The Three Bears Gone
Have you ever decided that you must clear out and get rid of all the stuff you no longer use, wear, or enjoy in some way? It happened to us this summer. Over the last 17 years, our mountain place in Frisco Colorado was inhabited by many family members and their friends who wanted to ski, ride bicycles, climb mountains, or just enjoy the view of Lake Dillon and the fourteeners, Grey’s and Torrys Peaks, rising from the forests below. That makes it sound like an idyllic existence. The reality was that it was sometimes (or was it all the time?) chaos.
Getting breakfast to make the 7:30 AM ski bus found us stepping over bodies in sleeping bags in the hallway, the kitchen, and dining area. They often arrived after midnight when we were already asleep—and we never knew how many there would be—our son and his wife, their two kids--young teenagers--a friend or two of the parents, and a friend or two of the kids—all squeezed into the guest bedroom, living room with a pull-out couch, queen-sized air mattress, and every bit of floor space covered with sleeping bags. And of course, all the ski gear: helmets, parkas, skis, boots, and more. Fortunately, all those midnight arrivals woke up after we were gone. Imagine the bedlam while they were getting ready to leave for skiing.
When our son’s children grew up and moved away, then our daughter’s family moved to Colorado. The same routine. The same bedlam—except they had a baby! Which creates another whole layer of turmoil when trying to leave for skiing.
We loved those years! Vats of soups and stews always simmering on the stove, putting together puzzles after apre-ski, as well as lots of Monopoly, and Hearts, our favorite card game. Sports fans cheered loudly for the Broncos, Avalanche, and Nuggets, as TV was always tuned to sports channels. Our annual Super bowl party brought even more friends, some actually ours! Smaller ones played with stuffed animals, Legos, Tinker Toys, and Lincoln Logs.
Weekends, some of them long (in every sense of the word), school vacations, and do I dare say, unauthorized breaks, would fill our home with skiers, bicyclists, hikers, and mountain climbers.
And then they were gone. Children grew up; one set of parents bought their own place in Frisco. It was wonderful to be by ourselves! It was sad to be by ourselves! It was amazing to have our own space. It was desolate and empty. No more stray Legos to step on, no more raucous laughter during a close game of Hearts. Adult grandchildren on the pacific coast. Teenage grandchildren on the Vail Ski Team. We still housed them a few days during the week, but they were off bright and early in the morning for Ski Team Practice.
After the hoards were gone, closets were left stuffed. Underbed boxes were still full; when pulled out, dresser drawers exploded with clothes. The cleanout began, but for me, it was all about memories. I counted 12 pairs of ski goggles, five headband-ear-warmers, about 10 socks that had no match, six lonely ski mitts, and that was just what was under the bed! You get the picture. The pantry cleanout was very interesting: tea, touted to cure high blood pressure, a box of cherry Jell-O from 1990, tapioca flour—what do you make with that? and Diet Cokes that expired in 1991, just to name a few things.
But in this assortment were the tiny pink long-underwear, pink parka and ski pants that we bundled our three-year-old granddaughter in for her first day of ski school. There were the green gloves our teenage granddaughter wore, and the bright blue-green tutu the four-year- old wore over her ski pants. I found a ski boot, worn by then teenage grandson, who I remember calling to me, “Watch me go through these bumps!” so proud that he remained upright the whole time. A stained and torn t-shirt boasted “I climbed a Fourteener.” I wondered who’s that was as all our family and their friends climbed fourteeners.
But the toys were the hardest to deal with: a myriad of match-box cars, a felt sewing kit, a soft purple hippopotamus that our youngest granddaughter could not sleep without, lots of earth moving toys, and Barbies, stuffed animals, and finally the Three Teddy Bears, Mamma, Papa, and Baby. Tears came as I put all these memories into the Good-Will bag. I consoled myself with the image of another little child drifting off to sleep, hugging the soft brown fur of The Three Bears.