This coming weekend, we're driving up to Utah to visit my grandparents. Going to their house always feels to me like I'm returning to my roots. I relish the long drive up there, and prefer it to the much shorter flight whenever possible. The drive goes through some of the most beautiful land in the United States: Flagstaff, the Painted Desert, Lake Powell, Utah's Canyonlands, and along the Wasatch Range. The drive gives me time to think about the past, to remember all the times I've driven these roads, and once we reach Santaquin, to remember all the times I was a passenger as a child, the scenery ingrained in my deepest memories, driving past towns my great- and great-great-grandparents inhabited.
My grandparents' home is built on part of the land my great-grandfather owned and farmed, that my grandfather lived on as a boy. Grandpa built their house, and has added onto it over the years. It's been a staple in my life, a foundation, knowing it has always and would always be there. My father was raised in that house.
The house is built on a hill overlooking Layton, with a view of Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. Over the years, the fields have been built over with houses, apartment buildings, shopping centers and malls, but the immediate neighborhood is restricted from development because of its proximity to Hill Air Force Base. The sound of F-16s screaming overhead is a small price to pay for the unrestricted view of cattle across the street and the valley beyond.
As my grandparents age, though, I wonder who will care for this family treasure when they're gone? Will it be sold off? Will one of my aunts or uncles inherit it and keep it whole? Will this task fall on me or my cousins? This is the house where uncles, aunts, and hordes of cousins gathered for holidays: crowded around tables in the living room for Thanksgiving, set off fireworks in the driveway on the 4th of July. This is the kitchen with an endless supply of warm baked biscuits. This is the land of raspberry patches, rabbits, and ancient calico cats. This is the lush lawn of picnics and barbeques in the summer, and small hills covered with snow and perfect for sledding in the winter. This is my grandfather's childhood, my father's, and mine. Our history. Will our children know it? Will theirs?