I am writing this on a Tuesday. On Saturday night I had dinner with Martin and my three children...grown-ups now, not at all children anymore...and one daughter-in-law (the other daughter-in-law, alas, too far away, in Germany) to celebrate (three weeks early, because of everyone's schedules) my 70th birthday. I had asked them for PLEASE NO GIFTS and they graciously consented, but they brought poems and memories. And of course memories are the greatest gifts of all.
Here is a memory, from my older daughter:
When I was four, I asked to go outside in the night, in the dark, with no expectation of being allowed. But Mom said Yes, to my shock. I went out into the side yard, outside of the kitchen porch, into the night, alone, for the first time in my life. There was a light, but it was dark in the sky and a mild summer night, and I stayed out there by myself in my summer shorts and top, and crouched in the driveway, ectstatic, overwhelmed wih joy and surprise that my mom had said "OK" when I asked to go outside, AT NIGHT.
I don't remember that moment, really. The summer that she was four, I had two younger children already and was pregnant with my fourth. So there was much on my mind and many distractions. But I am quite sure I would have watched her from the window and marveled at her courage and independence...as in fact I have done all her life.
The next day, after the birthday partty, the kids all went off their separate ways: two to Maine, one to New Hampshire; and my older daughter to the airport to fly home to San Francisco. But she called in the evening to say that her plane had been cancelled, she was in an airport hotel and they would fly her first class the next day...today....