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.