Our grandson officially achieved adulthood recently, a happy event that prompts me to take a welcome pause from my usual political writing. This occasion brought back some special memories of his mother and him and I hope you won’t mind if I share them with you. Perhaps they will help you recall some memorable times with your loved ones too.
A little over 50 years ago – Oh my, has it been that long? – my wife and I were living in an apartment near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I was working full time as a computer systems analyst on the Apollo man-on-the-moon project and seeking a degree in mathematics by taking night classes at a nearby college. Most days during the week I would arrive home after our two-year-old daughter’s bedtime.
One spring evening I went into her room to whisper good night and she was fast asleep, as usual. The window of her room was facing west and the sun was just about to dip below the horizon. On the linoleum floor, in a row facing the window , were a half dozen of Fisher Price’s little people and some of her other toys.
Something about the lighting and this menagerie inspired me to begin writing a poem to preserve the memories of this period in our lives and the things that were special in her life at the time. One was a rocking horse attached to a metal frame with springs that, as I remember, looked something like Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology. She rocked that bronc so hard and fast that sometimes she would buck herself off onto the carpet. Another was a stuffed toy lion called Larry that was twice her size. She also had a doll named Drowsy. But her favorite bedtime companion was a Snoopy doll that was fashioned like the dog in the Peanuts cartoon.
I managed to memorialize most of her toys in the initial verses but I just couldn’t come up with an ending back then that seemed right. Perhaps life got too busy with career, college and just raising a family. Some thirty years later, however, I decided to add some lines and a few years after our now adult grandson was born, I found the inspiration I needed to finish it. It’s entitled:
Toys on the Floor
Larry Lion and Brownie Bear,
a sleepy-eyed doll with tousled hair.
A broken bracelet, a thousand blocks,
a tiny red and white striped box.
A magic horse that rocks on springs,
a golden stallion with dove white wings.
Small wooden people no longer at play,
she placed in a row at the end of the day.
Snoopy’s there too, right next to the clown,
assembled on the floor to watch the sundown.
But night has brought a silence there,
the lion’s not growling, neither is the bear.
Our little blonde angel is tucked in her bed,
her favorite blue blanket pulled over her head.
Again home too late for a goodnight kiss,
sadly a pleasure I too frequently miss.
But the next day is Saturday and I can sleep in,
except about six her day will begin.
With blanket in hand from the crib she’ll climb,
assembling her gang, they’ll be singing a rhyme.
Then into our bedroom and up on the bed,
she’ll bounce on the mattress and jump on my head.
How quick it all happened, how fleeting it passed.
It’s hard to believe that she grew up so fast.
Still I smile at the memory of her toys on the floor,
and the sound of her laughter at the bedroom door.
For now she is married, with a child of her own;
she hurries to greet him when she’s late getting home.
She knows he’s done things that she had to miss,
and there’ll be those times with no goodnight kiss.
Like me she’ll have memories to fill this lost space,
the warm hug in the morning, the smile on his face.
But too soon only memories of his lion’s roar,
of his little boy laughter and his toys on the floor.
All eight members of the family will be off on a special Mediterranean cruise for 12 days during the first half of June. Our younger daughter’s, daughter — a perky nine-year-old — can’t wait to board the ship. This year for me is — as my Chinese friends would say — a BIG birthday (50, 60, and I’m not telling) and we intend to enjoy our time together as a family to celebrate this year’s milestone events. I will be taking some pictures and may publish at least one blog with something about the trip while we are away. But that’s a plan, not a promise.
Going forward, I will try to be optimistic and hope that the American electorate will make the right decisions to preserve our democracy. They usually do. Yes, the political situation is a total mess and scary. But we can’t let that defeat us and leave all the work to others. So, I will be making contributions to, and working for, those politicians and organizations that endeavor to make sure that this nation of the people, by the people and for the people will continue to the benefit of our children and grandchildren for decades to come.