29 December 2011
What is it that causes a memory to become indelible? It is usually a sharply edged moment, and it stays forever, and when we are old it often brings tears.
Jackson at the Middlebury Inn on Thanksgiving, very small and trying not to spill his milk while leaning forward and grasping the too big glass with both his little hands.
Phineas going for his long walk at Laurie and Charlie’s farm (the Nash farm) at the Ellis family reunion she had organized, and pausing to pull his pants down and poop right there by the side of the lovely river with all the cousins standing in the windows enjoying his self-confidence.
Keenan, so small, so slight with his mop of pale blond hair sizing me up carefully and then running the few feet to give me a great big hug.
Freeland running outside, when any house seemed just too small, running around the field, a dancer leaping and twirling in the open air on the endless grass.
Caleb, choosing a special hat, arranging his treasured tools carefully in the little wheelbarrow and setting out across the deck for his day’s work.
Willa at Sandy Hook, about three, in rolled up blue jeans and jacket, short little limbs, marching across the sand.
Emmie at five, leading me through the gates and electric fence of the Nash farm, knowing all the way exactly what to do. This was her farm and she was showing me the way.
Francis, at several months, frustrated that he couldn’t walk, my realization that when this boy walked he would run through life. And when, the next summer, he stood on the boardwalk, his tummy puffed out, arms encased in swimmies, he was again a boy in restraint….why can’t I just go!
Linden – sitting on my lap as I drove her around on my tractor, and when she felt secure, she put her head down on my chest and slept.
Laurie – sitting in the sandbox in Baltimore and building a beautiful birthday cake of sand with pebbles and sticks.
Corky – staying right beside my leg, where it was safe, in the grocery store, while Kevin and Laurie made the whole store their playfield.
Kevin, around one plus, after a day of running all over the house, sitting in his white jump seat when suddenly his whole head just went down on the tray into an exhausted deep sleep.
Algie, my 16 year old godfather who I idolized, responding to his mother’s final summons to breakfast at Fishers Island. He sat down, clasped his hands behind his back, leaned forward and picked the green tumbler of milk up in his mouth while his mother begged him to stop. He drank it all without spilling a drop. And then one day while he was installing a knob on the steering wheel of his car, I asked him what it was for and he replied that it was so he could drive and put his arm around his “best girl”. That would be Ann Hallowell who he later married. I remember standing there at six thinking to myself that he had just told me something I wasn’t supposed to hear and marveling that I was finally old enough for him to tell me his secret.