Just in case you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting much over the last month, I do have an excuse: Unfortunately, my mother had a stroke and passed away at the end of June. Her birthday, which was officially on Sunday, July 10th, would have marked year 89 for her. Sadly, she left us before that date rolled around. Her health had declined lately, and I had been her primary caretaker since she moved in with me in January of 2018. Needless to say, this has been a very difficult time for me because of her death and some lingering family issues associated with it. She spent her final days at HopeWest Hospice, a local hospice here in Grand Junction. My husband and I were with her when she passed away a few seconds after midnight on June 27th. In the hours before her death, I sat by her bedside and held her hand. She kind of tossed and turned, at times quite restless. In one of her calmer moments though, she said to me, “Love Waits.” She couldn’t say it very clearly and repeated it a few times until she knew I got it. Those were her last words to me. I said, “Yes Mom, love waits, and I’ll wait here with you. We’ll wait together.” She died a few hours later.
It occurs to me though, that in fact, I do have something cheerier to report, and that is that my first granddaughter was born on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. She was 7 lbs 7 oz at birth, and 19.25” long. She’s a beauty too, with her father’s ginger coloring and the sweetest little face you’ve ever seen! More on this later, but I will say that the impact of the emotional whiplash I experienced over that week that included the passing of my mother and the birth of my granddaughter, cannot be over-stated.
My husband and I drove to Denver on the 4th of July, as my granddaughter was scheduled to be born on July 5th. She was born via c-section, and we knew she would be, so it did make it a little easier to plan around. We spent the first couple of nights we were there in an Air B&B. This was OK. Not great, but definitely OK. It was in a basement apartment of a home in Aurora. In theory, two different parties could stay in separate bedrooms in this apartment, and you’d share the bathroom. Not my favorite arrangement, but as it turns out, we were the only people who stayed for those days, which made it not an issue. We slept on a lumpy queen-sized bed pushed against the wall in our room. Once again, Ok but not great. The price was right, and I’m always looking for that.
John returned to Grand Junction on the 6th and I spent a few more days in the Denver area with my daughters and my new granddaughter. It was so wonderful to see everyone! My oldest daughter lives in Maryland, near Washington DC, and before this year, I hadn’t seen her since December 1, 2019. That’s a long time to go without seeing your beloved children! The pandemic had something to do with that also. For my family, as for many I assume, travel and the visiting of family was sharply curtailed during the pandemic, especially since my mom, in her mid- 80’s at the time, was particularly vulnerable to getting a severe case of Covid19. I managed to keep her safe during the pandemic, but old age and a stroke took her in the end. We do what we can.
When I left Denver to move to the western slope in 2017, I felt I had pretty much seen everything there was to see in Denver. I had visited every museum, (some several times), eaten in most of the restaurants, (especially some of the old stand-by’s), and visited every city and state park within a day’s driving distance from the city. I had spent as much time as possible at Rocky Mountain National Park, and I’m glad I did, because now they have a reservation system in place as the crowds are so large, especially in the summer. I have spent many happy days wandering through the beauty of that park!
It occurred to me though, that there is one place I’ve always wanted to see, but never did, even though I lived in Denver for 25 years, and that is the inside of The Governor’s Mansion.
On a whim, I decided to look it up and see if they gave tours and sure enough, they do! The tours are led by volunteer docents from History Colorado. They were holding them on the Wednesdays throughout June, with the last one being held on the Wednesday I happened to be in town with my daughter, July 6th. A perfect circumstance for my daughter Jennifer and me to do something fun together the day after my granddaughter was born. It was also appropriate, as my daughter Jennifer is currently renovating a 1908 farmhouse in the Maryland area where she lives, and the Colorado Governor’s Mansion was also built in 1908. Of course, the two homes are of completely different styles, but of the same era. Because she lives in a historic home, she has developed an interest in gardens, furnishings, and styles from that era. We had a lovely time together on this 45-minute tour of the main floor of the home. The upper floors are considered private, as this is where the governor lives when he is in residence. However, our current governor, Jared Polis, lives in Boulder with his family and has only spent a handful of nights at the official governor’s mansion during his term so far.
During the pandemic, they took the opportunity to fix the place up since they weren’t open to the public during that time. They painted and decluttered the place. It’s of the Victorian-era, so you can imagine, during the time when the original families lived there, it was quite cluttered with “stuff.” So, they de-cluttered and made it so that you don’t see clutter, but a more sleek, modern look, free of unnecessary detritus, including personal mementos of the people who lived there previously.
At one point during the tour, our docent told us that Liberace had played the grand piano in the large drawing room during an event at the mansion and had signed the inside of the piano. I went over to look, and I didn’t find an autograph of Liberace, but I did find one by Phil Coulter, an Irish musician. I’m quite sure that Phil Coulter is a wonderful person, very talented, and has won many musical awards, but he’s no Liberace. I’d wager a bet that he agrees with me. Here’s a link to his site so you can hear some of his music: https://www.philcoulter.com/lockdown-sessions
I would say my favorite room in the mansion is one that used to be a back patio, which has been enclosed in glass. It’s referred to as “the palm room” because Mrs. Cheesman, one of the original owners of the home used it as a greenhouse and filled it with palm trees and other tropical flowers and botanicals. The Colorado Governor’s Mansion is also known as the Cheesman-Boettcher Mansion. It was built for Mrs. Cheesman in 1908 as her private residence, and when she died, it was purchased by Claude Boettcher. When he died, The Boettcher Foundation offered it to the state as a mansion for the governor, as up until 1959, Colorado didn’t have a mansion for the governor.
All of these photos were taken using my iPhone X –
All snapshots taken during the tour
After the official tour was ended, we wandered around the garden where we found many old flowers and plants, including Colorado Columbines, (the state flower), daylilies, and hydrangeas. A lovely gazebo, recently renovated, stands in the garden on the east side of the home. I can imagine a small wedding taking place in there. I know they do hold weddings in there, because my husband informed me that he was married there once. This explains his lack of enthusiasm for visiting again, since his previous marriage (ahem!) didn’t work out. Of course, this is all old water under the bridge now, as we’ve been together for 20 years, and just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on July 2nd.. Yep! It’s true! We’ve tolerated each other longer than any of our previous spouses tolerated us. That’s saying something. We don’t all get it right the first time out. Here’s some pictures of flowers and the garden.
When we finished our house and garden tour, my daughter and I decided to have lunch at The Nordstrom Café. I have lunch there almost every time I visit Denver. They have excellent salads, and I’ve never had anything there I didn’t find more than satisfactory. Most people don’t think about eating in a department store, but any serious SHOPPER knows what I’m talking about. You do need a place to re-fuel before hitting the shoe department, after all.
The best news of that day, other than that I had a new granddaughter to celebrate, included the fact that they sell one of my favorite wine brands by the bottle, and at 50% off on Wednesdays. Yippee! Jennifer and I shared a bottle of Cakebread Cellars 2019 Chardonnay over lunch. Oh ya, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Meanwhile, my beautiful new granddaughter started her life at the hospital with her mom and dad and we stopped by for a visit in the evening before heading back to our own beds at a hotel just south of DIA. So begins a new adventure!