Nope. Not Disneyland. About two hours east of Walt’s famous theme park lies a five-acre parcel of mostly desolate sand that will forever be my second home thanks to two almost-90-year-old lovebirds; my Grandpa Ed and Grandma Betty. Just a few hours with them is almost enough to make you completely forget about the previous four days’ struggles.
It’s amazing that these two have only been married for 35 years, because they have always personified the idea of soulmates for me. We spent the better part of the evening in their dining room listening to a myriad of stories from their past; from their family histories to the time they snuck off to elope in Las Vegas without telling anyone in their families.
When you listen to my grandfather recount his experiences as a gunner’s mate on the USS Tuscaloosa during World War II — where not only did he shell the beach at Normandy on D-Day from his position behind one the ships eight five-inch antiaircraft guns, but he also watched the flags go up at Iwo Jima through his scope — it’s no wonder why they call his generation The Greatest.
And then there’s Betty who, at 89 years young, is as sharp and as selfless as can be. She talks about the macular degeneration that has plagued her eyesight over the last decade and the brutal medical trials she underwent where they literally stuck needles in her eyeballs, but it follows that right up with how bad she felt for her “Eddie” that he had to sit out in the waiting room for hours on end without complaint.
Later, Grandpa gave Claire the executive tour of the of the home that started as a 10 x 20 cabin with an adjacent outhouse almost 70 years ago but has since become one of the anchoring points for the entire Salvini family. He had her help feed the menagerie of wild animals that show up in the yard on a daily basis; a hodgepodge mix of quail, ravens, coyotes, hummingbirds and roadrunners (a.k.a. Eye-talian chickens according to Grandpa). Grandma just watched from the window and laughed as her excited husband stammered through all of the usual stories for his captivated audience.
All in all, it was a perfect day. My motors may not work, but my batteries are recharged.