Sunday, April 18, 2010

Under the Sprawling Walnut Tree

This is the only picture we have from CA--a crummy Blackberry shot.

I spent Saturday in Placerville, CA, meeting Sam's family. Hoenstly, I've never been to a more beautiful place. I was amazed by his Grandma Bennett's home and property (and of all days in my life to forget a camera of any kind!). Not only had these talented Bennett women hung kites, tissue paper balls, balloons and windmills, they had also assembled quite a spread of cupcakes and candies. And as pleasant as the decorations were, I was completely enamored with Grandma Bennett's yard and home. Every tree and plant was abloom--camellias, tulips, crabapple, and so many unfamiliar to me. I felt like I'd been transported to a Better Homes and Gardens shoot for a casual garden party. I wandered the yard and house, admiring and thinking and wondering, "Why is this here? What is the story behind this?"

When women interact, there are some standard queries:
"Tell me the story of how you and your husband met."
"What is the story behind this painting/dress/picture?"
"I'm dying to hear your baby's birth story!"

We are a gender of stories--all different, all interesting, yet all basically the same. These stories are what link us together as women. And it doesn't take long for the exchanges to begin.

Grandpa explained how they had grafted white walnut to the base of a black walnut and how many nuts that enormous tree produces every year. Aunties scurried back and forth, decorating and laughing, chasing kids and runaway kites. Grandma watched with me as presents were opened and admired (and she and I both cringed as ribbon was trashed instead of carefully folded for reuse). She shared stories with me about her childhood home and how she loves her yard and the plants and trees she's tended there. She confided in me how strange the circle of life is, even at her age--how difficult it is to watch her daughters do all the things that she used to do for them for their weddings.

I met aunts and cousins and grandmothers and friends, all budding with excitement and information. I heard stories about adding the pool to the yard, a gardener accidentally killing all the grass in one section, when the waterfall and foot bridge were added, and how long the "Do not disturb" sign had been hanging on the bathroom door. I found out the picture collage in the kitchen was created last summer and contains all of the family.  I discovered that a cousin's baby had been in the hospital shortly after birth with a kidney infection, but all was now well.  I nursed Eve as I read plaques and awards on the bedroom wall. 

And all the while, I learned about this new family of Heidi's. I learned of their kindness and their love of life. I learned of their joy and sacrifice and history--standing in the shade of that same walnut tree where Sam's newly wed parents had greeted friends and family 28 years before. I put names with faces and children with parents.

And as hard as it is for me to share Heidi with anyone, I see that she is in good hands.
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  1. Oh and isn't that wonderful! To know that your daughter married into a good family, with roots and stories and wonderful people.
    This was a great post - You really know how to paint a picture. Looks like you didn't need the camera!

  2. That is the best blessing of all...knowing that your daughter will have another good family to love her...and her children.

    What abundance that is!


    PS. And I agree with Cherie. You told this so beautifully I could almost see it myself.

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  4. Jenny, your blog is BEAUTIFUL! I am in awe with how absolutely adorable your family is - it's amazing to see how grown up Heidi is...and so beautiful! The pictures of the reception looked gorgeous - my mom said it definitely was.

    I agree with the other two ladies, you do have a way with words. You really can paint a picture with each post you write.

    Love ya! Send my regards and hello to the rest of your family.

  5. It sounds like a fairy tale. How lovely that your daughter has such a nice new family!

  6. Sam's family sounds wonderful! I agree with you, hard to let another family move in the heart of your daughter...but when they are like that, how do you not?

  7. oh Jen once again your post leaves me with goosebumps and tears in my eyes....I guess if they HAVE to grow up and get married, then your Heidi has been blessed it seems with a wonderful family. Love all the wedding photos!!

  8. So glad it was in fine form when you visited! Reading the description of the yard made me nostalgic for home, this sounds much like my Grandparent's place. So glad it went well, maybe some of Sam's family will read your post and send a few pictures your way. Hope this week life can begin to get back to normal for you!

  9. i am crying~you have such a way with words & feelings. maybe it is a good thing you forgot your camera, so you could take in all of that around you?

  10. So well written. I'm just sad that I don't get to see this gorgeous place, because you described it so well. I'm glad everything went smoothly on that end, and especially glad that she's married into what sounds like a great and loving family.

    Oh, and no worries about sharing the barf joy. After 3 more bouts from midnight on, she seems to have left it all behind her. Been outside happily playing htis morning. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

  11. Oh how silly it is that I was getting wet eyes from your story. I agree...everyone has a story. I love it! My babies are still babies and won't be moving on to be part of another's story yet, but what a beautiful comparison. We are building God's library, one story/family at a time! Oh, for the eternities where all our stories will be told!!

  12. what a wonderful perspective you have! Thanks for sharing what a special day you had.

    I found you through Stef's blog and I will definately be stopping back.

    I have 5 kids and it is nice to see a mom with more kids than I do. . .who looks as pulled together as you do! What's your secret?


  13. I have 3 things to say:
    1. I am a ribbon saver so I can totally relate.
    2. How wonderful that meeting the "other" family was such a sweet experience. It makes me determined to be curious and gracious and accepting when its my turn.
    3. It IS hard to share! I still struggle maybe especially because the other families are lovely and love my children like their own. I am my own worst self confidence enemy.
    Thanks for sharing your special week - it was just beautiful!

  14. I was so glad to hear how wonderful the CA trip went. It sounds like Heidi is lucky to have such a great new family. It is nice that you could go and see Sam's family where everything is familiar for them and to get such a good feeling from it all. Now, we just need to get Heidi and Sam to come to Jerome.

  15. Placerville is a lovely place. I lived in Ca. once. Sounds like a lovely time with your daughter's new family. First time here and your blog and family is beautiful.

  16. My whole family loves this post. My parents and mother-in-law all cried when they read it. It was fun to see ourselves through someone else's eyes. We are so glad you, Brad and Eve came to Placerville so you could see who we are and know that Heidi will be loved and appreciated when she is with us. Over the years Adam and I have prayed that Sam would meet someone like Heidi. When Sam first met Heidi he expressed to me how impressed he was by her spiritual sensitivity and her high standards. Thank you for raising such a daughter.

  17. What a beautifully written post. I am Sam's cousin. The oldest Daughter of his mom's oldest brother Scott. I believe you met him in Arizona.

    I just love the perspective that you have on our family. I am amazed at the appreciation you have of that beautiful home, and our history. It is a magical place for all of us. I was so relieved when I heard my Aunt Tami was moving into it. I cannot imagine it not being in our family.

    I haven't met your daughter yet, but I know she must be pretty special. The Brubaker Boys are such good boys.. And Sam will be a great husband.

  18. Beautiful post again! Wow..I can't imagine sharing my babes with another wonderful to know she will be loved and cherished by another beautiful one. Bummer that you didn't have your camera!!

    Yes...the bathroom is dragging along. Plenty of time to surf bathrooms online and view the Ikea catalog online. Now I need to get over there soon. It will be done....eventually!!

  19. It was lovely to meet you on Saturday. I'm looking forward to reading more about your family and adventures through the coming months.

    From the moment I met him, I was impressed by Sam and his goodness. I'm so glad that he found someone as wonderful as Heidi to share his life with.