Happy Birthday, Child of my Heart

One. 18 months. Two. Three. Four. Five.


Today you are Six.

You have a gap-tooth grin that makes me squiggle with pent-up love every time I see it.  It is a grin of impish delight.

You are skinny as a beanpole and smart as a whip.

You can out logic me in the blink of an eye.

You are so generous and caring to the world around you.  It is not uncommon for a grown-up to tell me something wonderful about something you did to help someone else.

Your baby bassinet overflows with stuffed animals.  They are your first loves.  And many of them still travel with you on your adventures to school, the grocery store, friends houses, and the lawn.

You love to roll your eyes at me.  And when you do, I can see the rose-bud mouth of my newborn co-mingled with the some-day eyes of my teenager.  It is thrilling, and irritating.

You rode a roller coaster three times in a row.  You never cracked a smile, determined to conquer the thrill like a knight faces her dragon.  Then, as soon as your foot hit the exit ramp, your face split in a wide grin and you begged for another ride.

You take showers all by yourself.  And then you leave a long puddle down the hall way as you drip your way to find me, wrapped in a towel that is already too damp to do any good.

You and I sing together in the many long car rides back and forth to Dada’s.  but we don’t sing just any songs.  We make up tunes about what we see, hear, and imagine.  We sing duets and solos, squealing mimicries and deep ocean rolling hums.  You have rhythm, and naturally sing in choruses and refrains.  You harmonize and keep tempo without even trying.  It just sounds good, so you do it.  Like the day so many years ago when you bounced to the rhythm of the wash machine in your diaper.

You astound me.  I am so proud to be your Mama.

I love you.  Happy Sixth Birthday, Child of my Heart.

Atlantic ocean with tiny learning sailboats

Out to Sea

I delivered a bit of my Grampa to the sea.

For the last years of his life, he was land-locked in Colorado, but I remember him riding the waves, hauling lines, and hollering ‘coming about’ without seeming to raise his voice.  An impossible feat, surely, to holler in our own voice.  But he did it.

Sweet iced tea and sandwiches with Nana.

Atlantic ocean with tiny learning sailboatsThe tiny below deck with itty bitty bunks, a bouncing head, and a compass I desperately wanted to understand.

Plastic covered cushions doubling as flotations for jumping off the back for a dip.

Bouncing on the bow with  my little plastic cup, dipping down into the waves to catch a jelly fish.

Spray flying, my brother laughing in the wind, his eyes reflecting the sun.

Avoiding the hatch opening that threatened to put a lump on your head like it did his.

My grampa’s thick fingers that so delicately built miniatures.  Thick fingers holding my hand softly through calluses.  My dad has his hands.

It was only right to bring him to the sea.

I found a beach on the Atlantic.  In the waves were tiny boats with tiny riders having their sailing lessons.  It was only right that he join the sea and these new riders.

I left my shoes by the rocks and wondered whether anyone would know what I was doing.  I pulled my legs through the waves, springing up on my toes with each oncoming wave, keeping the camera slung over my shoulder above the spray.

Off came the lid of the little tea tin, down I dunked it into the water, and there he swirled around my calves, foaming white with the Atlantic.

And I walked away, breath in my nose, salt on my face, sea spray at my back.


How to Car Camp Alone.

Step 1- Set up McMansion. Alone. In the rain.

Step2 – Re-confirm your conclusion of four days earlier that tent stakes that are either plastic or blunt do, indeed, suck.

Step 3 – Ignore the overwhelming smell of sulpher and pray its source is the marsh and not the RV that has just connected its hose to the in-ground poo pot.

Step 4 – Compose thoroughly witty blog posts in your head to keep yourself chuckling  instead of crying and breaking tent poles.

Step 5 – Get inside tent, wrap up in sleeping bag just in time for heavy rains to bust through coniferous tree cover.  Read magazine.  Compose more witty blog entries as you consider the irony of reading Fast Company while broke, alone, and cold in a McMansion tent.

Step 6 – Fall asleep to sound of pounding rain.

Step 7 – Wake up as the pounding turns to drops and the grey light fades to dusk.

Step 8 – Eat cereal standing outside McMansion–since you don’t own a camp chair–in the dark.  Ponder the significance of fires and wish you thought to bring both wood and fire of your own.

Step 9 – Brush teeth in spotless bathhouse scented with bleach.

Step 10 – Go back to bed roll and fall asleep staring at the tips of trees.  Wonder if the occasional waft of sulpher is the cause of your headache.


To Daddy, With Love

I put my hand on his bed rail.  He already held my mother’s hand.

I was reminded, strikingly, of the last time I looked at someone over  a bed rail, and I didn’t like the memory.  I wanted to bravely hold his hand so he could feel my touch.  But I didn’t.  And as I stood there wondering why, he took my hand instead, and managed a little grin in my direction.  I will always be grateful for him unknowingly gifting me a little piece of brave.

He slowly climbed his way through the fog of anesthesia.  And color touched his lips as he groggily opened his eyes unevenly, shut them again, took a deep breath, and opened them once more.

My mother, mommy, blinked rapidly, the little color left in her face draining too rapidly even as it bloomed on the face of her husband.  The relief of his eyes, his breath, his voice, his soft hands, drained her of the little adrenaline left in her exhausted soul.

My heart choked in my throat; I suddenly understood the depth that love can take.  Again.

I expect I will understand this many more times in my life.  And each time it will surprise me and strike me as amazing.  And each time, I will thank the universe for helping me comprehend so that I can remember to reach out to the people around me to fortify this love.

In the end, my life is not about my inability to pay the bills in full, or the mess that is my kitchen, or the lawn sprouting three feet high, or the career that intermittently stalls, it is the people who I love and whose love I cultivate that matter most.

I love you, Daddy, I’m so glad you’re okay.