I was pouty today. I was pouty because I hosted a party this weekend that not a lot of invitees attended or even bothered to RSVP. I was pouty because I must work tomorrow, the last day of summer break before my kids start back to school. I was pouty because another summer has quickly slipped through my fingers, and there are just a few of them left before my children are all grown up and not interested in spending summers at home with their Mama. And then….
Well, let me go back just a little. I had the rare privilege of growing up across the street from my grandparents. I remember riding on the back of my brother’s Big Wheel as we zoomed down the hill of our driveway, across the dead-end street (without looking for passing cars), and on down my Paw Paw’s driveway, only to dash at the last moment to a hard left turn that took us to a gravel pit beside his garage. To this day, I am not sure why that gravel was spread there other than to stop our out-of-control Big Wheel rides down the hill. One day we almost took off his truck door as he was washing his truck and barely had time to close the door before we zoomed past…..it’s a wonder he even lets us visit now! Maw Maw and Paw Paw would give us Dr. Pepper and ice cream while we watched MacGyver with them every day after school, only to send us home after the episode was over to try and do our homework all sugared up! They took us on long weekends and day trips, and we had the best picnics! (If you haven’t shared a can of Vienna sausages, pork-n-beans, and a sliced tomato at a rest stop, you haven’t lived!)
Last night, at the last minute, I asked my Mama, who still lives across the street from her Daddy, if she could watch each of my kids in turn while I took the other to their school Open Houses. Of course, like always, she happily agreed. My brother and sister-in-law asked the same of her. Cousins together at Grandmama’s house should be a federal holiday—there is nothing better or more exciting! But, to be honest, it wasn’t really a surprise when I returned with Ada Lynn to find that the boys weren’t at Grandmama’s at all anymore…..they were at Maw Maw’s and Paw Paw’s across the street. These kids love to go visit their great-grandparents!
We walked down the hill and across the street to find a serious egg hunt going on in the back yard. But they weren’t hiding eggs. No one could find the 20+ year old plastic eggs today, so they were hiding bottle caps. If you think your children or grandchildren need technology or fancy toys, you’re wrong! Maw Maw has the same old bucket of mismatched Legos that we played with forty years ago, along with a big bag of plastic Easter eggs, thread holders, shoestrings, plastic cups (obtained for free from various Senior Citizen events), and vitamin bottles that she thoroughly washes when empty, and the kids would rather go down and play with those than with any of the latest and greatest that Santa has to offer. Luckily, today they get “coke floats” with caffeine-free Diet Coke so the aftereffects aren’t so bad when they return home!
Yes, today in all my pouting, I was stopped in my tracks as I watched my quickly growing children hunt bottle caps in my grandparents’, their great-grandparents’, back yard. I fell in love with hydrangeas in that yard, and I was eaten up by ants in that back yard when I was probably six or eight years old. Maw Maw fixed me a quick, cool oatmeal bath, and I know still today that those kinds of baths help pesky, itchy bug bites and a mess of other ailments. I have hunted eggs and my brother and my cousins in that yard, and I have had more than my fair share of coke floats on that porch. The best part of the whole thing is that most of the family I have come to know and love at that house aren’t my biological family at all, but I know now that those things don’t really matter. And my life is better for it.
So, today I was pouty for a lot of silly reasons, but that all changed when I saw my children hunting plastic bottle caps in the yard of people who shaped me and loved me. My memories there aren’t seasonal but have spread the course of my whole life. The good, the bad, the ugly. The love was unconditional, and that is what made the difference.
Luke and I each pulled the first two ripe figs off the gigantic bush that grows just beyond the gravel pit and ate it there in the yard. I promised Paw Paw we’d come back in a couple of days to pick some more. I have a couple of jars of homemade fig preserves Maw Maw made for me last year in the pantry. We’ll probably have toast and fig preserves for breakfast on the first day of school, and we’ll talk about how lucky, no, how blessed we are. No more pouting for me!
Happy end of summer and fist day of school to all of you with us in this season of life! May we continually grow and gain perspective on the things that are most important in this life!
In His Love,
Allison Key, MD