Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Company is coming
My brother and sister-in-law are coming to visit, and I am thrilled.
The retired couple are on what I hope to be a great adventure, driving across the United States — beginning in New York and ending in California — with stops along the way. They have mapped out a loose schedule and decided on some not-to-be-missed venues over the course of several weeks. I am beyond excited to spend time with them and to introduce them to the community that has been my home, far longer than the one we shared together as children.
My brother is the fourth-born child and second son of my parents’ seven children, and now the only living male amid four sisters (two older and two younger). He is 8 years older than me and was out of the house before I was 10. Even though we did not get a lot of time together growing up, he always let me know he would be there if I ever needed him.
To this day, he offers unconditional love — something I used to think came with the family bond — but have since learned, does not.
He has been my champion, my refuge, and a soft place to fall. He has been a large part of many of my life milestones. He found and helped me buy my first car, took me in when I needed a place to live and gave me away to my second husband. He has listened without judgment, offered advice when asked, and stepped in when needed. He is my memory of a time I was too young to recall — when our parents lived together and when they separated for good. He is everything I believe a man should be — strong, honest, loyal, creative, vulnerable, and handy around the house!
We have grieved the losses of two brothers and both of our parents and share many family secrets.
My brother and sister-in-law met in the eighth grade and have been together ever since — more than 50 years as a couple — can you even imagine the challenges? It takes a certain kind of commitment to weather what have not always been easy days. Together they raised two fine young men who went on to give them five granddaughters.
My brother worked hard his entire life. I know he had an early career as a truck mechanic for a local bakery and spent some time remodeling homes before going to work for local bread company. At one point he uprooted his family and moved to Arizona for a few years to work alongside our father at an auto repair shop, but moved back to New York when circumstances did not turn out to be all that had been portrayed. For a few years, while working full time, he bought a small business — running a video store and ice cream shop — until he just could not do it all anymore. He finally retired after working decades maintaining and repairing equipment at a nationally recognized food manufacturing plant (bet you can’t eat just one).
When our mother became unable to remain living independently, she asked my brother to take control of her finances and later, it fell to my brother to make the tough decisions around her care and living circumstances. He was faithful in visiting her regularly for years, forced to watch her steady decline, and shouldered the burden of informing each of his sisters, who live in several different states, when she passed on.
Now in the downslope of his 60s (after much coaxing and mild harassment) he is throwing caution to the wind and heading my way. He and my sister-in-law will have over three weeks on the road behind them when they get to Nevada County. Talk about saving the best for last! I have the highest hopes for him as he works his way here, spending days behind the wheel, with my sister-in-law navigating. Did I mention he is a patient man?
I realize my brother is not a saint, though I see very few flaws. He strives to do the right thing, be present for his immediate family, and makes certain each of his grandchildren know how much they are loved by him.
For all my life, I have watched as he has put his family first — above all else. And as well as I think I know him, what I realize I do not know is what dreams my brother gave up to be the husband, father, and grandfather he is today.
I want the time he spends here to be stress free and memorable. We will take a few days to visit San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, but really, I want to him to understand why this is the place I call home.
I think he is nervous to be spending so much time with me, as we have only had hours together here and there over the last thirty or more years, but I am nothing but excited I will do my best to wear him out with the sights and sounds and taste that make this community the best in all the land.
While planning our itinerary, I quickly realized there is so much more to do then time to do it. We will hike the river, tour the mine, watch some sun sets and taste some wine. Most importantly, we will create new memories together.
The one thing I know for sure is that no matter how much time we get, it will never be enough. There is no such thing.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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