Friday, July 8, 2016

Turn Around

This week Christian Grant Cole turned four years old. Carla, his mom, couldn’t believe he is four already. Neither could I, nor that his sister, second name Thomas for me, is up and toddling about; but the camera doesn’t lie about Christian and Victoria Thomas Catherine anymore than it unfortunately does not lie about me (hey, who was that old creature hiding under the clergy robes and Navy commander hat?). Seeing them growing up and up, and knowing a parent's feelings, brings to mind not only Christian’s first few days at hospital four years ago, with our apprehensions that folded out blessedly into no worries, but stirs a song. In a puddle of emotion marking a sentimental, melancholy old fool kept hidden from the world, I printed it here before. 

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you're two, 
Turn around and you're four,
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of my door.
Turn around, turn around, 
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of my door.

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Little dirndls and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you're tiny,
Turn around and you're grown, 
Turn around and you're a young wife with babes of your own.
Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you're a young wife with babes of your own.

It doesn’t only happen with our little girls: where do you think you're going, Christian, stand still, boy! But stand still doesn't happen: I well remember when Joe —  who arrived here last evening for his twice-yearly all too short visit, and tomorrow we'll all be in Apalachicola with Joe and our girls to celebrate Linda's birthday — I recall standing in the driveway of our Pennsylvania home on the Conodoguinet Creek watching as Joe drove off into his own life in which I would thereafter be peripheral. GF, Army, Dianne, Nicholas, Patty, Harley … It does get better, if you live long enough, as I am doing in spite of myself, pass the salt anyway.

From Pennsylvania some years later, we moved to Florida, made Apalachicola home for fourteen years, Linda and I finally now home in Panama City -- Kristen grew up in spite of me -- and after sixteen years we downsized to 7H. Friends Pat and Bob are doing the same next week, Apalachicola to Tallahassee. Middle-aged with us but no longer, they’ll be happy there. As for me, I’m as far from StAndrewsBay and the Gulf of Mexico as I ever intend to live again. 


Again said before from this blog, I remember my joy at being dropped off at the University of Florida on my eighteenth birthday, September 1953 to become my own person, only to receive a few days later, a letter from my father saying my mother had cried all the way home. What goes round comes round: I remember too, how happy Tass was that day of my until then worst such trauma, August 1990, leaving Tass at her college in Virginia and driving on up “home” to Pennsylvania for a visit: my next morning at the park by the Susquehanna River, just me and the groundhog watching me watch ... It was indistinguishable from grief, the anguish consuming me for months. Cling we may, but once we leave them at college, or they head off some other way, they no longer belong to us, but to themselves. Saved from 2013, the Michael Gerson piece came across my computer while contemplating happy birthday for Christian. Gerson said it well.

If we're lucky, blessed, it’s the worst thing that life does to us: turn around, and they’re gone.   

20160708 Friday. 83° 78% Wind SW 8 mph. Clear at 7H.


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