He moves a little slower now. But hard work will do that to a man. His joints creak now when he gets out of our double bed. But he has sinew on his arms, like rope stretched round an old post many times over. Losing none of its strength simply looking a little more worn. Hands that I’ve seen lift a 100 pound sack of feed as if it were a plaything, and yet wet a cloth to wash my face while I’m ill with the delicate ease of a doctor. You see the cowboy stars on television who perform seeming impossible shots with their western rifles. I’ve seen him fire a bullet hole in a bullet hole from a place so far away I couldn’t even see the cross mark. A man we know carries the target in his wallet , that my husband once shot as proof that he knows a man who can shoot ” a hole into a hole.” I’ve dreamed a dream up in my mind and said , ” If I wanted a shelf that looked like this and went here in this space, would you build it for me?” . And out of spare wood from the yard, and his pure imagination , he can build it, and stain it and make it a work of art. His boys think he is the strongest, tallest , smartest, best Daddy in the world. And why not? He’s taught them how to catch a fish with just a string, a hook, and a worm. How to walk tall in a world full of people who tell them differently. They know how to shake hands with a man when saying hello, and how to open a door for a lady. He’s taught them how to skip rocks, crack a Bible, kneel in prayer, and if need be, how to throw a punch. He’s told them you always love your Lord, your Momma, and your neighbor, and IN that order. I first laid eyes on him when I was 16, and told my friend, I’m gonna’ marry that man, and I did. He has been my light on some very, very dark nights, given me two amazing children, been my laughter when I am down, my lover, my strength on some days when I thought I didn’t want to go on anymore, and always, always, my BEST FRIEND. Today he is 48 , and I love him more now than I did that September day when I first saw him across the churchyard. Happy birthday babe, you are my everything.
It’s so rainy , grey and cold here today. The boys got up feeling under the weather , grey and cold too. They grabbed their big soft comforters and and rolled themselves up like hedgehogs on the sofa with me. Not long after the dogs decided that we looked warm and comfy also. I am left with a tiny corner perched with my laptop . It is so very quiet. Only the sound of the rain on the tin roof, and two little ( not really so little anymore) boys breathing,soft as fairies’ breath, interspersed with a tiny dogs snores. The boys are 15 and 13 now and I can’t help but think , I must grab this moment to myself . For how much longer will they lay with me on the sofa in the mornings? Bittersweet, and magical , two dark heads, once both tiny enough to lay on my breast at the same time , now hang off the sofa , at all angles. They still hug me , and give kisses. And aren’t so absorbed with girls that I am a side note already. I know it is coming.
I see the glances my 15 year old gives the sweet young things at church. They smile at him with that look that only a teenage girl can have. Knowing . Even if I weren’t his mother , I would know he were handsome. Raven-haired and crystal green eyes , with just the right amount of cleft in his chin. And oh, his smile. But he doesn’t know he attracts them. He sees only friends who “happen” to be girls. I smile to myself.
My 13 year old , curls of black, with eyes so blue you could touch the ocean in them, finds solace in quiet places . He is not a social butterfly, and wishes nothing more than for girls to be on another planet somewhere at this point in his life. But they secretly smile for him too. They see that he is shy, so they don’t invade his space , but they watch him from afar , and whisper behind their hands to one another. The rumors get back to me. I gently tease him , and he rolls those beautiful eyes at me.
But this morning I shall soak up every precious , beautiful moment , while they are here, and belong wholly to me. Even though as I lay here typing , my legs are totally asleep from the combined weight of boy and dog . I have never had a happier moment.