Life is a tapestry of memories we
weave into place with each breath.
No one can be hired to weave it
for they wouldn’t know how
to render the scenes
unless we tell them, and
words don’t come equipped to
reach all the places mem’ries can hide.
But, here are some favorites of mine.
In Stockton, Wendy, you were tiny and pink.
You laughed and squealed when I
gave you a bath and wrapped you
in a towel and held you close
and felt your heartbeat as you slept.
It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon,
and a thoughtless neighbor kept
firing up his unmufflered boat engine
waking you. After the third time
I went out and yelled with a rage
I’d never known was in me.
(I apologized, of course.)
In Sacramento you would
scamper across the river stones
I laid to protect the trees.
You kept me company while I
worked in the yard, and afterward
dangled your feet in the hot tub
where I soaked my aching bones
and we’d go over your a-b-c’s or
do the “Bicky-bye” song as good smells
drifted out from Mom’s kitchen.
I’d come home from work and you’d
tackle me for a hug. You squealed
with delight when I tossed you
toward the ceiling.
You helped me plant a vegetable garden.
You liked harvesting strawberries.
You got a basket for the vole I caught, and
we launched him across the creek,
so he could be free but not eat our carrots.
I showed you how to bait a hook and
even when I was not around you’d
hunt for worms and catch little fish
from the creek behind our house.
I taught you how to ride a bike; a few
pushes and off you went on your own.
We flew to Texas on vacation one Christmas, with
young Sally wailing away, until I rubbed
her gums--shame on me--with brandy.
At Uncle Dave and Aunty Anne’s you posed in
cowboy boots longer than your legs.
Trips to the Sacramento fish hatchery
were always fun; you’d put a nickel
in the machine and throw granulated fishmeal
to the churning baby salmon. We would
laugh and laugh and do it again and again.
When Sally grew bigger we’d drive in
the fall to the orchards and
come home and make apple pies.
At night you liked to sit in my lap in my office
and have me read GOOD NIGHT MOON,
on and on until we’d said good night to
crickets, frogs, raccoons and everything
that moved—even the wind.
In Modeto on Days Alone With Dad, we'd
park the car and run halfway up a mountain
just to see the sun come up. We went fishing
from a motorboat and had breakfast in Strawberry
surrounded by hummingbirds at Daphne’s Kitchen.
We backpacked to Gianelli’s Cabin and
swam in an ice cold mountain lake.
We camped as a family among the Big Trees and
slept listening to the patter of rain against the tent.
I caught some trout ; we invited them to dinner.
We vacationed in Disneyland and went to Great America,
and you insisted on riding eve-ry-thing scary!
What was it, Top Gun, you made me climb aboard?
You didn't know I closed my eyes, did you?
We did Math Blast for Mrs. Gurnee, and
for Mrs. Collie I was your typist for the Ancient China report—
thirty pages. You wouldn’t quit!
Remember the California mission? We had
to bake the walls in Mom’s oven? And
here was that long ride to Santa Maria with
Nanny and Grampa, and I said something—
I forget now what it was—but you and Sally
stunned me with an echo from one of my
hot tub sermons. In unison, you said,
“Because, Dad, you do what’s right because
it’s right, not because it gets you something!”
I remember the ice cactus in Tuscon on
that long stormy drive to Texas in ‘86?
It was the year I introduced you to Mrs. Crow,
the woman who raised me at the children’s home.
And on the return we drilled you and
Sally on multiplication tables. You were
memorizing Carl Sandburg’s poem, "Phyzog."
This face you got, this here phizog you carry around,
you never picked it out for yourself, at all, at all, did you?
I could ramble on about the golden scenes
in my tapestry, but I’ll save some for another time.
Besides, the weaving’s not yet through. Tonight
will occupy a prominent place near center and
contain my wish for you and Barry of
happiness in a union founded on love and respect.
May the tapestry you weave together be
strong and everlastingly filled
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