California: the things I never want to forget

This was past weekend was a bit emotional. My grandpa, who has been fighting cancer for years, was hospitalized again, and a second cousin I had just seen at our family reunion last month passed away yesterday from a heart attack.

It made me so overwhelmingly grateful that I was able to go back to California last month and spend time with my family. I spent three years praying for the finances and time to be able to see my grandpa again. So many times through those three years he nearly died. He should have died. It's a miracle he's alive. I'm so glad I saw him, and I hope and pray I can see him again.

One of my favorite places in the world is Surf Beach. It's quiet and desolate and completely eerie. It's almost always cold and windy and grey and home to the most dangerous currents. There is driftwood and debris littering the shores from a storm that destroyed the peer probably 50 years ago. My other grandpa, who passed away when I was 7, worked at the Nasa base down the road from the beach. This was his favorite place, and it's where his ashes are today.

I still have memories of him taking me here as a toddler, walking me through the sand looking for shells. The majority of the beach is closed now to let some stupid bird lay its eggs, but I still find a way to get out there and walk as far as the fences will allow. My memories of him are the strongest when I'm there.

I want to remember this beach forever. I want to bottle up those memories of my grandfather as if they were grains of sand in a glass bottle. I want to remember the way the waves break in the distance. The low roar of the ocean. The salty smell. The memories of running through the sand as a kid, all the way to the open beach and sticking my toes in the water despite the freezing water.

I want to remember the hole in the wall burger joint my grandpa also took me to. The decor has become more modern over the years, but it always reminds me of a WWII scene when the air force boys flood the place at lunch time. Take the wine bottle paintings off the wall and it's 1940, I'm telling you. And the burgers will forever be better than In-N-Out. Yes, I said. It's true.

I want to remember late nights with my grandma, sorting through my great grandmother's dishes from the 20s & 30s that will be passed down to me (!). Dishes my grandma ate all her meals on growing up. And dishes that just so happen to be the original Fiestaware, and in all the same colors I registered for when I got married.

I want to remember the early mornings, with the a cup of coffee and the coastal fog pouring throug the open windows as I looked through family pictures. It's been decided, my grandma and I were twins when we were kids.

I spent that week trying my best to soak in memories and stories and family history like a dry sponge. I find that the more I learn about my family and where I come from, the more I learn about myself.


  1. that beach does, indeed, look eerie.
    those are amazing memories though. <3

  2. I love that Fiestaware. We'd kill for some.

    Great memories :)

    I'm a new follower!

    Chantal @ Scattered Seashells (www.scatteredseashells.com)

  3. Such a beautiful post. I'm so sorry to hear about your cousin. It is a wonderful thing to have such great memories of your family. Sending you happy thoughts for grandpa!

  4. Sorry such a swarm of emotions hit you this weekend, ugh.

    I'm thankful you got to spend time in california, and I too will hope you have more time there ASAP.

  5. I'm sorry to hear about your family. You have beautiful memories.

  6. Oh Michelle, I am so so sorry to hear about your cousin...my deepest sympathies to you and everyone around you...and how is your grampa doing?

    I'm glad you have this beach and all the other memories to bottle up and keep close to your heart, your pictures were sweet...


  7. *hug*

    *giant hug*

    *kiss on the head*

    I'm sending love your way, Michelle!

  8. So glad that you had that time with your family members. My family had some pretty significant losses in the last 2 years, but we had two big events before it all started: my grandma's 90th birthday and our wedding. Those two events brought everyone together for the last times, and it was wonderful. *hugs*

  9. Sweet post.
    so sorry for your family.
    Praying for you girl!


  10. Sorry I'm a jerk and didn't check into Blogland yesterday. I'm sorry to hear about your cousin :(

    I'm glad you were able to see your grandfather, and enjoy a burger that looks so delicious that I'm drooling.

    Hold onto those memories! I hope you're able to make more with him :)

  11. So gorgeous. I envy you to have roots in places like that.


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