The Last Fun Day

On the last fun day we had together, we built a race track that these two had given to our little guys. They waited this long to bring it forth, knowing it would be a big hit after things had settled down some. After the little boys had done simpler things, like climb into this unfinished cabinet and make twin bunk-bed forts there. After they had worked on their Lego sets for hours and done all the puzzles and cooked up the Shrinky-Dinks.

All my life I wanted to replicate the family feeling I grew up with when my sister Nan and I had a mother and a grandfather, a pretty young aunt coming over every day to work at the family business and the real stars of the show, those ancient great aunties, one in the chair where she sat in her old-lady shoes with her stockings rolled down to her ankles and the other scooting around in her dark blue Keds, making the beds and the jelly and the chicken ‘n dumplings 90% of her waking hours and only then sitting, when her 90-year-old legs begged her for a little time off.

When we came into the kitchen there were always people there, our pretty Aunt Grace with her light high voice like a bell or our mom with her contralto growl. (Was it the cigarettes or was it the irony she cloaked herself in to keep pain at bay? ) Great Aunt Margaret when not saying her beads, would beopening her mail: ten thousand solicitations from the world’s unfortunates. (“I‘m dead with praying for the blind orphans!” she once cried.) And Great Aunt Mame, a spinster since she stopped looking in the 1880s, would be snorting at the engagement announcements in the paper. (“For every old sock there’s an old shoe!” she would tartly pronounce.)

The women cooked all week for the one man in the house, our grandfather, who came home from some bland emeritus tasks at his law office to sit in his wing chair and read his histories and biographies, carefully cutting the pages open as he went with a pen knife once belonging to his own dad (seen here as he looked newly arrived from Ireland in the early 1850s.)

How keenly do I miss these many now! How more keenly still would I miss them had I not been able to make a family very similar to that one I grew up with. By which I only mean to say that for the last week there were nine of us together under one roof, ten if you count that unborn baby. And when our kids were kids it was the same: every room filled with kin, both ‘real’ and ‘honorary’ such that at night to the owls passing high overhead this house must have seemed to billow with our common breathing.

Anyway, here’s the race track in motion. That’s our first ‘honorary’ son Dodson and his Veronica admiring it to the left, and our youngest ‘child’ Michael doing the same to the right. The little guy in the middle, named for ‘my’ David, has the last word, that as far as I’m concerned, can stand for this whole ride of mine through life:

“That was awesome!” you’ll hear him cry at the end. And yes it was and I hope I have the sense to say so too.

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2 thoughts on “The Last Fun Day

  1. This time of year is like a special key, unlocking so many memories of great joy and heartache. Remembering is such a wonderful thing, and we must be aware that what is happening today, this holiday, will be part of those remembrances for those in the future.

    I am the very last living member of my side of the family…at least the ones who shared the love, the joy, the good times and bad in the Davis home. Those memories are cherished today, and like you, Terry, I strive to relate them to my children and grandchildren, replicate at least portions of those dusty events that today are so meaningful to me.

    Yes, for sure, “Through the years we’ll always be together, if the Fates allow.” And if there are those who don’t fully believe that sentiment, come on over. We have watched “Meet Me in St Louis” dozens of times!

    A very Happy, Healthy New Year to all in your Wonderful Family. Like the child said, “AWESOME!”

  2. “Every day is a god, each day is a god , and holiness holds forth in time…”

    Annie Dillard

    To Annie, “time” would be a sacred thing and indeed it is, or so I agree.
    Like, the capture of this above Youtube clip and the many photos tucked away in family albums that record a history which enlivens those living in the present and kindles the spark of life of those we leave to the future who bear our mark. And so, we pass on and on our experiences, our joys and within them our sorrows as well. This is the stuff of life and what we do with time will make all the difference, both in this now moment and in the time that waits unknown.

    “A BLUEBIRD IN TIME”

    In a quiet setting in the low country of South Carolina I walked with a 96 year old monk, a Trappist, a scholar, (translates Greek and Latin) a poet and very sacred man himself. For he valued “time.” As we strolled the grounds, he stopped now and then the way old folks do when walking, and said with an authority and wit reserved for the learned aged, “Ha! Time! What is time? We measure it. Minutes and hours, days, months, years..that’s all it is, a measurement to most. But if you wake each day and consider it a gift..your life takes on a holiness and a fulfillment otherwise not known.” Then we walked a bit further, I respectfully allowing him all the moments muse, he’s earned it. In the presence of such men, you remain silent. He tightened the grip of my arm in the crook of his own and stopped, turned me toward him, face to face and with piercing sapphire blue eyes and intense seriousness, he said to me: ” Time has been my treasure and in it all things have been good to me brother…don’t squander it…you’ll regret wasting time. Make each moment count..do you understand?” I nodded in agreement and reverently replied, “Yes, Dom Christian, I do.” Then, as if to teach by example, in a childlike manner, he raised his voice in excitement and exclaimed,”Look! Look! Look at that Bluebird! Have you ever seen such a color blue? Man, what a beautiful little bird…” And so we went, arm in arm, enjoying…time.

    The gift of it.

    Happy New Year.

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