“Are you still coming out to my house tonight?” Ally asked

“Sure! We will be there in about an hour for dinner.” I promised.  We had decided to get our families together and have pizza, while Jon helped clean their carpets.

I looked across the expansive lawn, toward my cousin Ally.  Our grandma’s house on the ranch had been our stomping ground of our formative years.  It sat on the top of the hills in Bountiful, complete with a dusty barn, and serene friendly horses that meandered in the corral.  I remember one of my  favorites, Sheeba.  Even her name took my imagination places you would see pictured in a story book.  She was a beautiful pure white horse, that any girl would love to call her own.  Sheeba was a parade gal in her younger days, and now she spent her time living at Grandma Janes.

But even more than Sheeba, my favorite was Sunny.  Sunny and Robbie were two paint horses that were like brothers.   Robbie was a brown paint with white spots, (who we decided was Ally’s) and Sunny was a white paint with brown spots, (who was “mine”). The thing that stood out the most, were Sunny’s eyes.  He had one green, and one brown eye.  It sometimes felt like I was dealing with two different personalities as I gazed onto each side of his face.  We were buddies.  We rode together over mountains, through trees and hidden places.  We didn’t need to talk, we just were comfortable together.

As I yelled my promise of a visit to Ally from my car, I felt sick.  I wasn’t sure if a bug was coming on, or if my stomach was just uneasy for some reason – but something was wrong.  “I’m not feeling that well, but I still plan on coming out.  Maybe I’m just hungry.”  I wanted to cancel, but I felt bad.  One can only ditch on plans so many times before it is just awkward.  But still, the nagging feeling in my stomach and the dripping sweat wouldn’t go away.  It felt hollow, uneasy.  It didn’t make sense to me, and I continued pushing away the reoccurring thought  ….”Don’t Go.”

We watched the kids play at Grandma’s house for a while, as my mind took a trip into the past.  Now my kids were running through the wild flowers, picking bouquets and neatly tucking them in blond curls behind their ears, just as I had once done.  Each took a turn climbing in my Grandpa’s hand made steel rocket ship contraption, that had hung there for a lifetime.  Heaven forbid anyone ran in front of those four bomb looking machines, held by metal chains and powered by a motor that propelled it around and around in circles.  Two kids could sit in each one, and it was a blast – unless the bees had built there hives in them that year.

The other main attraction was the riding lawn mower. My dad drove around for hours mowing, and we took advantage of the chance to ride in the trailer that it pulled.  We bounced and giggled in the back, while dad bounced and giggled in the drivers seat taking large circles, around the homestead.  Down from the barn on the hill, around the round about with cactus planted inside, brought from my Grandma’s condo in Mexico, up to the house, around the back side that looked over all of Salt Lake City where we used to let off fireworks, past the hot tub and up again.  Our noses were filled with the smell of freshly cut grass, and tickled as it flew around our faces.  I don’t think we ever made a trip to Grandma Janes without my brother Dave suffering from some kind of allergy.

As I stared at the yard, now yellowed and sparse since my Grandma’s passing – I wondered how long I would be able to share this piece of heaven with my children.   There was already talk of selling.  The lump rose in my throat again, like a monster waiting inside to climb it’s ways out my eyes in liquid form.  Wasn’t this land ours?  Don’t you become one with dirt when you spend so much time with it?  It had been tilled and taken care of by my mom and her family for a generation, and her grandparents before her…. back until the first settlers, the Mormon pioneers.  My mom picked part of the ranch to build her home on when she was married.  It was lovingly deemed “The Picnic Spot”, because it is where they always rode their horses for a picnic.  It had a stream, and large maple trees scattered down through a gully in the canyon.  The picnic spot was my home, my childhood haven.

I was jerked back into reality when one of my children called my name, a sound I hear countless times a day, and easily ignore.  “Mama, are we going to Ally’s house still?” so I began ushering in the littles, deciding it was time to go.  My head was full of memories, and my stomach was full of foreboding.  We pulled out of Grandmas, through the enormous pines that my mom used to drag a hose around a water as a child, and off the hill to the the freeway.  A moment I wished I could take back ever.

I often ask myself why I didn’t listen.  Knowing now, that those feelings were a clear physical warning of danger; a feeling I will try to never set aside again.  


This story was say too long for one post.  My times up today 🙂