Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Last Time You Pick Up Your Child

I get a daily email from “All Pro Dad”.  I signed up for this after reading Tony Dungy’s book on vacation a little over two years ago.  I started blogging that same vacation, but I doubt the two are connected.  The title of this blog was the title of their email yesterday with the following short thought:

If you stop and think about it, there will come a day when you will pick up your young child for the last time. And you won’t even know it.  But, soon in the future, they’ll be too big for you to lift.  So if you have young children, pick them up often.  Hug them.  Kiss them.  Savor it all.  These days will be gone before you know it. 

I don’t necessarily agree with all their thoughts, ideas or suggestions, but that’s hardly the point of this blog.  It struck me as more of an interesting coincidence that I had checked in earlier in the morning on Facebook from the Denver Diner where I was about to have breakfast with Mallory, our oldest.  It occurred to me as I posted that this might be the last of so many regular breakfast dates we have had at least monthly over many years before school (and separately also with Jillian, our youngest).  

It has evolved over time – when they were little, it was more of a weekend thing where I would take them to McDonalds which served a double purpose of hanging out with them and letting their mother sleep in (one of her favorite things).  Yes – even though I loathe McDonalds – it is hard to beat their playland for the little ones.  Initially I remember doing this with a work colleague Bob and his daughter Kat.  

As Jillian grew, and probably somewhat coincidentally about the time we moved to Australia when Jillian was three, it would mostly be with the two of them together.  Occasionally but probably not often before we left Australia, we started doing it on a school morning.  Since returning to Colorado 5+ years ago, it has been a regular planned date before school, each of them on their own, and at least once a month.  It has been important to me to make this time with my girls.  

So two weeks from today, Mallory will be done with high school and it is off to college.  We will probably continue to have our breakfast dates, but it is going to be evolving again.  So when I read this email from All Pro Dad, it struck me kind of hard.  We have enjoyed these dates.  Yesterday was no different – we chatted about nothing of great significance.  We talked about finals, her friends who have been house-sitting with her this past week, plans for her mission trip to the Dominican Republic this summer, mother’s day gifts, the vacation we have planned after school is out, my next work trip, her work schedule, plans for the weekend, the Denver Nuggets and so on.  As I said; nothing of great significance but yet all so vitally important.  Not because world changing events will necessarily happen as a result, but because we spent time chatting, investing in each others lives.

And then we were done, I paid the bill, kissed her on the cheek, and she was gone…

UPDATE October 19, 2012

The events of the last week or so brought this post back to my mind.  And not as you might think if you know I live in Denver in the shadow of the terrible tragedy of the loss of 10 year old Jessica Ridgeway - I think I am still in the denial phase of some sort of grief response on that - there are simply no words...

No, these were closer to home, more personal.

One of my best friends lost his father to cancer last Friday.  We all knew this was inevitable and coming soon.  I have no idea how you are supposed to deal with these things, but his wife was up in the mountains earlier in the week for a few days helping as had many of the family with the care in least days.  So I figured I grab some scotch (well Stranahans whiskey - a fine local drop that reminds me more of scotch than bourbon), a couple of cigars, head on over and see how things go.  We enjoyed a shot or two of scotch, but passed on the cigars this particular evening.  We talked about everything - an we talked about nothing.  Perhaps the discussion that got me the most was about the fishing trips to Willis Lake.  My friend now takes his "boys" (most are sons in law) up there say every other year - but when he was a boy, he, his brothers and his dad went every year - from 1955 to 1992.  He said thinking about things made this year's trip hard.  I went up to the mountains and attended the funeral yesterday.  It was a beautiful fall day - even the somewhat gusty winds couldn't take away the majesty that are the mountains of Colorado.  I stayed into the late hours of the afternoon getting to know more of his family that I had not met before (his is as large as Joy's - one of 8 kids if that helps those who don't know us as well) and allowing myself the communion of one beer at the wake before hitting the road home.  I am glad for friends like this and the mutual investment in each others lives and families that in this case now spans 16 years.

    (not my photo - credit to a guy named Steve)

The other event is less about investing in lives.  Mallory came home for fall break later in the week.  I picked her up from the airport and we went to "Grammies" for breakfast of scrumptious made from scratch (literally - this woman probably ground the flour) waffles and crab apple sauce (from trees in the front yard).  Then after dropping me at work, she headed off to start a fabulous weekend of catching up with friends.  And it was so great to have all those girls enjoying time together including a sleepover in our house again.  What I was not expecting though in the passage of this fun filled weekend was a call from one of those friends a few hours into her first day back saying they had been in an accident.  Some guy from out of town and looking at his GPS apparently veered hard into their lane shoving them off the road and into a substantial concrete median strip.  Both airbags had popped and Mallory was receiving medical attention - her arm hurt.  Fortunately both Mallory and her friend were wearing seat belts, and the sore arm was little more than a memory the next day.  They say lucks a fortune... I spent over $1,200 on that car the day before.  The car will almost certainly be a write off but Mallory and her friend (we joke her friends are like adopted daughters) are totally OK.  I'll take that outcome any day... but it does remind you "Hug them.  Kiss them.  Savor it all.

Oh - and it also provided
a valuable life lesson on why a scooter while very cute might not be such a great idea :)