Posts tagged “childhood

When did the clock find the wind…again?

When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?

And how could we not see its fleeing?

There were baby hugs

And finger paints

Mid-day naps

And lollipops

Sand in her tennies

And potted beans on the windowsill

Pound-puppies and princess’s ponies

And bubble gum and pig-tails

Now she wants to drive

And her iPod is in her backpack

With her cell phone at her ear

Long curly hair ironed flat in the mirror

And she’s ready for the prom

When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?

When we were young, we noticed that it took forever for special days to get here; whether they were birthdays, Christmases, the last days of school, etc…they took an eternity, as marked by our child’s minds that registered time’s passing by those ultra-special days coming and going.

Now that the years have gathered, so many more things mark time…payday Fridays, her birthday, your birthday, her mom’s birthday, vacation, the first day of school, early-release every third Thursday, progress reports, report cards, the annual re-bid at work, a trainee for five weeks, the boss is gone for two, the weekend stand-by form on every Thursday, monitor each employee every month, we just checked your messages, it’s Thanksgiving and now it’s New Years and another move or not, and Christmas or winter break is passed and past, and one more semester until it’s done, and this process takes four weeks and that one takes seven, and the puppy needs his next set of shots and three more months until that movie comes out, another week to read the book, pay this bill on the 15th and that one on the first, and pay it again on the 15th, and the other one again on the first, and next month there are three paychecks for you and for me, so we look forward to yours and to mine and we pay extra on this one and it’s time to trim the bushes again, and the bug-guy is here again, and it’s time to change your oil and rotate the tires again, and it’s her birthday again then mine and her mom’s and my mom’s and school’s out again for the year and then she’s 21 weeks along and they can do the ultra-sound and see if it’s a boy or a girl, and which type of paint and trim do we get and we’ll know pretty soon…it does seem to rush by, unbidden, just passing with speed beyond belief, sometimes like tempests and torn in the way, and images of youth and what used to be has gone in the swirling of leaves and thought and remembrance, our encumbered spirits and minds loose (not lose) those things of yesterday and try to gather them back again before they are ungraspable in their passing, gone in that spirit of has-been and collected somewhere up in the ether where lost thoughts and radio waves linger unhitched for evermore.

We used to think that our grandparents and parents were old or getting that way and now we find ourselves noticing the little lines by our eyes…and the ones that run down into our cheeks or spread like the sun’s rays from the corners of our mouths…we find that the singular gray hairs have multiplied into a profusion that creeps into our vision until it’s time to dye them again…or not…and the moustache had a couple and the chin several more and it’s no longer possible to trim that one or pluck it away as before…they aren’t going away…our memories hold when our bodies won’t…and our children are getting older…the lines on the door frame that used to be fun to mark once or twice a year are slowly catching-up with our chin and eye-level reaches…and we wonder where it’s gone…we wonder how it not only learned to sprint and spring away but to indeed flee and leave us watching…making yet more notes of its passing…she was only 11 months-old when we saw her the first time and she just turned 13 years-old…another was captured in a picture at almost three years-old with her arm in a cast and now she’s 26 years-old…and the first-born is crowing at 28 years…and those in between with babies and lives and house-payments and then….

And my friend, Byron, whose gentle soul found the words that title this writing, noticed in awe the beauty and unbelievable 16 years of his daughter as he took her to school one day last week…it struck him how she’s not that little girl anymore who used to crawl into his lap with a favorite book or doll and sit there playing with his chin…time has fled with that little one and brought a beautiful young lady to take her place…unbeknownst to anyone watching…suddenly she is here…and we wonder again…where did the clock find the wind to sprint like this?

Thank you, Byron.

***This is a Favorite Re-post from December, 2009….it was brought to mind again after seeing my friend Byron for the first time in nearly four years…and he told me that his daughter is now married and recently graduated from college.

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My Huckleberry…..

Little One in straw hat


“a little longer”…thoughts of a young father

“As I put her to sleep, holding the bottle to her small mouth, I listen to her breathe.  I feel her little movements as she struggles against the sleepiness that always wins in the end.  I hear her drinking from her bottle, first quickly as she is so excited to get her evening nourishment, but then slower and slower as the heavy weight of slumber pulls her little eyes closed in longer and longer blinks.

But tonight something different happens.  Tonight, as she drifts closer and closer to sleep, she reaches up with her hand, as she does often while drifting off.  But this time she rests her trusting hand on mine as I hold her bottle.  Not a brush, not a slip, not an accident.  Her hand rests on mine with purpose, with intent.  This is where she wants her hand, what she wants to hold.

Can’t this bottle be just a bit bigger?

Can’t there be more left in it for her to drink?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her hand on mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

Her bottle empties and I replace it with her binky.  Her hand moves as I shift her body, cradle her, and rock her the rest of the way to sleep.  With her bottle empty, she surrenders herself to the sandman.  Her eyes close, her breathing slows, her body stills.  Her hand is no longer on mine as it was.  Such a small gesture and yet she has no idea.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

portrait of a baby in black and white

***

                She wakes up and begins her day, chattering on about breakfast, about her Mommy, about her games and shows.  She is happy, as she is most days.  There are no owies or runny noses or naps.  She moves through her world freely and with more and more independence.  ‘I can brush my own teeth, I can put my plate in the sink, I can get dressed, I can, I can, I can.’  The day nears its end, as all days do, with bedtime stories and ni-nights and kisses and hugs.

But this day is different.  This is the last of this era.  This is the end of this stage.  Tomorrow she goes to school.  Tomorrow she meets new people, learns new things, begins new routines, needs help from someone else.  This bedtime I know all about her day, what she did, what she saw, what she said.  When she lies down to bed tomorrow her stories will be new.

Can’t this day be just a bit longer?

Can’t there be more words in this story?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her world in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

The story ends, she gives and gets her hugs and kisses.  She rolls over and lets me believe that she will be going right to sleep, but knowing she will be up imagining what tomorrow will be like.  Excited and anxious and scared.  Her days are no longer only mine as they were.  So precious these moments but she doesn’t know.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

to hide away

***

                Busy as always, so much less time to spend in the house these days for a young adult.  She learns more every day than I have in years.  The world is still opening up to her as she stretches her legs into the adult world, learns to live, to work, to be responsible.  I get to see where my efforts have paid off.  I get to see where she could have been guided better.  But that’s only when I get to see her.  New friends with new faces and new stories and experiences and places and people.  It seems that most of the time there is considerable effort to keep up and by the time I do, the whole story is new and different and I’m not caught up anymore.

But in this rare moment, something is different.  She sits beside me as the evening winds to a close to share her day.  She isn’t busy with friends or work or school, she is busy spending time with me.  She wants to be with me, she wants me to hear her, she wants to hear me.  I listen as she unfolds her busy day before me and allows me to participate, because today I am part of her busy day.

Can’t this conversation be just a bit longer?

Can’t I say more to keep her from going to bed?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her story in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

She begins to yawn, her eyes grow redder as her body tells her it’s time for sleep.  I tell her goodnight and watch as she leaves to her room.  She carries on to bed thinking nothing different of the day.  Another day closer to where she’s going.  Another day further from where she started.  Something as simple as time spent with someone, but she doesn’t get it.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                She walks to the door as she prepares to leave.  She is always going places, new places, old places.  Places I’ve been to, places I haven’t.  Some places maybe she’ll take me to, places maybe that I really want to see.  We gather around the door, talking about when she’s coming back, who she’s going to be with, what she’s going to be doing.

But this time it’s different.  She’s not coming back, unless it’s to visit.  She’s going to be with people I don’t know, people I won’t know.  She’s going to be doing things that I won’t have any involvement in, or even know about in some cases.  Today she’s going to her house.  That used to mean the same thing as when I was going to my house, but not now, not this time.  She is going to her own house.  She is leaving my house and going home.

Can’t we stand here at the door just a bit more?

Can’t I find something else to load into your car?

Can’t she stay a little longer with her home in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

She walks out the door and gets in her car.  I get one last wave and she blows me a kiss as she drives to her new house, her new home.  I watch as the car winds down the street into the distance.  Even after the car is long out of site, I continue to watch down the street as if I can watch her make it home safely, as if I can see right to her door from mine as I always have.  She grew up here with me, I watched her grow, but it’s not something she is able to appreciate yet.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brought to my heart.

***

                I walk with her as I have so many evenings, arm in arm.  There is a cool breeze that blows through the trees and causes our hair to stir.  We always just walk, nowhere in particular.  To the end of the street, up the road, around the block.  It never really matters, we always know where we are going back to.  It is wonderful when she comes to visit and spend time, talks about her life, her job, her friends.  Sometimes we can walk together without saying a word at all.

But it is again different this time.  This time we walk with a destination.  It is not a far walk, but it is the furthest walk I have ever taken.  My destination is near the end of the aisle, at which point I take my seat and let her walk the rest of the aisle to another arm to place hers in.  It is not as if I won’t have another walk with her, arm in arm.  Our next walks will be different, about a new chapter.

Can’t the aisle be just a bit longer?

Can’t we slow the pace of the walk?

Can’t she stay a little longer with her arm in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

I give her away, just as she asked me to.  Tears in my eyes, I smile at her.  I sit down and watch her speak words of love to her best friend.  She stands there looking as beautiful as the day she was first mine.  We still take walks, arm in arm, and still talk about life.  We even talk about the very walk that began her newest chapter and my role in that walk, but I can’t expect her to understand what it means to me.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                Visits at her house are always wonderful, visits with her at any place are wonderful.  She has grown into an amazing woman.  I get to see her world as she decorated it around her.  There aren’t words for my pride when she introduces me to her friends.  To be important enough that someone she knows will, should, gets to meet me.  To be this far down the road and still hold the honor of being an important figure in her life feels like a rarity.

But this visit will be different.  I am not meeting her friend or neighbor or coworker.  I am meeting her daughter.  I am holding her daughter.  I am rocking her daughter.  She watches me as I stare into her face through another.  The flood of memories, of emotions, of beauty overwhelms me.

Couldn’t she have been this small a bit longer?

Couldn’t I go back to do this all again?

Couldn’t she stay a little longer as my baby?

That’s all I want, just let those moments last a little longer.

She takes her baby daughter from me and I get the joy of watching her stare into the eyes of her precious daughter as I once did.  The most beautiful transformation takes place right before me as I look at her and realize that now, after all this time, she understands, and will forever.  She knows what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                As I see her approach me, I reflect on all the times I have truly watched her as she experienced life.  As she lives life.  I watched as she placed her small hand on mine in a trusting hold, as she moved from my world into hers, as she kept me in her story, as she stepped out of my home and into one of her own, as she held her arm in mine for the longest walk, as she transitioned from a woman into a Mommy.  She sits beside me and smiles at me as I always loved her to do.

But this time is, different.  I am watching her approach me for the last time.  I am watching her for the last time.  As she sits in the chair beside my bed, she places her hand on mine.  As I drift off, I feel her hand as she softly weeps.  Her hand is on mine with purpose, with intent.  This is where she wants her hand.  What she wants to hold.

Can’t this life be just a bit longer?

Can’t I have her by my side tomorrow?

Can’t I have tomorrow?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her hand on mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.”

© 2013 – Caleb Michael Brill


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fishing…an attempt, anyway……

Little One fishing at Silver Lake Flat, American Fork, Utah


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talk to me….

talk to me.....


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Little One in black and white

Little One in black and white


Did you just call me a slob…again?

We were sitting on the couch, my little one and I, with his mom on the love-seat across from us, watching a movie.  We had a bowl of popcorn between us, and as my little one reclined into one of the pillows, he took handfuls of the popcorn and not so delicately or accurately plied the fluffy stuff into his mouth.  When the majority of the bowl was gone, he started playing with the pieces of popcorn, alternately flicking them into his mouth or smashing them in his palm and then licking-up the pieces like a dog.  We paused the movie occasionally to ask or answer a question, to run to the bathroom, get a refill of one of our drinks or the other…and then continued watching and eating and enjoying the movie and each other’s company.  The further into the bowl we got, the more broken pieces of popcorn there were on the little one’s blanket, pillow, pajamas, and surrounding couch area.

I reached over to pick-up some of the crumbs and broken pieces to put them back in the bowl…and made a mistake….

“Do you think you’re making a big enough mess, you little slob?”

Quiet.

Did you just…call me a slob?

My little one asked this with a quivering chin and downcast eyes as he picked a piece of popcorn off of the blanket beneath his chin and placed it anxiously into his mouth.

“Well yeah, look at the mess…hey….”

There were big alligator tears and an immediately running nose and the sobbing of words and half words that I couldn’t understand between his crying and the movie and his mom and my questioning and….

“Hey there…I was just playing….”

Why…did you…call…me that?  What was…why are you….

And more tears…and my heart was breaking at his breaking heart and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and oh….

“Hey, Buddy, look at me,” as I patted his foot, “I was only playing…you’re making such a mess here…hey…look…I was only playing.”  I reached over and dragged him to me….  “Hey…I call your mom a slob too, sometimes…when she makes a mess…I wasn’t trying to be mean….”

And his chest was shaking and he was wiping tears across his face and his mom brought over a Kleenex to blow his nose…and I was holding back a smile in my amazement and tears in my sadness at how I had just crushed his little heart…his daddy calling him a slob.

“Hey there…why are you crying?  I was only playing….”

I…don’t like…being…called names.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry, Buddy.  I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings or upset you…I was just playing with you.”

I accept your…apology.  Sniff….

An important aspect of my little one’s life and existence, at this point in his eight years (now eleven), and possibly for many more years as he learns to decipher and remember the various meanings of our vast array of socially constructed and freighted expressions and intentions and nuanced meanings, is his acceptance of things as they are presented to him.  He doesn’t see the gray or shading in many of our words and intentions.  The idiosyncrasies of our speech and the subtle and not-so-subtle meanings of our paired words sometimes escape him, even when we’re joking around…they mean, to him, what they literally mean.  In my playing, I forgot about the concreteness of his brilliant little mind…and the tenderness of his easily broken heart.

Oh…how it hurts sometimes….

*****

This is a Favorite Re-post from April, 2010.


Thomas, say the prayer

Footsteps echo down the hall and a belt buckle jingles as a drawer closes and cigarette smoke wafts from somewhere outside and in a memory maybe, a goblin walking, a haunt, something.

Thomas, say the prayer.

What?

I said say the prayer.

But I don’t usua….

That’s right, I do, but since you’re so perfect, you get to say it tonight.

My cheeks burned like I’d been smacked just sitting there…but then that had happened, too, during a prayer that he was saying, just reached over and hit me full in the mouth as he offered the blessing to his god and the god of our family…and my mom sat there on that Sunday afternoon much like she was sitting here on this one, whatever day it was…just sat there with her head bowed and her eyes closed, folded hands near her forehead, waiting…listening to her man…witness to the results of her betrayal, one that she wrought on some morning or afternoon after we had sat here at the same table, those two or three evenings ago as the house was quiet in sleep and we alone were awake, sharing moments of conversation and…shared trust….  I looked at the side of her face for a couple of seconds while my little sister looked across the table at me and wondered how I was suddenly so perfect…wondered why such sarcasm was brought to the dinner table when there had been no hint of anyone’s wrongdoing before we had all gathered there, me in my seat and all of them in theirs where they belonged…where we all belonged in someone else’s imagination of family and unity and the way things are or ought to be…beneath the decorated sign on the wall that said as for me and my house we will serve the lord.

I stumbled across prayed words said by rote, empty requests and thanks for whatever and bless the hands which prepared it, in jesus’s name, amen…and the words were there and the prayer said and dinner commenced and mouths moved only to eat and I looked through the back window at the gray concrete wall that separated our yard from the alley and the cemetery beyond with desert behind that and more…a slag heap of desiccated wreaths and green plastic covered stands all in a jumble as the ceremonies had passed and the tears had been shed…loved ones gone and buried and I wondered in my seat…cracks in the gray wall and mourning doves cooing beneath the young palo-verde…yellow feather-petals dropping lightly in the warm breeze, landing on the top of the wall and tumbling, scurrying away, floating to the yard below and remaining stuck in the un-watered grass, brown against the waning sun, forks scraping on plates, and water forming and glistening on the sides of glasses in the too warm air, becoming heavy with breath and rolling downward in a single droplet avalanche to pool on the polished wooden tabletop.

Kind of tuned-out there for a while, keeping my eyes forward, watching his hands and hearing him swallow, feeling the tightness of the tiny dining room, a nook really, feeling the desk and cabinets behind me, lightly pushing against the carpet beneath and the dog rang the bell at the back door to go out into the yard and do her business.  I rose from the table and took those steps to the door and went out with her, stood there against the porch post and looked up at the dry-rotting wood of the overhang.  No voices came through the door and I caught glimpses of arms moving in the window…I saw eyes behind their glasses behind the window watching me watching the little dog walk down the brick pathway towards the back gate, sniffing at the grass beneath the bottom edge, wondering at what might have recently passed down the alleyway.

My footsteps were loud in the dry brown grass as I crossed the yard walking toward the back wall, toward the tree stump that was my perch when I stood and gazed out into the alley and cemetery beyond, my haven and place where I didn’t need them anymore, where my heartbeat slowed and I learned not to care, to remove myself…they didn’t talk back out there, didn’t have glaring condemning eyes stuck in their empty faces…they were taking care of other things, being away…with echoes of a conversation ringing, bouncing in my head…why doesn’t he pray about it, ask god to help him stop…that’s what you guys say we should do…ask for his help…he’s done it since he was a kid and you don’t understand what it’s like…but it doesn’t seem like that should matter…isn’t he supposed to be stronger than our cravings…isn’t he supposed to help us overcome whatever it is that we need his help in overcoming…of course he is…then why doesn’t he…?


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sleeping baby girl….


it’s just pumpkin bread….

The memories from that long-ago linger in a cloudy form, without even the substance to suggest that they are wraith-like in their residue, they are probably more like a knowing, the recollection of a notion, a processing of things talked about over the years, an echoing of words like “remember when,” as they existed in their primary forms before those words became what they are today in the contexts in which they still live in conversations among those who use them like that…they are memories, maybe without a sensory connection, as ideas often are, but memories still, and they cast about in my mind as things that exist as a coming-after in the defined sense.  I can imagine forms for them, aromas or flavors, maybe even textures…maybe even with accompanying sounds; I can imagine those things and assign them meaning with the words that populate what I describe as memories….

There is a different body walking about the given room, reaching up and down into cabinets whose doors were opened with knobs or handles or none at all…spices and tins or trays, oil and powders…eggs from the fridge, but no butter.  She brought the old spaghetti bowl out from its place, emptied pumpkin from a can, sifted flour and shook out the salt…cloves cinnamon nutmeg sugar water and soda from a yellow box…dates from a palm tree and nuts from another, a sharp knife and a cutting-board now, they hold my reflection as I move about, a silver mixing bowl with a rubberized exterior that makes it hold still on the counter top…other memories and another face, the bowls were a holiday present, the knives, too, slicing dates and sifting the flour and dry ingredients with a whisk in that bowl…cracked eggs dropping and the oven is getting warm…degree marks rising in number form and I can see his face, a smile as I rinse my hands and dry them…and later words echoing that said, no, not yet…not after what happened last month…it’s still too soon…and the whisk rides the inside of the bowl in a circle oblique, the dry and wet ingredients lose themselves becoming one…the knife scrapes the dates off the board…and my mom walks into the other room…she wore an apron then, a time from another time with powdered sugar on a plate, the decades draw into their pasts and remember themselves and bring us along…we see distance and separation of events and people and know that things exist as they do because of how they ticked in the clock of that time past and they echo so in the chambers of our hearts because of the tears we’ve cried into them…like unfired clay returning to its form, malleable when broken again, mixed with those flowing memories and made whole again…to be broken and broken again to be made whole and whole again…and again…until we purpose to fire them against such happening…and then they are hard and resistant to such effects…and more durable still…and flowing memories just run off, they pass without touching…gone and away.

The timer above the stove beeped in its way after 90 minutes, and hope and expectation were fulfilled after a few more, those more passing to cool and hold, to firm-up against the removal from the pans that held them in their transformation from a flavored soupiness to a rich and thickened bread, a consummation of effort and memory and ghosted images that found their substance as their sensory forms were released from their lodgings in my brain and lived again through opened doors once hidden and closed against time and emotion, against a time and loneliness that caused their own transformations….

It’s just pumpkin bread…but it’s not.