Sometimes you can hear a song, smell a perfume or cologne, remember a funny thing someone once said, or see an old truck and be taken back in time to places where those things are connected to people you’ve lost and kept along the way.
For instance, I remember my daughter Robin had a saying for everything for a while. It was “Turkey Leg!” She would simply blurt out this nonsensical response for no particular reason. Sometimes she said it while she was knitting, drawing or watching television, for no apparent reason. To this day I cannot tell you what it means but it was funny and we all cracked up. It still makes me laugh.
There was the time my friend Peggy called me out of the blue one day and asked me to sing that old funny song, “My Ding-A-Ling” by Chuck Berry. Of course I obliged her. As I belted out the last note I could hear Peggy and her husband Mike cackling. Despite my embarrassment to learn Mike was listening in, I started giggling along with them.
My friend Robin and I met in college. We decided one late night we wanted pizza, so we walked to the convenience store near her apartment. On the way back we were spooked by a noise and began to run, the sound of our shoes slapping on the street echoed until we realized we were safe, and we began to laugh at our silliness until we cried.
My sister Karen used to try to make me laugh just as I took a sip of water or drink, so it would come out of my nose. She did this by making her crazy faces at me when mom and dad weren’t looking. We used to cut up and perform silly songs or scenes for our family, ending up in hysterics on the floor or running for the bathroom to avoid an accident.
My son Zach always told me, “You leave a mark, Mom.” True I suppose. He must take after me because last August when we were in Minnesota for Wesley and Molly’s wedding, Zach, John and I went to the lake for a couple of hours to relax. Zach took off down to the edge of the water, disappearing over a small hill. John and I heard some geese and looked up in time to see Zach running back up over the hill giggling like when he was a kid. His dark brown eyes were wide with awe as he cried, pointing at the geese he spooked, “Mom! I saw geese! I’ve never seen geese before!” John and I still giggle about that.
At a family event some years ago, my son Wesley once showed me where he had typed a note on his iPod, “All the women on my mom’s side of the family are crazy.” Also, one Christmas when Robin came in the front door with her boyfriend Dave, she resplendent in a trench coat and her brunette hair flowing and Dave in his leather vest and crazy hat, Wesley leaned over to me and asked in complete deadpan, “How come Robin always looks like she just got back from killing a vampire?”
When I hear the song, “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, I think of my son, Noah, who sang it so well. I can also remember him hugging me when he was little and blurting out, “Momma, I love you. You’re so chubby and soft!”
My dad was one to play tricks and tease. He sang funny little songs he’d make up on the fly. He had a beautiful voice, though. When I hear, “Your Song” by Elton John I can still see him singing as he worked out in his shop, every now and then piercing me with those blue eyes in the middle of a verse.
Sometimes we get caught up in our losses. Our loss of time, youth, places, things, and people.
I am grateful today because I have a treasure trove of memories, some that make me laugh, others that elicit nostalgia or melancholy. Each person with whom I have crossed paths in this glorious life have brought me gifts, lessons and stories.
Some hurt me, or I hurt them. Others simply drifted away or they passed away.
All slipped through my hands like sand, each moment a zephyr, occasionally gracing me with its caress.
They all made me who I am at this moment.
As long as we take those places, people and events and use them to grow into our greatest potential, then none of it was a waste of time or a mistake. Each day has the potential to give us more wisdom and love to carry with us on our journey.
The destination, as we have all heard, is not the key. Our sense of contentment and joy comes not in the arrival, but in the miles along the way.
They each gave me an opportunity to learn a lesson or two about myself, and to be me. Some of us had to part ways so I could do this. Others continue to stick around and lovingly cheer me on.
I am grateful for those who showed me that I deserved better than what they had to offer, or for whom neither of us could fulfill an ideal or need for the other.
Moreover, I am beholden to those who loved me until I learned to start loving myself, and who have stayed in my corner countless times when I question my self-worth and become my own worst enemy.
I have finally come into my authenticity. I am proud of who I am today. I’ve come a long way from a scared and broken girl to the sometimes frightened, but mostly fierce and brave woman, I see in the mirror this morning.