Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Junk Yard Fishermen

This morning as I watched them pull off, I was reminded of a similar day not so very long ago. Same truck, same boat, same team of fishermen. Daybreak caught Big Black, loaded to the gills, (pun intended) riding out, for a day of fishing.

Except this time, there was one minor difference. This time, the teacher, the Daddy, the mentor, was the guest. The passenger. The "buddy" who was asked to go fishing. Mims  has never been very good about being the follower. The one who walks a step behind. The one not in charge. But that day, as today, he was all of those things.

That day after their return, well into the latter part of the day, a conversation about his day transpired. As we moved back and forth on the glider, the words of emotion came tumbling out of Mims and I just sat, rocked, and listened.

Mims began to recite memories from long ago. Standing on bank side with fishing poles at old Mr. Marcus's pond on Hwy 65. Zach was maybe six years old or so. Mims didn't have anything but a little old tug boat with a trolling motor back then. We had all been out in it a few times, but Zach had gotten bigger and was no longer small enough to sit on a cooler between the two of us, so that little boat had been retired. So, as I said, they had taken to bank side fishing at ponds. Never catching very much, but always spending good quality time with one another.

As time moved on, we did buy another boat. A bass boat we could all go out in, but still really just comfortable for two. Zach lost interest in fishing for a few years, so it was mostly Mims and I who took that boat out on any regular basis.

But then, Zach attains his driver's license. And suddenly there is not a pond, a lake, a mine hole, or swimming hole that he doesn't hit a lick at. The little tug boat comes back out of retirement, and man alive, the places that little boat has been in the past year. Zach and his buds's go everywhere and anywhere with that boat. Load it up in the back of somebody's truck and they are off, for their next adventure.

Never thinking his Daddy would be very interested in going out in that little tug boat, not when he had a nice fancy bass boat here at the house, Zach never asked his Daddy to go with him. And then he did. As they pulled out that Easter Sunday morning, it was the first time with son driving and Daddy as passenger.

Now obviously, there were some Easter Sunrise services going on, and as part of the story, this of course was relayed back to me. As they road down Attapulgus HWY, in Big Black, with that tug boat hanging out the back, they happened upon one of those services. Big Black itself is not all that loud, but the huge tires are, and it sure was quiet until they rode by all those people on that church lawn in their Sunday best, looking like the second coming of Fred Sanford in that pick up truck with the boat cocked sideways in the back.

But the sentiment is what got me during that conversation. Mims relayed all the memories of taking Zach here and there, but said he never thought about how strange it was going to be to sit on the other side of a vehicle and have his son, take him fishing. That as they drove, he would glance over at Zach every now and again and wonder where had all the time gone and how in the world did we get to this place so fast. Where was that three year old little boy, who jumped off porches in cowboy boots, that he met when we first moved here, or the five year old who pumped his skinny little legs as hard as they would go when he played tee-ball, and the seven year old who jumped to the sky on his bike ramps.

Mims is not much for mush and gush. But I could tell those feelings had been weighing on him for the better part of that day. So this morning when I saw them pulling out, I wondered, would today feel the same for Mims, or would this, too, be old school by now, and just the way it is supposed to be.

As I walked back inside, and went about my chores for the morning, my mind drifted back to his Sanford and Son reference from a couple of months ago. And it wasn't long before I caught myself humming the theme song, and smiling to myself thinking about those big old tires bouncing up and down, all the way down Attapulgus Hwy, one more time.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

And In One Fell Swoop

As he talked and talked and talked...I felt further and further away. Sometimes that happens. Often, the differences and distances are alarming. There have been times that I have drifted off into my own thoughts, even as I could still hear his voice crackling over the airwaves in my ear, wondering, when did it happen? When did we become so unalike. When did I become so simple. So ordinary. And he, so not.

Even when he is here, sometimes it is days before I see what I believe, what I remember to be, the boy I used to know. If I look quickly, I see flashes of him. Maybe those are not really flashes. Maybe they are just remnants of what used to be. Someone I used to know.

The speech is different. The words are levels above my head. The sound is grown and sure. There is no longer a little boy standing in front of me, fists clenching in and out, speaking with motion instead of words. Gone is the child climbing onto my bed with as many books as his little hands could carry, some of them coming loose from his grip in the journey, crashing to the ground, as he asks to be read to, in that little voice that could never be denied.

No longer resembling the teenager, unsure of himself or others, he stands before me a man. Somewhere he left me behind. I'm really not sure when it happened. I try and think back to a specific time or event, something that would jar my memory, and make me recall the day, I lost a part of my soul.

For nine months I carried him within the walls of my own confinement. A netting of safety. Protecting him from all that was bad and evil. Blood of my blood, two hearts beating as if one. For eighteen years or better, I was his Super Hero complete with cape and all. I wiped his tears and covered the scrapes and scratches with band aids. And the bruises only a Mama could see, I covered with my gentle words and my strong heart.

He lost his innocence many times between the ages of eighteen and twenty six. Love innocence, family innocence and the most difficult of all, life innocence.  But this past week, he lost his heart and his mind to something bigger than I think even he could have ever imagined. And now, he wants to become a permanent part of that new life. That new land. And all of those new stories and experiences all of the above will surely bring.

Maybe he was really made for fairy tale lands and a Harry Potter life. Maybe he never really was  of this world at all. Maybe I brought a true character into this world, instead of a child, or an adult. Maybe his glasses are not rose colored, but multi-spectrum like a kaleidoscope. Maybe he can only see in fragments and segue ways. Maybe the only life his mind wants to experience is far away lands and beautiful history. Maybe that is what he was made to do, how he was meant to live.

I can't compete with buildings that are as beautiful as they are thousands of years old. Or history that comes to life before your very eyes. Or beautiful lilting voices that release vowels as if they are musical notes from the tongue. Or mummies and palaces, monstrous museums, and birth places of artists past, too talented to simply be called, artists. Parks that are used for scenery in too many movies to count, and bakery's so delicious, it would seem they invented the wheel. The pastry wheel.

But I can cook like my Southern Alabama Mama taught me. Whether it's smothered in fancy sauces or the healthiest food you could eat, it sure is some good home cooking. I still know when your skin breaks out, one of the first things one does in an allergy ridden family is to change washing detergents and personal body soaps. I can barter with sales people better than any man I know, including the worst of all, car salesmen. I will go to battle for you and fight harder for you than anyone else you will ever know. And I will always be the best person to talk to when your heart is hurting or life deals you a crappy hand.

All good mothers know our roles will wither away. The need for us and our over-bearing, over-caring ways will slowly fade. But it's still hard. It still hurts. And London England is a long, long way from home. I brought you into this world to do great things. To be the greatest person on earth. To see everything you could see and do everything you every dreamed of doing. So if I get left behind, that's what's supposed to happen. It's the evolution of  a prosperous life. And it's what every Mother dreams of for her child, no matter that it sure is hard to see you across the ocean, standing from the front porch steps of our lives.

Tallyho...and all of that you know. Onward my son. To wherever you think the path of life is leading you. Romp those brick laden paths with those Georgia Boots we on this side of the world, affectionately call, shit-kickers. And cry with joy and excitement every time you think of how close you were to Harry Potter and his wonderful fantasy world.  Maybe one day soon, the two worlds will collide again, and you will be Harry Potter, if only when you close your eyes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And Suddenly, Here We Are

Everyday for the past few weeks, I have come home and there is another one in the mailbox. All of these envelopes with names of children on them. Little boys who played Tiny Mites football and little girls who took ballet lessons at Miss Lucretia's in Bainbridge Georgia. Children who were dressing like tough Ninja's and sweet Fairies this past Halloween. Children who made casts and cut outs of their hand prints for Christmas decorations and Turkey's for the Thanksgiving table centerpiece. All of these things just happened. Right?

Then today, I open up my laptop and sign on to the internet. I type in my password for Face Book. I haven't been on all day. Time to see what's going on with everybody. Well, I'll tell you what's going on. My own child, my own little boy, became a Senior in high school today when I wasn't looking. I turn my back for one minute, and's just about over.

Zach is my last child in the high school grade system. Next year I will have one child in his last year of High School and another son in his last year of Graduate School. One will have a high school diploma and the other will have a Master's degree. One will be eighteen years old, the other will be twenty-seven.

I want to go back. I want them to go back to ages sixteen and seven. When they were already becoming best friends. And sixteen loaned seven his clothes for a rockin' out performance in a school lip sync contest with his best friend Dustin Watson. Back to eleven and two, when one could make the other giggle endlessly without saying a word. Back to eighteen and nine, as one watched the other give the speech of his life as Valedictorian of his high school, and he beamed with pride as his brother stood tall and grown at the podium and received a standing ovation. And back to fourteen and five as one watched the other play tee-ball and run with the mightiest might and determination he had ever seen, all in the name of winning and being the best for his big brother.

All of those envelopes represent everything we have all been working toward. Raising these Ninja's and Fairies to be good, smart, and responsible adults. For them to be able to stand on their own two feet and make good, solid, considered decisions. For them to stand together, all as one, in their cap and gowns and be able to say, this is me, and I did it.

So, guess what? We will cry. We will beam with pride. We will hold on tight to each others hands. And we will stand and applaud as they walk into the future we have tried to introduce them to. And then, as the days pass, and the excitement is over, we will have the pictures developed.  We will look through them, and we will cry some more. Because that's just what parents do.

Happy Graduation to all the Senior's. Congratulations on all your accomplishments.  We know you're excited. You've worked for this all of your life. But if you could just cut us old folks a little slack, we sure would appreciate it. And in return, we'll try and not clutch you too tight. Or cut off your circulation when hugging you in front of all your fellow graduates. We'll try to remember to wear water proof mascara so our faces are not streaming black liquid. And if we feel ourselves hyperventilating, we'll try and have the presence of mind to take our overwhelmed selves outside before we place the paper bag over our face.  I said, we'll try, but I'm not making any promises.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mama Gets A Helping Hand

From the minute I became pregnant at twenty-two years old, I knew, I was meant to be somebody's Mama. Every day, every minute, and all the seconds that I carried each child in my womb, I knew that we would be forever joined in mind, body and soul. 

What I did not know, is that at the age of thirty-three years old, for all intent and purposes, I would become Mama and Daddy to both of my children. I would make all the major decisions, sit all alone in many emergency rooms on weekends when doctors are not in their offices, tend to all the homework assignments, and hug away most of the tears. I had no idea just how much my life was about to change. 

It would be me who packed every book bag and every lunch box.  Worried about the jacket I let them leave at home that morning, because it was warm at 7am but by 2pm when school was letting out, a cold front had come through and the temperature had dropped fifteen degrees, causing me to fret about how cold would they be walking from the bus stop to the house. Or the toy I forgot was supposed to be taken for show and tell. And how I would worry they would be the only one without something to show. And worst of all, all the school programs where my boys would be the only one with one parent in attendance. 

Somewhere along the way, I was no longer alone. I met a man, who even though he was not the father of my children, nor my husband for many years to come, never missed a tee-ball game, a band performance, school function, tiny mites football, birthday party, or graduation.

Finally I had someone who would truly share his love and attention with my boys.  He gave advice, built fences, taught them to cut grass, create man sheds, listened to their stories, how their days went, and love them unconditionally no matter what. My boys were calling him their Daddy long before I ever even knew it. 

The point of this story today is to say this....I think I'm a better Mama today because of the man who would become their Bonus Daddy. I was taught patience I did not have, reasoning I never considered, and that it was alright to share. It was alright to let someone else take the lead, to walk ahead of me and me behind for a change, and that the world would not stop if I didn't have the last say, or the loudest opinion. 

I appreciate that my job was made easier. I am grateful that someone loved my two boys with so much love, that no one knows the difference between what's blood or water. And I am forever proud that I now have an extra ear to listen, shoulder to cry on, and humor when I tend to take myself or situations too seriously. 

Thank you Mims...for asking me to marry you. And for helping me to be a better Mama for my boys.  I take my job as a Mother very seriously and because of you, I have learned to take it lightly and more loosely when I need to as well.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's I know. It's a hard job, it's a full time job, and the pay is for crap....don't ever let anybody tell you any different. But the benefits we all reap far outweigh the problems or the heartaches. And everybody knows, there ain't no one in this world who will ever love you like your Mama loves you. And that's a fact.