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February 22, 2024

Window on the World Column | Visiting in Situ

In my newfound practice of giving people an experience instead of a gift, it was going to be our oldest son’s birthday and he was no longer going to be receiving socks and underwears from us, or even a normally coveted plaid shirt. I caught wind of the fact that he liked the band Duran Duran — an old English ’80s band and thought how fun would that be! The band was going to play in Sacramento shortly after his actual birthday, and this would give us an excuse to head up there and visit with the fam, as well as get to enjoy his birthday gift with him. Those are the best kind of presents!

His girlfriend confirmed that that would be a super awesome birthday celebration and he would so love it. Though I’ve always considered him a bit more of a heavy metal or punk rocker than an ’80s hair band, I was thrilled to think I could also catch a show I had missed a mere 40-plus years ago and experience it with him. He received the tickets on his birthday and was “super stoked” about them. So much better than socks and undies!

We realize that these young folk are in the crazy times of their lives, building their careers, raising their kids … they don’t have much time to come and see their old parents, so we must make the effort to go and see them. “It’s important to come and see you in situ,” my dad used to say, and he and Mum religiously came over from England twice a year to do just that. I get it now. These days, we are the ones that need to make the extra effort — that older generation. We are them.

Time flew by, as it does during a busy summer season full of visitors coming and going. We hadn’t seen our oldest and his family all summer, despite his repeated assertions that they were going to take some time off and come down. But soon it was time to prepare for showtime, the late celebration of his birthday. Since the concert also coincided with our 25th wedding anniversary — ahem — we were going to head up there and have dinner at his swanky restaurant the first night and then go to the concert the following evening.

After a horrendous journey via the gnarly 680 to our destination in Rocklin, we had about five minutes to primp for dinner and head out again. And what a dinner it was! Our son is the Director of Wine, and his lady is front end manager at Hawk’s Restaurant in Granite Bay, and, for a change, he and his lady had the evening off and were joining us for dinner.

Their crew did such a marvelous job of spoiling us at every turn. Our granddaughter joined us, and the feast included — for her, salad and chicken tenders — and for us, gnocchi, halibut, black cod, duck confit and much more. A real delight for the senses! Naturally, our son beautifully paired each course with some delicious wines, and we felt so very spoilt, closing down dinner and the restaurant with a fabulous, tummy-warming sherry.

We remarked on our way home how lovely it is when you can hang out with your adult children and enjoy each other’s company. It can be a long slog through the teens and 20s, but when you get to that happy day, it is truly angels that are singing in your heart. The following day was peace and quiet, pool day and slumber in our air-conditioned room. We had to prepare ourselves for the concert night ahead, which was going to be a late one.

We barbecued steaks at Marc’s house in Citrus Heights and enjoyed some discussions about real estate and the possibility of them moving to a larger home — exciting growth adventures ahead. Then it was game day. We got an Uber to the Golden 1 concert venue downtown and joined the throngs of ’80s enthusiasts. Casing the room full of ’80s memorabilia, we felt strangely young.

What a fabulous show they put on and all the same original band members seemed to really enjoy themselves, which is not bad for a group that has been playing together for about 40-something years! My heart was very full when we left the concert and my soul full of timeless music. Another of many concerts under my belt and another reminder that I need to write up my 40-something years of concert going and all the epic stars I have seen in my lifetime with, hopefully, more still to come.

It was nice to come back home after such a satisfying visit. We were a bit tired and very full of good food and fun. “We have to make a plan to visit every three months and see them in situ,” I say to husband. “We must make the effort, so that we stay in touch with their lives and the development of our granddaughter. When Madison is a teen, she will want little or nothing to do with us. She’s 8. Now is the time.” With that, I started researching something fun to do with her for her 9th birthday celebration up in Sacramento.

I was channeling my dad, and also remembering my grandparents and all the efforts they made to come and see us in situ, as it were. Though I was only 9 myself when my grandpa died, I remember him so fondly. The vinyl records and record player he bought for me, the love he showed. I can recall the chocolate frosting on grandma’s chocolate cakes and the fact they used to be fine with us bouncing on their enormous bed in the pink spare room and causing all kinds of chaos. A glorious hotspotch medley of memories — all good ones.

As we traverse through this sometimes-crazy life, take time to dwell on the good stuff — the happy visits with your kids and grandkids, the pleasures of good food and music, the trips to go and see your people in situ, where you can once again count all your blessings. We did that last week.

Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen
Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].

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