the little boy who’s all grown up

the little guy who taught me all about little guys

is no longer little

the one who brought cars and trucks into our toybox

(I already had the tractors)

now drives one of his own

filled with his precious family

 

the one who took my hand as we walked and talked

down the old road near the homeplace

now takes my heart and listens

and shares his words of wisdom

that sound more and more

like those of our Daddy

 

the one who held my firstborn when he was still so young

now watches as that grown baby girl holds his baby boy

and the two of them laugh together

and take selfies and

the little boy who’s all grown up

and I

look on

 

when did the baby boy

become one of my best friends,

when did he stop keeping me up late with

all the silliness

just to see my eyes droop and hear me talk nonsense

and become the man who sits and shares stories

and joys and worries and all the life thoughts

until the wee hours of the morning?

 

this person who will always be my baby,

yet who is taller and stronger and perhaps even wiser than I

(though there’s no need to tell him that right now)

and who, as we both tried to do something yesterday,

when I said,

“sorry, just trying to fix it, that’s what I do”

replied,

“yeah, me too”

and in that moment

I saw how much more alike we are becoming

than we’ve ever been before

 

and I give thanks

for I need his strength

and laughter

and I love that he still wears the worn out blue jeans

and t-shirts

and goes barefooted in the middle of winter

and chases the children around

 

last night he packed his Matchbox cars and children

into his big car and prepared to head back home

the little boy who once lived down the hall

now lives way too far away

 

as I said “goodbye” and wept

the tears fell unapologetically

for I know that life, it’s too short

and I know that, despite everything,

we all need to be known well

and loved anyway

 

and that baby boy, the one with the jet black hair

and big green eyes

who changed our world

when he came home to a house full of sisters,

he knows my faults and my flaws and

what the inside of my microwave looks like

and how quirky I can be

and for whatever reason, he says my name and he loves me

 

the little guy who isn’t so little anymore

he’s grown into the space he owns inside my heart,

the space he’s owned since the first time he wrapped his fingers around mine

and today it feels a little empty

as does the house

as the laughter and stories we shared echo in my heart and mind

 

IMG_6651

 

Waving At Strangers

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.

pic of country road

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 think he even notices the holes in them.  I wonder if my brother would have at this age.

I don’t think he even notices the holes in them. I wonder if my brother would have.

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.