We have returned from our travels to Arizona.
This was an epic and bittersweet journey in more ways than one, and perhaps too complicated for me to get into here and now.
As you can see below, our Little Monkey is well on his way to walking now that he is practicing his standing and balancing poses. He sure is proud of himself when he holds himself in what we call his “surfer pose.” That’s where he holds onto a piece of furniture or one of us and slowly lets go, one hand at a time, stretching his arms in front and behind himself like a surfer as he simultaneously dons a explorative grin until he eventually collapses and explodes with laughter. Our hearts continue to melt every day as we witness these small, yet tremendous milestones.
We first flew into Phoenix, on an Alaska Airlines Portland Timbers plane no less, which we thought brought good luck for Little Monkey’s first time traveling by air.
It went off without a hitch and he was an absolute angel of a traveler – falling asleep during take-off each time and laughing through the landing. It was beyond my wildest dreams for how I had hoped the flights might go and can only hope it sticks! I was prepared for the worst, but truly ended up with the best of all possible scenarios. I was actually the one crying on the flight home after catching a cold during our trip and dealing with the pain of congestion.
In the scorching heat of the Phoenix daylight, we went to the Desert Botanical Gardens where we had hoped to see the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit. However, shortly after walking the grounds we realized it was no longer on display in the garden and has been gone since 2009. We were only late by about three years! I guess I thought it was a permanent feature.
It was still beautiful walking through the garden, but far too hot for Little Monkey so we ended our stay abruptly and headed to the comfort of nearby air conditioning.
That night, my longtime friend, Tina, and her husband Chris hosted a reunion of sorts for us to visit with some of my high school buddies and have the chance to meet their families. So many of the children looked so much like their parents.
Tina is such a good hostess — thank you so much for your hospitality T!
Our next stop was north to the Flagstaff area, where we held an intimate ceremony to say goodbye to my grandmother, Lil’ Banka, who passed away last year. We stayed at her cabin in Munds Park where I grew up going every summer of my childhood and well into my first years of college. It brought back so many memories of lazy days spent in the tracksuit-style pajamas she would buy for my cousins and I each summer; playing Rummy Cube and Uno every evening; laying in the dewy grass of the golf course to watch the fireworks shoot right over our heads on the 4th of July; fishing in the lake nearby; riding bikes and walking through the neighboring streets; and sitting on the back porch for dinner every night where we would usually eat an iceberg lettuce salad, cantaloupe, some kind of dinner, followed by Vanilla Wafer Pudding for desert.
The place still smelled just as it did during my childhood visits, which made me miss Lil’ Banka dearly. It was just so strange to be there without her by our sides as we sat together in the living room at night as we used to do with a bowl of popcorn in hand while watching Wheel of Fortune.
All the while, my mind was also on my grandmother in Tucson, Banka Dottie, whom on the day of our arrival had been taken to the hospital with breathing issues and subsequently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Every update I’d receive on her condition would be worse than the one before it and all I wanted to do was hop in the car to go and see her to give her a great big comfort hug. But alas, I was told to wait for a visit until later in the week.
The purpose of this trip down was to say goodbye to one grandmother and visit with the other. Not to say goodbye to both.
I am not ready yet to let go of another important person to me who has influenced my passion for all things arts and culture related and taught me to be sure and appreciate some of the finer things in life and to be sure and celebrate every day.
Nearby in Flagstaff, we saw our friends Jodi and Guy and their two sweet little kids. Josh got a nice hike in with Guy, which they dubbed something along the lines of “the men only hike.” So, Jodi and I stayed in town and caught up with one another between nap and feeding schedules. It seemed that once one babe would go down, the other would wake up so there wasn’t the focused visits of the past, but this is the reality with little ones!
(Not to worry, I got my spa day later).
Our next stop was in Tucson, where we had limited visits with friends and family. But when we finally did see everyone again, it sure was wonderful!
And the most important visit of all – with Banka Dottie….
…meeting Little Monkey for the very first time.