by Gary Torres
There were a couple of things that shook me up this week. First, this last Friday and Saturday was the annual father-son outing. This is the first year I didn’t have a son to take with me. Due to a series of circumstances, alas all my kids are somewhere else.
Second is that as my too kind and loving wife and I woke up Sunday morning… Mother’s Day and those same circumstances still had all our kids away from home.
This, coupled with my oldest daughter (Katie, not Nikki) getting married this Saturday and I am reeling from all the changes that are hitting me. I am as wide-eyed as a deer caught in the headlights.
There are no titles given to a man greater than dad. There was a time when I used to wish it away because I had “more important” work to get done. Now, I don’t recall what work that might have been; probably something as fleeting as mowing the grass or staining the deck.
I have clear and fond memories of my two boys anxiously waiting at home so we could go to the father-son campout, driving their mother crazy with “When is dad getting home?” and checking the sack full of snacks for the hundredth time. Today, memories were all I had as I moped around the house.
I stopped by the in-laws, thinking that maybe they might invite me to go along as they had two boys and only one dad; surely they could do the math and see that really the father-son ratio was low. Besides they had enough snacks to feed everybody at a Jense Nielson reunion.
But, there is only one requirement for a father-son outing and that is a father and a son. Although, many a wise Bishop has extended the invitation to those that have only sired girls; but mostly, that is so they can have some real man-bonding experiences. Because, face it, you never get to eat jerky or tell your daughter to go play in the creek and try to drown the neighbor’s kid at a father-daughter outing.
This is the first father-son outing I have missed in 20 years and I had an emptiness in me bigger than Wyoming. But, it was nothing compared to my too kind and loving wife.
If you could take heartache and loneliness and package it up for food, there would be no hungry in the world as my too kind and loving wife woke up Sunday morning with no one to be a mother to. No white shirt to iron, no missing black Sunday shoe to find, no ears to inspect for dirt. A wash cloth in that woman’s hand is a lethal weapon on Sunday morning.
Sure, each of the kids had sent a card and called and they all sounded so happy with their adventures. We couldn’t begrudge them their life, their happiness, their opportunities and challenges. But where is the first grade art project that is supposed to hang on the fridge? Where is the Third-grade flower that has been nurtured so carefully at school from a seed?
The flower is usually in a hand painted milk carton and is so proudly brought in at the crack of dawn with a hand touching her face asking, “Do you like it Mom? I made it. It wilted a little because I hid it under the bed.”
So, there we are on the deck, looking out on a grand view of the mountain; but, we are looking over the horizon to a place called Yesterday. Both of us a little somber, perhaps pensive, afraid to infringe on the quietness, wondering why we used to always wish that we could have a nice calm and quiet brunch with strawberries and other delicacies.
I can still remember back to when we used to envy our friends that had dogs instead of kids, because they would ask us to a movie or dinner or a nice calm and quiet brunch with strawberries and other delicacies and we always had to decline because we were too busy trying to make dinosaur pancakes, attending a basketball game, or we were going to the annual father-son outing.
Time is as consistent as gravity. Sometimes, I want to slow time down because I have so much to do, but each bright day slips away into gray evening. So if you have kids at home, give them a hug.
In fact, my advice is to skip mowing the grass or staining the deck and instead get grass stains on your knees because you took the time to play with your daughter that is now two years old; because tomorrow she will be getting married.
Because one day, you’ll wake up and all you will have is a quiet brunch with strawberries and other delicacies.