“A Small Moment to Remember,” column for Sept. 15, 2015

Sitting on a bench in front of the school, I closed my eyes, felt the sun on my face and listened.
Children laughing. Parents talking. Cars passing. Crows cawing. A perfect soundtrack for a postcard perfect day.

The crowd was growing, waiting to pick up children. Most of the waiters were rookies, kindergarten parents with toddlers in tow.

Not me. I was a veteran. My three children had all gone to that school. If the PTA gave an award for the most hours spent waiting out in front, I might not win, but I’d be a contender.

My youngest child teaches third grade there now. I try to visit the boy’s classroom when I can to tell his students stories of what he was like at their age. It helps to keep him in his place.

But I wasn’t there for the boy this time. He’d get home on his own. I was there to pick up his boy, my grandson, Randy, who’s in kindergarten. I don’t get to do it often, just when I’m in town.

For some 30 years, I lived a few blocks from the school. Then my children grew up, we lost their dad to cancer, and I found myself alone in a big empty house with five sets of dishes and nobody to feed.

Years later, I remarried and moved with my new husband to Las Vegas. Then our children started having babies. Now we are “yo-yo” grandparents going back and forth between Nevada and California to visit them. We share five grandchildren, so far.

Randy’s the oldest. Last weekend we went to the zoo for a birthday party for Henry, who is 4. This weekend, we’ll go to a gymnastics party for Charlotte, also 4. And today, when we take Randy home, we’ll get to play with Wiley, who’s almost 3, and Baby Eleanor, 8 months old.

I wish you could see them. And I wish I could explain to you why it lights me up like Christmas just to see them smile. But some things can’t be explained. They can only be felt.

While waiting for Randy, I shared the bench with a woman who said she was waiting to do art projects with children in the afterschool program. When I told her I was picking up my grandson and that my son teaches at the school, her eyes flashed in recognition.

“Wait,” she said, “are you … ?”

“Yes,” I said, “I am.”

Turns out she had read some of my columns over the years. She said very kind things about the boy, as a teacher, and me, as a writer. I wanted to hug her.

Then she hurried off to enrich the lives of children, leaving me on the bench, grateful for how she had just enriched mine.

Mothers and writers need all the encouragement we can get. It gives us reason to hope. Or at least, it helps us get out of bed.

Suddenly, I thought about my family. My children were doing well. My grandchildren were healthy. My husband, the best grandpa on the planet, was waiting in the car to take Randy and me to the beach.

Life was good. I was blessed.

It was a small moment, but I wanted to remember it. I wished I’d had it years ago on darker days, times when I wondered if I would ever smile again. What a gift it would have been to look into the future and see myself on that bench, older, wiser, grinning like a mule eating briars, happy as happy ever gets.

No one goes through life without a few heartaches. Grief is huge. It hides the sun. The happiest moments often seem small, fleeting as a few grains of salt in a bowl of soup. Yet, if we remember them, they add just enough hope to make the bitter moments taste better. What else is memory for, if not flavor?

I stored that moment in the back of my heart in a place where I keep things I don’t want to lose. I hope you’re storing some, too. You never know when we’ll need a little salt.

Then I looked up and saw Randy, with the sun spitting sparks from his hair, running like Jacob’s angel to tackle me.
___

Comments

  1. Kristin says:

    Your word choices are phenomenal – you capture the moments and put words to feelings that can be difficult to describe. The words below have not left me in over a week. I clipped them and have read them over and over. Grief hit my daughters and I twice, and we wondered if we would ever smile again. You said it so well, ” it hides the sun”…..but I am finally at the point where I can say “life is good, I am blessed”. I’m going to capture these moments with mental pictures, because I know there will be times I may need a little salt in the future. Thank you for sharing your talents, you are gifted and I look forward to your column every week!

    “Life was good. I was blessed.
    It was a small moment, but I wanted to remember it. I wished I’d had it years ago on darker days, times when I wondered if I would ever smile again. What a gift it would have been to look into the future and see myself on that bench, older, wiser, grinning like a mule eating briars, happy as happy ever gets.
    No one goes through life without a few heartaches. Grief is huge. It hides the sun. The happiest moments often seem small, fleeting as a few grains of salt in a bowl of soup. Yet, if we remember them, they add just enough hope to make the bitter moments taste better. What else is memory for, if not flavor?
    I stored that moment in the back of my heart in a place where I keep things I don’t want to lose. I hope you’re storing some, too. You never know when we’ll need a little salt.”

  2. Darlene says:

    Today was like every other Monday. I read every other article in the Reading Eagle newspaper before reading yours. I’m one of those people who eats the bottom of a cupcake or muffin first and then savors the top. Not sure what that says about me, but I do know I always save the best for last!
    As I read your article this morning, I hoped the editor of our newspaper, Harry Deitz, would find the time to read it, also. Sadly, his wife passed away a few days ago after fighting a six-year battle with diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. Sharon, I am inspired by your courage in dealing with the loss of your husband, your appreciation for blessings great and small, and your wonderful sense of humor. I wish my gratitude could be expressed more eloquently, but I want you to know how profoundly your words touch your readers’ lives. Thank you.

  3. Carrie L. says:

    Sharon,
    Absolutely love reading your column! Thank you for another beautiful one…another that touched me as I’m sure it touched others. We recently had big changes in our life so what you wrote about holding on to those small memories brought tears to my eyes.
    Thank you.

  4. Libby Nowell says:

    sharron,
    I too love to pick up my grandkids at school. my oldest turns 12 today and its hard to believe he is almost a teenager. the conversations we have in my car when I pick them up are on my top 10 list of memories. they always surprise me with some off the wall remarks they have to tell me, but its the secrets I love most. I cant wait for my 4 year old granddaughter to start telling me secrets when I pick her up from school. Gran is very good and keeping secrets.

  5. Sharon,
    Just when I think your columns can’t get any better, they do.
    Thanks for another beauty.
    Bruce

  6. Nancy says:

    I never thought I would have my FB profile pic be one of me without make-up, earrings and my hair in a ponytail. As you know grandchildren help us to see the beauty of life and what is really important. This was just our daily trip to the park and Rylee climbed onto the park bench. We both sat down beside her and Pops said let’s take a selfie. The resulting picture is one of those magic and “small moments to remember”…and now my FB profile pic.
    image1.JPG

  7. Vanessa L says:

    What a beautiful reminder that the sun will shine again after the storm is over. I can’t imagine what you must have felt after losing your husband, but I love reading about the joy that fills your life now. So often I find myself looking forward to better days, but after reading your column I realize I should be looking for those small, happy moments that happen on ordinary days. May God continue to bless you and your family!

  8. shashi says:

    Yes, Sharon you are right ,we have to catch a moment to keep in heart if it is full of laughter .
    Moments of laughter are very short because another moment we do not know ,life is always a mystery . We thank God for this life ,this moment if we have it . We live with hope .Thank you for another great column reminding us to enjoy what we have ,this very day ,moment and time . Lot of love to you and all your family .

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