I’m not sure how many people out there would think spending an entire day with a couple of 89-year-olds one of their favorite birthdays ever. Then again, only a handful of us are lucky enough to call these two crazy kids their grandparents. This picture pretty much sums up my 35th birthday.
Okay, if you want to get technical, this was probably my fifth or sixth 35th birthday party. Amanda, Alicia and Claire threw together a pre-road trip surprise bash a couple weeks ago that was attended by a blend of all three of my families — The Quad Squad, my spiritual “tribe” and my actual family — and was an absolute blast. And so far we’ve managed to chronicle what’s become the Southwest Sh!tshow/Birthday Tour from Reno to Bishop to Cherry Valley to Riverside. But the ultimate goal of this wild ride was to rendezvous with my two favorite people in the universe and collect as many pearls of wisdom and hilarious anecdotes as was humanly possible. I can easily say that our mission has been accomplished.
Grandpa Ed did his best to thwart photo opportunities as we pored through countless clippings of Desert Heights News, Grandma Betty’s weekly column on their life among the various wildlife of the high desert that was a staple in their town local paper for over 28 years. With razor wit and uncanny comic timing, she shares much more in common with Betty White than just her given name. She is up to date on Suge Knight’s court shenanigans and Chris Brown’s Twitter activity, but found Fifty Shades of Grey to be much tamer than what she usually reads.
After nearly setting my beard ablaze with a single-candled peach cobbler, we dug deeper into more serious fare. Our conversation touched on everything from our respective medical troubles to her sage like advice on relationships after being blissfully married to my grandfather for 35 years.
Life gets messy and complicated sometimes. When you’re in the midst of some of the most brutal struggles, it’s hard to imagine things getting better. But things have a way of working themselves out, and these two love birds are proof. Had my dad’s parents not divorced over 40 years ago, I never would’ve had the opportunity to be influenced by one of the greatest storytellers that has ever walked this earth and her happy-go-lucky muse.
We’ll stop by tomorrow morning on our way to Ojai, but it won’t be a bittersweet farewell. I set these two crazies up on Skype, so they’ll only be a WebCam away.