Kay and I were wed on the Palos Verdes peninsula at a scenic, semi-hidden spot called Portuguese Bend. I recall a gorgeous July sunset. She remains the prettiest bride I’ve ever seen (and I’ve got the pictures to prove it). One-hundred friends and relatives witnessed the event, the number dictated by the limited capacity of the unique building. The picturesque, nationally famous, Glass Church, overlooks the Pacific Ocean and was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In spite of the ever shifting ground of Portuguese Bend, the edifice still stands today as beautiful as ever. The denomination is Church of the New Jerusalem, whatever that is, which was founded by some Swiss dude named Swedenborg. The pastor at the time, Robert Young, told me mainline Christians consider them heretics. Whatever: evening star dipping into the Pacific, church, bride, and service were beautiful. |
Having lived a beach bum, self-absorbed, single lifestyle in Southern California, I had no clue as to what a proper husband should be; however, with the benefit good home training and upbringing I was confident I could learn. In addition, Kay (though six years younger) was uncommonly mature, patient, and well-adjusted for a twenty-year-old. Finally today, after decades of marriage and nurturing by a devoted and loving spouse, I can report I finally “got it”.
Of the many blessings we’ve received, the two greatest (by far) were the births of two children—one of each variety. Kay was one of eight children, and desired a big family; however, I have two brothers who (with me) gave our parents more than a few challenging moments with our continuous horseplay and shenanigans. I wasn’t sure I could put up with that on the other end so I was not eager to be a father. We decided to let nature take it course. Turned out either one or both of us happened to be uber-fertile. Kay was pregnant within our first month of marriage. (Yes indeed, my boys can swim!)
When our daughter was born round, pink, and healthy, the event changed my life. I knew women had been giving birth for eons, so what’s the big deal? For me it was looking at that tiny person that Kay and I created. It was overwhelming, and to date the most miraculous and sobering event of my days.
Months later while lying with me on the floor playing, there was a loud noise from outside that startled her. She quickly crawled to the safety of my arms. The burden of the responsibility for keeping her safe hit me like a ton of bricks. I still feel it today. I still worry.
Kay got on the pill for three years until we decided it was time to try for another little one. First week BANG! Kay was pregnant again. Damn!!!
NOTE: Although all children have their moments, our two grew up exceedingly polite and well-adjusted. We could take them anywhere (and did) and depend on them to be happy and calm. Kay’s mother was with me for the first viewing of both children, and very involved in their young lives. I don’t know if that was the reason or not for their exceptionally good behavior, but both had a very special connection with her.
Even then I knew the time with them was fleeting and precious, and thought if I were hyper-aware time would slow down. It didn’t. Soon, too soon, they were gone. No more little girl to take my hand; no more little son to tuck in bed and kiss good night. Gone forever; replaced (seemingly overnight) by attractive and independent adults.
But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Isn’t that our responsibility—to see they turn out that way?
Turn around and they’re gone.
She looks back at me, and beams a confident little smile. / She waves good-bye and skips away singing with twin pony-tails swinging. / It begins, and before I can turn around, she begins slipping through my fingers.
He looks up at me all trusting, and loving me unconditionally. / He holds my hand, and climbs upon my lap wrinkling my trousers. / It begins. I turn around, and I feel him slipping away.
She asks to use the car, happily drives away to meet her friends, and never looks back. / I don’t breathe again until she safely returns. / It goes on, and I can’t stop it. / She’s slipping through my fingers.
He goes away to a school across the country—three years too soon. / My little pal keeps growing, and slipping through my fingers.
I still feel like a young father, yet I know my years are growing short. / Faster and faster the time goes. / Soon I’ll leave before I’m ready still wondering, but not understanding, how quickly they slipped through my fingers.
How swiftly time has passed. / Now to them I’m but a fleeting thought. / But I dream of them every night—they’re still small; they still need me. / Then I wake to the reality that my little ones have forever slipped through my fingers.
I hear steps of The End approach. / The autumn chill is upon me. / Winter’s cold can’t be far behind followed by that final sunset and endless sleep alone. / Time has slipped between my fingers and come to an end.
What jogged me into this train of reflective thought was a dream I had two nights ago. See, I dream every night, and they are almost always nonsensical and silly. Whenever the kids appear their ages are always about five or six. Why? Who knows? Anyway, this particular reverie was scary and frustrating. I was in a parking garage at LAX with several of my present day associates, and somehow couldn’t find my daughter. She was either lost or (and I feared this was really the case) abducted. We searched and searched only to become more and more frustrated. What an empty, sickening feeling!
I awoke with the same feeling, and wondered why I had that dream.
Sometime during my morning run, I figured it out. It was to remind me of how blessed I was to have two healthy children in my life and see them grow into adulthood. It was to remind me to stop bitching and moaning about “what I don’t have”. It was to remind me of how fortunate I was to have escaped some deranged criminal’s activity or not to have been born in some place like Uganda where husbands watched their wives and children murdered before them.
When it comes to what really matters, I am among the most fortunate of individuals on Earth. But…I still miss them. See, the real problem was they grew up and I didn’t.
Copyright 2011 by Gene Myers. All rights reserved.
Related Articles -
Glass Church, births, children, blessings,