© 2023 Robert Sickles
While putting up this year’s holiday decorations, I hung our display of Christmas photos of kids and grandkids. Baby’s first Christmas, lots of tots on Santa’s lap, little ones in pajamas opening presents, kittens and puppies with bows. I smiled and loved each one. Time to sit by the fire in my cozy chair and enjoy a little reminiscing.
In about 2000, as I recall, Riley didn't want to get his picture with Santa, so we posed for a snapshot at home and I snuck the hat on while he wasn't looking.
When I married Linda, I became a stepfather for two little girls, ages about 5 and 7. We survived it all: the Campfire Girls, youth soccer, swim team, driving lessons, after-school jobs, boyfriends and college! But I couldn’t have pictured how we’d all be 45 years later. Both daughters have grown into creative women with beautiful homes, families and careers. The grandchildren they have given us are, every one, brilliant treasures.
I realize my eldest grandchild is a young man, married and with a toddler of his own now. Our conversations are like all grown-up these days—work, commuting, living expenses, vacation plans, home repair. This is nature’s way. I shouldn’t want to turn the clock back. But while he’s telling me about getting his work hours cut, I’m thinking, “Come on, Son, that just means we’ll have time to go down to the playground and climb on the monkey bars, and do all the things we did together, like build forts out of sofa cushions and save paper towel rolls so we can make a marble chute.” I guess that makes me a poor listener. The guy’s trying to share something that’s on his mind and I’m dreaming about two decades ago.
What about our little great-grandchild? I’m not sure our society has allotted a proper time and space to build a bond across three generations. It’s not a well-defined role. There’s no holiday song about going over the river and through the woods to “great-grandmother’s house.” The little boy has a full schedule of loving care from those closer to him, both in distance and age. I guess it’s called passing the torch to a new generation—it puts things in a very soft light when you witness your daughter happily become a grandmother!
As for our other four grandchildren, they’re into careers or finishing college. None of them realizes how fast this is all passing before my eyes. One of them is a psychology major and expecting to continue in graduate school. Only 15 years ago we laughed and sang “your neck bone connected to your head bone…” Now he says the same thing but it sounds so professorial. “Our findings in recent studies confirm what we’ve suspected for years. We now believe that the brain stem is inexorably linked to the cerebellum…” Isn’t he cute?
His younger brother is in nursing school. This bright fellow does well in his studies. He’s come a long way since hiding under the couch when the Frankenstein cartoon was on our TV. Coming about to face his fears, he's presently enjoying anatomy classes. Yes, cadavers.
We have twin grandchildren also. Both are finished with school and a couple of years into a career or looking for a better career. Each has a love mate to share apartment life. I can’t describe how disorienting it is to see them in their mid-twenties and thriving on their own. Don’t they understand how recently it was that we took them by the hands to the beach where we dodged waves, hunting for sea shells and sand dollars?
Time flies. But why? We must be crazy for allowing time to go on and on like an over-served bore at the cocktail lounge. Someone should tell him that we’ve heard enough. “Be still, Time!”
I don’t know about literally freezing time, that sounds like a fatal choice. But I have found something that works for me. By mulling over my life and pulling out bins and boxes to see what memories are under the dust, I can write it all up in short stories and turn the clock back now and then for myself. I even enjoy rereading my stories. Would it be odd for me to leave a comment on my own blog? “I love reading your memoirs, Bob, please keep writing!”