Family, Hope, and Memories
This was the first year in many years that I did not plan an elaborate Memorial Day cookout here. I missed the huge gathering but I didn't think my mother could handle all of the confusion and I am preparing to rejoin the work force with a totally unexpected career move so I just didn't have the time to put together a well-organized gathering. My adult children were here for the weekend and we celebrated on a much smaller scale which was very refreshing. As usual, we didn't spend Memorial Day grieving for those who have gone before us; instead we celebrated the good times we had with them and we honor the men and women who made it all possible. Since there were fewer people here this year we had more time to reconnect on a more personal level.
The whole weekend was a mixed bag of celebration and hope. My daughter marked her thirty-first birthday on Memorial Day. Just three weeks ago she went through an In Vitro Fertilization procedure. We sat around my dining room table and talked about how her life would change if she is able to carry a baby and bring new life into our family. We won't know for a few more days whether or not she is pregnant but my thoughts drifted to holding a newborn infant in my arms as I inhaled the scent of baby lotion and baby powders. I remembered my daughter's colic, the car rides at all hours of the day and night to help her sleep, and how many hours I spent rocking her in my arms until my arms felt like lead and my eyes would barely stay open but knowing if I stopped she would awaken again and the tears would be rolling down both of our cheeks. That was over quickly and she soon took her first steps. I needed roller skates to keep up with her but that too ended quickly and she was soon running outdoors to play with her friends. Now she is a business woman with a burning desire to become a mother and share her life with a child of her own. What a blessed child that little baby would be to have my daughter for a mother.
I looked at the spots on the dining table that have been cleaned and polished until there are faded patches that stand out for anyone to see. I thought about heavily laden pans of steaming hot turkey and dressing, plates of cookies, birthday cakes, and baskets of fresh picked summer vegetables that have strained the legs of the table through the years. My children have sat around this table and laughed, cried, done their homework, dreamed of the future, and wished away their youth in eager anticipation of becoming adults capable of driving, setting their own rules, and finding fame and fortune. Now the possibility that another child will share many of the same memories around my dining room table fills me with eager anticipation, joy, and a deeper understanding of my own roots.
It seems like only last year that my son cut out PlayDoh dinosaurs on this table, created works of art with colorful markers, and started to weave together a future filled with creative endeavors. He will be graduating from college in just a few days and I know his visits home will most likely become fewer as his career becomes more challenging and fulfilling. I miss those days of having toddlers hugging me around the knees and hanging on to me as if I was a prized possession. I miss having to make young children stop playing long enough to sit down and have a bite of lunch. I even miss having to remind them that civilized people eat with forks and spoons instead of their fingers when they were in such a hurry they even wanted to eat pasta out of their hand on the way to the back door. I miss it and I would relive every moment of it again if I could.
I miss my father, I miss Kyle, and I miss my grandparents and the uncles and aunts that filled my life. I thought of them all on this Memorial Day weekend. But, I confess, I spent a lot of time thinking of my children and how I felt when they were cuddled in lap, skinning knees, and losing baby teeth. Their problems are much larger now and their smiles don't come as easily but they appear anytime I give them a hug or just tell them how much I love them. I am proud of the adults they have become. They have learned to succeed, learned to cope with obstacles, and learned how to deal with their own heartaches. They have overcome illness, frustrations, and injuries to walk tall and make changes that matter.
I'm not sure how many memories my children are carrying with them but I know I did my best to be supportive, loving, kind, considerate, and teach them how important family is in this world. It was a wonderful weekend and I have only high hopes for the days ahead.
© Dianna Doles Petry