Many years ago, I bought a box of antique fans at an estate sale. My mom gave me the dime being asked for them.
Before I found the box of fans, I’d complained about being dragged along to sales with my mom. After I found the fans, I felt decidedly more pro-sale.
My older son, Li’l D, discovered the fans a couple of years ago. At least once a month, he’s asked to look at the fans. I even gave him one of his own, and promised him the fans if he still wants them when he’s much, much older.
My husband, Anthony, has witnessed these exchanges. He’s seen the little cardboard box that’s housed the fans for decades and, it seems, decided a better home was deserved. He made that home himself.
For years, I felt my mom when I took out the old box and thought of the gifted dime that bought its contents. Then I felt my mom and my oldest son while sifting. Now, another layer of connection has been added. Anthony is part of the experience of these fans, too.
Someday, Li’l D will pull a small green box off a shelf. When he does, he’ll remember a little of my mom, and a lot of me. And he’ll think of his daddy, too, and how Daddy once sat down to make a fan box in Mommy’s favorite color.
Out behind their grandmas’ house, my two little boys rocked back and forth on a two-person swing. I smiled as I walked nearer; they’re really growing into friends.
“Don’t take a picture!” commanded my seven-year-old, Li’l D.
“I wasn’t going to,” I said. “I’m trying to take more pictures with my heart these days.”
“That’s good,” Li’l D replied. “Sometimes kids just want their privacy.”
“I hear you,” I said. I do. From now on, I’ll only post about Li’l D with his permission, save perhaps in rare cases where his part in a vignette is peripheral.
Minutes later, I climbed into my car for a rare date with my husband. As I did, my mind was on those two boys swinging in the backyard.
Little by little, they’re getting bigger. Sometimes it aches to see how quickly they’re growing. Times like yesterday, though, my heart simply swells that I get to see them grow into their vocabularies, opinions, and friendship … no pictures required.
For 90 minutes each weekend, I leave my phone at home and join my family for our weekly grocery shopping. It’s my very favorite time of the week.
For 90 minutes weekly, I notice the temperature, the direction of the breeze, the looks of joy and frustration on the faces of those who pass by. I see nuances of the world around me and its peoples, not some pale, paltry electronic version of these.
Last weekend, my two little boys sat and shared what they call shaved ice. My husband and I waited for my family’s favorite farmers market vendor to return with our order.
“Excuse me,” an older woman standing nearby said. “I see you every week. Your boys? They’re so sweet! Every week, they make me smile.”
I touched my heart as I said, “Thank you.”
“I thought you should know,” she said, smiling as she turned and disappeared into the crowd.
Once or twice, I’ve seen people frown at my boys and their antics. The frowners are irritated that they must have their quiet, solemn post-joy lives temporarily shattered by the unpredictability of youthful lives still (and hopefully always) fully lived.
Far, far more often, by a factor of at least ten times, I’ve seen people smile, giggle, and even laugh outright. The week my seven-year-old repeatedly called my almost three-year-old “Mr. Scrotum” definitely helped with that!
(“No, no! If you feel you must call him that, save it for home!” I chided. “But better still, just don’t do it at all.”)
I know some people see grocery shopping as a chore. For me, it’s a joyful yet calming reminder I’m not apart from the physical world I live in, but very much a part of it.
I’ve smiled many times this last week, but nowhere else as wide as I did when I was told my children consistently make one woman smile. ‘Cause, see, we’re connected, and that doesn’t change just because we fail to see it.
(My husband chuckled about our typing our separate narratives on other sides of our rental home: “That’s how I met you! The other side of the clickety-clack.”)
Please see other #WeeklySmile posts here
A few months ago, my family happened across a used bookstore that was going out of business. The store’s lovely, kid-friendly owners couldn’t afford the rent, which had just been jacked up something like 50%.
My husband, sons, and I bought a couple of boxes full of books that day. Before we left, my husband signed up for the owners’ school book fair mailing list. It’s a good thing he did, too!
A few days ago, he got a great email about the bookstore. First, there’d been such an outpouring of love for Camelot Books, its owners had decided to open up shop somewhere else a few months down the road. The store wouldn’t be closing down for good. Woo-hoo!
Second, there wouldn’t be enough space to store their inventory in the meantime. With thousands of books still left, the real sale had begun!
My family and I returned to the store yesterday, eventually leaving with one enormous box of books for only about fifty dollars. We left, too, with memories of another hour spent surrounded by books, love, and each other … and the elation of knowing this bookstore will continue, and with it a joy that has little to do with physical location.
“Mama?” my seven-year-old, Li’l D, spoke.
“My friend [M] said that the difference between my hair and [my little brother, Littler J’s] is that his is way bigger because it hasn’t been cut for a while.”
“That’s one difference,” I said. “Another is that his hair is fine, while your hair is …” I searched for the right word, understanding many words that seem neutral in the dictionary are charged in living color.
“Your hair is thick,” I concluded.
“Which is better?” Li’l D asked plaintively.
“Oh, sweetie,” I said, ruffling his thicker curls. “Neither is better. When I was little, my only friend who wasn’t my sibling–Topaz–had curly hair. I was so jealous of her curly hair. Then again, she wished she had my straight hair.”
Li’l D looked at his brother’s hair and half-smiled. “Oh.”
I don’t know if he believes me now. I don’t know if he’ll believe me later. I only know that (1) pre-pregnancy me of eight years ago wouldn’t have understood “dog whistles,” or the ways politicians invoke race without ever explicitly mentioning it, and (2) I believe it through-and-through. His curls are lovely. His brother’s curls are lovely.
One brother’s curls are fine. Another brother’s curls are coarse.
Both brothers are beautiful; either’s hair, only a fraction of that.
It’s been ten years since my now-husband was on a popular reality TV show. He’s trying to record a 1-minute video celebrating the occasion of its 500th episode.
It’s taking him a while to say the right-for-him thing. Having missed the first journey, I am enjoying every second of this one!
“That was lame!” he just told his camera after his last take.
Lame? Nah. I’m enjoying listening to this all on a vacation day. It’s all fantastic to me.
I have three full-blood siblings. Each of those three siblings are soulful, compassionate people; together, they have been my lifeline for most of four decades.
My siblings all had one elementary school teacher who never taught me in a classroom. Far from condemning my single mother, as most adults around my siblings and I did, this teacher praised her: “Any one of your children is kinder and more compassionate than any other student I’ve ever had. That all three of them are like that tells me it’s not an accident, but a reflection of you.”
I was never his student, but he and I became friendly in the years after my siblings left his classroom. He went on to teach teachers. He told me he used me and my siblings as shining examples of what you can become when you care for other people.
(When I had a chance to help one of his people a few years ago, I leaped! How seldom do any of us have a chance to explicitly show kindness to the people who have saved us?!)
Sometimes, I talk to people and wonder how they have so little faith in the folks around them. “How do you believe people are innately assholes, and only ever pretend to be otherwise?” I ask myself, puzzling over this until something or another reminds me: They did not have my siblings!
As my mom lost herself to untreated mental illness, I had my siblings. As our mom died of cancer, I had my siblings. After she died and I argued heatedly about how we should dispose of her house, I had my siblings.
(I was so angry about how we disposed of Mom’s house, I signed the papers upside-down to reflect my protest. Still, I signed because I understood my siblings were more important than a house, and I apologized later when I really understood it.)
And so, I have walked through every day of my life knowing I have three people who will support me even when they want to whack me upside the head (which is probably often). I have three people who know, absolutely, that my heart is full of love, even when the things I do or say don’t necessarily reveal that.
Most people don’t have that.
That is a sadness I can’t even fathom.
Most people have never even had one-third of that. Read more…