Monday, April 30, 2012

It's a Memory Thing

April 28, 2012 – Orlando, Florida. A family of 4 makes their way to the bus stop in the early morning of a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Florida. The day promises plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures typical of the time of year. This family has prepared for the day with backpacks of water and snacks, chapstick and sunscreen. Comfortable clothes and shoes, hats and sunglasses finish off their ensembles. They will never be mistaken for locals – they are tourists even though they are residents of the very state they are vacationing in. They join the small crowd beginning to form at the bus stop all anxiously awaiting the excitement the day will bring. The crowd consists of people of every shape and size, color and nationality – young and old alike – all drawn here for the same purpose as this family: to experience theme parks like never before, sharing memories that will last a lifetime, some etched more permanently in their psyche than others. The matriarch of our family closely watches the younger children among the crowd, remembering what it was like bringing her own small children to this land of wonder and magic. Princes and princesses in the making. This early in the morning the children are awake and happy, the parents are yet to be tired and less than patient. She now has a grandchild about the age of these young ones and is at once feeling longing for not having her here now and gratitude that she will not have one so young to look after all day. She reaches back in her mind as she looks at her own grown children for a memory from not so long ago involving these same 2 bright-eyed girls and this same land of magic and her heart lurches for a moment. On a day much like this one some 10 or more years ago, this same family was taking a much needed break from the magic, lunching in a restaurant in one of the parks. The 2 small children with them were tired, cranky and not easily settled even in the coolness and quiet of the area where they sat. Seated next to this family was yet another family of 4 much like theirs, but different. The children were grown – or almost. The parents were older and more distinguished. No one looked haggard or tired or sounded cranky or ill-tempered. They enjoyed lunch, each laughing and making memories of their own. Our matriarch looked over and with some wistfulness and wishful thinking looked forward to the day when her own were that age and maybe park hopping would not be a dreaded word. But for the moment, she turned her attention back to her own brood and tucked away the thought. So as she waited with her family for the bus to arrive on this beautiful spring day this memory came bouncing forward and clutched at her brain. Without even realizing the time that had passed, she and her husband had become that couple with the 2 grown daughters, each laughing and making memories of their own. No one looked haggard or tired or sounded cranky or ill-tempered. Each was excited for what the day would bring. She holds back a tear knowing that as her family continues to change, the dynamics will change along with them. College and careers may hold their attention for a while; spouses will be added at some point; more grandchildren maybe. And so the family of 4 will shrink and expand and shrink again. This time, she looks over to see an older couple with no children or others in tow. Just the 2 of them, together, enjoying some much needed retirement moments. And she at once longs for that day but wants to hold it off just a bit longer as that will mean her brood has gone to live their own lives and begin their own memories. She hears the bus coming and tucks away this new memory…for now.

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