Bobcat, Beach, Birthday, and Gram’s Grave

I succeeded in giving my 17 year old son “the weirdest birthday present I’ve ever received”:

Happy Birthday! Glimpses of nature are my favorite gift. Your bobcat on Sunday was one, and this was on the driveway with the newspaper (this morning)! Note, our driveway does not get a lot of pinecones.

Andy’s birthday was Tuesday and since he runs Cross Country and plays viola and has a full class load as a high school junior, we started celebrating early. We made Sunday, two days before his birthday, a special day for him. He wanted to go to Lake Tahoe and it was a beautiful day, so as soon as homework and viola practice were done we drove to Emerald Bay. We were thinking that post Labor Day it wouldn’t be crowded, but with such beautiful weather we were lucky to get parking. Stan’s painful feet finally qualified him for handicap license plates and he just got them a few days before. We waited to get into the parking lot and when we got in, there was one open handicap spot. We had a picnic lunch overlooking lower Eagle Falls. Then Andy and his Aunt Sue hiked down and ran the Rubicon Trail along the shore of Lake Tahoe. Stan and I drove to D.L. Bliss State Park and we got the only available parking place at the beach at the trail’s end – a handicap spot.

It was a beautiful day on the beach and Stan and I got to relax.Then the runners joined us. First Andy, who reported that he saw a bobcat that looked like this:

photo source: Defenders of Wildlife

I told him it was his birthday bobcat. I once had a birthday bear. Back when Jonika lived with us, Stan and I hiked on the Jones Creek Trail in Galena Creek Park on my birthday. We had Jonika’s dog, Gidgit, with us. Gidgit was off leash when we were coming back down the switcbacks, and a bear stood up to look at us from the bushes on a switchback below. Luckily, Gidgit, the best dog ever, came when I called her and we put her on leash. The bear was a beautiful cinnamon color although it was a black bear, the only kind of bear we have here. We bushwhacked down to the left to avoid the lower switchbacks. I have always considered that bear my birthday bear. I was happy to hear that Andy saw a bobcat on his birthday celebration day.

Sue arrived from her run shortly after Andy

We had time to enjoy the beach, and the water was even warm enough to swim.

photo by Stan Macdomald

Then we headed back to Reno for a birthday dinner at Southcreek Pizza with Nana and Papa.

Nana and Papa both wore red and swore they did not plan it

Then on Andy’s actual birthday on Tuesday, he got his birthday pinecone and went off to school, cross country practice, and viola lesson. Stan cooked a smoked tri tip with corn on the cob and Texas Toast for the birthday dinner with a special request pecan pie for dessert. Andy had some cards to open and a couple other gifts too. I even printed the happy birthday emails from his dentist and doctor. The doctor’s office actually said, “We hope to see you soon!” That is like saying, “We hope you get sick soon”!

Also on Andy’s birthday, my sister Sue and I went to look for our grandmother’s grave. We knew the cemetery but we didn’t know where the grave was. We walked all over looking at all the names on the gravestones, but we couldn’t find hers. So we called our dad.

He suggested we go to the office, so we did and the woman gave us a map then said, “I’ll take you there.”

We found it in a nice shady spot.

I had not been to her grave since her funeral. Our grandmother was not a happy drinker and I usually only had time to visit her after work, when she had already had her afternoon drinks. I walked out on her several times when she said things that were too mean for me to stay. When she was not drinking she was fine, although she spent her life not hearing well and not wanting anyone to know, so it was hard for her to make friends. She also carried that Catholic guilt secret about being a divorcee in 1935 rather than a widow as she told everyone. But in her 90s she spilled her secret to me and that eventually led Sue to do the research and find my dad’s half sister and brother and their wonderful extended family and so much love added to our lives. Thanks Gram, for sharing that secret before you died.

This was a good visit because Sue and I were able to talk about our best memories of Gram:

  • Taking us to Cubs games on the el and pushing us under the turnstile saying she’s over 12 when we weren’t (to get us in free on ladies day).
  • She owned Wrigley stock and was sent gum frequently and she always shared it out of her purse. My favorite was Blackjack, the licorice flavored one.
  • She also had Swedish fish, and nonpareils, and chewy things she called gummies (like precursors to fruit snacks but much harder). She also loved Fannie May candies and usually had a box she would share.
  • She taught us to knit and do other crafts: lots of homemade Christmas ornaments. Susie still enjoys knitting, like me, and she made a beer cozy for Stan!

It was good to remember the good things about Gram, even if none of the sweet grandmother cards ever worked for her. We got some good things from her and we wouldn’t be here without her.

Sue also got to spend time with my dad, who wouldn’t be here without Gram either.

We went to another cross country meet, and this time Papa came too.

photo by Melissa Knight

Great birtday for Andy, great visit with my sister Sue, and great memories of Gram.

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