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  • Writer's picture Jana

A Joyful Family Tradition Blossoms out of Unexpected Circumstances.

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

As much joy as it brings me to write new posts on my blog, I have been finding it more and more challenging to find the time to write (it took me a week to get this post done). These days most of my posts seem to focus on special occasions, holidays, and the like since those events seem to have an abundance of content, both from a storytelling and visual point of view. Also, those happy occasions seem to be crowd-pleasers with my readers, judging by my analytics (but whose counting?)

As most of you remember, for quite a few months into the pandemic I was keeping a daily "journal" of our lives on my blog, as we struggled through these unprecedented times. It now serves as a meaningful time capsule, of sorts, for that time in history and our lives.

Since neither time nor my sanity, allow me to write daily, I often look for subjects or experiences that move me and motivate me to write. Aside from the requisite birthdays and other arbitrary holidays, we find ourselves celebrating (half birthdays, Pi Day, or the yearly anniversary of when we moved into our house), it now seems that our bi-weekly visits to Descanso Gardens and to visit my mother are providing a similar level of inspiration that those early days of the pandemic once provided.

Despite that it is the same trip, every two weeks, to the two same places, our experiences are always surprisingly unique. Each time we go, the places look and feel different. Our feelings too have evolved over the months, especially when visiting my mom. And our conversations, during the day and on the drive home are always different, but always intriguing. . The only consistency I have found is how much we look forward to our day trips and how, at the end of each one, we come home happier, closer as a family and filled with an inner sense of peace and joy.

Last weekend was our "on" weekend to make the trip. On our way to Descanso Gardens, where we always start, we picked up a picnic lunch, which has become a new tradition that only started on our last visit. We arrived there, found ourselves a lovely table under a large tree, and set up camp to enjoy our lunch. Since the picnic area is close to the parking lot you can see all the visitors coming and going, which on an ordinary day, would not merit a mention. However, this past weekend there seemed to be a city-wide Dodge Challenger meet-up at Descanso Gardens. Yes, not what you would expect bucolic public garden. Nonetheless, as we enjoyed our lunch, we watched, with great fascination and amusement, as the parade of Dodge Challengers arrived, looking, well, like Dodge Challengers (and sounding like Dodge Challengers too). Admittedly, they interrupted the serene setting that all the picnickers were trying to enjoy, but served as an amusing topic of conversation as we ate, just the same.

After lunch, we went into the gardens, as we always do. We hadn't been there in three weeks (we had to skip the prior weekend due to unforeseen circumstances). We were mesmerized by the transformation that had taken place in those few weeks. There were glorious tulips everywhere, as far as the eye could see. There had not been even a hint of them the last time we were there, so their seemingly sudden appearance felt magical. In the blink of an eye, the entire landscape had transformed into Spring. The tulips were in all shades of pink, purple, yellow, white, orange, and red. In addition to the ravishing tulips, the cherry blossoms were in bloom and magnificent. As if all that wasn't glorious enough, as we walked around we noticed little bird nests in all shapes, colors, and sizes everywhere. The staff had made bird nests out of a variety of twigs and leaves found in the gardens and placed them in the most unexpected places. Finding them was like finding those carefully concealed candy-filled eggs on Easter Day. It was so much fun! We ended our visit with a trip back to the beloved camellia forest, which we found to be even more bloom-filled than our previous visits this winter. As we headed away, we wandered past the lilac garden to find that just a few of those had started to bloom. They were stunning and you could smell their intensely sweet fragrance a mile away. Hope was springing eternal at Descanso Gardens.

We arrived to see my mom and grandmother at our usual time, around 4 PM. We unloaded the bags out of the car, filled with spring decorations we had purchased, and gathered to festoon their graves. We brought colorful floral yard spinners that we had picked out at our favorite nursery, festive St. Patrick's Day decorations, and some fragrant stalks of freesia flowers. The kids took great care to decorate their graves which is always touching to watch. Then we took our usual "walk around the neighborhood." We always check on the new graves to see if their markers have been placed and to find out who might be "moving in" to Granny's nook of the cemetery, known as the Faith section. We also like to meander around to get decorating ideas, of which we find many. The care and creativity that families put into making the graves look special are so heartwarming. We said hello to some other families that were visiting loved ones, all clearly in their stages of grief. We ended our visit in the usual way of spreading out our blanket next to Granny and telling her about what we've been up to lately. Garin told her about the priceless heirloom bowl he broke that belonged to her (and asked her to forgive him), Since it was the one-year anniversary of the lockdown in Los Angeles the day we visited, I gave her the obligatory update on COVID. I wondered what her take on things would be, six months since her departure.

As we drove home, we got on the subject of what things were like when I was growing up. Since the subject of telephones came up specifically, I explained to the kids that there was no such thing as cell phones, or even answering machines, when I was very little. If you were out, you were out. If you called and your friend was on the phone, you would get a busy signal and just had to keep trying back (sometimes for hours). The Dark Ages, Miles must have surmised, when he asked me, "Were there cars or electricity when you a little girl, Mommy?." I'm not that old, Miles. We all laughed and I marveled at what a joyous day it had been and how happy my mom would be to know about this new family tradition born out of her passing.

Let It Be came as we got close to home. Just like clockwork. You're welcome, Mom. We love you and will see you in a few weeks on your birthday.

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