Last night as he prepared for bed, Zorro asked me “What is your anniversary?”
“It’s when we celebrate the day our marriage began, our wedding day,” I reply.
“Oh,” He says. “Like when George Washington won?”
I chuckle. “Um… no. More like a birthday celebrates when your life began.”
He frowns. “Well, if George Washington hadn’t won I bet you’d never have gotten married. So you have to celebrate that when you celebrate your wedding day.”
It was a moment to gather. I’ve been gathering moments off and on for a long time now. I never know when one will occur, but when one occurs I try to just close my eyes and capture it. I narrate it again in my head. I collect a scent, a color, a feeling to connect with that moment, and then file it away. My growing collection of memorable moments grounds me to all that matters in my life, and is one habit I hope to always maintain.
This time of year is particularly replete with memories.
11 years ago two teenagers began exchanging letters, and I discovered The Scarlet Pimpernel, a book that left me forever changed.
10 years ago I was travelling south with my mother, preparing to spend a few weeks with relatives and reading Pride and Prejudice aloud to her as she drove. It was on this trip I began chatting online with the young man who had been writing to me for the last year. When I returned home he found the courage to call me.
9 years ago I was walking down the aisle to marry that same young man, and a few hours later we had loaded his old pick-up truck with my pets and belongings. We were driving west, and I was gathering moments as fast as they happened.
Every year since we have celebrated that momentous day, and the moments have gathered. So we have arrived at today, which was a day for the record books. A day overflowing with so much love, so many moments, so much LIFE, that I have to preserve it forever.
There was a library book sale today, and My Man had to work. Nevertheless, he flatly refused all my attempts to sacrifice the book sale so that he might rest. Off he went to work and did what he needed to do, came home early, and drove us to the city. Then my dear, tired husband surprised us all by asking the children to please go on an adventure with him, and I entered the library with nothing more than my purse to tend to. A moment to gather close.
I’m gathering up the last of my treasures when the children file into the room ahead of their father. The baby smells strongly of blueberry. He carries boxes of books as easily as he carries the baby, this man of mine. THe children chatter as we load back into the van, begging to hunt through the boxes and discover treasures of their own. I hand each one a book once they’re buckled in: Old Mother West Wind for Zorro, a biography of Annie Oakley for Rosie, a picture book for Boo.
In honor of our anniversary, Red Lobster offers Endless Shrimp this time each year, and we almost always go. The children know our waitress, and are chatty.
“I’m making a Super Club,” announces Zorro. “We will learn to be super heroes. There won’t be any girls allowed.”
“Yea.” Rosie chimes in earnestly. “It’s really interesting. I’m going to betray the girls, so he’s going to let me be part of it.”
She looks a little hurt when her father and I start laughing, so we quickly stop. But I look into her tender, determined little face and then I close my eyes briefly. A moment to gather.
Our meal is rich with giggles, hand-holding, a few stolen kisses, cutting up food, trips to the restroom and oodles of shrimp. We laugh as Pumpkin tries to wield a fork, and I feel secretly proud when I see that Rosie has brought her new book along to read.
Afterwards we go to the grocery store. Pumpkin is sleepy, so into the baby wrap she goes. I remember my first trip to the grocery store with My Man and his family, when he goofed off and rode the buggy down the aisles, exuberant and amusing. “What have you done to my brother?” his brother asked me. I had smiled, pleased to realize I affected him so, and gathered the moment. It comes back to me as I watch him gathering the children, reining in their exuberance and pushing his buggy more sedately this time. He reaches out and gently tucks the wrap up to hold a sleepy head against my back. “Walk properly, young man,” I hear him say. I smile secretly.
He stops for milkshakes on the way home, but I don’t want one. Later he waves his under my nose. “Are you sure you don’t want any?” he asks. It’s mint chocolate chip, so I take a sip. He chuckles. “You’re so predictable, my dear.” I pretend to glare at him. This moment seems familiar. It has played out many times over the years.
Back at home he stops the van at the end of the driveway. We can save ourselves a long walk if we check the mail before we drive to the house. We both hop out of the van before realizing the other has also exited the van, and the race is on. He beats me to the mailbox, but the mailbox is empty. I gloat, and am soundly tickled for it. Then it’s a race back to the van. He wins again. Breathless, I climb into my seat.
Boo pipes up. “Yay, Mommy! You won!”
“What? He sounds miffed. “How did Mommy win?”
“You won before. Mommy won last of all,” she says emphatically.
“I like her logic!” I say. This time he’s the one who pretends to glare. A moment to gather.
Back at home, more serious matters take over once again. He’s realized that he’ll be working every weekend for a while and he’s a bit discouraged. I’m mentally running through our days, trying to discover how to best use the time he’ll be at work so that we can better enjoy the times when he’s home. The children run outside, finally free of the excitement and confines of the city.
Dusk is falling when I hear loud cries from out of doors. Boo is desperately calling for Rosie. I go to the porch to see what the fuss is about and discover that she is alone on the path, with our flock of geese headed towards her. Before I can decide to save her, I watch her make two fists and bravely wipe her tears away. Slowly, she stands up straighter, the way we’ve been teaching her. She spreads her arms wide, sticks her neck forward, hisses quietly. A young goose moves aside. She waves her arms a bit, hisses louder and steps towards the geese. They look worried now, retreating behind the gander. She herds them like a pro, allowing them enough space that they don’t feel threatened, but intimidating them enough that they want to leave. When the path is clear, she drops her arms and runs on along, a smile of accomplishment on her face. “I scared the geese by myself!” she announces to the world. I feel a surge of pride. A moment to gather.
I return to the house and find that Baby Pumpkin has discovered my stack of book sale treasures. It’s the perfect moment to end a day pf moments, and this time I manage to snag a picture. Like mother, Like daughter, I suppose. 🙂