“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” -Dr. Suess
It’s funny how memory works…the pieces you recall when thinking of a person or time in your life. I can’t pull up much of my parents on the big days (graduations, my wedding, etc.) other than huge smiles. I remember shopping in Kmart before my mom’s first big surgery fifteen years ago, laughing ridiculously together over cheesy nightgowns. Or sitting in her enormous brown Grand Marquis in our driveway on a beautiful summer evening, sipping milkshakes, and talking about nothing/everything because it was too nice to go inside just yet. Whatever we were discussing seemed too important. I remember her reading to me as a child, switching around words in my Sesame Street book to see if I was paying attention. And in my head she is always sewing, working on some project or another. Usually for someone else, of course.
I remember my dad driving me to high school and wanting to learn French, asking how you’d say everything we saw. For years he’d say “It was a gris matin (gray morning) today”. And he loved “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” Which of course he learned from a movie. He played a continuous game of “What movie is this from?” You never knew when he’d spout a line and expect a quick answer. He loved music too, and the soundtrack of any given movie was usually part of its review. “I liked it all right,” he’d say, “but I really like the music in the bar room/action montage/whatever scene.” He’d rewind/skip back over and over again just to listen to the best music in a movie. He loved the Blues and got a kick out of John making CDs of newer artists for him to listen to while driving back and forth to the restaurant.
John’s maternal grandfather passed recently at age 89, leaving behind a legacy that includes a close-knit clan of some of my favorite people. John is the oldest of 31 grandchildren on his mother’s side, and the great-grands still ensure plenty of merriment when they get together. Friends often comment that my husband is such a great sport, happily entertaining groups of kids at gatherings, camp, the pool, etc. But I know he can’t help himself just like his Grandpa Murphy couldn’t back in the day. Kids are fun, and playing keeps you young. Even as Grandpa aged he kept a close sparkling eye on the children, always holding the little ones looking for a snuggle.
A few weeks ago I was driving the boys home from the pool in the evening. It’s a ten minute scenic drive through a wooded area, and the sun was casting long, slanted golden streaks through the trees. “Hey Jude” began streaming on the radio, and I glanced back to realize Luke was reading to Joel. Sure, he’d been reading, often out loud. But not to brother without prompting. It was so beautiful I wanted to stop time and listen to Click Clack Moo on repeat for all of eternity. And I thought, “Please let me remember this moment. Please let them remember it too.” Instead of the times we’re all frustrated with each other in the daily tasks of growing and living.
I don’t want to miss these moments that remind me we’re doing something right. That there are so many good nuggets in days that sometimes seem long:
Folding a flat sheet on a lazy summer morning can turn into a game of parachute hide-n-seek with Joel that leaves us both in fits of giggles. And sometimes we dance on our porch just for fun.
Lounging on the porch on a breezy afternoon was suddenly the first time Luke read me an entire pageof one of The Magic Treehouse books. I was so proud I almost cried.
The look of fierce determination/amusement Joel gets when he’s teaching himself to climb the stairs or pull up to the couch.
So many summer fun things that Luke now does independently…roasting marshmallows, swimming, fishing.
The feeling of friends turning into family. Knowing that our family friends now will be our friends for many years to come because they keep showing up. Many of them have invested precious weekend hours building our ramp with John. Our village keeps teaching me what it means love your fellow human. I am humbled by their generosity.