Yesterday, classes were cancelled campus-wide for the holiday, so mid-morning I picked up my Smart Wonderful Beautiful Daughter and we took my parents to lunch. We drove out to BigLake, to a restaurant that has big windows overlooking the water. During my childhood, my Dad used to keep his sailboat on BigLake in the fall; we both reminisced about the many wonderful sails we had. This time of year, you can smell leaves burning and can hear the sound of a chainsaw as someone somewhere cuts firewood.
My wedding reception was at this restaurant, 21 years ago, on an August Day when the sky above the lake was a rare blue. My Dad and his friends provided the music, my youngest sister decorated the tables with flowers from my Mom's garden, and Blonde Sister made all the favors. Red-haired Sister was married on the lawn of the restaurant in front of the lake some years later. During the ceremony, my youngest sister sneaked around and handed guests bubble wands and bottles of soapy liquid. When Red-haired Sister turned with her new husband to walk up through the rows of chairs, the sky was filled with bubbles. She loved this wonderfully tacky surprise.
The restaurant was a bit crowded yesterday, so the owner ended up coming to take our orders. He and my father - old friends -- exchanged their usual jokes about the beer on tap. We ate slowly, talking the whole time. Daughter talked about her friends, her studies, and the next concert she was going to. ("Coheed and Cambria?" my father asked, incredulously, "That is the name of a band?" And he nearly spit out his beer when she said she had seen the Shins. "What a funny name.") Despite their shared love of music, the generation gap is apparent with grandfather and granddaughter talk. We talked about Daughter's plan to spend a semester in London. Twenty-five years ago, I spent a semester in London, and my parents came over to visit.
Daughter gave us what news she had heard from her cousins, SchoolTeacher Niece and Red-haired Niece. My mother repeated a conversation she had had that morning with Urban Sophisticate Sister. I told them I had given With-a-Why permission to play an online game that evening with Suburban Nephew, in honor of Suburban Nephew's birthday. My father commented that news travels so fast amongst the women in our family that by the time he tells anyone anything, it is always old news. Cell phones have only accelerated this process.
This morning, my mother called to say again how much she enjoyed the lunch. "Daughter is just the nicest young woman," she said, "Smart. Self-confident. Articulate. Poised. You could not ask for a nicer daughter." Of course, I agreed.