Just Like That

The house is quiet tonight.  It wasn’t so at this time twenty-four hours ago.

The giggles of little girls crept around the corners of doorways and grew into raucous laughter that sailed into the other rooms of the house as the four young ladies enjoyed a game of cards.  They sat at the dining room table, their bowls of ice cream before them and broke into song, the lovely young voices disturbing the ghosts in this old house of almost-old people.

But, sleepovers end with the arrival of morning light, and visits from relatives come to a screeching halt with the last tearful goodbye and a quick squeeze.

Silence descends.  Once again, the Lovely Lady and I sit, our feet almost touching as she stitches and I doze.

If I may be so forward, I’m going to share a secret.  You won’t tell anyone, will you?

It’s not the manly man thing to admit, but I’m going to say it anyway.

I miss the girls.  Already.

Funny.  I dreaded them coming to visit.

Old age creeps up like that, you know.  First, the empty nest and its accompanying blue periods.  The excitement of ball games and concerts, of proms and ACT tests, is missing from everyday life.  The arguments over bedtimes and haircuts, and the bustle of school mornings and the cemetery-like silence of Saturday middays, all are suddenly over.  Done.

Just like that.  Done.

Time moves on–a year, then ten–and another reality takes the place of children and constant action.  The house is a lot cleaner.  And, I like that.  Bedtime is more calm.

“I’m going upstairs now.  Good night.”

No shouting, no arguing about who gets the shower first–or last.

I like life like this.  It’s peaceful.  Calm even.

Why did she ever invite those girls to stay for all that time?  Aren’t there motels in this town?

The dread built for weeks ahead of their visit.  Then, another bolt from the blue comes.  A sleepover with even more girls?  Absolutely not!

Oh.  It’s already arranged.  Whatever.

They arrived five days ago, charging into the house to bury their heads in my chest as they shouted my name.  I suppose they did the same to their aunt, the Lovely Lady.  I just remember that I was suddenly thinking about how glad I was to have those noisy girls in this quiet old house.

girl-42353_640Wet swimming suits on racks, laptop computers recharging in the corner, and heat lamps left on in the bathroom. . .

It’s all coming back to me now.  I like having children in the house.

But, the five days flew by and their visit is over.  Done.

Just like that.  Done.

Even pizza with a couple of the grandchildren wasn’t enough to capture the feeling in this ancient house for long this evening.

It is quiet.  Too quiet.

If you’ve followed my writing for very long, you know I live inside my own head a good bit.  There are memories flying around in there that only I recall.  Tonight, I am remembering being a young father again and I have trapped a couple of jewels of wisdom I want to give away.

You’ve heard the first one before.  There are a lot of ways it has been said, but this is my perspective on those years, seemingly now gone beyond recall for me:

Grab hold of the time you have with your family at home and live it out–to the last minute, to the last hug, to the last tear.

Every moment we have with them is a gift from our Creator.  Every moment.

While you’re at it, grab that foam-rubber pool noodle and have a sword fight with the kids.  Blow bubbles on the front porch.  Play the piano as they stumble through the trumpet solo.  Get on the ground and look for a four-leaf clover with them.  Smile as you teach them to drive a stick-shift car.  Even if you’re terrified.  Smile.

Come to think of it, there is an item or two on that list that I can still do with the future generations coming up.  Not the stick shift thing, though.

I am still alive.  I may need to grab hold of another moment or two before I sink down into that easy chair for good.

What’s that?  Am I forgetting something?

Oh.  The other jewel of wisdom.

Don’t dread what’s in the future.

Take life as it comes.  There are some events which will be less pleasant than others.  A lot less pleasant.  They are part of the process.

Every moment is a gift from the Creator.  Every moment.

You may actually enjoy the next one.

Try it.  Because these days too, will fly and soon be over.

Just like that.  Done.

“How did it get so late so soon?”
(Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) ~ American writer/poet ~ 1904-1991)

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
(Ecclisiastes 3:1 ~ ESV)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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