Monday, October 6, 2014

The Train

In 1944, Eunice Shaw boarded a train, without telling her mother.  She was on her way to marry her fella, Jack Humbert, a soldier from Newport, Kentucky, stationed in Texas.  When she arrived, she tried to stay in the house where all the visiting girlfriends were boarding, but the matron in charge told her she had to call home first.  She did so begrudgingly, and shortly thereafter, Jack and Eunice were married.

Jack and Eunice are my grandparents.  I learned the rebellious and romantic details of their love story during one of my visits to see my Nana when I was in high school and college.  As soon as I could drive, I enjoyed visiting them by myself.  I liked having their complete attention.  Nan always welcomed me with a cup of tea and if I was lucky, some monkey bread.  After Pop passed away, Nan and I would spend hours talking about him.  Those visits are some of my most treasured memories.

I went to Nan for love advice.  I trusted her because I knew she loved me, I knew she didn't know anything about the current dating world, and I knew her heart was the most direct and open line to God that I would ever find.  I frequently asked her the question that all young girls are wondering: How do you know when you've found "the one?"  That's how I learned about her and Pop's early dating years.  Nan always responded with a laugh and a grin and usually another more probing question, but one day she answered with a statement that cut me to my core.  She said, "Rachael, you'll know you've found the right one when you stop coming here to ask me that question."  And, as always, she was completely right.

I always left Nan's house feeling centered and calm.  A cup of tea with Nana and a long talk was better than any yoga class or Catholic mass.  She had a quiet conviction about her.  She knew things.  She was certain that God was working in our lives daily and she never doubted that his love was real and steadfast.  She was not a worrier.  She explained to me that worry can easily be replaced with faith.  She prayed every morning and every night; and she began and ended those prayers with her grandchildren's names, surrounded by pictures of our little, preschool faces.  On my worst days, especially when I was away at college, it gave me great peace to know that she was praying for me.  When nothing else in the world seemed right, at least Nana was in my corner, sending up those holy lifelines.

On one of my last visits, I was scooping my sweet baby girl off the floor and tossing toys into a diaper bag when I noticed Nana staring at the portrait of her and Pop.  She said to me, "It's been seven years since Pop passed.  It can't be too much longer for me now, can it?"  What she said didn't strike me nearly as much as the way she said it.  She was hopeful.  She was tired.  She really missed her fella.

Early this morning, Nan hopped on that train again.  Her vibrant, faithful soul has been reunited with the one she loves.  I'm certain he met her in uniform and she giggled in her crisp skirt, blouse and jacket.  From that place, the love they shared can be poured out into the world again, renewing all of us and reminding us that there is no need to worry.

And when things get tough, when I really need her the most, I'll know she's still in my corner.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

5 Things

I'm tackling another one of the 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me posts.  I like these because this is a time when my brain is mush, so keeping up with the scrapbook-y posts I usually do is way too daunting.  I have 830 pictures on my phone.  I sleep in 3-4 hour chunks.  I have no brain power to sort, post and describe all the day-to-day things going on over here.  However, I like thinking about these prompts all day, then taking a few minutes to get my thoughts down at night.  Tonight, I'm supposed to tell you 5 things that make me the most happy right now.  

1.  Listening to Sylvia and Margot play.  Sometimes you know I'm listening, but most times you don't.  I love hearing you say each others' names.  Margot, you just started saying all three syllables in "Syl-veee-yah!" and Sylvia, you change the tone of your voice completely when you say, "Here, Margot!"  You sound like a teacher.  The games you girls come up with are fantastic and your imaginations know no bounds, especially when you're together and especially when you're outside!

2.  Smelling Albert.  I know why some wild animal mothers eat their young.  It's because they smell so good that sniffing their scent up through their nose doesn't begin to satiate the urge to soak up that baby smell.  I never understood why people would say to a baby, "I'll eat you up!" until I had a baby and now I literally want to eat you.  I want to sniff you to death.  Is that weird?  Doesn't matter.  Tucking you against my chest with your head on my shoulder and breathing in a nice, giant whiff of your head and neck.....heaven.  I do it as often as I possibly can.

3.  Watching Daddy work his magic.  Sometimes I just get out of his way and watch him completely master whatever he's doing with you.  Feeding you lunch.  Helping you get dressed.  Giving you baths.  Changing diapers.  Cleaning carpets.  Loading up the car.  Sometimes he gets into such a groove that all I can do is stare at him in awe.  But my favorite thing to watch him do is play with you.  When I see you laugh at him, my heart melts.  I can't believe that all four of you belong to me.

4.  Our Saturday routine.  For the last few weeks, we've gone to the library on Saturday mornings for the 10:00 story time.  We've been the only ones there and the girls who lead it are phenomenal.  Margot, you love the "Little Mouse" game they play every week.  Sylvia, you love the craft at the end and you work so hard to make yours beautiful.  I love that the stories are all by the same author (this week was Eric Carle, so Margot DIED when she saw the caterpillar.)  After the library, we go to The Coffee Shop where the girls play and Albert sleeps while I drink the world's best pumpkin latte.  It's a local place.  It's beautiful and kid friendly with lots of cool toys and books.  I'm a little obsessed with coffee right now and to know we found a place that makes all of us happy is truly a miracle!

5.  My victory lap.  (It's usually a glass of wine.)  For the last three weeks, I've laid a swaddled Albert down in his crib and thought to myself, "The last little lamb is asleep."  I close his door and exhale and for a few brief minutes I forget all about the drama of the day or the mess in the kitchen.  All I can think about is your three sweet sleeping faces.  Peaceful.  Safe.  Home, under the same roof.  I tell myself that no matter how hard my day gets, life will never be easier than this.  You are so little.  You are so happy and content and asleep.  Probably dreaming of play-dough and Candy Land and the Frozen sisters.  And when you are sleeping, I don't worry about whether or not I'm making the right choices by which to guide you through this world.  I don't worry about whether or not you'll turn out okay.  Once you're asleep, all I can think about is how I have three good kids.  Three little, healthy, smart, generous, funny, amazing kids.  I wrap myself up in the soft, cozy blanket of quiet that has fallen over the house and I enjoy every last drop of wine in my glass.