It's My Son

About two weeks ago, my youngest son and I had a day together alone, which rarely happens. So I asked him out on a date and he said yes!:)  How lucky am I?  I took him to see the movie, When The Game Stands Tall, which turned out to have quite a few more life lessons in it than I ever expected and stirred both of our hearts to really think about the ways that football is more than just a game for him. I knew little about the film, other than that it was a movie about an undefeated football team and the extraordinary coach who led them.  Turns out it was about a whole lot more... faith, love, heart, emotions, brotherhood, what it means to be part of a team, dependability, sacrifice, leadership both on the field and off, sorrow, joy, and ultimately... what it means to grow up and  be a man who is able to feel and to love, in life.. as well as he is able to love the game.

I've watched my Eric grow by leaps and bounds in the past three years.  He is a freshman in high school and it is his third year playing football.  This year, the coach made him a wide receiver which is something new for him, and something he takes pride in.  I think we'll be spending a lot of time tossing a football with him in our backyard, this fall.  I found his playbook on the kitchen counter, open as if he had just been studying it and it drove home to me again... how these boys are growing up into lives apart from me... full of experiences that are uniquely their own and not mine.  I'm trying so hard not to blink but it's blinking by anyway. 

I have such a mixture of feelings when I look at this child.  When he smiles, he has a dimple that is so endearing and he has no idea of its effect on people. It adds a special warmth to a gentle smile. He is already so very good... at loving.  I wrote a post about his journey last year titled, Making The Most of the Daylight Hours.  Still applies today... maybe even more so. When I look at that photo of him from just last year, it tugs at my heart.  They change a lot from 13 - 15... passing from boyhood into something deeper. He's come such a long way in three short years and in my eyes, it isn't so much the game that stands tall... it's my son.  

Thirty One Flavors

When I was eighteen, I lived with my dad in a little apartment in Southern California.  I have a lot of memories of that time with him, and each of them is a jewel I keep deep inside me in that space for all my most precious things.  I called him one morning freaking out and he couldn't understand a word I was saying so he rushed home and found me in the kitchen with his welding mask, gloves, boots and pants on holding them up with one hand and wielding a spatula in the other. I was screeching something about cockroaches and smacking them with my very ineffective weapon while trying to make sure I didn't have any exposed skin in case one decided to jump up and bite me. I've never seen him laugh so hard in my life.  Turns out they were only little crickets and dad took care of them in short order while I sheepishly returned his welding gear to its proper place.  He still loves to tell that story.

We lived on the second floor of the apartment building and I sometimes did the shopping and cooking.  I think that's when I really began to learn what foods I personally preferred and which ones I didn't because I had a lot of freedom to choose. My parents had recently divorced and my brothers and sister lived with my mom. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of several years so I think we just kind of understood where the other was at.  He turned his walk in closet, into a "prayer closet" and he kept his piano and guitar and all of his music in there and I would lay in bed at night with my window open listening to the sound of his voice singing softly to me from behind his closed door mixed with the traffic noise from the freeway outside.  It was actually a beautiful way to fall asleep.  We had a Christmas tree covered in tiny blue lights and silver tinsel because he loved to decorate it that way and I could see it from my bed.  I still smile when I see a blue tree, which isn't very often.:) We had this crazy siamese cat who would run around the apartment and claw his way up the drapes until he reached the top and then throw himself off like a kamikaze.  I thought it was pretty funny but I don't think dad did.  

Sometimes, on the weekend we'd head down the street to Baskin Robbins Ice Cream shop where they had 31 flavors to choose from but we always chose the exact same thing. Dad liked banana splits with hot fudge and I always ordered a Pralines and Cream ice cream cone. It didn't really matter to me what we were eating.  The best part was that we'd take it outside to a bench and then just talk to each other in the sunshine.  I tried to eat mine really slow.  I treasured that time with him so much.  It was relaxed and special and I never had to be anything but me.  Every once in awhile we'd switch it up and head to the Thrifty Drugstore. They didn't have as many flavors but they scooped out their ice cream with these funny cylindrical scoopers so it came out looking like a short tube.  You could get 3 scoops for a dollar back then but I usually opted for just two.

Over the years, dad developed a lactose intolerance and now he can't eat dairy without some uncomfortable consequences.  But he's coming to visit me in a few weeks and I've been experimenting with non-dairy ice cream that uses coconut cream as its base.  I even found some pretty yummy non-dairy chocolate chips to go on top.  And I have a very comfy bench under a willow tree by the water in the sunshine just waiting for him.  He still loves to talk story.

I saw an interesting video yesterday where a woman interviewed several adults about how they feel when they eat chocolate and then asked the same question of a few children.  The adults said things like "guilty", "like I'll have to go for a run after work now", "like I'm numb", or "I just don't eat it".  But oh from the mouths of babes... The children said, "happy", "grateful", and "good".  I think someone should come up with the "Eat Like A Child" diet.  

I wish you all a happy, grateful, good memory filled food day today.:)

One With Brown Eyes.. One With Green

My mom was born in Memphis, Tennessee.  I don't know much about that side of my family. She was an only child and we lived in California and we didn't go back to visit often.  I was looking through an old box of photographs this morning and came across this one from one of those rare trips to Memphis. For some reason, it made me linger.  It tells a story... my story, in so many ways. Two of my brothers are with me in the picture and a little girl from my mother's family, I never really knew. My brothers were the focus of my thoughts this morning.  

We do not choose the family we are born into.  It comes together in all sorts of ways before we are ever even cognizant of a universe outside the ones holding us. Believe me, it falls apart in all sorts of ways too.  I like to think there is some order, some purpose, some reason and sense to it all, but maybe there isn't.. I just don't know.  Dad has brown eyes, mom has green.  We are echoes.

photo (3).jpg

There were times I am sure I felt wild and free... where I wore purple with style and carried a spanking awesome purse and strutted the knee high boots like a runway model.  This picture is evidence. A time where I existed for the joy of it. Money meant nothing to me.. it was irrelevant. So was recognition... heck, we played with the faces in front of us, we fought and wrestled and kissed and made up, knocked each other down, picked each other up and we just lived. It really wasn't all that complicated.

I'll be 48 tomorrow.  But I'll also be six. Maybe that doesn't make any sense to anyone but me.  But she was cool and she's a part of me just as much today, as she was on that porch 42 years ago.  And so are those boys... one with brown eyes, one with green.