If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Heart strings

Part of the reason I do Living History is that we did it when I was a kid. As a little girl I was as comfortable in a chemise and petticoat as I was in jeans and a t-shirt. I still am, for that matter. These days, it's a thing I do with my dad and, most times, my kids. Some dads and daughters fish together; some work on cars. My dad and I dress up in 18th century clothes, sleep in a tent, and choke on wood smoke while we try to brew coffee.

I was reading over breakfast this morning. I'm back to 'Breath of Snow and Ashes'* after the hiatus to read 'The Fiery Cross', which I accidentally skipped. I had just finished my peanut butter toast and was working on my third cup of coffee when a sentence fragment grabbed me by the heart: "...hid his tear-stained face in Ian's buckskin shirt." Instantly I could smell the warm leather, dust, and sweat, and I wept right then and there. It's the same reaction I have when I watch The Patriot. When they get to the part right after Gabriel's wedding, when he and Benjamin are heading back to the militia, and Susan runs after them, crying, "Papa, Papa, don't go! I'll say anything you want!" I cry every single time because I know how it feels: strong, protecting arms, the smell of warm wool, scratchiness against my face. Very few things move me to tears on a consistent basis, but that does.

Since I turned 40, I find myself thinking about things differently. For so many years I've been focussed on my kids and home. Now the kids are nearing adulthood; I have four more years before Vicky is legally an adult. More and more often I think about my parents, and I wonder how long it will be before I get the first phone call: Your parent needs you. Come right away.

I remember when Mom got the first call. I was about 17, and Grandpa had a stroke. She was gone the next morning. Grandpa was all right, but he was never the same. In some small way, none of us were.

I'm so grateful to still have my parents, to have time to get to know them as people, not just as Mom and Dad. I'm grateful that I live within a reasonable driving distance and at the same time, I wish we were closer. Modern conveniences allow us to communicate easily, and distance is nowhere near the issue that it was even fifty years ago. Still, long distance communication is no substitute for strong arms and the smell of warm wool.

*From Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series. Of course, Dad recommended it!

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Anonymous Danny Ing said...

Communication tech is good but I agreed that being there for your beloved family and friends is better.

2:01 PM  

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