Sunday, January 16, 2011

....and pink cake.

My Lillie Belle turned 7. My baby girl is 7. I am not really sure why 7 made me stop to think, but it has. 7 years with a girl. I still remember the day I found out we were having a girl. Pink. Bows. Baby dolls. It feels like yesterday. Patrick and I had two precious boys and I, as surprised as I was having two little boys first, enjoyed each moment being a boy mom. Not growing up with a brother in my house, I still remember the shock of seeing Logan for the first time and hearing the Doctor exclaim, "It's a BOY!" What do you do with a boy? I thought it was a girl! I was supposed to be having a girl!?! As time went on though, I discovered you do much of the same thing with a boy baby that you do with a girl baby...or so I thought. I enjoyed every minute of having boys. I still do. I loved their little chubby legs running through my halls, their sticky kisses, and dirty fingers. I loved hearing their truck noises and their gun sounds. They would build and knock down, run and fall, jump off things and climb up everything. They were the spitting images of their Daddy and oh! How the three of them could wrestle. And I never could've doubted their love for me. When we discovered we were having another baby, I truly assumed it would be another boy. I remember kind of thinking it would be neat to have a girl, but that thought was quickly pushed aside almost with the same questions I had before having a boy; what would I do with a girl? We had all these boy things and boy clothes...and I knew boys. I loved boys. At that point, I really couldn't picture myself with a girl...until the day we found out the baby I was carrying was a girl!

Fast forward to last Friday, I was decorating Lillie-Belle's Hello Kitty cupcakes, pink cake with pink icing, and Logan walked into the kitchen to just hang out for a minute. "Is that Lillie's cake?" I told him it was. Watching me for a minute, we talked about Lillie's birthday. After a few questions and a few comments from him, he looks at me very seriously and said, "Mom you know the best part of having sisters?"

I could have guessed a million things. Hello Kitty birthday parties for one. Meeting Princesses at Disney World after so many years of meeting Buzz Lightyear and Captain Hook. The movies Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Princess and the Frog. Pink rooms and dance classes. Hugs for brothers and quiet moments when a big brother reads to them. Watching big brothers hold little sister hands. Fashion shows. Helpers in the kitchen. Fingernail polish. Bows and French braiding again. My house softening for the addition of a little girl. Doors being held open and Barbie toothbrushes. Feet "dancing" on big Daddy feet. Screams, louder than I ever thought possible, at the sound of a Daddy's "scary" growl. Pink Zinka on noses at the beach and mermaid sandcastles. Promises to marry an older brother and lots of pictures to hang up. Pink bicycles with white baskets and little streamers from the handlebars. A daughter for my sweet man to walk down an aisle one day. Sweet smells and gentle hugs. Polly Pockets and Bitty Babies. The list in my mind goes on forever; as it does with my guesses for the reasons it is so great to have boys.

At that moment, I was so thankful for the gift of having both, but my mind was focused on my Lillie. She changed the dynamic of our home in one simple moment and the very dynamic of our family. She came in like a tornado, loving life and taking it by the horns. She has a strong personality and knows what "life" should look like. She loves everyday moments that we often miss and often retreats to "Lillie~land" as we lovingly call the place where only she is invited in her mind, where fairies are, and creation talks. She is strong, determined, and independent, but has a heart of gold. She doesn't like people to see her cry and doesn't like to see me cry. She can, at times, be painfully honest. She sings to herself, dances up the stairs, and loves, LOVES to push her Cole's buttons. She sword fights and plays a mean game of hide~n~go seek. She can catch a lizard with the best of her brothers, but has the prettiest pointed toes in ballet. She is wonderfully made and a perfect fit for our family. We couldn't have known it at the time when the ultrasound tech announced, "That's girl country right there!" (Can you tell our tech was from the deep South?) but our lives would forever be better because of Lillie Grace.

"I don't know, Logan. What's the best part of having sisters?"

"We get to have pink cake. It's so good." And he walked away licking icing off of his growing fingers.

I almost forgot...and pink cake.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

All That's Left

I recently spent some time visiting my elderly grandmother in the nursing home. It was so hard to see her there, that way. To me, she was always a fun grandmother and as I got older she seemed to never age. Not so much anymore. Although she looks alot older, she is doing well. Talking to her though is completely different. She seems to be in a different time. She has gone back to a memory and it seems as if that is where she is. The people she remembers or is looking for, have long been gone from this earth. But not to her. I sat there for most of the visits, bringing myself back to those times with her. For me, it was memories stored away, for her, it's where she is, it is what's left.

This seems to be the norm. My mom's mom is much the same way. The last visit I had with her she was a high school senior going to a dance at City Hall. By the time our conversation was over, I wanted to go too. It sounded wonderful. She was happy. What was left in her mind, made her happy.

While visiting my grandmother, I was drawn to the older men. As they sat there, hunched over in their wheelchairs, sitting by themselves, or just staring at the space in front of them, I imagined those same men, only 30 years earlier. Tall, lean, strong, confident; somebodies. Presidents of companies, doctors, Marines, lawyers, construction workers, Daddies, husbands. My eyes still fill with tears at my picture of them on that day. There was one in particular that I was drawn to most. Even hunched over with a walker, I could tell he was tall. He steps were slow but purposeful and he stopped at every doorway and peeked in. There were two halls connected by a nurses station and in my hour visit with my Maw-Maw, he made it down one side and only a few doors up the other. Every door, peeking. Every step slow. He had a very determined look to him and I wanted to go and help him. Do what? I wasn't sure but he had a purpose in his day. Right before I left there was a shift change and lots of busy-ness with the nurses and caregivers. One nurse walked past me to take her place with a handful of charts and asked the nurse leaving, "Is he looking for her again?" "Everyday. I wish he would stop. It makes me sad." As she was leaving, the nurse caught my eye and I couldn't help myself. "Who is he looking for? Is he ok?" "No, he's fine, just looking for his dead wife." Her harshness startled me, but her statement broke my heart. She went on, "Evidently she was some kind of woman because he is always looking for her, always." She picked up her things and left. My eyes drifted back to his husband searching for his wife. Never to be found but in his mind, she was there. He didn't look sad, or worried, just purposeful. There really isn't any other way to describe him.

As I walked my Maw-Maw down the hall, we passed his room. I saw his biography on the doorway and read what I could. What stuck out most was, "Husband, father of 4, retired military." It could be any man, but it could very easily be mine. As we passed him, his hands were shaky, his steps were too, but he smiled a sweet smile at me and melted my heart. He shuffled and pushed his walker. Stopped at the door. Shuffle, push, stop. Shuffle, push, stop. I couldn't help but picture the man 40 or 50 years earlier. Working to provide for his family, coming home for dinner every night, fighting bravely for his country, kissing his children goodnight, cooking eggs on Saturday mornings so his wife could sleep in, giving piggyback rides, throwing the football with his boys, his giant man hands dressing tiny dolls for his girls, holding his wife's hand on a date, drinking coffee in the mornings, playfully slapping his wife's rear passing through the kitchen, laughing through family dinners, taking his kids to the beach, pushing his girls on the circle swing. Where he was at that moment, gave him peace and he was looking for her. All the memories he could be living through~ his work, his early days~ but he was looking for her. All that made him that man, what was left was his wife. And he was looking for her. To him, she would complete him. He could stop looking. That was his purpose.

My thoughts drifted to my man. With him gone, I have so much time to reflect about me, as his wife. When Patrick is that age, will he be looking for me? Will his time with me be that happy place he goes back to? Will he think that I completed him on this earth? Will he know I loved him? Will I have showed him that enough? Did I take care of him? Did I listen to him? Did he feel respected? Did he know I adored him everyday I knew him? Will he remember us laughing? Will he want to hold my hand again? Will he miss my cooking? Will he want to tell me a private joke? Will he be looking for me? Will he be looking for me to rub his feet? Will he be looking for me to give him a hug? Can he picture my face? Will he want me? Will he need me for something? Did he have a question? A comment? A laugh? A quote from a goofy movie? What will be left? For this man, he was looking for her. He wanted her. He needed her. That was what was left. That was the place his mind brought him back to. She was his comfort and he wanted her. Will Patrick?

It's easy to see changes that I want to make when I step back. When he is gone. And for such a long time. I want him home. I want to love him. I want to listen to him. I want to show him how very much I respect the man I fell in love with. I want to hold his hand and make our home a soft place for him to come home to. I want to be his retreat. I want to listen to him, to laugh with him, and share our goofy quotes. I want to cook for him, sit beside him at night and kiss his cheek. I want to talk to him, rub his back and watch him kiss the kids goodnight. I want to go camping, share a secret, and have a movie night. I want to hold him and tell him how very much I still love him. I want to give him memories to hold on that when that's all that's left, he's looking for me.