Waking up to a New Beginning
When my three daughters were young I didn't see time passing in quite the same way I do now. Every minute was full... full of laughter, surprise, brilliance, music or drama. Full of life, and full of love. It's still like that when they're here. They seem to carry all of that with them wherever they go. It doesn't stay in the house when they leave except in photographs and video.
There has been a lot of wasted time in this house over the last few weeks. I've struggled at work, struggled with school, and struggled with time management. With my daughters here I had no problem managing time; possibly because they did it for me. The youngest of the trio has been planning her wedding, and I'll walk down the aisle for the third time just a few days from now. I'm already feeling the loss. This will be the most difficult.
Every minute with them has been a gift. Each year of each of their lives I was given 525,600 gifts. If I could re-live those I'd correct some of my many regrettable mistakes; and I'd choose once again to experience the countless unforgettable moments of love, joy, peace and even sorrow that made the last thirty-five or so years so special. It's been lovely chaos. Sweet insanity.
The three Smith girls (and their mother) made the camping trips magical. They filled rainy days with games, music and movies. They kept me company when, as a young man, I worked alone on weekends and holidays. They grew up with the perfect family pet, and helped me live through the grief of having to lay her to rest.
It wasn't from the very beginning; but somewhere back in the first few years of parenthood I started to crawl out of the man I was without children. It took me a while to squeeze into my life as a father. Life was just work and sleep before that. I see that in recent weeks, I've slipped back into that. I left life behind, and went back to work and sleep.
Two huge family events happening in the very near future... A third grandchild due anytime, and a third daughter marrying and leaving home. These life-changing things going on around me, and I've been working and sleeping through the life-filled minutes leading up to them. Bad habits coming back from the past. All just wasted time. When we wake up this coming Sunday morning, Mrs. Smith will be the only girl in this family named Smith. And she and I will probably have three grandchildren by then.
2005: Our Last Vacation as The Smiths
The New Beginning
When I open my eyes Sunday morning my life will be different. The house will be different. Everything will be different. I have to embrace that soon. I have to accept this change before Saturday night. Before that little girl in these pictures puts her arm around mine for the longest walk of my life.
I've been afraid of not doing this well... of not being able to give the last one away with a smile... of not being able to live in a quiet house... of not being able to satisfy Mrs. Smith's need for companionship. I have only a few days to prepare. Each of those days has 1,440 minutes that I need to use as wisely as possible. I have to crawl out of one life, and begin another. I did it before, and I can do it again.
I walked that youngest daughter down the aisle that Saturday not quite ten years ago. Our third grandchild was born the night before. So much life has passed since then. Hardships and happiness, grieving and laughing, work and play. As the daughters moved away, and grandchildren were no longer running around the house, that old house became an extremely lonely place.
When retirement became an option, we took it, and found a home in the midwest near the girls and their families. We're still settling down into our new life 'of leisure' as retirees. Being close to the kids again is making the adjustment easy.