Perhaps it is that I have just read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, perhaps it is the summer time which means a lack of schedule and more time for reflection, maybe it is that I am now thirty and thus instantly wise.. whatever it is I have been struck repeatedly by the interweaving of the stages of our lives. It started small, Cubby was pushing Lil Bit on this popper ride-on we had purchased when the twins were one. It was a trick of the light perhaps, but my mind's eye was instantly aware that he had done the same thing with Miss H. When I blinked there he was again, his almost five year old self. (He's grown at least two inches since February). I'm sure he did the same with Little Daddy, but that's not what I thought about, it was the tenderness that struck me for these little women in his life. As much as I can be frustrated by his exhuberance, I am awed by his tenderness. As much as he can drive me mad with his rough play, he will snuggle in so close in the mornings that I can feel his pulse. He is thoughtful and sensitive, and reflective in a way I treasure. The first time I saw Cubby I thought he looked just like my Dad. That is exactly what I said outloud; that is what has been tickling my heartstrings these last few days... how in these boys I can see the parts I love best about the people I have loved best. It is an amazing gift to see how these things that seemed so uncommon are actually constant.
I think I mentioned before that I played t-ball. Did I mention I was probably the worst one (not to mention the smallest). Somewhere there is an adorable picture of me in a huge cap clutching my black t-ball mitt that I spent the season chewing the rawhide lacing out of so that my dad had to replace it with a white shoelace that didn't taste nearly as jerky like. Anyway, I was watching the Mr. patiently throw the ball to each of the kids in the backyard. Even to Miss H, who owns a PINK and black mitt that I know it pained the Mr. to purchase. Anyways, two things happened, I was simultaneously sad that my Daughter wouldn't get to hold my little black t-ball mitt I had so carefully packed away with all my other mementos when I headed off to college, and flooded with a memory I only understood watching the Mr.'s patience stretch.
Much as these kids had, I asked my dad to practice catching with me. (I told you already I must have been terrible). And he did come out of his workshop to catch with me. I can remember about 10 minutes of him patiently throwing the ball. And then he said, "Here Summie let me show you what to do." He walked over to the sun porch with it's corrugated roof and said, "You just toss the ball up there like that, and then look for it to come down," he stuck his tongue out in concentration and it flipped over to the side (just like Cubby's) "and you catch it." he finished with a quick snap of my teeny mitt. As I mimicked his moves, he watched for a moment then slowly backed away to the workshop.
Well, The Mr. and I had more than a little chuckle over that one, seeing as how at the time I thought he was being so helpful and creative, and only now as a parent can I see that my slow progress was most likely exasperating!!
Truly, these are the ties that bind. These experiences and moments I try to document for our family history sake, not necessarily the binding one to one another, but to the common experience of parenthood and childhood. I have been struggling to express this clearly, and still I struggle as it is so many parts-emotion and yearning and love, and something as simple as the soft breath of a sleeping child.
When I braid Miss H's hair, push the kids on the swings in the backyard, reach for their hands before we cross the street, hold my breath as they climb too high, when I exhaust my patience, when I say "Go Play!!" for the hundredth time, I feel this connectedness, not just to my own Gramma, but to my aunt, my sisters, my friends, to the Coppedge family who sold us this house, to Miss Hazel next door who will be 89 in September, to all of God's people.