Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Another Step

Tonight my son will stand before his classmates, family and teachers as the Salutatorian at his 8th grade promotion. I will watch as his nearly 6'0" frame envelopes the podium and his deep voice echoes through the auditorium. He will read the words he's written around his class motto: "Dreams are not something to wait for, they are something to work for"..... and I'll wonder where the years have gone.

Last August I wrote something similar about the little boy who is quickly growing up. It is bittersweet, watching him change before my eyes. But holding onto something - or someone - only prolongs the inevitable, and guiding him with encouragement into adulthood is both rewarding and fulfilling.

Tonight that perpetual smile will fill my heart once again as a young man steps into the shoes of a small boy, forever altering his path....and forges ahead in a very blessed life.

A repost, my friends....in honor of 'that little boy of mine'.

That Little Boy of Mine...

"A tiny turned-up nose, Two cheeks just like a rose
So sweet from head to toes....that little boy of mine.
Two eyes that shine so bright, Two arms to hold me tight,
Two lips to kiss goodnight....that little boy of mine.

No one will ever know, Just what his coming has meant,
Because we love him so, He must be Heaven-sent...

He climbs up on my knee, He's all the world to me,
To me he'll always be....that little boy of mine..."

He has to lean down to hug me now. A few months ago I could easily slide my arm around his shoulders, accustomed to his childhood voice of the last 13 years. Now the words he says are deeper and from the throes of adolescence. And I wonder where those years have gone.

I wasn't prepared for the absolute delight of having a little boy. My first child, a daughter, was cautious with herself in the world. Though loving and beautiful, she was particular to whom she gave her affections to and carried herself delicately amongst things unknown. Her little brother bore an amazing resemblance to her with his dark eyes and sweet face, but he quickly developed his own personality, endearing him to me and marking his own place in my heart.

I remember holding him close when he was very tiny and him taking my hand and laying it gently upon his cheek. He was so affectionate with a perpetual smile and energy that temporarily came to rest alongside him in bed each night. A sensitive child, he learned early to guard the feelings of others and appreciate what was true and beautiful in life.

He was my helper in the kitchen, my champion brownie-taster. My partner in creepy-crawler-making, he kept me young and enthusiastic with his genuine wonder and excitement over little things.

Always our clown, he soon found that a silly face could bring a reaction, but has - for the most part - used it to entertain only a receptive audience...at appropriate moments!

Like his father and sister, he loves cats and has grown up with at least one curled beside him. And though his volume is turned WAY up more often than not, he seems to know when noise is nuisance rather than necessity... and learned that quiet creatures prefer peace over racket.

Though in many ways he is a "typical boy", he possesses a certain tenderness and a gentle spirit that serves as a guide in how he treats others. His capacity for reading right from wrong is great and his kind and forgiving heart is so very precious.

His babyhood days are vivid: Batman costumes and decorating sugar cookies, "treasure" walks around the neighborhood and refreshing sprinkler runs in the backyard. Swinging on the board swing at Nan and Pop's house, moving to his "big boy bed", that first haircut.....and little black cowboy boots. I feel a little hand in mine and soft kisses upon my cheek at bedtime. I hear sweet songs on cassette tapes and contagious giggling with his big sister. It's hard to see him growing up.

But he is. I cannot stop that...and I wouldn't want to. Just as there were memorable moments from his baby days and childhood, I know that ahead lies many adventures and exciting experiences. I really wouldn't want him to stay little, for I'm enjoying getting to know who he's becoming. The young man who sits beside me today is one I'm very proud of, knowing he is making good decisions and choosing a path that is leading him in the right direction. He is on his way to the wonderful man that I know he will be. I will have to let go, let him fly...and it will be all right. And when he is grown and gone from the nest and the safety of my arms he will still and always be....

That little boy of mine.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


The clock sits in front of me, just to my right. I watch it as the minutes spin faster, telling me my time is limited. It will soon be up and I will have to return to the classroom. Children's footsteps echo down the hallway and their little voices fill the long corridors with laughter. People come in and out of the lab, stopping to talk to me, interrupting the flow of thoughts, then sit down just a few feet away. Bangles clang together, keyboards tap out assignments and requests.....and I am at a loss.

Before my feelings were smooth and in my own time. Now they are scheduled, racing against a clock that taunts me. No photographs lay in a folder to help relay my story. No comfy chair to sit in or familiar surroundings to coax my thoughts along. This room is cold and impersonal, like a contemporary refrigerator box and evokes no memories from my mind.....and I am at a loss.

The hands of time tell me when to go. They dictate when I can write, then I am out of the gate; off to speed down the track to get something out there. But nothing comes. I am a stranger here in this space, with everything to say but with no way to say it.

I keep telling myself I'll be back. But for now, I am lost....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday is Mother's Day. As a tribute to my own dear mother, I am reposting something I wrote last summer as I don't have time to do justice to a new writing.

We each come from a long line of people who loved one another, and it is humbling to look back and know that if just one thing had been out of alignment, we wouldn't be here at all.

Wishing you all a wonderful Mother's Day, whether you're a mother yourself, are honoring your own mother or simply know an incredible woman who has brought joy and love into your heart. God bless you all!

Mother's Scrapbook

I have a treasure. Actually, I have many. But this particular one is a tangible, hold-in-my-hand keepsake; a bit of history...a memento of the past. My mother's past.

Inside a worn and faded scrapbook lies pictures...drawings by my mother. On the inside of the embossed cover is the date, November 9, 1943 - the last weeks of Mother's 16th year. The pages, now yellowed, are crisp in my hands and hold priceless illustrations of my grandparents, aunts and uncles; my ancestory in its youth.

My mother grew up in Fredonia, KS...the second daughter and third child in a family of nine children. I believe that during the time of these drawings her beloved brother, "Bud" was serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps, flying across South America, Africa, Agra and India so he was not featured in her pictures. And her baby sister was yet to be born.

Looking at these illustrations transports me to another world: a time before I knew. Here my maternal relatives are children and teenagers, not the middle-aged adults that I first came to know; not the loved ones of present day, or those who have passed on. Their sweet faces and daily life is captured on the pages of my mother's memory. I picture her as she sat on the floor, sketching her siblings much as she sketched my brothers, sisters and me when we were growing up.

Her pictures tell a story of their life together, of little sisters playing marbles on the floor or a Chopsticks duet, her brother relaxing after his paper route and adolescents gathered around the radio, doing stitchery or practicing the latest style in hair of the fashionable 40's.

Mother absolutely adored her brothers and sisters and always loved spending time with the little ones. Being on the older end of the sibling spectrum, one might think she would have tired of them. But being a nurturer was her calling and when she speaks of this time, it is always with the greatest affection.

My grandparents, too, were a great source of strength and love in Mom's life. I have no recollection of my grandfather who passed away when I was very young, but see him through her eyes as a lovely man I wish I'd come to know. My grandmother is remembered as a woman of great strength, optimism and wit. How fortunate to have this peek into their life; the life that Mother knew.

Little did she know, in 1943-44, that the days of the radio, wood stove and crank telephone would be replaced with our modern technology; a world that now revolves faster and speaks louder. It was life as they knew it yet now looking back, it was so extraordinary in its own simplicity.

In the days of digital cameras and of the instantaneous, a fantastic picture is fairly commonplace. We capture the memory on small screens and printed photo paper, and how amazing it is in its clarity and brilliance.
But these illustrations sketched some 60 years ago hold a place of their own. They are not just a representation of what life was, but my mother's interpretation of the moment...her individualized memory.

I think of Mom as a young woman. At the time of these drawings she didn't know my dad yet. She didn't know that she would go on to have six children of her own and twelve grandchildren, all who completely adore her. She passed her love of art down to us all and we continue her legacy in our own unique ways.

These drawings, these people: Charles, Verna, Bud, Betty, Bonnie June, Georgie, Doug, Shirley, Dorothy, Thenie, Nancy... they are part of my life, my history. Thank you for taking me back. How humbling to meet you all...