This morning was perfectly beautiful. The sun, the blue skies, the trees waving in the breeze. We were all up earlier than usual, so the littles were dressed and fed and out the door well before 9, enjoying the reprieve from the busyness of the past few days and playing with their friends down the street. I sat on the porch with a book I’ve just begun, rocking and reading and soaking in the beauty and calm of this summer day. As I sat and listened to the sound of children’s voices laughing and squealing and calling to each other, I saw another neighbor driving down our street to his house next door. I automatically threw my hand up in greeting.
As I pulled my hand back, I thought about the tradition of waving at folks and how instinctive it has become.
My little brother, the youngest in our family, is almost nine years younger than me. When he was little, I would take him on walks down our country road. His hand in mine, we would walk along looking for rocks and talking about all kinds of somethings and nothing much in particular. I remember one time when I waved at the rare car that passed by. He asked me why I was waving at them. Did I know them? Well, why was I waving? What are strangers? Who were they? Questions. So sweet to remember. I told him that it was just something we did to say hello, to be friendly. He seemed okay with that, and he waved at the next car that came along.
His little hand in mine. That little guy who was still so small when I left for college. The guy who came over and saw my first new little baby girl every Friday during his senior year of high school, bringing a hug and a tickle for her and a grilled cheese with extra dill pickles and sweet tea from Nu-Way for me. Who left for his study abroad in England when I moved back home for sanctuary with my little one. Who came to work where I was working, wearing his cargo shorts and workboots. Who is now a grown man, a minister, living twelve hours away, now a Papa to three little ones of his own. A good guy. A good friend.
But today I remembered the little one who was my buddy so long ago.
And when, this morning, my own little guy just reached up and put his hand in mine, without my prodding, I smiled in sweet remembrance. He reminds me of my baby brother sometimes–the youngest of big sisters, trying to make his way, even down to wearing the boots with his shorts. Yep, when I looked down at the little one who was holding my hand and gazing up at me, I saw him with his shorts and t-shirt and these on his feet.
I don’t even think he notices the holes. And well, I just pick my battles. Wearing holey boots with shorts is not on my list of battles to fight. It’s just not worth it y’all.
There’s a joke that Southern folks are known for their friendliness because they are constantly waving….at the gnats. I think in this world of “stranger danger” (which I support and teach/preach all the time to my own littles), waving at strangers may become a thing of the past. Just like walks with baby brothers on old country roads. But today, for a few minutes, I was back there, and life was good.
I wonder if he will go for a walk with me when he comes home again to Blackberry Flats. One more time. And together, we can wave at strangers. As we travel down Memory Lane.