Welcome to the Tribe

I smile.

“How old is your baby?” I ask.

“Three months,” she answers. New momma pride rounds the words, making them full and rich.

The tiny infant rests in the crook of her arm and she shifts the child.

“Precious,” I murmur.

She blushes, still new to the rush of parental pleasure that accompanies any praise of our offspring, and gently touches her baby’s cheek with one finger.

“So little,” I say, “but they grow up before you know it.”

She glances up for a moment, smiles at my words and nods, before she refocuses her attention on her child and coos at the babe.

She does not look away from his face. “He’s big now.”

My first clue that it’s a boy.

“He was 4lbs 3oz when he was born.” She adjusts one of his socks that has slipped to reveal a miniature pink heel, repositioning the bit of white and yellow knit to cover his foot. It will be an endless task. One of many she will repeat too many times to count.

“He will get bigger,” I assure her. “Before you know it he will be taller than you!”

We laugh.

Her eyes meet mine as we engage in the small talk of mothers. It takes no heed of the length of the timespan between us, whether decades or a mere handbreadth.

We are so different, she and I. Worlds apart, really. But together we dance the ageless dance of Eve, repeating the spoken ritual as our mothers did before us. We recognize each other, and pay homage to motherhood, my sister life-giver and I.

motherandBaby

 

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In My Father’s House

Last night I had a dream.

I was at an event, a gathering full of noise and laughter, but I left it behind to enter a side room through a set of French doors. Here was a sun room, narrow and comfortable, furnished with brown chairs and pleasant decor that reflected the light. There were a few plants and a rug. Everything had a muted aura, a wash of coloring that was not quite sepia, but more of a golden hazy glow reminding me of a movie effect to put viewers in mind of memories or what-ifs.

My dad was there, and in his right mind. I was bringing him a plate of food. I handed it to him and he asked me to sit a while, so I did.

It was him, but without baggage, and we talked with the ease of old friends. After what seemed a long time, he let out a deep sigh that came from the very soles of his feet. He set his unfinished plate on the wooden side table.

“I know this is your party,” he nodded toward the door that led to the large room, “But would you do something for me?”

“What is it?” I asked.

“My birthday is not for months,” he said. “I want to celebrate early.” His hands rested on his knees. Hands I knew, but didn’t know. He squinted up at me through his glasses. “Will you come?”

I grinned with a child’s delight. “Of course I will.”

He opened his arms to me and I went to him. Our arms wrapped around each other and nothing else took up the spaces between us. I could feel his frame, but not the sharpness of his bones. Then I let him go.

It was a beautiful dream.

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Meeting the Governor

It’s not every day you get to meet the governor, but last week I did. I listened to him speak to a smallish group, wishing my daughter could be in the room. This is an important man.

He was very personable. I enjoyed his talk immensely and told him so. I got to shake his hand and have my picture taken with him. Right before the picture was snapped I wished I had worn something else, but was pleased just the same thinking about how I could say to my friends, “Guess what? I met the Governor!”

Here it is week later and I didn’t mention it to a soul. It’s been a hectic week. We are trying to get ready for a trip my daughter is taking. Performances are involved, so there are practices, costumes to get ready, hotel reservations to make, the list goes on. One of the boys is sick with some sort of virus again. It has been raining quite a bit lately and my car sprung a leak. A good six inches of water collected in the bottom of the trunk before we noticed it. There has been some upheaval in other areas of life as well. I think the most disrupting thing has been the addition of a new puppy to our family.

He is an eight week old mixed darling who came to us needing medical care and grooming. Now that he is feeling better we have discovered he obviously has some ADHD heritage. While our new pup Thunder is a joy, like some of the human boys in this family who also have ADHD heritage, he is an exhausting joy. He is going to be l a r g e. It is imperative that he learn commands like ‘down’ as soon as possible. Anyone who has ever had a pup knows there is a massive time investment in the cleaning and scooping areas as well. So I’ve been busy. Too busy to think about name dropping at all.

Yesterday my hands were in a sink of dirty dishes and I was day dreaming about being a famous novelist someday. Perhaps people would line up just to shake my hand and smile at me. That’s when I remembered meeting the Governor. If I ever do get famous I will certainly not be as important or vital as he is, and I had forgotten all about my big moment of meeting the governor.

Should my day in the spotlight ever come and my head start to swell, I will remind myself that people might have other things on their minds besides thinking about how great I am. Like getting on back to the house in hopes there won’t be extra puppy messes to clean up.

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My Quilt

For the last two days I have been attempting to machine quilt. As I was wrestling this monster, trying to shove the fabric under the needle, I thought, “If I had died no one would have finished this thing.” I have a strong suspicion it would have ended up in a box at a yard sale, one of those ghastly unfinished projects tucked away among more useful items like rusty scissors and empty thread spools.

I started this project in February 2007. I needed something distracting and mindless to do, so I delved into my scrap fabric and started cutting quilt squares. I noticed I tend to buy lots of floral patterned material. I almost never buy solids. After a time all the little squares were neatly tucked away into a ziploc bag and buried in one of my big plastic tubs awaiting crafterly inspiration.

You know, once you have spent hour upon hour working on something you have to keep going even if you have no clue what it is. I think it was last summer when I pulled out the squares and started laying them out. From past experience with busy floral scraps I surmised that a few solids may help out and had accordingly cut some dark blue and beige squares. They were almost solid. You could barely see the pattern on them. It was very muted.

The kids helped me lay out a pattern that didn’t clash too badly, keeping in mind that most of the time a quilt is in use you have your eyes closed anyway. It got bigger and bigger. We had to go to buy more of that sort-of-solid muted fabric. I decided that once it covered the space available on the living room floor it was big enough. There were challenges. I think this is much easier if you start with directions. Of course I did not have directions. This was a scrap quilt.

In constructing the quilt top, some of the pieces didn’t quite match up. They were all mostly square and about the same size. I worked with it. Once the quilt top was made we all admired it, and then I folded it up and put it back into the craft tub until I could get batting.

It wasn’t long before I went to the store and got the required batting and dug around in one of my boxes for sheeting for the back of the quilt. I was pumped from getting the top part done. But by the time I got out the folding table, cut the backing, unrolled the batting and coaxed the three independent layers together so I could pin the whole thing together I was tired. I would have stuffed it back into the craft tub, but it was too big now. So there it sat neatly folded in a corner of my bedroom until last week.

It’s another summer and I decided to work on the quilt. I think I’ve gotten the hang of machine quilting it. The first third will need to be unpicked and restitched. All those squares are leaning against each other, this way and that. Kind of reminds me of an old rickety wooden fence about to fall down. I’ll straighten them up. I’m getting there.

Projects like these give you time to philosophize. Quilting won’t be rushed. It’s good to think deep thoughts to keep yourself from muttering words you don’t want your kids to hear you say.

A quilt is kind of like life. Bits from here and there, some scraps on hand, some you have to purpose to aquire. A little planning and a lot of improvisation. All the squares don’t match up exactly right, but as a whole, with a little adjusting it all makes one big piece. Often parts have to be undone and redone. It never quite comes out exactly the way you originally envisioned.

When all is done it will serve its purpose, keeping someone I love warm and snug underneath a messy riot of mismatched memories. Some people will think this is one awful ugly quilt. Some will think it is ok. Some will think it is beautiful.

Yesterday I was getting frustrated. I thought,”God did not keep me alive to finish this quilt.”

Now I’m thinking . . .

Maybe He did.

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