Last night as I was trying to rock Molly Mae to calm down before bed time, she picks her head up off my chest and grabs my hands as she sways her body back and forth. It is a beautiful thing when as a mother I know how to communicate with my girl without words. I knew what she wanted... me to sing the Tennessee State University fight song with her. She was having a memory of being with either Nana or Daddy Doug singing this to her every night. I'm not sure why they started it except we have, as a family, always loved this school, especially their band and the football games. The songs ends in the crescendo of Hallejuiah WOO. And, Molly started saying Hallelujah because she heard it at Miss Diana's during the school year when the older kids leave to get on the bus so the younger kids start their day. It is funny to me that one of her first five words was Hallelujah learned in a joking way.
Anyway, all these little tidbits of details go into the sharing of special moments between my parents and my daughter, the making of a memory for Molly Mae. The moments and the memories charcaterize our annual summer trip to TN. I began to think about Precious Memories with Anna Cate as the two of us were riding home from a trip to the country. We were so far out that we couldn't pick up a radio station, so I dug around in the car for a cd and found a gospel collection by Jerry Lee Lewis, including this song. While the version was new to me, the song was familiar....Precious Memories. The song, the experience of making them, and treasuring them are all intimately woven into the grooves of my existence. The song was sung at my beloved Granny's funeral, the one with whom I'd shared so many of life's special moments, making memories. How they ever flood my soul.
Back to the moments which molded our memories. Anna Cate was invited by Daddy's long-time friend and secretary Rita for a visit to the country with her granddaughter, Abby.
They rode horses, fed catfish, and took a bath outside. It was a great trip to the country.
She took a bath outside in the hose because I refused to let her walk in Rita's home after she did the unthinkable.....went swimming in the pond.
A very dirty pond. When we walked down to the pond with the horses to feed the catfish, Anna Cate immediately forgot about the horse and the fish. She wanted in that water.
At first I thought absolutely not when she asked to get in with her clothes on, but then I thought, "what the heck? This is a fun moment for her!" Moments to Memories.
Sacred Scenes Unfold...
AC had another swimming-in-her-clothes experience when Daddy took Anna Cate in a boat fishing one evening. According to her it was an accident that she fell in, but I'm thinking likely story. The story I do believe is that she caught some fish, including the biggest fish caught that day between the two of them. I believe it because I saw it on his camera.
We packed in time to see some dear friends (although not everyone I would have liked to, so I'm sorry if we missed you) in between some time to relax and visit. We went to Kentucky to see our dear friends, Whitney and Sue, and their families.
I wrote about this friendship here after last year's visit.
This one was just as special and dear with some more interaction between Jake and Molly.
Kate and Anna Cate act like they see each other all the time.
Watching their few yet familiar moments together is almost like reliving my memories with Whitney.
Scenes from my chilhood in fond memory appear.
From running to motherhood, working and living, Whitney is such a source of inspiration and comfort for me as a friend. It is so good to connect in person.
Unseen angels sent from somewhere to my soul
On the way back home, we stopped to see BJ's grandparents for lunch at the Cracker Barrell. It is sweet to see my children have great-grandparents. It is rare and special.
We often hear that Anna Cate looks like Shirley Temple so we picked up a set of movies at the Cracker Barrell (what a fun gift shop!) and I forgot how much I love the movie "The Little Princess."
We cherished visiting with old and new friends.
We met up with my Aunt Joan and her husband, Quin.
A highlight for us was our one-day trip the Tennesee Aquarium with my mother, sister-in-law Becki, and niece Kitty. Becki's mother works there and was a fabulous host,
a wealth of information, and a great ambassador for the treausures in that repository of nature's (God's) aquatic masterpieces.
Molly and Kitty enjoyed it, too.
(I'm pretty sure this above is the coolest picture I've ever taken)
Beth took Anna Cate to a special viewing area to see and talk about the penguins and show her a real penguin egg and talk about each penguin by name and tell their details.
Anna Cate was much more concerned that Hercules (male penguin) mated with one female last year and a different one this year. Now, she doesn't understand "mating" but did ask what they do when they are married and why would he cheat. Beth tried to explain so much fascinating information to her and she said, "so when they are married, they swim together, and now he is swimming with another girl." Or, "Will they get back together next year?" And who is boyfriend and girlfriend now? Beth tried to explain that this time of year, they are all just friends. I could worry that she is easily distracted or misses the point because she talked about the relationships of these penguins for hours after we got home. I'm thinking Anna Cate is going to be a Humanities type gal like her mom.
We went to the butterfly garden and Beth planned it out perfectly so that she could release one of the newly transformed butterfly. (I'm not sure exactly what the scientific term is for when they slip out of the cocoon, but we watched them through a glass window and then a guy brought them out).
It hung around a bit before taking flight which thrilled Anna Cate.
It was a lovely day to spend with the women in my family.
On our "off" days, the girls enjoyed just being in Daddy Doug or Nana's presence. When Molly woke up she went running through the house yelling, NANA NANA NANA NANA! When Daddy came home for lunch, Molly rushed him with a hug and Anna Cate greeted him with witty conversation topics or ways to connect. Mom's summer garden is gorgeous, hard work and a fun playground.
Douglas, my brother, Becki and Kitty have moved "to town" and live on the same street as my parents in a gorgeous home with a vintage Southern charm front porch fit for summer relaxation or Bates banter.
They treated us to a fabulous meal our last evening with several courses of delicacy, each paired with the right wine for both the season and the palate thanks to my brother's exquisite taste and his mother's flair for entertaining.
More sacred than the savory meal and spiffy presentation
was the satisfcation of being with family.
I hope our children can have some of the same fondness for each other's presence that Douglas and I do, but I know that ....
As I travel on life's pathway, I know not what the years may hold.
So I enjoy the moments we all have together now.
(those are my wine glasses, not Kitty's)
It is around this family in my childhood home, I find myself most grateful for the presence of and the opportunity to create precious memories with family. (Although I did miss BJ and often felt a little uncomplete in a gathering without him.) I want the chance to create many more, but I know we are not promised anything, so I cherish the ones we have with each other now.
As I ponder, hope grows fonder.
In reflecting upon the moments I'm experiencing with my children as they are making memories, I've realized that the beauty is magnified by a child's ability to completely live in the moment. Maybe that is why childhood memories are so precious: those are the times in our life when we were most present for the joy of the moment.
It occurs to me that we should all live our moments fully in the act of making a memory, for it is the moments and the memories that will flood my soul....and theirs.