Donna answered the phone, and I was struck by how much she sounded like Mom. I suppose that should make sense to me, but it was still surreal. She had no idea it was me, and was pretty lukewarm to the fact I had called -- I guess I'm just a godawful brother. Ah well.
Mom was really jazzed to hear from me, and proceeded to tell me all about the house that Donna had managed to swing (a second, btw). It's apparently really close to my grandparents old place in Greene county, which she took the time to go visit.
The first shock was hearing that the road that we used to take no longer existed... apparently it washed out a year or so ago. My memory of the drive up always focussed on that moment when I'd see the single flashing yellow light, make the right down a short road, another right across this small bridge (the sound of the metal grate was so distinctive that even now, when driving over the draw bridge to Alameda, the vibration takes me back to being 8 and wondering if we'd EVER get there), hang the left... and there would be Grandma and Grandpa's hill, appearing on the right, with a fantastic vista to the left. It was there I learned why they called them "picture" windows...
She then told me that the bridge was gone, replace about 5 years ago. THAT was a wrench. I remember finally getting to jump from that bridge into the creek below, at the age of 14. Damn...
She told me about walking around the old house, noting that the stump where the oak tree in the back of the house had stood (it had been struck by lightening before I could even recall a tree being there) was completely gone. We then got into a disagreement about how long ago that tree had been struck, as I noted that the stump had been there for over 30 years... she conceded that my memory was probably closer to the truth.
Then she told me about the trees.
She said that they had all gotten so LARGE. I felt this really strange sensation, hearing myself ask the question: "Are they big enough to climb on?"
There was this brief pause, and she answered enthusiastically "Oh, absolutely! Why do you ask?"
Why? Because I remember this 8 year old standing with his grandfather as he dug the holes about the property, carefully setting each tree brought straight from nursery, placing it between two supports, a young boy eagerly thinking of the day when he could climb those trees, and asking his gran'pa when he could be able to do that.
I really wish he could have seen them now. And somehow, just knowing they've made it to this point it feels like a connection is still there. Climbing them isn't important... knowing that they could be climbed is.