"I came in to help because I heard it was a big mess." Jack strides into the kitchen. That same on-the-ball-of-you-foot-stride of his father defines his countenance.
I shake a periwinkle rag into the sink. "I just finished," I say. "It was. It was a biscuit-crumbly-mess. I got down on my hand and knees to clean it up."
"Oh." He cocks his head, sandy red hair buzzed short and coarse. I shower the rag clean with the spray setting. "Thank-you for cleaning that up." His earnest blue eyes frame the moment.
Then it's Saturday. A long day of confrontation, redefining the clear boundaries of our home, a pool party, a tired crew, I find the long sigh of a day ends with me in the bathroom scrubbing mint green walls.
Jane trollies in to brush teeth. "Momma, how are you?" she chimes.
"Oh." I sigh. That personal conviction to always offer this child honesty, and I eddy. "Tired," I finally say. "Kind of worn out, like I'm giving and giving and not getting filled up." Somehow in the distance of a few words that female devotion to face-to-face conversation and both toothbrush and scouring rag have rallied to the peripheral.
"Momma, when you're having a moment where you feel like that we should go down into the library and read together." She furrows her eyebrows, the intensity of a physician. I slacken my forehead.
"That's a good idea," I say.
The moment spools on, but we just sort of stand there. And then, "Momma, when you give and give, it means other people are getting."
"Yep. And that's a good feeling. You never regret giving." I nod.
She half-nods, and then, "Except one time I did."
Now seated coffee-shop style knee to knee, her on the step-stool, me on the toilet lid, she carries on. "One time," she says, "I gave Myra half my brownie and she didn't like it so she went and hid it. And then she showed it to me, so I kind of regretted that." Here we are again nodding in tandem like the swing pendulum of a vertical clock.
"Yeah," I agree, "I guess that shows how you should always be honest. That's another thing you never regret. I mean not like: YOU LOOK HORRIBLE TODAY, but honest like saying something even if it's bad news." I marvel at how we mimic each other's expressions, trace the emotions through mime. "Like with Myra," I say, "wouldn't you've rather she said: I DON"T REALLY LIKE IT?"
"Yeah." A simple exchange and suddenly we're each in possession of something new, something that was just a moment ago inside of the other person. Strength. It's the piecing together of a puzzle.
Another moment and toothbrush and scrub rag flutter back to motion. The evening carries on.
4623. "Let's dance! Mom, let's dance," Myra titters. "That was fun. Let's do it again!" I try to make pancakes for lunch, but it keeps erupting into dance.
4624. "It DOES take patience," Lucy says as we sing the old hymns. "That's why I like this song." Me too.
4625. "I like casual," Jane begins. "I'm just like, why don't we just have a casual wedding where we wear clothes just a little bit fancier than church clothes instead of go out an buy like a $100 dress."
4626. Craig's mom brings us a little bowl of fresh strawberries. We make a strawberry cheesecake.
4627. Jane fries eggs. I make biscuits. "I enjoy doing this with you," she says.
4628. Cousins visit from Alaska. We have a swim day at Grammie's. The grown-ups eat turkey cranberry summer salad and recline in the shade next to watermelon and water fights, sidewalk chalk pulverized into paint.
4629. Cool summer dusk, a BBQ gone long, we linger with our small group.
4630. We start each day with a weed round-up in the garden. Lucy pulls 800 on Wednesday. Jack pulls 1000 on Thursday.
4631. I make harvest rolls as per Craig's mom's recipe. They perfectly encase BBQ fanfare.
4632. Feta salad with pecans and cranberries, Lay's potato crisps, another BBQ ambles and tarries into the evening. BBQs finally eclipse our winter soup pattern.
4633. Coconut ice cream, browned-butter chocolate sauce.
4634. By miracle I avert three migraines in one day a visual aura announcing each one.
4635. Lucy receies the dolly of her dreams: a baby boy. She names him JOE, swaddles him in a flannel blankie and brings him to sign language and chores. He hardly ever cries.
4636. Our ASL teacher returns from vacation.
4637. Friends join us at the pool. The kids and husbands swim. Wives visit. The night runs long and smooth like the sparkling sun on swimming water. We bask in the friendship.
4638. A friend lets us pick their strawberry patch clean while they vacation in Hawaii.
4639. "What are you thankful for lately?" I spur conversation while the kids and I wait in the Costco parking lot for Craig. "Everything," Jane pipes up. "Just everything." Everything. I marvel at the good fruits of confrontation and discipline: Everything. Thankful for EVERYTHING.
4640. A light headache still seasons the evening; still, I set my mind to do what is good -- what is right and good.