Part OF time passing is that memories change with time. Things that once made you angry, later just remind you of differences. As we mature we find that there is less to carry with us. Anger is more baggage than carryon. It doesn’t help us move from where we want to be, where we are, or just staying put. Anger is, however, the easy answer to many questions. Exploding in the glow of white-hot anger we lash out at the world. But there is no justification for hurting others. We have to measure our world carefully based on that. We are human beings, and our path is important. Each of us carries both a candle and a flashlight. One burns, one shines. But we also carry darkness with us.
What we lead with can impact others. The candlelight shows more shadows and burns in a flickering and mesmerizing way. I am the center, the flame says, and it licks the wick and the sky at the same time. The wax, slowly melting and dripping down the sides of the candle. Each drip of wax creating a new path for the next drip. There is a weakness in the light of the candle that struggles to escape a small circle in the darkness. The candle with each use changes. Evolves if you will from what it was to what it is. The flashlight is always the same but is more likely to fail. More likely to need new batteries or a new bulb. The acid within the batteries is sometimes leaking out to fill the metal pieces within the flashlight with rust.
Rust that weakens the metal and the flow of power from the batteries. At that moment we must choose between the lights — the weaker candle, harder to carry unless you are Scrooge. The flashlight easier to carry, more powerful but, both create a place for the darkness. Beyond the edge of the light lies the darkness. Sometimes, if we are fair, the darkness lies within us. That is the reality that we all must face. That we are the vessels, we bring the darkness with us. Not always, but sometimes that darkness is wholly inside of us. We lash out in anger and pain to strike the darkness of others. But we seek only to for a time, turn on a spotlight and make the darkness within us go away.
Dad loved growing things. From fruit trees to asparagus. Tomatoes and various types of onions. He used to grow plants with the biological defense. That system is where you plant vulnerable plants in the interior, with resistant plants on the outside. This can be as simple as tomatoes in the middle, and opinions on the outside. Or as complex as potatoes in the middle and marigolds on the outside (it was a flower, I don’t remember which one actually). If I am honest the four, five and six years old me loved being in the garden. Then around my 10th birthday, I got to mow half the yard. But got to, it means I was told I was now mowing the front yard. I stopped liking gardening after that.
Not that mowing took away my love of gardening. Just that it a job. I know my love of snow went away when it became shoveling the driveway. I still love walking in snow, but I am not a fan of it, snow, sticking on the ground. The one thing that never translated for me was helping my grandfather with the boats on the lake. I worked harder then, but it never became a job. I suspect there is a reality of your grandparent. During the family history project, I found out that my father’s father was around a lot more than I remembered. As children, our memories aren’t as static as they become later on as adults. As an Adult, I have to remember certain things all the time.
As a child, you are filled with wonder and sometimes wonder things away. It doesn’t explain my painting rowboats, or cleaning off the speed boat didn’t feel like work. Mowing always felt like work to me. Although I remember many summers sweating more doing the rowboats than I ever did doing the mowing. Gardening perhaps was more than it took my father away. Dad was always in the garden. I wonder now, looking back and missing him if I was jealous of the garden. That gardening represented what took my father away from playing catch. My grandfather and I cleaned the rowboats together. I mowed by myself. By 11 I had to mow the whole yard. I wonder, if I was jealous of his garden.
After roughly 2005 or so the majority of family event pictures were taken by me. A few were still taken by my father. In particular, the first few pictures today are from our 2011 trip to Wisconsin Dells. The canoe was part of our expedition that day (we also rode the river in a pontoon boat). Dad still loved to take pictures, and these are all from that trip, and his garden. Starting in the middle of the back yard, dad had a bamboo garden. It was originally 3 or 5 bamboo plants. It became 100. Without Panda’s nibbling Bamboo grows like a weed. I am pretty sure, although I never really asked that mom would have said no to have in the backyard.
My wife and I both spent many years in Indiana, and during that time we grew to Love Indiana Tomatoes. In particular, we loved my dad’s Tomatoes. Starting in early August, it was the highlight of heading down to Bloomington. We would stock up on awesome tomatoes. I am not sure if it is soil or something in the air, but the Tomatoes in Maryland just aren’t that good overall. It might be a regional taste difference. I don’t know. The soil in Indiana is a lot more clay and calcium based. Indiana’s predominant bedrock is the once upon a time sandy bottom of what the great Nebraska Sea. A sea that 200 million years ago covered the majority of the central US.
It was shallow sea and became Shale and Limestone. That combination is important because the shale isn’t water soluble and the Limestone is. Over time, the shale cap allowed for the formation of caves in the Limestone. It also changed the composition of the soil. Finally 10,000 years ago a giant wall of retreating Ice changed the ecology of Northern Indiana. The best tomatoes come from Northern Indiana (IMHO). The glaciers changed Indiana forever. The joke used to be that you could roll a quarter from Lafayette Indiana to Indianapolis, and it would just keep rolling. South of Martinsville and you couldn’t roll the quarter anywhere.
Every parent has a story of the history of their child. There are no perfect parents. There are no perfect children. Both sides have memories, frustrations and moments that they cannot move past or through. As we watch children grow there are memories that we clock. By clocking I mean we assign that specific memory to a slot in time. They the memories can be bound to holidays like Easter, Christmas or other major holidays that you celebrate. You lock those into parts of your brain. We as parents treasure the happy moments we have with our children. Not all memories are happy. Not all memories stay with us. The time that is childhood drifts away. The things we hold tight though, those stay with us.
One of the things I recall from the past is the memory of Fran. She arrived at our family in the way puppies do. First, my daughter and I searched. She decided on a yellow Lab. I found a breeder that was 3 hours away. Fran rode in the back of our Van (with twins you need a vehicle that both provides room to have a large stroller, but also the other things you need to take with you). The pictures today of Fran show her waiting. First of all her favorite Easter Candy was the one candy that the kids didn’t like. (Marshmallow Peeps). A Peep, or a marshmallow bunny or chick. With a hard candy coated exterior. Fran loves Peeps, and happily ate all of them. We made her eat them slowly (over two or three weeks). She would have eaten them in a day had we let her.
By the way, marshmallows in any form are fun in the Microwave. Peeps are fun in the Microwave.
That, Fran waiting, is a memory of Easter past. We don’t hide eggs anymore. Or candy to be found by racing children. There are no racing children in our house on Holidays now. The children have raced through their childhood and have come out the other side. They are going in their directions and taking their paths that both convergent and divergent, are their paths now. The days of Easter past remain, however, in folders with pictures. In the memories assigned to time. What was is powerful now.
Easter was always a big deal for my parents. I suspect over the years we probably should have moved away from Hard Boiled Eggs. I do love a good Egg Salad sandwich, but that wasn’t the real problem. I suspect the conversation shared today happened in the mid-2000s. It couldn’t have been a lot easier than that because the kids were much smaller and the hunt for Easter Eggs was in the house.
Easter was where we would hide eggs outside. In dad’s mini-apple orchard. The conversation happened a few months after Easter.
(this is an imaginary conversation, the outcome is factual, the conversation may or may not have ever happened)
“We shouldn’t ide hard boiled eggs anymore.” My mother is sitting on the back deck late in the summer.
“Nobody eats them you are right Mom.” My response.
“Not what I meant.” Mom said.
“sorry, I thought you were talking about having to throw away the eggs because no one ate them.”
“No, I ran over one yesterday while mowing. The mower still smells like rotten egg,”
My mother has a wonderful sense of both timing and humor.
Easter is a progression Holiday. When the kids are little, it is MORE important for the adults to remember where they hid the eggs. We also had a Lab (Fran) so we had to hide them high enough that she couldn’t get them, but low enough that all three kids had a chance. As the kids get older, the complexity of hiding grows. Until apparently you get so good that someone has to mow an egg into oblivion!
Life is a journey filled with voices that becomes a walk along a path. I would for a moment digress based on the pictures shared — a pool. We in 5 years built two pools. We added a pool to our house in Cincinnati Ohio. Not our first house, but the second house we built. We were in that house for one summer and then moved back to Indiana. In the end, it was a good lesson for us, around improving a house. It was also our first pool experience. As they were building the pool, they dumped a wheelbarrow of concrete into the pool. They had to run and change the filters ten times to get the concrete out. They also had to drain the pool and replace the liner. That delayed the pool opening, by a solid month but the pool was done in April, we didn’t open it until May!
The reality of twins set in during our move from our house in Western Hills to our house in Mt. Airy (both suburbs of Cincinnati Ohio). Being the parents of twins is a lot more work that we had realized. We decided that summer after moving into that new house that we needed to move back to Indiana. We determined that being closer to the family was important. We put the house on the market that year in October and moved to Indiana. We would add a pool to the new house we bought in Indiana in the Spring. It is an interesting story when you consider the reality we were facing. We spent a lot of time in the NICU at the beginning (NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
Moving back to Indiana was a difficult decision. It was the right thing for us to do at the time. The pools, however, were interesting as well. Our first pool was a great way to have friends over and just hung out. The pool became a focus point; every year we had a summer pool party. After to Indiana, we ended up having one for our neighborhood friends and one for work friends, and we added one for church friends. We are in and around the pool as a huge part of what and how we were in the world. Our first parties in Cincinnati were dinner parties. We then shifted to pool parties. I do not miss the before, cleaning up the pool, and then after cleaning up the pool again.
Sometimes you make a mistake, and it turns out to be a better view than perfection. In this case, the accident did not realize that sitting near the pool there would be moisture in the air. It created an air of fog around my daughter’s dog, Fran. Fran was a beautiful dog, and her job was to keep my daughter in line. Keep her in line. Fran also barked at the twins as well. She would stand at the edge of the pool and bark at the kids when they roughhoused in the pool. She didn’t get in the pool more than the top step. We had three steps at one end of the pool to make it easier to enter the pool. It was my wife’s brilliant idea and other than one time; it was the perfect solution for kids and adults.
One time a guest’s 20-month-old daughter didn’t use the steps and walked into the pool at an angle. We fished her out right away, she didn’t go below the water, but that was the only time. For the most part, adding those steps was a brilliant idea. But in this case, the picture of Fran was perfect. My daughter took 100’s of pictures of Fran, so she always stopped and looked at the camera. She, as labs often do have the most expressive face. She also had the most beautiful eyes. Somewhere there is a video of her standing on the top step of the pool, her feet in the water, barking at the kids as they are roughhoused in the pool. She would look at me, bark, look at me.
Our other dog at the time, Gwen had no interest in the pool or the kids. She would from time to time check in with the humans, but for the most part, she was hunting chipmunks. Sadly over the years, she caught a couple, and I got to clean up the mess. It made me remove all of the bushes near the pool area and cover that section of the landscaping in pebbles. I got tired of dead chipmunks. It felt unfair to the chipmunks. Plus it encouraged snakes to come up into the yard area. My wife, and for that matter my mother, don’t go anywhere snakes are found. EVER! As in, the response to seeing a snake is, someone needs to get rid of that snake, or I am staying inside!