New and old.
I did nothing new last week.
The children did though. They finished their first full week of school. It was a transition period for the students and teachers, as we all muddle our way through school in times of Covid.
There’ve been no protests in our house about uniforms, nor about the earlier wake-up. L has been the most eager out of the three to return to the school environment, even waiting by the door to see if anyone had arrived in school by 0830, a good 30 minutes before the music starts (yes, music. No bell. Music). Once he spots a flash of blue and maroon (surprisingly, a very nice color combination for a uniform, I must say), he would find me to ask if he could leave for school, eager again to be part of a community.
I’m now hearing new names in the house, and the dinner table is once again about sharing experiences unique to each of us.
Even the homeschooling young adult is benefitting from school being back by escaping with his dad for a day by the beach. It fed MY soul that my husband and our oldest child had that time together. Just them. Knowing they’re spending the day together reminded me of a conversation with a fellow adoptive mother on our first visit to Guatemala.
“These relationships aren’t natural. They need to be created.”
She spoke specifically of that between an adoptive parent and her child. I will disagree gently because I think all relationships need to be created, strengthen and maintained. We pass into each other’s lives by chance, by fate, by the grace of God, but to stay involved with one another, that takes effort and intention.
One of the things I had the hardest time doing in our move to Australia was to dispose of letters I had saved for decades. I rarely go back to read any of them, but I feel a sense of responsibility to keep the thoughts and words of people who felt – at one point in their lives – that I deserve to the know their stories.
I found my father’s short notes to me. He was not a letter writer, but his large elegant script is distinct in my collection. I’ll keep those forever. Found letters my mother wrote to me while I studied in England, full of sage advice with the occasional unwritten vibe of ‘just get off your ass and make some decisions.” I’ll keep those forever. My husband’s letters to me I didn’t even bother going through. I’ll keep those forever, now saved in a gold and black metal box that once held Christmas cookies. Maybe, one day, our children will be interested enough to read about their parents’ love story.
One letter I have read often is from my favorite English professor. It was typed, sent to me when I was first married, then living in Australia. It was a reflective essay-like quality letter where Professor D.’s voice is strong in his choice of words and sentence construction.
I have two vivid images of Hugh Dawson: one, standing askance in front of the classroom, his belt buckle to the side of his waist, sharing his thoughts about his favorite coffee commercial. Then a year later, of him walking the halls of a hospital, in a hospital gown, looking less intimidating but his face lighting up with a smile when he caught sight of my friend, Paula, and I as we tentatively approached him.
I saw Professor D. one more time, when my husband and I moved back the US. We dined in a quiet Italian restaurant, conversation comfortable and casual. “Call me, Hugh,” he said. “I’m not your professor anymore.”
His was a relationship I wish I had grown. When I learned of his death a few years ago, I reread his letter to me and his voice remained strong and alive.
New and old. Present and past. Natural and created.