He sat on the floor in the middle of the front row of children at my feet, chin propped in his hand, big round eyes staring, challenging. I often wondered if he was really interested in what I had to say, or did he doubt every word that came out of my mouth? Once a week I visited my daughter Emily's first-grade classroom to read a picture book to the children. Sometimes I took my puppet, Etta Molly Gee, who "talked" to them about the origins of words.
I'm no ventriloquist. "Your lips are moving," the boy said when Etta Molly Gee spoke. "Is that really true?" he asked me when Etta told him the word "phony," meaning fake, came from the word "fawny" - gilt rings that British swindlers long ago sold as real gold. I wondered if he thought I was a phony.
When Emily was in sixth grade, she started "going out" with this boy. I found her crying in the upstairs hallway. "Tim br-broke...up...with me." I locked my hands on her shoulders and made her look me in the eye. "There are so many fish in the sea." If she didn't know before, surely she knew then that her mother had an amazing way with words. Still, the alphabet letter she chose to draw in her study of heraldry in social studies was...yep...a "T."It sat on the top of her dresser for years.
Tim abandoned North Carolina when he moved to Boston to play hockey in prep school and stayed to attend college at some school whose name I always find it hard to remember. I came to admire his athletic skills and his intellectuals ones. But most of all, I admired how he always kept close ties with his friends back home, fitting in with the crowd during holidays and vacations and parts of summers like he'd never left. At some point during the early college years, I said to Emily, "That Tim is getting so handsome." "Yeah," she replied. She always loved seeing him but nothing more. She dated other people, and so did he.
All that changed when she finally visited Tim at Harvard late in the first semester of his senior year. They discovered they held dear the exact same memories from years and years of shared experiences and friendships. They decided to give this dating thing another try...ten years down the road from sixth grade.
Now, almost four years later, at midnight on 11-11-11 in a lovely restaurant after a CMA concert in Emily's favorite city of Nashville, Tim spoke words of love and proposal...and Em replied, "Yes!" Two days later at the Blue Bird Cafe, they unexpectedly saw Phil Vassar, the singer/songwriter of "their" song. They couldn't resist introducing themselves. He enthusiastically wished them well. He's in Raleigh a lot. We think he should sing their song at the upcoming wedding reception!
Friends, loving friends, going fishing too soon, tossed back into the ocean of life to grow and change and learn, yet also, somehow, to hang on to the importance of the past. Caught again, minnows no longer, in the joy and promise of a life together...forever!