My mom said, write about your family. Write about what differences you noticed after being around family again after so long. It's been 3 years since I saw my cousins, saw their children, watched them line up 9 in a row from oldest (and tallest) to youngest and most manic. Most dimple-filled. Most smiley. Most thoughtful. Most observant. All those small eyes watching us, their parents, as we careened around my mom's house and snarfed down cheesecake and dip made with cream cheese and Hormel chili. The house, if it could have, would have rocked with laughter and conversation. How do you write about that? I don't know if you can write about it. I think you can only go through it and enjoy it and hope that it will not be 3 years until the next time, even if sometimes you wonder what do you really have to talk about with those cousins who live such a different life? That sister who lives so far away? Those nieces and nephews who don't know you at all, really. They might have houses and jobs and kids, but still, they don't know my life. I don't know theirs.
At the dinner table one night, 3 of the children sat and listened in round-eyed fascination while my sister told stories of us from our childhood. My mom told a story, and my husband, and then I did. We conjured up other children in the air around our heads and it was us: me, my sister, my brother. Making mudpies at Babyface Creek and being frightened by a water moccasin. Fights we had, things we did, that made us laugh and grimace and paint into word pictures that have lasted through our growing time and become tales to weave wonder into our children's ears with. Look! Your parents were children, too! How strange.
My mom put her warm hands on my head late last night when I couldn't get to sleep, strung tight like a wire after a stressful few hours dealing with work catch-up in preparation for my first day back after 2 weeks. I had to laugh when 3 different colleagues told me how many emails they had received, how many conversations they had had with people saying that they needed me back, where was I, when was I going to be back and HOW I COULD NEVER LEAVE AGAIN.
She didn't rub or press or caress. She just set her fingers on my skull and held it, and I laid there, sideways in the bed and thought how strange it was that I was grown and yet still her child. Her firstborn baby, lying there in that bed, twitching with the need to relax and let go so I could be well-rested for the next day. I kid my mom a lot. I roll my eyes at her and laugh at her (and with her) and I rib her and give her shit. But she holds my head and my heart in her hands. And inside, where I couldn't hear her, I could feel that she was singing me to sleep.
A barrelfull of belated birthday wishes to : travelertrish, reebert, thistimearound and kissekat!