Thursday, December 18, 2008

THE Uniform

When I was seven, my great, great Aunt Sue seemed to be the oldest person I had ever seen. Having always been single, she was extremely devoted to her career as the U.S. Senator from Arkansas' personal assistant.
My dad was the only child of my grandparents. Sue was aunt, minus the two "greats", to my grandmother. With no children of her own, Sue considered my dad to be her son, too.
World War II came and Sue, being so close to the Senator, was able to get my dad an appointment to West Point. My dad was plucked out of line during Basic Training and was whisked away to New York just days before his company's departure to Europe. He later learned that one third of his company was killed in an ambush somewhere in France. Thanks to Aunt Sue, the only son of Charles and Lois was safe at the United States Military Academy training to be an army officer.
The War ended during my dad's first West Point year. He was always proud that he had completed that very difficult year. However, deciding to not pursue a military career, he returned to Arkansas, finishing college at the University.
And with him came the West Point uniform. THE uniform... made of the heaviest gray wool material ever. There were trousers, gray coats with plain fronts, a gray coat with very large, round , brass buttons, and a full-length overcoat.
My grandmother proudly stored the uniform in her cedar chest. It remained preserved in museum-like condition for 36 years.
Upon my grandmother's death, my mother inherited THE uniform, dutifully keeping it in her cedar chest. I'm serious when I say that the long overcoat weighed 10 pounds. It was no small thing to keep THE uniform. Around this time, my brother joined the Air National Guard. Air-Army, no one cared, it was military. THE uniform was re-assigned to his watch.
"Whew," thought my mother, "THE uniform is safe and out of my care."
Years rolled by. My brother downsized his house and needed to store some "stuff". THE uniform fell under the "stuff" category, so my mom welcomed it back into her house. By now, the cedar chest was gone, so THE uniform was given a closet position.
As Clayton began to express a serious pursuit of West Point during his 9th grade year, THE uniform was swiftly escorted to my house. We had a few yucks when Clayton was able to fit into it. I hung it in a closet, and, I will confess, it was under my guardianship that a few moth holes began to appear.
Twenty five years of marriage and three sons later, I decided I had accumulated too much "stuff". THE uniform fell under the "stuff" category, and I informed my parents that I was going to send THE uniform away. I considered Ebay and, more than once, THE uniform spent long periods of time in my car waiting an opportune moment for a Good Will donation.
"I just can't bear the burden of THE uniform anymore," I would complain to my mom.
My dad heard of THE uniform's perilous status and drove over. Again, THE uniform was safe at my parents' house.
"What is this? Uniform ping pong? I thought. " THE uniform is a burden. How long must we bear it?"
Recently, while at a local military museum, a light bulb appeared. "Why not donate it to a museum?"
I immediately called my parents with the idea. Everyone was thrilled about giving THE uniform new purpose and life. (Secretly, we were just plain glad to have it out of our lives!)
Back to my house came THE uniform. Back to the Expedition's rear it was housed until donation time. But,somehow, I just never made it to the museum.
The camel's back breaker came as I was opening my car's rear after grocery shopping, and THE uniform lept to the pavement.
"THE uniform!" I cried out loud, "THE unifoooorrrmmmmm!! How long???"
In December, Clayton experienced his first Army-Navy football game. It is at this game that the Corps of Cadets breaks out their long overcoats. During a phone conversation, Clayton informed me, "Did you know that our Long Os cost $600.00?"
"Did you know how much your grandfather's overcoat weighs?" I answered him. "And, by-the-way, I'm donating it to a museum."
"Mom," Clayton said, "please don't do that. I really want to save it. They aren't heavy like that anymore."
"Oh my gosh...THE uniform...when will I be rid of it?" I thought but did not speak. "Sure, buddy." I consented, "I'll put it in a cedar chest."
Grandmother and great, great Aunt Sue would be glad. THE uniform has had an active 62 years but will be safely returned to the cedar chest. The buttons aren't so shiny, there are a few moth holes, and it's been through 2 generations of being oral report visual. It has survived World War II, as well as, Good Will and museum donation threats.
I suppose it's safe to conclude that once it became a part of our lives, THE uniform was never meant to leave us.

Friday, November 28, 2008


On my grade school playground the longest line was always for the merry-go-round. To be in line next to the fastest boy was good because he would always be the one to spin us all around in the fastest way possible. The “scaredy-cats” in dresses would choose to ride in the middle. Those wanting to get the maximum thrill would hold on with both hands while tilting their heads backwards as far as possible. Opened eyes would produce nausea but eyes closed tightly captured the full spinning sensation.
Today I held onto life with knuckle-whitening tightness, and I felt so out-of-control. I spun to next fall when Stuart was gone to college. People I love were dead. Dreams I had held onto since childhood were buried beneath a pile of dirty laundry so hidden that I could no longer find them. My house was quiet…and clean…and lonely. I wished I could move closer to the center where the spinning was much slower. I wished for hamsters on squeaky wheels, loud techno music, “Good Night Moon” and my boys laughing at how I couldn’t finish “Charlotte’s Web” or “The Giving Tree” without crying.
Where did all the swords and pirate patches go? Why don’t I suck up barrel- of- monkeys and air soft bb’s in my vacuum any more? Takers for Saturday night cards are difficult to find. Suggesting an air guitar contest (like when every contestant voted for themselves and didn’t realize that Mom was the tie-breaker) would produce my kids calling an ambulance for transportation to that special floor where all the Jesus’ and Napoleons are kept in separate hallways so they don’t meet each other.
When we did the bi-annual basement cleaning, my 9th grader told me to toss the sled because no one would ever use it again. Irritated by the suggestion, I told him it didn’t snow last year and this winter I planned to ride the sled down the hill myself. Through the years, the basement had been the scene of many a chemistry set experiment. It was there that action figures were melted, mutilated and morphed. The basement lab had produced Batman with three arms and soldiers with dinosaur tails…scary stuff. Speaking of “spooky” it had been the trap door (hidden beneath a dusty braided rug) leading down a crude ladder to the room below the basement that had convinced the guys this house must be the new Kinleystead.
There’s a teenager with hair over his eyes in the room where my freckled-faced Stu likes to read Hardy Boys books. Did I talk to my son the West Point Cadet an hour ago? Not possible, I just walked past the dining room table where he is struggling to finish a report which requires cursive writing (he hates cursive writing). I also wonder why there’s that extra car in the driveway because I thought we could go bike riding down by the river or take a walk through the park and that car’s kinda in the way.
The spinning hasn't stopped. On this day I feel dizzy. I was also wondering about what happened to that fast boy from grade school who's was pushing this merry-go-round.

Monday, October 13, 2008

All My Pirates have Sailed Away

My babies were birthed in a rhythmic pattern every couple of years. After the third boy, my husband bought a personalized license plate which read, "3 Sons", and my childhood Barbie doll heads fell off ( a scary omen). I embraced the Mom-role enthusiastically, after which followed a flurry of themed backyard birthday parties.
There were also t-ball, soccer, and basketball teams. We never did the music lessons, however, because someone gave us a piano, and I stuck it in the playroom. No musical genius emerged or even gravitated toward it, but they did "take to" the computer and the video gaming console. Oh, well.
We had an acre backyard crowned with a massive spreading live oak tree. I lobbied diligently for my husband to build a tree house. Eventually, the tree house did come to be, complete with zipline. Sword fighting pirates and Jedis with light sabers began to fill the yard daily. (Historical anachronisms mean nothing to grade school boys.) The skull and crossbone flag flew proud and high in the live oak branches.
Eye patches, hooks, and swords were commonly found about the Kinleystead. There were many treasure hunts, and I could write the most challenging clues which my children became very skilled at cracking.
The pinnacle of our pirating was Stuart's 6th or 7th birthday party. I made Jeff, against his will, appear as Cap'n Hook. His very- cool costume was something my grandfather used to wear to some sort of masonic meeting, and I even blackened his face and teeth. He was more than a slightly grumpy participant. But, it was possible to rent a clown...just not a pirate...and I was desperate.
Anyone who has ever enjoyed a hummingbird feeder will understand that they hover about the garden, squeak and war against each other delightfully for a season. One day, abruptly without farewell, they are gone.
It's the same with Pirates. They just sail away. And leave the swords and eyepatches lifeless on the playroom floor.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Open Windows

My college guy called me last night. He wanted me to know that he had received his "Happy Fall" package and that it was awesome and would be great for weekend eating! He was extremely tired, as West Point Cadets tend to be, and was heading to bed early. So, after visiting briefly, I said, "I'll let you get on to bed. Thanks for calling."
" is everyone?" was his response and a window was opened for an extremely chatty 30 minute conversation. (Mother of sons are not used to this.)
I'm slowly morphing into Mom- of -College -Person. I would talk to him every day if I could, not to instruct him on his life or to tell him what to do, but just because I miss his voice, his loud techno music, his messy room, his very smelly socks, and all his friends.
It takes a lot of discipline to be a mom in this new role. I'm learning to give him space, to keep my advice in check, and to become less instructor more cheerleader.
I'm in a unique situation with few of the "omg, my son's a college freshman" fears. (I'll save those for next fall when Stu is a freshman.) Clayton's school cares more about his grades than I do. They care more about his health and what he eats; he can't skip class -ever, and his room has to be spotlessly clean. (I'm still in awe that Clayton received the award for "Best Room in his Company". The last two months of his senior year, I had put a "CONDEMNED" sign on his door.)
Open window moments don't come frequently, and I want be wise enough to recognize them and discerning enough to not force it open myself.
I am pausing from my busy Thursday to paste this "Open Window Encounter" into my mental scrapbook.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Cross-Eyed Trooper

Getting Stuart's driver's license was a three year quest. In hindsight, I know that I started him too soon, even though it's legal at 14. It began well when he passed Driver's Ed and the written test with ease. It was just the driving part that seemed to get in the way. Fact: Our Expedition is as appealing to a young driver as maneuvering an Abrams tank through the mall parking lot. (My first driver got his license at 16 but chose a year-long no-driving strike before conceding to the tank.)
For Stuart, the biggest obstacle was the Cross-Eyed Trooper - Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles self-appointed Gate Keeper. He was fat, tall, and extremely mean. Stuart failed twice under his watch, once out of sheer nervousness. Hated by all, including his co-workers, he handed out failure slips with maniacal glee.
Our third effort to get the license proved successful. I stood in the waiting room praying and peeking. "Please, God, don't let Stuart get the Cross-Eyed Trooper, pleeeease."
Test-givers manned desks horizontally placed before the excessively long line of licensee-hopefuls. One-by-one they were called forward.
"Please, God, please," as Stuart inched his way to the front. "Let it be the smiling, jolly African American Trooper or the woman."
"No, God, no!" as Stuart was called to appear before the Cross-Eyed Trooper.
"Why, God, why?" as Stuart joined the smaller Road Test Group.
Then, I don't how, another Trooper appeared like an angel sent directly from Heaven, and Stuart was ushered out to his test and came back with a pass slip and we laughed and rejoiced and did high fives in line for his license photo and celebrated with a hamburger.
I have Cross-Eyed Troopers in my life...obstacles so scary that I become paralyzed. The Cross-Eyed Trooper means failure. He doesn't go away; he grows meaner and bigger the more I ignore him.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Operating Heavy Machinery

I like to be in control. For this reason even thinking about small, tight places causes my palms to sweat. The "tight space fear" is actually the result of a childhood hide-and-seek game when, while I was hiding in the laundry hamper, my brother sat on top and refused to let me out. Loss of control.
I'm not a fan of flying. I only do it because it takes me fun places; the result trumps the fear. But, I'd much rather have my feet on the ground.
I don't like prescription drugs. If I have a short-term affliction, I'll take something for that (usually has to be quite dire), and if I'm ever struck with a life-threatening disease, okay. But, long term drugs for regular stuff, no way. It represents to me a loss of control.
I especially don't like prescriptions whose bottles caution: May cause drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this drug.
Stuart challenged me on this one, "Mom, when have you ever operated heavy machinery?"
"Are you kidding?" was my appalled response, "A mom needs to be ready to operate heavy machinery at any given time!"
Any mother knows this fact is true. If my children need me, and I am called upon to do so, I need to always be ready to operate heavy machinery. I care not if I have ever done so in the past, this mother of three teenage boys is at all times on standby.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"For More Than Ourselves"

The search for matching comforters, wondering who will bring the 'fridge, the microwave, the X-Box. How will all my clothes fit in that closet? Will I get into the fraternity I want? The list goes on and on in a familiar chorus repeated by anxious college-bound freshmen year after year.
While friends were attending good-bye parties before everyone scatters, while moms were searching Target for dorm furnishing bargains, while class '08 mates were hitting the lake "one last time" and posting Facebook pics of all their adventures; my son was learning how to salute upperclassmen, eat his dinner with 5 chews per bite while keeping his eyes firmly focused on the plate's crest, was getting up at 5 am every day to the sound of a bugle. He was crawling under barbed-wire in the mud, sleeping without ac, going to his postbox wishing for letters in a generation that has no concept of stamps. He was looking forward to each of 3 ten minute phone calls. He was too tired at night, after countless push-ups, memorizing and reciting books worth of knowledge, running 5 miles, shooting guns, throwing grenades,enduring tear gas without a mask, to even dream of home...and all that he was missing...choosing a hard path and desiring to live "for more than ourselves".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sweet Smell of Summer Reading

Before there were public library branches in every neighborhood, there was, in my town, a privately-organized volunteer-run library. Located in the basement of a nearby old building, this library provided my first summer reading experience. I remember with fondness sitting in the street level basement windowsill on summer mornings while my mother did her volunteer shift. The quiet (yes, libraries were deathly quiet in those days...sigh) and the musty smell of a library book imprinted me.
One year I went through about 20 Nancy Drew books, and my mom continued to buy them as quickly as I could turn the pages. In recent times there have been periods of Agatha Christie. No debate, mysteries rule.
Every year I try to reproduce the summer reading feeling...the laziness...the late nights. In June, I scored a 1941 hardback novel. Murder Gives a Lovely Light. The author: obscure. The "Crime Club": now defunct. The smell: that wonderfully musty, library-book smell drew me in again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"It" - The Ninety Second Good-Bye

Have you ever waited a long time for something bad to happen? The bad thing is not desired, yet relief occurs when the event has passed. Such was the infamous "90 Second Good-Bye".
When I first learned of "It" in all its horrific-ness, I cried every time my brain would bring it to remembrance. Throughout the "graduation season", there was a guaranteed cry-fest whenever I mentioned "It" to fellow moms (and dads) of seniors.
Life-altering events always arrive amidst a countdown. Reception Day (R-Day) at West Point was both life-altering and now upon us. The Eve had been spent triple-checking Clayton's duffel bag and eating steak.
Everyone in our hotel was delivering a son or daughter to West Point. There was an uncanny seriousness in the air. However, I was amused that night to view several future New Cadets, mine included, circling the hotel parking lot, cellphones pressed to their ears. Last calls to friends before dropping off civilization's radar for the 7 weeks of Cadet Basis Training (Beast Barracks) soon to come.
The morning "of It" came quickly and early. Soon we were in front of Ike Hall joining the "Long Anxious Line", enduring two hours of chatty stories about any body's West Point experience - complete with embellishments and urban legends. Clayton somberly inched his duffel bag forward, arms folded across his chest "Clayton-style", offering few words.
Groups of 40 soon-to-be New Cadets and their entourages of family were invited chunk-by-chunk into the auditorium for "It", accompanied by a short briefing.
"It" had been peeking its ugly head around the corner for months. I couldn't believe "It" was upon me.
Who can remember what the upfront person said or who-the-heck they were? "It" was coming: I bit the side of my cheek and tried to focus on not being a mom soon to give away her firstborn son.
The "It" lady appeared too soon at the microphone, "You now have 90 seconds to say 'good-bye' ".
Hugs, pats, kisses, tears, admonishments whispered in secret filled the room. In 30 seconds my Clayton, holding his carefully-checked bag, was in line for the transition from civilian to military, separated only by an auditorium door. Twelve hundred ninety two stepped forward that R-Day from comfort, affirmation, hometown hero-status into a new world. On the door's other side, superiors were immediately in their faces barking orders and initiating the longest day of their young lives.
"It" was over.
The door was shut on the past 19 years. The unexpectedness of life...who could have predicted that "It" would end the chapter.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to West Point

So, we were navigating through the NYC asphalt jungle, having splintered into small groups for maximum exploration. China Town, Little India, SoHo, the Village. Re-grouping at our Washington Square rally point caused lunch to rise rapidly to the mission's top priority.
Clayton and I opted for Peanut Butter and Co.*, the other 3 claimed pizza consumed in an out-of-the-way courtyard. Re-charged and ready to continue the urban safari of t-shirts, coffee mugs, quirky hats, and all-things New York; we pressed forward ignoring blistered feet, chaffed thighs, and June heat.
Somewhere in the midst of gritty urbana, taxi exhaust, and big city, we stumbled upon a Greenwich Village sidewalk oasis of culture.
Crumbled cardboard: NY Times Published Poet has Poetry for Sale.
The finer print: A Poem can be Commissioned for $5.00.
"Are you the poet?"
"It is I," he responded, straightening his posture to face his public with uncommon dignity for a man normally mistaken for a toothless vagrant.
His speech was surprisingly eloquent. His expression through poetry moving. I marveled at this discovery of culture amidst the concrete. People continued to pass hurriedly along the sidewalk highway, only briefly noting his humanity. Time suspended for me, and my spirit was opened to a beauty no other passersby could sense.
Often closing his eyes in thoughtful contemplation, words chosen slowly, the poet crafted the poem...for $5.00....
Again the sidewalk highway swept us toward our next espresso; time began once more.
While adding cream and sugar, I wondered if the NY Times Published Poet had ever sold a poem before...or since.

*Peanut Butter and Co. (240 Sullivan St., at W.3rd St., Greenwich Village). Clayton recommends the Peanut Butter & Banana Shake along with the P.B. Sampler of 8 different varieties. I suggest the Grilled P.B. & Banana with Bacon (Elvis Special).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No More Hieroglyphics

On Clayton's first full day of kindergarten I carefully packed the perfect lunch and placed it in his metal Godzilla lunch box. Tucked beneath his sandwich was, of course, a note from Mom. Trouble was, Clayton couldn't yet read so I wrote, "I love you" in hieroglyphics. Then, I drew a picture of me and him hugging one another. He stuffed it in his little pocket, reaching inside throughout the day to remember he was not alone.
This morning, I made Clayton's last school lunch. Tucked beside his sandwich, of course, was a note from Mom... and...just for old time's sake...I added hieroglyphics.
Last night at the Senior High Awards Night, an Army Colonel presented a recognition award to Clayton for his appointment to West Point. The entire crowd gave my son a standing ovation. Pretty awesome.
On my calendar I have a count-down until we say good-by...55 days. The last time I had a count-down of this significance was right before Davis was born, and 2 year old Stuart would announce daily how many more days there were " before the baby chums".
Notes will soon begin to take on significance once again, as Clayton spends the summer at West Point's basic training which is lovingly referred to as "Beast Barracks". During that period, notes will be our only communication...and Clayton has never been very good at it's going to be pretty one-sided. Ironically, we are brought back full-circle to the hieroglyphics era and to a time when it will be important, once more, for him to know he is not alone.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mr. Stretch

I reached out to hug my youngest on his way to school this morning, and , suddenly, he was taller than me. Hold on! When did this happen? He still hasn't put on any beef, mainly because he has the fastest metabolism possible and is never still even though he eats all the time, so I hadn't noticed. Davis is like the "Mr. Stretch" doll that Clayton once had.
Mr. Stretch was so cool. He did exactly what his name indicates. How he could do it was the biggest mystery, until one fateful day.... Clayton made the mistake of taking Mr. Stretch to an outdoor cookout at someone's house. It was one of those gatherings of families where the adults talk and the kids are left to their own entertainment with not much attention paid to them. When it was time to leave, Mr. Stretch could not be found.
We looked and looked for Mr. Stretch to no avail until he was spotted in an unlikely place...a wastecan in an out-of-the-way room...oozing corn syrup from his over-stretched armpit...a victim of older boys' curiosity.
Anyway...Davis is Mr. Stretch without the oozing corn syrup. He keeps getting taller and thinner. When the "baby" passes me in height, I know my job is getting ready to be "phased out". When did this happen?

Broom Man

My neighborhood has a Broom Man. He is perserverence and diligence personified. I have seen him getting off of the city bus at 7:30 a.m., ready to hit the pavement selling his product...brooms... not stopping until they are all sold. I've seen him in 100 plus degree heat, and I saw him today in the cold, misty rain.
Broom Man encourages me. I see him and I want to set goals for myself and work hard to see them become reality. Broom Man births compassion in my heart. I wish I could buy all his brooms, for twice the price, and tell him to go home and have a vacation. I wish I knew Broom Man's real name. I wish he could be the High Profile person in Sunday's paper because I think his life is much more interesting than the life of the incoming Jr. League President or the Riverfest Chairperson, or some banker in a suit talking about his fantasy dinner.
I've lived in this town all my life, and I can not remember a time when there was not a Broom Man. He's been going strong for 40 years. Today...he was looking a bit old...and all-the-more I wanted to buy all his brooms...and send him home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Shoe Tragedy

A shoe tragedy occurred before school this morning. The "star" was my 14 year old Davis who is a passionate person. Since he fell in love with soccer last spring, he is also passionate about his shoes - Nike Vapors. He worked odd jobs for a month in order to buy them last fall. He claims they are the key to his game. He has been so faithful to take care of them, meticulously wiping them after each use. He talks about them, gazes at them with extreme fondness, and wears the soccer pack that came with them everywhere. He's a walking ad for Vapors. He makes them look so cool...even I might want a pair.
Last night was an extremely wet and muddy competition. My passionate Davis was, naturally, the muddiest of all the teammates. His formerly white jersey was black after performing moves that looked like he was playing on a "Slip 'n Slide". After the game, in an effort to once again be a good steward of these "magical" shoes, he cleaned off the mud and, then, set them by the heat's floor vent in order that they might dry and not become mildewed.
Enter tragedy. This morning, he found that the heat had melted the shoe's heals and insoles. They were totally ruined. And he left for school heartbroken and in tears. The last big game is two days away. Two of the star players will not be there. Davis was hoping to step in and save the team...but,now, he is Vapor-less.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


My high school junior year was the first "Greatest Year of My Life". I say "first" because I've had many other "Greatest Years of My Life" since. When the year ended the sadness was doubled by having to say good bye to my buddy Ernie who was leaving for college. I don't know if I had ever cried as hard as I did that night before he left. Ending a great year and a close friendship was a milestone.
Next came my own high school graduation and my very tight group of girl friends, mostly in clumps of 4's and 5's, chose different colleges. We gave gifts to one another and stayed up all night making our final high school memories. We took photos and hugged and cried and laughed until the sun came up. A milestone.
My college best friend got into her packed-to-the-max Toyota, and I watched her car turn into the distance away from four incredible college years. I knew we would always be friends, so I didn't cry. Another milestone.
At this point life began to speed up. Marriage, my first job, our first house. Milestone. Milestone. Milestone.
Suddenly, it was time for kids. No doubt that I wanted children but found it difficult to step into the parental arena. I had not taken much notice of babies and such. People snickered at the thought of my even holding an infant. We had been married 5 years when my husband declared we were at our Children Milepost. Two years later I saw Clayton face-to-face. A milestone.
He was the perfect baby. Thoughts that he might be the second sinless child fluttered through my mind. No child had ever been so special. When he turned two, I took him to the doctor thinking he was sick. My doctor's diagnosis: "Clayton is two." Okay. Only Jesus was sinless. Still...I knew he was very special and was destined for greatness. His first five years his nickname was "Special Boy".
Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Life's inertia pulled me onto the fastest motorway imaginable. I sped past so many mileposts that if I hadn't kept focused I would have missed many. Kindergarten, reading, hitting a baseball across the yard, multiplication tables,my realizing he is his own person with his own will and desires (at that point I wondered if it was possible to not be a parent anymore), first middle school football game, voice changing, passing me in height, hunting with a real gun, drivers license, first date, turning 18 and deciding to take up pipe smoking ( it's all good, no weird tobacco and he has his dad's blessing), West Point acceptance letter, last high school football game.
Without notice all the "firsts" are becoming "lasts". I wish I could close my eyes and not read the inscriptions. But, I know this ,too, is a part of the adventure, and I haven't missed anything thus far, and I'm not planning to start now. Reading the milestones helps me appreciate the journey.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Check Out My New Ringtone

Washington called last night.
My United States Senator called my house to congratulate my son on his United States Military Academy appointment. It was the first official news we had heard regarding his "official" appointment, and it was way cool receiving the news in such a dramatic way.
Routinely checking the answering machine messages, I recognized the United States Senator's voice speaking in my hallway. The first response was joy. The second was... figures we would miss this call. But, after screaming for the whole family to come quickly and having time to process , I was thrilled to have the recording... which we immediately recorded digitally, which we made into a CD, of which we are considering making a ringtone, or perhaps, even broadcasting over a loud speaker from the roof of our historic 1920's Tudor house!
There is no way to take in the significance of the moment. West Point receives 10,000 applications per year, of those 4,000 get Congressional nominations... and only 1000 are accepted into each class. My son will be one of those elite one thousand. I just have to boast because I have never had anything so significant happen in my life ever.
We all have "mountain peak" moments. Setting the state high jump record in the 10th grade was probably my first. Getting married, moving into our first house, the births of 3 sons. This is one, and I have to admit, I've needed a moment like this. I simply feel happy for me and excited for Clayton to be meeting the goal he has had since 9th grade face-to-face... and I am very, very proud.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bicycle Regret

Someone stole my bicycle, and that's really mean. It was a brand-new bike that was found at my favorite neighborhood shop called Hillcrest Junk Company. It still had the spikey- things coming out of the tires. I paid $30 for it and felt like God gave it to me as a special gift.
When spring comes I will be sad about my bike--again. I probably won't spend the money on another one. I only took the time to ride it twice.
I know it's not murder or having a gun put in my face or physical harm coming to me or something extremely traumatic. It was simply a bicycle. But it was my bicycle. And now I'm sad.
I wish now that I had put it on my car's bike rack, taken it down to the River Trail more often. There were some sunny afternoons when its shiny blue paint called out to me, but I did not listen.
No fond memories of time spent together, wind in my hair; I am left, instead, with incredible bicycle regret.