I have been very fortunate to have had a close relationship with all of my grandparents. I was especially close to my fathers parents, Mama Lois and Big John.
Mama Lois and Big John lived in the south for as long as I can remember. When I was very young, I spent my summers in the gulf with them on their small boat, going fishing and shrimping. Big John would always let me drive for a while, even as a toddler.
They were married for over 60 years and only had one son, my father. When my father passed away at age 55, they were heartbroken. In fact, they passed soon after...one by one. Sometimes I feel that it was from a broken heart. They were so lonely without my father.
They lived in Spanish Fort, Alabama for years and then moved to Marietta, Georgia. I remember more of their time in Marietta, but I have pictures from summers in Spanish Fort. Such as this one with my father after a day of fishing.
We don't have traditional funerals in my family. We didn't when my mother's parents died as well. For me, I knew it was the right thing to do by picking them up at the mortuary where they were held and take them on this journey with me.
The past few days, I went to their old house in Marietta, then drove to Orange Beach, Alabama. Max and I took a walk along the beach, which was beautiful. Towards the evening, we headed to Daphne (the birthplace of my dad) and stumbled upon his high school in Fairhope. After that, we drove by the home that they bought in Mobile when the suburbs were first being built in Spanish Fort.
From the outside, it seems a bit weird that I am traveling with my dead grandparents. It does a little to me. But, I feel it is the right thing to do. I am happy that they are with me for the last leg of the journey. I know that they would have lit up taking the tour I did the past few days. I think the beach was a bit stormy for them to stay too long, but I am sure they would have enjoyed giving me the history of the area that only a long time local would know.
I am so happy that I saw the things I did. It makes me feel close to them once again. I miss them terribly.
So now I have a packed car with Max and the grandparents.
The first and only family road trip I remember taking was when I was 10 and my parents, Mama Lois and Big John and my brother all packed up in a station wagon and drove from Southern California to Canada. That was fun. My mother and I sat in the reverse seat in the back watching all the places we have been. Sort of like what Max does today.
This has been a journey of a lifetime. I can't wait to see where we go next.