“The Big Picture,” April 4, 2017

Once in a great while, time rolls together like waves on the shore, letting us see all at once the past, present and forever _ life as one great journey.

Recently I took a walk with my youngest. It was a short walk, but a good one. We try to keep in touch, he and I, with phone calls and texts, but this was the first time we’d been in the same time zone in almost six months, and I was hungry to spend time with him, just the two of us.

My daughter-in-law, bless her, read my mind. Mothers often do that for each other. She loaded their three little ones in the car to go to the beach and suggested to her husband that we should go out to breakfast together.

Are you sure you want to walk, Mom?” he said. “It’s a short walk, but we could drive.”

My ankle was stifff from a break months ago, but the day was glorious, not to be missed.

“I’m good,” I said, “let’s walk.”

A 10-minute stroll took us to the coffee shop at the Asilomar Conference Center. Part of the walk included an old railroad track. The rails were long gone and the path was lovely. But at times, like life, it got a bit rocky.

“Here, Mom,” said the boy, “take my hand.”

It had been a while since he last held my hand. I had watched him hold his children, rock them to sleep, pick them up, swing them high in the air. But I found myself wondering: When did his hands get so big?

He had often held my hand over the years. The minute he was born, he grabbed hold of my thumb and my heart and refused to let them go. Learning to walk, he held my hand for balance. When he started preschool, he held it for comfort. When he was 20, he held it to steady me as we left the memorial service for his dad. And years later, when I remarried, he held it again, beaming, as he and his brother walked me down the aisle.

He is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and 200-plus pounds. I know perfectly well he’s not a baby any more. But somehow, until that moment on an old railroad path, I never noticed how his hand swallows mine.

The realization made me smile, nod and say, “Hmm.” I seem to do that a lot these days.

The next evening, we got together for burritos, the boy and his family, my daughter and her little one, Henry, and me. After dinner, while my daughter and her brother spent time catching up, and my daughter-in-law cleared the dishes, I sat like a queen mother on a throne feasting on my granchildren.

Randy is 6. Henry is 5. Wiley is 4. Eleanor is 2. They have the same hair, curly and thick. The boys wear theirs short, more or less, but Elle’s hangs to her waist. And the colors range from Randy’s red, to Wiley’s brown, to Elle’s brown with blonde highlights, to Henry’s jet black. I took a picture of the tops of their sweet heads all bent close together over a big tub of Legos.

I wish you could see it.

When Henry’s mama said it was time to go, he didn’t want to leave. He loves his cousins and their Legos. When he began to cry, Randy wrapped him in his arms and wept along with him. I knew exactly how they felt.

When they finally parted, Randy asked me to get an ice-cream bar from the freezer.

“It’s for Henry, Nana,” he said, “to make him feel better.”

I put the bar in a baggie. Randy kissed it and gave it to Henry, who smiled a little smile through his tears. Ice-cream and kisses are always good medicine.

The best of times come to an end, leaving us great memories and hopes for another time. But sometimes we get a glimpse of our lives _ past, present and forever _ to remind us of how blessed we truly are.

Families reunite. Cousins cling to each other. And boys grow up to be fine men _ husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles _ and sons, who still hold our hands.

I won’t soon forget it.


  1. June Gildersleeve says

    I am excited that I just found your columns here on the internet. Our local paper is downsizing and your column has been dropped. I looked forward to Monday’s so I could catch up on your family and the latest happenings.
    Tonight is a happy time.
    I won’t be missing you anymore!!

  2. Such a beautiful column !! Love your sweet family !!

  3. I am so thankful for your thoughtful, touching writing, and our friendship.
    Continued blessings,

  4. Lela London says

    I am blessed each time I read an article you wrote! Actually cried today after reading this one. I’ve never read one that didn’t touch me! You’re so talented! A blessing to so many!!! I have two grown sons myself and five precious grandchildren. ?

  5. Love this! I feel the same way when I look at my grown sons and my grandchildren. I laugh inside when my son kisses my cheek before he leaves the house and his stubble pokes my cheek and I think to myself, “When did that happen?” I wish I would have known when some things happened, that they were happening for the last time – the last time he crawled in my lap for a cuddle, the last time he held my hand to cross a street, the last time he needed comfort from a bad dream…I wish I had known…

  6. Kate Sciacca says

    Onions…. those darn onions… what a beautiful picture you painted.

    Not only do their hands swallow ours up, but they seem to worry about us the way we once did about them. My attorney boy tells me I need to “get that Trust done, and you and Dad need that liability umbrella policy – do you have that yet?” The banking son isn’t sure we are in the right investments, and “at your age, you probably should have gone with a 15 year on the new house…” The oldest one assures us that no matter what happens, he will “always be there to take care of us…”. And on it goes.
    Thanks for reminding me how blessed I am ?

  7. My sons’ hands are also big now. All three of them, as well as my daughter have held my hands and my heart since their Papa died seven months ago.

  8. Corie Hughes says

    Love this… I left my baby boy in Monterey County… and he is now over 6 feet tall and I too have memories of him holding my hand. He was 18 when we lost his Dad, and he was my biggest support during that first year without my husband. I will visit at the end of April and I can’t wait to take a walk with him. He will always be my baby ❤

  9. Betty McNall says

    This was as beautiful as I believe the lady is that wrote it!

  10. Sheri Titcombe says

    Like this column!!! Since my husband list his job, my hours at work have been lessen (which means a smaller pay check) plus my employer is eliminating my job duties, seems my son calls & visits more often. …..

  11. There is a children’s book “I’ll Love You Forever” that speaks of this same thing. One of my favorite books. It speaks of this same thing. Thank you for this reminder that sometimes we need to see the big picture.

  12. Beth Heeren says

    Wish I could have been there with you! Can’t imagine Nathan so big! Btw I have a six footer too…named Josh..Always loved that name!

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