Memorial Day

It used to be that we were still asleep when the parade sliced through the middle of our small city, about a block from our bedroom window.  The marching band would wake us and we'd roll our eyes at the clock, pull the covers over our heads, complain about such an early hour.
Now we’ve been up long enough to watch two episodes of Wild Kratz, play eighty five games of Tenzi and seventeen rounds of Black Jack, devour several bowls of cereal and drink multiple cups of coffee before we’re all dressed and sitting curbside, waiting for the police motorcycle to clear the way.
We told the boys about what a special holiday it is, tried to squeeze in sentiments regarding courage and sacrifice between lectures about how we can't always run out into the street or take candy from strangers.


he's in the number grades now

I find myself thinking ahead, the way, when you're reading a really good book, you catch your eyes scanning the right page while you're really still reading the left, just to see what might happen next.
I've known, even before I held him in my arms, that if I did it right and if I was lucky, my job was to watch him go.  Since that first snuggly day I've been steeling myself for the heartache of separation.  I anticipate plenty more small departures over the years - he may vanish into friendships, sports, politics, music - but kindergarten felt like a big one.

I used to worry whether he would survive schooling with enough curiosity and creativity to design the kind of life he'd want.  I was afraid the whirlwinds and the forest fires and the comets and the magic inside him could be educated right out.

What a silly fear, arisen from a self-imposed requirement to be anxious about something.  What a privilege though, too, fretting over imaginary things, a sign that I am living a generally peaceful life.  And so is he.

He moved through the year like it was his destiny, without the feel that, for most of us, school is just a phase.  I have a sense that someday, when he is not the student, he may be the teacher.

Summer feels like some kind of punctuation, not the end of a sentence, maybe a comma or an ellipsis.  The close of kindergarten is unquestionably the end of something, but just as surely the beginning of something else.  He's in the number grades now, and looking ahead, I have a feeling I better practice using my excited voice...



yard sale

In physics class, and let’s be honest, late nights at the bar, we learned about billiard balls.  How to gauge the angle and line up the shot.  How when one ball hits another, the energy is transferred.  The way, in an instant, the cue ball stops and the other ball is propelled forward or sideways or at a slant.

People can do that too, transfer energy and propel each other forward.

At the yard sale to benefit Batten research over the weekend I saw it happen.  Two ladies ready to pay, arms full of infant items, explained they were shopping for things they could donate to a shelter for women and children.  Another couple came in search of books they could add to the local library where they volunteer.  As we were loading the truck at the end of the sale, one woman asked if she could take blankets and pillows to a homeless shelter.  More than one neighbor walked over not to shop but just to make a donation.  Plenty of people said to keep their change.  These things all served as reminders that even the smallest acts of kindness have a way of spiraling into so much more.
The world needs more people like the Wendels, more people whose energy gets others moving, more people whose faith that a cure will be found helps us believe it too.  There are too many families fighting a fatal diagnosis and trying to fundraise on the side.  The Wendels worked really hard to organize this event, and it was hugely successful.  Their family pocketed zero dollars, and they'll be giving close to $1100 directly to BDSRA.  


scribbles and crumbs

In the backyard, getting things labeled and organized for the yard sale, I said "Hey Tuck, I don't see your brother?"

He's over there holding that stick with the strings on the end.

"The what?  Where?  Oh, the mop!  That's a mop, you put the "head" or the end with rope in a bucket of soapy water and then push it across the floor."
Some other semi-noteworthy things the boys have said recently:

When I was a kid I went to the chocolate factory and a chocolate rabbit just caught my eye. 

Mom, I have something green with no ears and big eyes and a shell with flippers.  It’s a sea turtle!

Around the block: I bet I can win ya to the corner.

Ouch.  I stabbed my toe.

Mom, my great great great great great grandfather gave me this key.  And then he died.  He lived in a dark blue house and I loved him and I was sad when he died.  There was scary stuff in his old house, but he put it away when I visited him. 

A worm in his palm: Hey look, he’s spelling letters for me!

Mom, maybe try reading that sentence again.  Do you see the exciting mark at the end?  That means you need to use an excited voice.  

I can’t decide if I want to be in the sunshine or the sunshade.

Coming at him with the clippers: Well, I just took a haircut, so maybe you could trim my toenails next year? 

My bottom feels spicy. 

Mom, that steak came from a pig, that’s why it’s called pork steak.  And then people eat it.  Mom, you know that pig had an apple in his mouth at the tailgating party? That was funny. 

The sun is like a wheel, it’s round like a wheel and it spins. 

I don’t care about that.  

Feel free to guess who might have said what :)
And also, for the record: Despite the fact the boys didn't know what a mop was, I do clean our floors.  I use a steam mop, so it's doesn't look like the mop Tollie found outside.  They call the steam mop the hot fan vacuum because the canister part looks a little like a vacuum and because when Tuck was little we explained that it was dangerously hot, and not to get close.  It's been a hot fan vacuum ever since.


these things happened


the same red hair

If he came here to be a healer, if he came when he did to help us get through some monstrous grief, I am grateful, but I don’t want him to feel that responsibility for the rest of his life.
At a birthday party over the weekend a friend mentioned how much she sees Celia in him.  She’s right—those are his sister’s big brown eyes, her full lips and round face, the same red hair.

I think I believe in an afterlife, in some sort of religious sense, but I don’t have an entirely clear vision of what that might mean.  And anyway, that belief does not save me from any sorrow.  It does not keep me from missing my daughter.  I don’t want him to feel like that’s his job either.

I hope to see her again someday, but I am happy to have some pieces of her here with me now.

***If you live in Columbus and you'd like an easy way to help BDSRA, please consider donating to Mike & Mary Wendel's garage sale.  Drop off "treasures" at 5824 Thorngate Dr in Galloway this week after 5p, or shop the sale on Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16 from 8a-2p.  
ALL PROCEEDS will go directly to BDSRA, so that someday -soon- scientists can deliver the breakthrough we all believe in.