My oldest son texted me during dinner last night. “Hi Mom! I’m going to swing by your house tonight after my final if that’s ok. Need to grab some of my camping stuff.”
I am quietly thrilled. I am the keeper of things.
He arrives as I finish up the dishes and wipe the kitchen counters. I hug my first born son- life changer, trail blazer, heart breaker, 33 years of connection, love, and journey together infused in an embrace.
We walk the time line through the laundry room and into the garage where the archives of family life line the walls- boxes labeled “Patrick’s GI Joes”, “brio train”, “Christmas decorations”, “dress up clothes”, the wooden toy horse made by Grampa Healy, a shelf crammed with size 13 crocs. We rest our eyes on the row of sleeping bags and tents above the work bench and the requisite green plastic tubs that hold the treasures of camping trips of yore- plastic table cloths autographed and decorated by camping buddies, liquid dish soap, camping stoves, a variety of pots and pans, lanterns, plastic forks and spoons, make shift coffee makers, propane tanks, camping games.
I am the keeper of things. I have worked over- time trying to keep life consistent and predictable for my three sons through two major relocations, new schools, new friends, various homes, their parents’ divorce, the transition to college and eventually to adulthood and the fast and furious challenge of living in the Silicon Valley. I have housed their baseball cards and dress suits, amplifiers and cast off instruments, baseball mits, autographed baseballs, baseball hats, high school yearbooks, art projects, stuffed animals, and boomerang plants. Cartons of camping gear tucked high on garage shelves. More sleeping bags and tents than one family could possibly utilize. The family pictures. I have intentionally rooted myself so that they could be free to explore and take risks and chances in the world yet still find their way back to a touchstone of familiarity and an infusion of security.
I look at my handsome 33 year old son in the soft light of a bare energy efficient bulb. He’s quite a man. A full time job at Facebook, a new car, a flat in Palo Alto. He phones his 31 year old brother, Patrick, to make sure he’s not forgetting anything they might need. They discuss Nate and Chris and Todd and Sam and the things that they agreed to bring for the camping trip. Good friends from high school. Solid friends. Rooted friendships.
We hug goodbye and share an “I love you”. He drives away in his sleek dependable Subaru- the temperamental yet utterly faithful Volvo thankfully a remnant of the past.
I linger in the garage contemplating my youngest son Peter’s pending wedding this summer and Patrick’s journey through grad school in Denver to his current professional life in Santa Clara.
They are rooted. They have wings.
How much longer will I need to be the keeper of things?