March 4, 2006: We are immersed in the sounds of our youngest son's home...how they fill an empty nest's void with warm-blooded life. Spurts of a new era's activity commingle with frames unreeling from his youth, back when daily conundrums and giggles spoke of mischief, Kodak moments, and boundless energy.
Twilight's dying flame silhouettes Grandma and Grandpa, curled up on a plush, brocade couch. Surrounded by family photos and the warmth of a glowing fireplace, with a mug of my favorite tea, any uneasiness is melted away on our first visit since their recent move.
Our only grandson, five, moves like precision animation as he kneels on the family room's soft brown carpet. He constructs some intricate robot in his adroit and meticulous manner. The child is intense in every mood, definitely master of his own destiny.
Sounds of our son's home rest easy through recognizable voices and familiar faces, words pieced together from a different time and place. Our vivacious daughter-in-law flows with noises in a distant kitchen. Clatter of cookware and dishes denote a tedious chore, considering her small size.
Honored as a "special guest," a role which is becoming familiar, I begin to see the virtue in it. Scents linger of our grown son's perfectly grilled steak, her succulent cheesy potato dish, and ice cream melting on portions of her perfect peach pie.
They speak of Lenten sacrifices, mother and child. There's pride in her adherence to traditions of the observance of Lent..."for Jesus," she tells him, her eyes meeting his in the rush of kindred blood between them.
Our son busies himself outside on a brick-floored patio, where clusters of dormant pampas grass stiffly yearn for drab gold's transformation to spring's fluttering wings of white. He replenishes bird feeders, the first guest a raucous bluejay.
As his son hears the handle opening the door of the breakfast nook, his bare feet pitter-patter across the cool ceramic floor to a curved wall of tall windows. There, feeders and their avian visitors hold a captivated audience.
Here comes Grandma with her ever-present camera, to capture her grandson and companion terrier Truman as they peer out and envision a renewed world turned green and basted with sparkling dew, their first spring in this place.
There in a dormant flowerbed stands the crude, metal garden art, a long-legged rooster with a weed shears beak and a rake's head for a feather span. Just this afternoon, against the black iron fence, dad had secured the brightly painted oddity, brought home from an art gallery we had visited after lunch in a quaint Chicago suburb. The boy was delighted with it!
Sounds of our son's household, alive with busy routine, make the grandparents feel at home. Faces are illuminated by the movie we share before bedtime, soon revealing a sleeping child in his parents' arms...the one destined to carry on the grandfather's lineage.
In a "guest" room, tucked away under a starry sheath, home's restful hush is enhanced by seconds of a clock falling away. Truman's paws trounce up and down the hallway on his final inspection for the night. Familiar sounds of a husband deep in slumber bestow a final blessing on the day.
March 5, 2006: Early in the morning, in the nuance of fond farewells and butterfly kisses, the elder couple that we are, married for forty-one years, departs as visitors passing through.
In my grown son's hug and kiss - reaching down to me now - the distant, sweet, little child appears with scraped knee, wind-blown hair, and his clumsy bouquet of dandelions, reaching upward toward his young mother's adoring face as yet unscathed by loving too deeply.
In letting go, a family grows in its own way...and a wise mother moves forward to another season of her life. To be a guest in your son's home is prearranged by divine providence.
The mother is usually the last to know.