Many, many moons ago, with stars in my eyes and no inkling of what lie ahead, I married my husband, Mr. Smith. Under a flowered arbor and wearing a crown of stephanotis and gypsophila, I said “I do” and we began our way down the highway of life together.
We moved around a bit in our early marriage, including to Georgia and Minnesota. When our sons were seven, four and two, we moved to a small town in northeast Indiana, into a roomy old Victorian on the corner of Diamond and Oak where we stayed for over twenty years. The boys could walk to school, the library and the park. Mr. Smith worked hard at turning a “diamond in the rough” into our family home where we enjoyed many years of holiday celebrations, family milestones and the wonderful mundaneness of everyday family life.
In 2007, he got an unexpected job offer out east. As our sons were grown and now building their own lives, we decided to say yes to a new adventure. We purged and purged and finally packed up twenty plus years in that fabulous, closet-challenged old house and moved east. Not long after we moved, the grandchildren started to arrive. In less than ten years, we welcomed seven grandchildren into our lives.
Before the move East, I had imagined my “grandma years” in our rambling Victorian with grandchildren running up the front stairway and down the back, reading books and having snacks on the back porch, and tucking them in at night in a row of little twin beds listening to them call good night ala The Waltons. Ha! As that certainly wasn’t going to happen in our current one bedroom apartment, I had to come up with another plan. That plan was Camp Grandma!
I’ve always loved a project and now I was a woman on a mission. Despite the miles between us, we usually managed to see each other during the Christmas season or for grandchildren’s birthdays. This usually meant Mr. Smith and I making the rounds to see our sons and their families in their own homes. I wanted all my peeps under one roof with me for a week. Our little apartment wasn’t going to handle that so taking everyone’s responsibilities and commitments into consideration, Mr. Smith and I decided that every other summer we would rent a big house on a lake and host our ever growing family for a week of esprit de corps.
It is the best thing I have ever done. I truly believe everyone looks forward to our week together. The cousins that live hundreds of miles apart get time together with their “beach friends”. I plan activities and games for the grandkids. The older they get, the more fun it is becoming. This past year I instituted “Camp Grandma Book Club” and each evening the “Big Five” and I would go off on our own and I’d read to them from The Boxcar Children. The morning after we finished the book, we went out to an adorable little bakery in a nearby lake town for donuts. We all sat at the big round table in the front window and I was a very happy grandma.
I am currently working on planning Camp Grandma 2020. It will be a very special one as it is the summer I will turn 65 and my first born will turn 40. The last night of Camp Grandma 2018, two of the grandchildren slept in Mr. Smith and my room as it also had a set of bunk beds. We were up first and starting to move towards getting us packed up and on the road. Grandpa went back in where Eli and Olivia were lying in the bunks chatting with each other. He told them they had better get up, grandma had cinnamon rolls in the oven and we had to start getting ready to go. Eli looked at him and said “I can’t believe it’s over already…”
I think that’s pretty much how we all feel when it’s over. Mr. Smith and I spend the first hour or so of the drive home talking about our favorite memories of our week. Then it’s on to brainstorming about how to make the next one even better. Camp Grandma is a true example of making my life the best that I can. And it’s pretty darn good.
C’est la vie…