HOORAY for this post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!