Posts Tagged ‘parent’

Building

December 13, 2012

If it was up to me I’d cancel Christmas this year.  My dad died in May and it seems easier to just let the holiday pass without a glance.  I’m content to listen to silence rather than carols on the radio in the car on the way to work every morning. The beautiful Christmas cards I bought last January at seventy-five percent off are still in the box in the attic, and Grandma’s cookie recipes lay dormant in their file box.  December 25th is thirteen days away and the only shopping I’ve done is for my boys.  They gave me the list I asked for and I didn’t deviate from it, shopping online.  My children are older now, and they seem to understand my mood.

Christmas is less than two weeks away and my energy is funneled into the 1910 buggy shed attached to the house that originally belonged to my grandparents. We’ve gutted it and I’m building a room.  I’ve traded in my holiday sweaters for overalls and work gloves.  I sweep sawdust, prepare rough pine boards to be planed, hold the level, and read the rule. I’ve learned to show a hammer who’s boss, and I stand back to admire the recycled window that takes up almost an entire wall. I breathe in the scent of pine boards and feel the spirit of my grandpa around me. He was a carpenter.

On Christmas day, I’ll stop working in the backroom long enough  to prepare a Christmas meal of country ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, waldorf salad, and dinner rolls. Then, I’ll pull out Grandma’s rum cake recipe and prepare it just the way she did.  We’ll welcome our family, share a feast, open a few gifts, and enjoy a cup of egg nog and a piece of rum-soaked cake. We’ll miss my dad.

***

While I measured and helped cut boards tonight, my boys dragged the artificial Christmas tree down the attic stairs and rearranged the living room to make a space for it. They plugged in the lights and fluffed the branches, then decorated it with their individual glass ornaments, the ones I’ve ordered each year from a crafter who specializes in paper cuttings sandwiched between two round pieces of glass. The boys choose the highlight of their year for each of their ornaments. They keep these treasures in a box under their beds.  All the other ornaments are stored away in the recesses of the attic.

Ben and Ryan stuck their heads around the door to the backroom. I stood holding a beam in place as Bruce worked the hydraulic jack to raise the roof a few inches higher to level it.

“The tree’s kind of plain Mom,” Ryan said.

“Yeah, it could use some color,” Ben agreed.

I remembered a conversation I’d had with my dad years ago. He told me the story of when he was a little boy and my grandma didn’t have money enough to decorate the Christmas tree. She tied string to their Christmas cards and trimmed the tree with them. He said it was the prettiest Christmas tree he’d ever seen.

I shared the story with my boys. They turned and left the room.

I’ve done all the work I can do for the night. I’m ready to fall into bed. I dust off my jacket and walk back into the house. To my left is our Christmas tree adorned with the highlights of my boys lives and the Christmas cards we’ve received so far this year.

I have to agree with my dad. It is a beautiful tree.

 

O

March 13, 2011

March 13, 2011

When I think about the date and what it means to me, I wonder how a boy grows up so fast and all at once makes decisions on his own. Unless it’s a big decision, he no longer calls home first. Ben turned twenty-two today. He’s been driving for six years and has been legal to drink for one year. He’s still alive, and I’m grateful.

The weather has turned warm here in the past couple of days and it feels like spring. I walked down below the house this morning, feeling the sun shine on my shoulders. I looked out at the backstop Bruce built when the boys were both in the thick of baseball. They spent hours hitting, throwing, practicing bunts and slides. They started with real baseballs, but their backyard field was smaller than a real one and I made them trade the hard balls for wiffle balls.

Ben was twelve and baseball was his life. One day, he stomped into the house and threw down his glove. “I’m not ever playing with him again. You can’t tell him anything. He doesn’t listen.”

Thirty seconds later, Ryan replayed the stomping and throwing of glove. He was six years old, but just as insistent as his brother. “I’m never playing with him again. He’s mean. He yelled at me ‘cause of where my feet were. I can put my feet wherever I want to.”

I shook my head, because this scene played out at least twice a week. In an hour, the two of them were right back out there, running, sliding, arguing rules and plays. I thought it would never end.

When Ben sees friends, coaches, and teachers from his high school days they ask him if he’s still playing ball. “I’m retired,” he says and laughs. He will graduate from college in May and plans to enroll in grad school this fall. He applied to Catalina Island Camps in California for summer work and out of a thousand applicants, he was one of sixty chosen as a Camp Counselor. He’s still considering the offer, has to talk it over with his boss at Triple C Camp here in town.

The sky was so blue this morning, baseball season blue, and memories of hits and pitches, celebrations and defeats played themselves out in my head. I happened to look down and a round object caught my eye. It was the remnants of a baseball. The cover was gone and the ball of wound strings underneath was the only thing left. I remembered Ben’s coach telling him one time he’d hit the ball so hard he’d knocked the cover off of it.

Coach Beale was right. The boy’s hit the cover off the ball.