I was all ready to write my annual melancholy post about how I hate that Christmas just ends. The whole holiday thing starts before Halloween is over, it builds and builds and then boom! Cold turkey. No lights, no Christmas music, no strangers smiling and wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever. Just done, throw the tree on the curb (or in the garage), pack away all the lights and stuff, and go back to the usual on the radio -- I ask you, in what universe is Justin Bieber better than Christmas music?
However...before I had a chance to write that sad little post, something happened that was so...well, I'll let you decide. Here we go:
New Year's Eve was pretty quiet around the Crane house. Charles, who is generally accepted in our home as the Official Party Pooper, went to bed around 10-ish. Chloe and I were determined to stick it out...until around 11pm, when I said, "You know we have to get up at 6am to go pick Harley up, right?" We toasted with our sparkling apple cider, and promptly went to bed. (In fairness, we did stay up the previous night, watching "Breakfast at Tiffany's", which Chloe had never seen.)
Saturday morning (New Year's Day), we got up and headed down to Lago Vista to pick Harley up from FC Winter Camp. Charles decided, in light of the recent, rapid and thoroughly disgusting rise in gas prices, that it would be better to take my car, rather than his big, honking F-250 with the V-10 (really, it's a VEE-TENNNNN..big). Lest some of you reading this have not made the connection, the little yellow VW bug in the church parking lot is mine. The little yellow bug with the big yellow sunflower in the vase. And long flirty eyelashes on the headlights. And a red nose and reindeer antlers. Yep, no big surprise there, huh?
OK, so away we go, in my happy little bug. It was still dark when we started out. And traffic was pretty light. Before we knew it, however, the sun was up, and more and more vehicles were joining the flow of traffic. But it wasn't until we stopped for kolaches at the Czech Stop in West that I noticed people. People pointing at my car. People seeing my big bear of a husband driving my happy little bug...with the eyelashes.
I'm not sure what the kids at camp thought. We're parked there outside the boys' cabin, cramming stuff into the trunk...which is fine for shopping, but not so great for rigid plastic tubs, which is what Harley packs his stuff in when he camps. All I know is on the trip back home, people were slowing down or speeding up as necessary to check out the eyelashes on my bug. People were taking pictures with their cell phones, grinning from ear to ear the whole time. One person rolled their window down to stick their hand out and give us a "thumbs up". Harley and Chloe, smooshed into the back seat (yes, Mr. Six-Foot-Five can fold into the back, but he usually isn't happy about it), were just hysterical with laughter. I have to admit, I, myself, succumbed to more than one fit of giggles. (I did offer to drive, but by that time, I think Charles was secretly enjoying the attention.)
When we pulled into the driveway and clambered out of the car, Charles said, "I don't care how much gas costs...next time, we take my truck." OK, so we might be more comfortable, but I bet the trip won't be nearly as much fun. ;)
And here we are...the last weekend before school starts. I was, unabashedly and unashamedly, a nerd. I was always beside myself with excitement for that first day of school. Later on, when I worked at a school, I was, again, always excited about that first day. A little later, I was excited about my children's first days at school. Kindergarten was awesome! I was NOT one of those moms who just couldn't let go. I knew all the fun and excitement and knowledge that awaited my kids at school. However....
Last night, I sat in the gym at Trinity High School, beside my little boy, at New Trojan Night. Yes, I know he's 6' 4.5". But he's still my little boy.
When I went to the "New Trojan Mom" luncheon a few weeks ago, one mother looked up at Harley and said, "Is this the sophomore from Harwood they're all talking about?" I said, "...um...I don't know...he went to Euless...?" She looked up at him again, then back at me and said, "How many sophomores this big can there BE?" She has a point.
But I sat there last night, in that gym that was so familiar, mostly unchanged from 30 years ago, except for more championship flags lining the walls, and yet, it was so foreign to me. And I wondered where the time went.
We recently ran across some pictures of Harley, when he was only a week or so old; when he was tiny, he would sleep with his little arms thrown up above his head, and his head thrown back as far as it would go. Now he sleeps, angled and sprawled across his queen size bed; if he doesn't sleep at an angle, his feet hang off.
Among those pictures is another one; Harley is about four, and we're at some family gathering at Mom and Dad's. Harley is sitting in my niece's lap, shirtless, having his face and hands washed. He had obviously played very hard with his older cousins, because he looks exhausted. Happy, but exhausted. He looks pale, and small, and oh, so vulnerable. And last night he stood beside me, towering over me, tall and tan and handsome, looking perfectly at home with the great big football players we ran into in the hallway outside the gym. Nodding his head in that way cool guys do when someone calls their name in the hallway...Har-LEY. My baby boy.
I know that some of you reading this are looking at your own little boy or girl. The Nolans, the Coles, the Lucases, the Karsyns and Brinleys and Courtneys. And I will tell you something: look hard. Look hard and long, and get that image fixed in your heart, because before you know it, that image will change. That little boy will be walking through the hallways of your old alma mater, or that little red-haired girl (or girls) will be going off to Florida College. That little dark-haired, blue-eyed boy will be a young man at Texas A&M.
And suddenly, the first day of school is so hard.
This has been an interesting summer. First, Charles was gone to South Carolina...seemed like forever, but I think it was a month. He came back, was here for maybe a week, then had to go to Nebraska. Came back just in time to head out with Harley for Scout camp in New Mexico. Got back, was here, oh, a week or so (during which time, he was working CAT hours at the office, so he might as well have been gone), then got sent to Minnesota. On Friday, 07/02, Harley's friend Ty came and picked him up to come spend the week with his family at their home in Weatherford, where, Ty was eager to remind us, they can shoot their own fireworks off. Harley will get home on Saturday (unless Ty's parents get tired of him sooner), and Chloe leaves for FC camp on Sunday. She gets back from camp on Saturday, and Harley leaves for camp the next day. Whew! So at any given moment, I have difficulty keeping up with who is actually at home with me. Oh, and when Harley is home, he's playing Xbox 360, or on the internet, so he might as well be gone, too (not really, it just seems like it, sometimes). So Chloe and I have had some time together. One of the things we've been doing this week is making up a story. Which brings us to the subject line: Welcome to Our Island.
We were on a ship, sailing for home. The hold carried a cargo of beautiful silk from China. There were spices from India. Other interesting and exotic things, but we'll get to those later.
Suddenly, a storm blew up! Our ship was tossed to and fro like a toy boat! And then, CRASH! Into the rocks! Our ship was dashed to pieces and we all went overboard!
When the storm calmed, and the sky grew light with the breaking dawn, we began to swim to a group of islands in the distance. We all arrived tired, but safe. We immediately took stock of the things we had: all the beautiful silk; the spices; tools; some books (who wants to be stranded on an imaginary island without books?); oh, look, there are some crates drifting to shore...chickens; and look, there's a cow swimming ashore (it's our story, cows can swim if they want to).
We began to build huts. I opted for a lovely tree-hut, where I could enjoy the evening breeze. Chloe opted for a hut on the ground, however, because one of her best friends, Kylie, is a bit of a klutz, and Chloe didn't want her to fall out of the tree. Morgan wanted a tree-hut, but compromised for Chloe. The silk -- miles of it, we had! -- made beautiful curtains, not to mention clothing.
Jobs were appointed. Courtney, my niece, was to be the school teacher (OK, that was MY part of the story, Chloe was perfectly happy being an ignorant island goob for the rest of her life). Jeff was to entertain us all, with his amazing waterproof guitar. Cliff was the chef -- we had monkeys to clean and serve, but they are NOT very good cooks. The monkeys were, however, very good at gathering all the most wonderful, delicious fruits and vegetables on the island. Mermaids left fresh fish for us in baskets on the beach. And shrimp, crabs, lobster and other assorted crustaceans willingly just walked up out of the water and waited for someone to cook and eat them with butter (that's why we decided the cow could swim).
On weekends, we had seahorse races. Seahorses, while very intelligent and easy to train, are somewhat difficult to stay on...just ask Chloe, who repeatedly fell off hers while we were racing (ok, so it was a pool noodle, but she still fell off).
That's as far as we've gotten. If you have a talent, or just want to join us, welcome to our island, where nobody ever gets voted off.
The end...for now.
Editor's note: Chloe was a little bummed nobody joined us on our island. Then my own mother said she didn't join us because she was afraid we'd make her live with Mr. Howell. lol
Sometimes, things will just rattle and roll around in my head. Random thoughts and phrases, bits of things remembered, sentence fragments that wouldn't mean much to anyone but me. Eventually, those things in my head will usually coagulate into coherent thought that I can put down in words. Lately, however, there seem to be more than the usual number of those thoughts. Thoughts that wake me up at night. Thoughts that come to me at odd moments, triggered, most times, by something small. Thoughts that make me smile, or laugh out loud. Thoughts that make my heart hurt so I can barely breathe. Thoughts that fill my heart so that I think it's just too much for one person to bear. So here are some of those thoughts, in no particular order.
- I think I miss my Daddy at church most of all. I miss seeing his tall frame sitting at the end of the bench next to Mom. I miss seeing him standing at the back of the auditorium as we all file out after services. There were times during the past few months when I was sad because I know how much Daddy hated missing worship. Now I remind myself he is attending the most awesome worship service there can ever be, and that's when my heart is just so full it nearly bursts.
- I wonder if the young people know how much my Dad loved them. Those two red-haired Roberts girls; Daddy loved their humor, among other things. The Brown kids, all of them; Austin, Grant, Jacob, Taylor, Callie. The Rodgers boys, who always had a special place in Dad's heart. Wests and Smiths and variations of Sharps. Adams kids, two different groups of them. Sullivans. Mondens. And yes, Millers and Cranes, too. And some "newer" ones that were no less special to Daddy than those who "grew up" at Westside. I look across the auditorium and see so many young people, and I hope they know how much Daddy cared about them. He wasn't a man who was quick to say "I love you", but he did love them, and wanted so much for all of them.
- I think about how blessed my children (and niece and nephews) are to have had their Papaw as long as they did, even though the time seems far too short now.
- I think of Dad when I'm doing things like helping my Boy Scout pack for a camping trip, telling him his Papaw would kill him if he saw him shove his sleeping bag into its bag, rather than roll it up properly, put it in the bag, and cinch it up tight.
- I remember Daddy, when I watch my daughter, who is very proud to be the only leftie among his grandchildren. She thinks it makes her special, but I think her Papaw thought she was special for more than being a leftie like him.
- I laugh when my son or daughter let out a startlingly loud belch, followed by Chloe saying, "Sounds like Papaw!" or "'Scuse me, I thought I was in a honky tonk!" (Funny, Mark didn't mention that phrase at the funeral.)
- As I write this, "September Kiss" comes into the playlist on my computer, and I think of the life my parents had together, and what an example they were to the four of us. And further, to their eight grandchildren. What a legacy of love and faith!
There are a lot more thoughts rattling around, but those are the ones that came out tonight. I suspect there may be more in the days to follow. My Daddy was a big man, and he inspires big memories.
Most of you reading this are aware that Mom is battling cancer again. What you may not be aware of, however, is that one of my new nieces, Meghan Casey Miller, is walking in honor of Mom in the Avon Walk for Cancer next month. If you can donate, great. If not, I'm sure Meghan would appreciate the encouragement.
You can read about Meghan's walk at this link: