The drive from Joshy's house to my parent's place in SC should have taken 8 hours, but we had horrendous weather and terrible traffic practically the whole way, so it took us a very grueling 12 hours. Thankfully, though, we made it safely to South Carolina.
My dear Mum and Dad offered to watch the three older kids for me so that I and Ella could spend a few days with Oma at her place in Hartwell.
My Oma would be moving to a new home soon, and it was my opportunity to say goodbye to a place very close to my heart. When I was growing up my dad was in the military and we moved a lot (a lot), so I didn't have any emotional attachments to any particular place (Hawaii being the exception, but that was an entire island, so I'm not counting that, ha ha!) except Hartwell where my Oma and Opa lived since the year I was born.
For me it's not just a place of residence, but a unique place full of memories around every corner, and there are lots of corners in this house, because it's built on an octagonal scale.
My Oma and Opa (who passed away a little over a year ago) immigrated from Holland when my Mum was a baby, and I've always loved how they decorated their home with an "Old World" feel.
Everywhere you look there's some sort of hidden gem, like this Persian Prince set into the brick (they purchased it before the country was renamed Iran).
My Opa loved to play the piano, and I am so thankful that I had the foresight (by God's grace!) to get some of his playing recorded before he passed away. Seeing his piano where he spent so much time made me cry. I can (sort of) play the same songs he played, and only on his piano does it sound right, as the slightly out-of-tune instrument gives a uniquely "Opa" timbre.
Outside they have a bamboo grove, where I spent a lot of time as a child. This was building material for so many forts, walking sticks, and fishing poles. One of Oma and Opa's favorite stories about me was when I was 8 or so, and I wanted a bamboo pole and couldn't find the saw so I used the kitchen scissors to cut some down. It took me several hours, but I did it. Stubbornness runs in my family, ha ha!
I was pretty busy while I was there, helping my Oma pack things for her move, but I did manage to get a quick photo of her famous blueberry bushes. She has a row of them that every year produce the sweetest, most mellow fruits that are practically the size of tomatoes.
Their house is set on the lake, which right now is higher than I ever remember it being. Opa always loved complaining about the Corp of Engineers draining the water out of Lake Hartwell and leaving the water level too low for the lakefront property owners. I wonder what he'd find to complain about now?!
How many times have I walked down to the lake? I don't think I'll ever get the chance to walk it again, as I live so far away and the house is up for sale.
Even the stupid moss, material for so many "beds for gnomes", made me teary-eyed.
It was drizzling as I drove up the driveway to head back to Greenville, and I didn't mind at all as it perfectly suited my mood.
I could make that drive in my sleep, I think, and every turn is special to me. How thankful I am to have had the chance to make so many wonderful memories there, and for Oma and Opa for always making me feel special and welcome.
To know that my own children will remember Hartwell, however dimly that might be, is incredibly precious to me.