You know those things that always bugged you about your parents which suddenly make more sense than you ever though possible? I'm having one of those moments. Actually, it's not a moment...it's a day. In my family, Sunday was always the day that made my mother sad and that had a lot to do with it also being the day we went back to college after a rare weekend in town and that--for her-- signaled the beginning of the the slow drift away from the old homestead. Roger that, Captain. It's already happened.
It's been a really full day. I made the most of the rain and the solitude. The Hubs was gone on a campout and I grocery shopped and made stew and a flotilla of cookies to mail to the boys. I graded papers and did laundry and made lists. I listened to music and read the NYTimes. I fed the animals and talked on the phone. I saw and bought candy corn at the store and that got me to thinking about this being the first Halloween (I know...it's only September) without any kids living here. After that, the day was shot through with amber tones of both serene contentment and nostalgic melancholy.
You'd have to live here to know, but it's nearly impossible not to think about the past while in our home. We live in a house that is pushing seventy...with creaky hardwoods and cabinets which--when chipped--reveal a lovely stratigraphy of paint colors. Apparently our kitchen used to be Robin's-egg blue. The Hubs was at one time an archaeologist. One of my college minors is History. Both of us are blessed and cursed with the ability/need to look backward even as we seek what awaits us ahead. There's too much here that speaks to what has been as well as what is to come. Kids' art framed on the walls. Photos from beach vacations. Our sons' childhood handprints pressed into the plaster of their bathroom walls. Mail that still comes here addressed to them. The fireplace front I tiled in a mosaic fashion along with pennies pressed into the grout...each one bearing a son's birth year and one for the year I married my best friend.
There's no doubt that this is a tough transition. In the real world it might seem to others as though I'm completely fine with my newfound independence and in many ways.....I am. We are. But it is clear to me that---because of the times I seem to return to this theme in writing---I'm grieving too. Every corner of this house is a museum to our family's happiness and an inescapable reminder of all that will never come to pass again. Did I just write that? Jesus! Someone tell me a joke.
Today I found a paper that the youngest son wrote when he was in the 1st grade. It was one of those Daily Oral Language things where the teacher calls out simple sentences and the students write them down. Probably one of many I glanced at--smiled briefly at the effusive 100 scrawled in red ink--and then placed it in a memory box with so many others. Today I actually looked at it (Thank you, Jimmy the cat, for dragging it out from under the bed) and read the words our son had so laboriously lettered: Can Sam skip? Will Roy jump?(Should Mother have some wine and just shut up already?) I trace with my eyes the curving penciled lines and stems he made on the 17th of October. Twelve years and one month ago as of tomorrow. On any other day I might look at it, smile and then put it back in the box. Not today. Today I keep it out for a bit. A souvenir of a sweet time that was way shorter than I ever knew it would be.
Who knew that Monday would be so welcomed?