Over the past few weeks my granddaughters Jamie and Tate have piled belongings into the family car and headed off to Pullman, WA to become WSU Cougs, Jamie intent on a career in business and Tate with her eyes on a history major and great fun with the Cougar Marching Band. But wasn’t it just yesterday that I had a picture of Jamie standing in front of their house before heading off to her first day of third grade, and little sister, Tate, standing beside her, ready for her first day of kindergarten? Or was that pre-school?
Before I can digest this, I have a brand new photo of grandson Asher hurrying down the driveway at his home in Danielsville, Georgia, heading off to his first grade class. He’s missing five baby teeth and proud to be a two-wheel bike rider. He’s had a busy summer. If I blink, will he be going off to college tomorrow, like his cousins in Washington state? It sure does feel like a wrinkle in time to me.
I close my eyes and see 6-year old Phil, heading off to first grade in Denver, Colorado, where he once took his little sister, Allison, for show & tell. As we stood by the door a class mate, holding a large paper bag asked, “What did you bring for show & tell today?” Phil answered, “My sister.” He nodded toward me and his 2-year old sister. The other little boy asked, “Why didn’t you put her in a bag?” We simply didn’t have an answer, but it still makes me smile. A short four years later I have a picture of big-brother Phil, a protective 5th grader with his arm around his sister’s shoulder as he and Allison stood in front of our home in Omaha, NE, ready for her first day of school. I was as excited as the kids about their new pencils, colors and erasers.
For my own first day of school, in 1949, I wore a light blue suit with a small purse strapped over my shoulder, holding a child-sized umbrella and wearing my new rain boots. I was more proud of them and eager to be out in the rain than I was excited about the first day of school, or waiting for the school bus. My mother stood beside me, a slim woman in her own suit, high heel shoes, holding her own purse and umbrella. As soon as the bus rumbled to a stop, we climbed on for the long drive up the curvy mountain road to Country Day School in Ashville, N.C.
Later today I’ll Google the name of Ashville’s Country Day School to see if it is still in existence. I remember the class rooms and the playground with amazing swing sets. I also remember frustration if I wasn’t first to know the answer to an English quiz, but it never bothered me not knowing the answers first to the math questions. English. That was my game. And still is.
On reflection I realize that my children and my grandchildren focus on the future, with so much life to be lived, while my ninety-four year old mother lives in the present moment, having packed her memories away a long time ago, with no wish to revisit any of them, not even my first day of school. I’m sure on the next rainy day I’ll find that picture of my mother and me on my first day of school, I’ll scan it into the computer, and then pack it away in a safe place with my other sweet memories I can revisit any time I choose. For me now, living somewhere in-between my elderly mother, my children and my grandchildren, must be the real wrinkle in time.
For now, I’m ready to begin looking forward again, like the kids. In fact, I think I’ll start today.