Originally Published: August 27, 2015 6 a.m.
I just returned to Prescott after spending three weeks in Southern California. I go back often for family reasons. My mother, three sisters and their families, my two sons, their wives and my four grandchildren live there, not to mention several nieces and nephews. My mother, who is 90 years old, lives in an assisted living complex in Huntington Beach. My youngest sister, Dana, lives only a mile or so from my Mom, so she bears most of the load in our family and sees our mother more often than the rest of us.
Dana was going on vacation for two weeks with her family and I volunteered to stay at her house and see Mom every day. Mom's short-term memory is deteriorating and seeing family members daily helps to keep her on an even keel. My older sister, Debby, who lives about 40 minutes away, if the traffic is good, is still working and was also planning a baby shower for one of her son's and his wife. They are expecting twins in about five weeks. My sister, Denise, lives about two hours away on a good traffic day, which doesn't happen very often anymore in Southern Cal.
I had a great time with my mother. We went out to eat a few times and we ate at the dining room of her complex a couple of times. We talked about my Dad, our old neighborhood, Westchester, near LAX, and our neighbors. We laughed when we discussed the many family vacations we took and the adventures we had on those trips with my two grandmothers and a great uncle, following our station wagon in two different cars.
Mom and I went through three of her photo albums and a book my sister Debby put together after Mom's 80th birthday party. Each of her children and their spouses wrote a couple of their favorite "Shirley" stories. I'll admit to getting a little choked up, going over one of my stories about my Mom reading to me, when I was a 3-year-old, sick with tuberculosis.
After taking my Mom to the baby shower, I drove the long way home around the Palos Verde peninsula, which was a favorite area for my Mom and Dad. After that party, my sister Debby had some free time and she came down to Huntington Beach. The two of us took Mom to the Beach. Mom is in a walker, but we were fortunate enough to get the beach wheelchair for no charge. This chair works great in the sand and I pushed Mom down to the water and she was able to dunk her feet in the ocean for the first time in a few years Mom watched the surfers, while Debby sat down in the sand. We had a great talk. After a while, I went in the water and body surfed. I had heard on the local news, that some scientists were watching a group of what they called "juvenile" great white sharks. The report said that the scientists thought that these sharks were too young to pose a threat to humans. Also, I have been surfing or body surfing since I was a child, so I wasn't very concerned. However, the next day I read in the Orange County Register that an eight-foot-long Great White had come up from below and bumped a couple of surfers on their boards. As a result, the lifeguards had ordered all of the surfers and swimmers out of the water. It must have been later in the day, because we didn't see or hear the announcement. It did give me pause to think I was almost shark bait.
I love my family and really enjoy being around them, but three weeks is about the limit of my toleration for the state of my birth. I lived the first 53 years of my life in the "Golden State." By the time I left California in 2004, it was not the same state in which I grew up. There are too many people, too much traffic, too many rude drivers, too much congestion, too many homes squeezed too close to each other and too many crazy, leftist politicians and voters.
Although I have many fond memories growing up there, California is now a great place to be from. That's why we moved to Prescott. It is nice to be back home where people wave at you with all five fingers on their hands.
Buz Williams is a retired Long Beach, California, police officer who has lived in Prescott since 2004.