Everything Old is New Again…
With looming thunderstorm threats, we kept it simple today. To my pleasant surprise, we wound up between the Whistle Stop Café and a scene in “Stand by Me.” Donovan Park has some of my favorite elements: big shade trees, lots of lush greenery, and railroad tracks straddled over an active creek bed. I know we writers love the dramatic, but I swear the day was right out of a Hollywood screenplay.
The playground was deserted and the kids were restless, but I was determined to turn this into a worthy adventure. We walked along a fence line until we found a break that led to the tracks. This part gets a little scary for moms, because the embankment was rather high. I was as excited about skipping stones as I was nervous about keeping the boys safe. As is true to character, the baby was oblivious to any dangers, while the oldest stayed attached to me like an appendage. “You can never go on the train tracks, Mommy, because that’s the law,” he informed me. He’s so smart—even at four, he’s up on the latest rules and regs. 😉
When he settled in and started skipping stones, I noticed that he was wearing his father’s t-shirt. I’ll leave age out of this, but suffice it to say, that t-shirt has survived many decades. It was among several boxes of things that my hubby’s mother kept. He often recalls the story of getting that t-shirt from one of their many family vacations in Kenora, Canada. It was at a little place called Frosty’s Lodge. I wish we could find that lodge. His memories make it sound like the perfect place for kids to spend summer vacations— fishing and swimming off the dock, a little rustic cabin, and a rugged, old owner who made nightly bonfires with a stack of rubber tires. I imagine the EPA would have something to say about the latter, but the rest sounds like good old fashion fun that the boys would love.
I envision my husband as a little boy playing along railroad tracks and skipping stones into a creek bed, and when I do, he’s wearing that shirt. It brings waves of emotions every time our son reaches for it. It has holes and dangling threads, but he loves it. And when I hug him while he’s wearing it, I somehow feel generations of love. It’s a small, tangible slice of the past. It’s soft as a kitten from a million washes. It’s fragile, but I let our son wear it anyway, because I feel the life and love that emanates from that shirt. I hope it lasts a few more generations.
I have a heap of stuff that needs to go to charity or a yard sale, mostly baby and kid stuff—nice stuff that could pay for a family vacation or something cool. It’s all just sitting in plastic bins on shelves. But it’s hard for me. There were a couple of years between our boys that I didn’t have to let go of anything because of the unknown, and the anticipation of having or adopting another baby. But the reprieve is over; we have our babies and that chapter is behind us. So to keep our home from being showcased in a horror show on TLC about people who keep gum wrappers, I need to weed. I’ll be an emotional basket case, of that I am certain. But it needs to be done. The only thing that could possibly get me through letting go of our of boys’ baby things will be two boxes marked: KEEP!—one for each boy. Things like their “coming home” outfits, their first baby combs, and I’m sure several t-shirts that drive me nuts now, will all be prized possessions in those boxes. Getting rid of things is a way of accepting and embracing that things change, and babies grow. But keeping a few things lets me hold onto, and hand down, a little piece of our precious moments together.
And, hey boys–the older versions of yourselves– if you ever get to read this, I hope your kids skip stones in your old t-shirts. I hope they’re tattered and well worn. And when you hold your kids while they’re wearing them, feel my love and make the mark on their chests that I make on yours: INFINITY.