Monday, May 24, 2010

Once upon a time...

... a long time ago, there lived a young girl whose greatest dream was to be a mother. This little girl loved to play with her dolls and imagine they were her children, and she always stopped to peek at new babies and say, "hi," if their mommies didn't mind.

Over the years, she occasionally set her sights on other careers - always ones that were appropriate for girls, since she lived in a time and place where girls had fewer choices. Sometimes she wanted to be a nurse, like Cherry Ames, who also got to solve mysteries! Sometimes she wanted to be a teacher, like Mrs. Slough, or Miss Jones, or Mrs. Emery, who were her very most favorite teachers ever! Sometimes (though she knew she couldn't really do this), she wanted to be Annie Oakley or even Dale Evans, singing those old songs and riding horses and married to Frank Butler or Roy Rogers.

But always and forever, her dreams came back to being a mother.

As little girls will, this little girl grew up - too quickly for some, but hardly fast enough for her! - and met a handsome young man with whom she fell in love. There were obstacles to overcome, and there was a war going on, but over the years they stayed together, and eventually they were married.

Life wasn't easy, as it isn't for any young couple, but they managed. And still this former little girl - this new wife - wanted more and more to be a mother.

Then one day - an upset stomach that wouldn't go away... a trip to the doctor... and happy news, the news she'd waited to hear for almost her whole life: a baby was on the way! The time - as time always does - alternately dragged and sped by. Some days it seemed the baby would never arrive, and other days it seemed it was passing all too quickly.

Preparations were made; furniture, clothing, books - oh, so many books! - to read and learn from! And, finally, one Sunday morning, a trip to the hospital, a short (but painful!) labor. A baby boy! My child, my son, my dream realized.

Forty years ago today, my Marty-boy, you were placed in my arms, and I cried (as I do now) from the sheer joy of knowing you and loving you. Through the good and bad, the ups and downs, the tears, laughter, anxiety, fear, sorrow, and joy, I have loved you and always will love you.

Happy Birthday to my oldest son! May you be blessed - may I be blessed - with many, many more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The winds of change

In 2002, shortly after I moved into Jim's home, we heard (and felt) an enormous crash in the wee hours of the morning that signaled "Taps" for the 250-year-old oak tree around which our patio was built. In falling, it took our chimney, our fence, a cherry tree, our neighbors' second-story deck, and issued a reminder about impermanence.

This morning I looked at my youngest grandson, wearing a shirt that just a few short months ago hung below his bottom, with sleeves half-way down his arms. This morning, it fit him.

In 1998, I few to the Midwest to meet my first grandchild and to marvel at where the years had gone since his daddy - my middle son - was a sweet, sleepy baby in my arms. Next January, Andrew will be a teenager.

In 1970, I held my first baby in my arms, marveling at the perfection and beauty of this long-awaited child. This month, Martin will be 40 years old.

My younger sister and I spent our growing-up years alternately playing together and fighting with each other. We shared a room and taped a line down the middle over which we dared one another to step. She took all of my dolls under the dining table and pulled off their arms and legs. I either ignored her or treated her with disdain through most of my teenaged years. In a few months, my baby sister will be 60.

On Monday, Jim & I stood gape-mouthed, staring up at one of the three tall old fir trees that stand next to our deck. We were sick with the realization that the abundance of fir needles in our yard this Spring is due to the death of this beautiful old tree. A phone call will have to be made, the tree will have to be felled. We will benefit from it one more year as we burn the wood during the winter. And we'll still have the other two to enjoy for a few more years.

Change. Transition. Uncertainty. Of such is life made. But no matter how hard I try to remember this, no matter how many times I promise myself that I will appreciate each minute, each day, each event, as unique and transient, I continue to fail. I take things for granted, whether they be trees, seasons, relationships.

Perhaps that is the nature of humankind.