Sunday, March 30, 2008


My children were all home for Spring Break.
I wasn’t.
I had to work.

Thursday, I had a meeting. It was near the house, so I stopped by on my way back to the office.
I parked my car out in front and walked up the driveway toward the house. I was smiling to myself, anticipating the big hug I would get from YS and the slouching “Waddup, Mummy?” I would get from YD, my wannabe homey. OS, recovering from oral surgery, would be holed up in the basement, a bit fogged in from the pain medications.
I climbed the front steps and marveled again at the fabulous job YS had done cleaning the porch for the Easter Bunny.

I reached for the knob and found the door locked. I made a mental note to give my children a pat on the back for remembering to lock the front door and I gave myself a gentle reprimand for leaving my house keys in the car.

As I reached up to knock, I peered through the front door glass. Peering back at me were four eyes belonging to two children that did not belong to me. The girl, with straight blond hair and blue eyes, became frantic, first reaching to unlock the door, then backing away, back and forth, back and forth. The boy, with short brown hair and root beer brown eyes stood stock still, frozen in the middle of the living room, staring at me.
I tried to direct the girl, “Turn the lock that way,” I yelled through the door, pointing toward the right.
The girl was a fistful of thumbs, unable to master the deadbolt.

I started knocking on the window again.
Finally, I saw the familiar face of YS round the corner into the living room. He was trailed by two of our neighbor boys, one of whom is his best friend. He face lit up when he saw me and he raced to the door to let me in.
“Mummy!” he smiled as he threw his arms around my hips in a big hug and lifted me off the floor.

This is one of his favorite “tricks”. He is proud of the fact that he has been strong enough to lift me off the ground since he was in the second grade. This year, he has learned to stagger walk with me in his arms, my toes dangling just inches off the ground and my head towering two feet over him.

YS put me down and, just as the chaos in the living room was subsiding, a new commotion was erupting in the kitchen. We moved as a unit toward the kitchen where we discovered someone trapped in the bathroom. The pocket door was rattling and a small voice was yelling, “HELP!”

“Just a minute, sweetie,” I yelled back, racing madly for the tool drawer to grab a screwdriver. I discovered a flashlight, matches, curtain rings and miscellaneous screws, hair bobs, a hammer, a pencil and three pens, clothespins, string and a broken candy cane, a box of keys that unlock nothing, a padlock, with no key and a whistle. What I could not find, is a screwdriver.

In my mind, I was flailing and cursing the person who “borrowed” my screwdriver, but my unflappable mama exterior held the frantic in check and I calmly yelled to the bathroom door, “Hold on, honey, I’m still looking!”

I went clattering down to the basement, thinking perhaps one of the people we have working on the “remodel” might have left behind a screwdriver. The room was dark and there was a movie playing on the TV screen. I could see OS’ head peeking up over the top of the couch on the other side of the room. He twisted his head slowly up and around so he could see me out of the corner of his eye. “Oh, hey Mummy,” he mumbled lazily. “I…”

“I’ll come talk to you in a minute,” I snapped, cutting him off. “I need to find screwdriver. Somebody is locked in the bathroom.”
“Isn’t there supposed to be one in the drawer in the kitchen?” he asked in the superior tone of a teenager who knows everything.
“Yes!” My exasperation threw the word at him with the force of a missile.

Shaking my head, I went back to my search. I found sawdust, nails, a compressor, lumber and electric wiring hanging from the ceiling, but no screwdriver.

Back upstairs.

YS was crouching by the bathroom door, the neighbors and two strangers huddled behind him, watching. With the skill of a surgeon, YS was wiggling a screwdriver the size of a matchstick between the door and the jamb.
“Got it!” he yelled with pride.

The door slid open.

Instead of the one child I expected, three children tumbled out into the kitchen. Freed from their bathroom prison and their panic at being trapped, the children began talking all at once, eager to be the first child who got to tell the story.
The largest girl, one whom I recognized at a classmate of YS’, won. The other children gathered around her as she recounted the tale of her imprisonment; the two who had been with her nodded vigorously, adding details as necessary.

YS detached himself from the crowd. “Mummy, did you see how I did that?” he asked, eyes round and glowing. “I jiggled it up, like this,” he explained, grasping the tiny screwdriver tightly between his thumb and fore finger, “and it pushed the latch up, like this.”
“I missed it, honey,” I said as I shook my head with honest regret. “It was clever of you to think of that. I was looking for the big screwdriver so I could turn the lock screw from the outside.”
“Yeah, well, I just thought I’d try this while you were looking…and it worked!” YS explained. YS has always been mindful of the feelings of others, and I could tell that he was trying to protect my feelings by downplaying his ingenuity. He turned to rejoin the crowd, and I looked for his sister.

YD was sitting calmly at the kitchen table, working on the Sudoku. I beckoned for her,

Rising, she slouched toward me.
“I thought you were only babysitting two people,” I began, in a tone that came out sounding slightly accusatory.
“I am!” she responded, Valley Girl accent and teenaged attitude meshing perfectly with the hand placed oh so emphatically on the hip.
“And…” I paused, gesturing at the eight fourth graders who were now dispersing toward the living room.
“Well, M called and YS invited her over to play and she brought all those other kids with her.” YD looked at me and I could see the wheels turning in her mind as she quickly calculated the effect her words were having. Realizing that, as the “responsible” party I had left in charge for the day, she was still in the hole, she added, …and he didn’t even ask me, and they all just showed up.”
“Does M’s mother know that there is no adult here?”
“Uh…no,” YD admitted. “But it’s actually easier with all of them than it was with just the three boys.”
Ignoring her rationalization, I continued, “Do you think that perhaps it would have been a good idea to let her know?’
“Well…I guess.”
“Do you think it would be a good idea to call her now?”
I stepped back, raised my eyebrows and gestured toward the phone. YD didn’t move a muscle. “Yeah, but you’re here now,” she pouted.

YD hates the phone. Even when her friends call, she cuts the conversation short, trying to get rid of the phone more quickly than she would a burning piece of coal.

“You could just call when you leave,” she suggested, pursing her lips in a mock frown and working to perfect a look that is the perfect combination of pathetic yet beguiling.
She nailed it and I agreed to make he call.

As it turned out though, neither of us had to make the call as the game of hide-and-seek had ended and the mystery children banged out the front door and headed back down the street to the neighbor’s house.

YS and the boys YD was babysitting stayed behind.
I pulled YS aside and sternly reminded to him that he cannot invite people over without checking with me first.

Chaos cleared, I grabbed an apple and got ready to head back to work, when I heard a bump at the top of the basement stairs, OS appeared.
Oops. I had forgotten that he had wanted to tell me something earlier.

“Uh…Mummy?” he began, fumbling for words. “Uh…you like to know when someone is at the house…uh…so…uh…this is Elizabeth.”

A beautiful curly haired brunette with a Pepsodent white smile and a shy, “Hi,” rounded the corner.

Oy!! This parenting stuff is not for the faint of heart!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Over at Fully Caffeinated, Carrie brought up the issue of forgiveness. Coincidentally, I have been struggling with this issue.
A lot.
What does it mean to forgive?

As a mother, I forgive regularly and often.
It's easy.
I love my children.


I have forgiven them for the little things: the unmade beds, the rooms knee deep in clothes, both clean and dirty, that apparently, leap unbidden, from the chests of drawers and closets, the bathroom sink artfully decorated with green toothpaste spit.

The repeated daily offenses that require little, repeated daily forgiveness.
Petty nuisances that require constant nagging but require neither relationship repair nor restoration of trust.

I have forgiven them for the big things: the sticky fingers that somehow removed items from the store without first removing money from a wallet, the cheating at school, the overt and physical disrespect.

The one-time doosies that require big, God-love forgiveness.
Severe blows that require compassion and understanding and break the heart, increasing its capacity to love and accept.

I can do this.
I have done this.
I will continue to do this.

Not forgiving is not an option.

Then there is forgiveness for a friend.

I had a friend, a “best” friend, who judged me and found me wanting.
The Puanani she needed was different from the Puanani I was capable of being and, I think, different from the Puanani I wanted to be. This difference was unacceptable to my friend and she chose to severe our relationship.

I was angry and hurt.
But, she was angry and hurt too.

She had been a friend who had gone above and beyond for me. She helped me to maintain my equilibrium during my divorce, at a time when I was teetering precariously on the edge of sanity. She had a certain vision of how my life would look after balance was restored. She expected me to have that same vision; after all, we had become like sisters, able to complete each other’s sentences and feel each other’s emotions.
We were of one mind...until we weren't. When my own was fully restored to me, I found that we did not always want the same things nor did we share the same vision. This hurt my friend and she was angry.

I could understand her feelings.
I forgave her and waited for her to forgive me.

A couple of weeks ago, she mailed me a note. It feels as though she has forgiven me.

Yet, when she asked if we could get together, my answer was "no".

I see no point. Rehashing the past would simply tear open old wounds and expose raw nerves.
I cannot mold myself to fit her image of who I should be – being her friend would require that I not be me. And, being my friend would require a change on her part that she cannot make. So I choose not to resume this friendship.

Some would say that this means that I have not truly forgiven her. I disagree.
I have.
I have also recognized the fact that we have chosen different paths, paths that have diverged, like a fork in a river. Coming together now would require damming that fork, leaving one side dry and barren, devoid of the life it once knew, and the other filled beyond its capacity, overflowing its boundaries and flooding the banks.
I do not want to be a raging river nor do I want to be a dry creek bed.
I do not want to alter my course. Luckily, forgiveness does not require that I do.

Forgiveness for Patrick, my children’s father, falls in another category.
Clearly, we did not love each other unconditionally.
Our marriage fell apart after being together for twenty-three years. I thought I knew this man, and I think he thought he knew me. Both of us were surprised by how little we really knew.

Our divorce proceedings were long and ugly.
Forgiveness and compassion were nonexistent.

Understanding…I had that.
I understood how he could feel hurt and angry. And so, I would try to forgive him. And just when I would get close to finding that forgiveness, he would reach into my chest.
And rip out my heart.
And stomp all over it.

And I couldn’t, and still can’t, get away from him. He is inexorably twisted into the fiber of my life. I cannot say, as I did with my friend, “no”. He is a nagging itch under my skin that will not go away.

Sometimes, our relationship is better than others. Last Christmas, it felt as though we were on the brink of becoming friends. It passed. In January, we were back to sitting on opposite sides of the gym, resenting that we both had to breathe the same air.

Having him in my life requires almost daily forgiveness. The great big God-love forgiveness. And he is not my child, and sometimes, I don’t feel like forgiving him and I don’t want to forgive him and I resent that I feel like I should forgive him because he doesn’t deserve it, and he hasn’t forgiven me, and…just because.

I do know that when I am able to forgive him, I feel better. That sour taste, the alum in my mouth feeling that sucks the moisture out of my mouth while simultaneously causing me to salivate the way one does right before one throws up…that feeling goes away.
I also know that sometimes, forgiving him just takes more effort than I have in me.

But I want peace.
I know that forgiveness will give me peace.
And so I struggle with it.

I struggle with forgiveness.

What it means to forgive.
How to forgive.

Friday, March 21, 2008

6 Words

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are all extremely busy. In order to make their lives a little easier, I have often volunteered to do some of the leg work for them.

This year, the Easter Bunny asked that I research books that might be appropriate to include in my children's Easter baskets and to make recommendations. In the past, I have been able to plumb the depths of my memory to come up with several good suggestions. This year, my memory banks are frighteningly bare. The recesses of my mind, which should be filled with useful information, instead feel as though they are sucked dry, swept by tumbleweeds and sun parched wind.

Unwilling to admit defeat to my favorite of bunnies, I jumped on line and began perusing the stacks at I was able to find several good choices, which I have passed along to the Bunny so that she can make her selection.

In the search process, I came across a book entitled Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.


It got me to thinking about my six words. I could feel them bubbling, prickling my consciousness, until they burst forth in an explosion of light.

Plagued by miracles and blessed mistakes.

What are your six words?

Thursday, March 20, 2008


It was August of 2001 and we were vacationing in Northern California with my sister and her family. After a lazy afternoon spent reading books and playing board games, my sister and I decided to go for a brisk walk down to the beach before addressing dinner. Joined by our gaggle of children, we donned our jackets and headed out the door.

The wind danced through the long golden grasses as we walked down a path of rippled sunshine. The children led the way, their walking sticks in the air, batons meting out the rhythm of our parade. My sister and I played the caboose.

We stopped when we reached the bluff overlooking the ocean. Gnarled gray trees stood sentry, their roots clinging steadfastly to the hardened earth. Far below, the sea undulated gently and the salt air rose to welcome us in her warm embrace. Out on the rocks, a lone sea lion lifted his chest to the sky and bellowed. My oldest daughter, OD, stood stock-still. “Shhh,” she commanded, “he’s talking to me.”

“What is he saying?” I asked, intrigued by her ability to understand his wild barking.
She closed her eyes and smiled, softly shaking her head, “it’s a secret.”
I watched her savor the moment as it settled in her soul. I wondered what seed had just been planted and I wondered if I would notice when it grew.

We continued on our journey, each lost in quiet contemplation. A thin black garter snake slithered between our feet and darted under an ancient graying log that lay sheltered under the wind swept branches of the evergreens. Flailing walking sticks and shrieking quickly replaced our silence, all of us scampering madly to avoid a snake that was already off the path and was clearly just eager to avoid us, as we were to avoid him. We dissolved into a comedy of keystone cops as we hopped and scuttled our way past the small stand of trees.

Moments later, we crossed a tiny wooden bridge that spanned a dry creek bed. The rocks below us were smooth, faded orbs shaded in grays and browns. Our feet clomped loudly over the weathered timbers.

“Who’s that tramping over my bridge?” boomed OD.
“It is I, the smallest Billy Goat Gruff,” responded my youngest daughter, YD, in her squeakiest and highest pitched voice. She clenched up her arms and her hands became tight fists as she spoke, trying to embody the most diminutive goat of the Gruff family.

My girls are separated by almost five years, yet at this moment, they are totally in synch with each other. I can see the tiny golden thread that each of them has cast out to the other. It will join with other random moments, twisting together and weaving the strong rope that will forever bind them together as sisters.

It has been a long road since that summer day. OD and YD have grown to be as different as marshmallows and brussel sprouts. They have often wondered to me how they could even be related. They have ignored each other, complained about each other and gone out of their way to be as unlike the other as they could be. They were not merely drifting apart; they were running as hard and as fast as they could in opposite directions.

It made me sad to see such a deep chasm grow between them. I wanted them to be the kind of sisters that my sisters and I weren’t. It seemed, however, that history was doomed to repeat itself

And then, in January, in the soggy, wet, miserable dead of winter, the sun rose and its warmth enveloped my daughters and their hearts began to thaw toward each other.

This winter, YD, a freshman in high school, needed a dress to wear to Winter Formal. I am NOT a shopper nor am I up to date on the latest fashion trends. YD knows this, she also knows that her sister is, so when I asked her if she would like me to check with her sister as to where to shop and what to buy, YD eagerly dialed the phone and handed it to me.

“Oooo!” OD squealed when I asked her advice, “can I take her shopping?” Her desire seemed genuine, but my daughters’ years of mutual misunderstandings made me hesitate.
“Pu-leeeez?!” she begged. “I know exactly where to take her.”
“Well…” I hedged.
Sensing a weakness, OD swooped in and took control, “How much do you want to spend? Ooo, and after we choose a dress, I can take her to Nordstrom for a make-over!”

YD, sitting next to me at the kitchen table, began to smile and her head started moving until she looked like a bobble head doll come to life in my kitchen.
OD was in her element. Fashion ideas were bubbling out of her. Her excitement was spilling through the phone and YD was lapping it up until the room was pulsing with anticipation.

We formulated a plan, and the next day, OD picked up YD after school and took her to the mall.
Two, over the top happy girls came home to me that evening, smiles big enough to bridge the Columbia River. They had found the perfect dress and had scored some fabulous samples at the make-up counter.
Most importantly, they had each found a new, tiny golden thread and both of my girls were busily weaving once again, strengthening the rope that would bind them together forever as sisters.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ready to Sprout

Just after I accepted my new job and before I had started, my mother called.
“How are you?” she asked, voice full of concern.
“Fabulous!” I reply, smiling. “Absolutely fabulous!”
“But you never call anymore,” she whines.
“And you never call anymore,” I echo.
“Well, I don’t want to be a nuisance…” her voice drops off as she lets her words hang precariously between us, waiting for me to reassure her that she could never be a nuisance.
Instead I laugh, “Oh, but you do it so well!”
When I don’t rush to fill it, she does.
“It’s just that we worry about you.”
“Please don’t. I’ve asked you not to, and really, I’m fabulous.”
“Well…is anything new?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I got a job.”
“Really, doing what?”
“I’m going to be working with an outreach program, with survivors of domestic violence.”
“Oh. That’s just the sort of job that I’ve always said you should get. Counseling. Remember how I always said when you were married that you should go back to school and get a degree in counseling? Oh, that’s just your thing. Now I finally have something to tell my friends. They keep asking about you, you know, and I never have anything to tell them.” My mother’s voice is all bubbles and sunshine.
I try to match my voice to hers and smile, “So glad I was able to help you out.”
“Yes, well, you’ll call me if anything new happens, won’t you?”
“Yes, I’ll call you.”
“Okay then, cheery-bye.”

I hang up the phone and my mind is swirling.

When I was married, I had seriously considered going back to school to get a Masters in Social Work. Neither Patrick nor my mother thought it was a good idea. They were both very logical in their reasoning. I already had a full time job mothering. Besides, where would I get the money? You know, it costs money to raise four children. And why, for the love of God, would I ever want to get a Masters in Social Work? Why would I want to work with people who had problems?

And so, I backed down.
I knew that it was easier to stay malleable. To remain the blank slate so that others could write my story for me.
There was really no point in rocking a boat that was already plenty rocky on its own.

A week into my job, my mother called again. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I am busy scrambling to get all the shopping done before the children come home from their father’s house.

“How’s the job going?” she chirps into the phone.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, but it’s going really well.” I try to keep my answer short so that I can get off the phone as quickly as possible.
“All my friends are just so excited for you,” she gushes. “They all agree that counseling is just your thing.”
I try to bite my tongue, but the words escape before I can stop them. “I’m not really doing counseling,” I explain. “I’m working with people who are in violent domestic situations and who need help getting out. It’s more about listening and offering options.”
“Yes, well…counseling. That’s just your kind of thing.”
I give up. “I’m glad you approve,” I concede. “I remember when you thought working in social services would be a fate worse than death.”
“I never thought that!” My mother’s voice raises an octave as she vehemently disagrees with me.
“Yes you did,” I argue. “Remember when I said that I wanted to get an MSW? You thought that would be the worst idea in the world.”
“I NEVER said that! Why would I say such a thing?”
“I don’t know,” I sigh, tired of running in circles on the same wheel. “I think it had something to do with the sorts of people with whom I would be working.”
“Hmm,” my mother sniffs into the phone. “Well, my friends and I all think it’s just your sort job. I always knew you would be good in counseling.”

Last week, my mother and I revisited the subject.

“How’s the job?” she begins.
“Well, I still have it, I still like it and I still have a lot to learn.” I joke, bracing myself for the “counseling” dance that has become so familiar.
“Yes, well I’m sure that you will get it all soon. Counseling is your thing.”
I roll my eyes at the phone and get ready to launch into my standard rebuttal, but my mother rushes on before I can start.
“Actually, I’m calling you with egg on my face, begging a thousand pardons.” I think she is going for a tone that is contrite and I imagine her wringing her hands and forcing tears that well up and threaten to spill over her thick blond lashes.
“For what?” I ask, as I will away the sharpness that has formed at the edges of my voice.
“For what I said about you getting a Masters in Social Work. You were right. I think I was imagining you as the Social Worker of my youth. You know, the Cherry Ames sort of person who worked in the slums. That’s just not what I wanted for you.”

I am stunned!

My mother memories of the past have always been thickly laced with maple syrup.

She does not remember the mother that hit her children with yardsticks and hairbrushes. She does not recall the times that she “forgot” to pick me up, nor the cat fights we had in the front hall when I was seventeen, nor the eleven months of silent treatment she forced me to endure when I refused to move back home after college graduation.

Instead, she remembers the mother who volunteered at the local hospital and pulled strings to make sure that I would have around the clock nursing care after adenoid surgery, the mother who stood up to a teacher in defense of her daughter, the mother who went to every choir recital, the one who made sure that her children had the best of everything.

My mind is racing, searching for something to say. But I don’t know how to respond to this woman, this mother who suddenly seems to understand me.

My mother, apparently, doesn't notice my confusion and she races on, determined to finish what she has started. “...and I realize now that what I wanted, was beside the point.”
“It’s okay,” I finally stammer.
“No, it isn’t,” she argues softly. “What you needed was support…and I didn’t offer any. I’m sorry.”
“Thank you,” I mumble, my vision blurred by gently falling tears that water the barren landscape of my thirsty heart.
“Yes, well then,” my mother’s voice is suddenly brisk as she rushes to avoid the awkward moment that hovers at the border of our conversation. “That’s all for now. Cheery-bye.”


And just like that, our phone call is over.
But the seed that has long been awaiting its chance to bloom has been tended. Weeds have been cleared and the soil has been moistened. It remains to be seen whether or not it will blossom, but clearly, it is ready to sprout.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Silent Sorrow

I want to dance in the arms of my grandfather
To smell the maile that rises from his breath
I want to hear the words that he was forced to swallow
That strangled his soul and buried our song
I want to ease my grandfather’s sorrow

I want to free my father to his heritage
To give honor to the names and the places that have haunted him
Ancestral memories that have sucked the light
Pushing him into the shadows of unspoken shame

I want to understand the ghosts that have caressed my dreams
Growing more insistent with the years
Now frantically tugging me out of my sleepy stupor
Propelling me into my unknown past
With ragged whispers

I want to bless my children with the beauty of their birthright
To weave meaning from the confusion of familial pride
I want to give them the voice of my grandfather
The melody that seeps from their souls
Giving rhythm to the beating of our hearts

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Marching With the Saints

My youngest son, YS, starts school half an hour after his siblings, so this morning, after I have safely deposited his brother and sister at their respective schools, he and I are home alone.

He is in the living room and I am in the kitchen. I hear him take out his guitar and begin playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

“How was that, Mummy?” he calls from behind the two walls that separate us.

“Perfect!” I yell back as I stuff cold pepperoni pizza into a sandwich bag for his lunch.

“Wait, wait. I’m coming in there. I’ll play and you sing. Okay?”

He thumps loudly across the floor as he makes his way into the kitchen. At nine, his feet are almost the same size as his eighteen year-old sister’s, although he is still a good foot shorter than she. He has yet to figure out how to maneuver these massive boats that have suddenly grown on the ends of his legs, and they get in his way when he pulls out the kitchen chair. He trips and his guitar twangs loudly and bangs against the table.

“Careful!” slips automatically between my lips, rushing to place some sort of magic shield around the guitar to protect it from the exuberance of my budding guitar protégée.

A cloud passes briefly over my son’s face. He breathes deeply and rolls his eyes so far back in his head that the irises threaten to disappear completely. I breathe and roll my eyes right back at him. With my mindless and annoying “careful” thus noted, we are now freed to move on.

YS settles his guitar in his lap and drapes his right arm over the top. He is barely big enough for the instrument, and the curve of the guitar’s body nestles snuggly in his armpit. His left fingers deftly find the proper fret and his right index finger begins to pluck at the strings.
I stand watching with a proud mother smile plastered across my face, while a tingle of joy sparks in my chest and expands in echoes until it bursts through my skin.

The music suddenly stops. My son’s fingers dangle loosely in front of the strings.
“Muh-meee!” He inhales deeply with the first syllable and forcefully exhales the latter, throwing my name across the room with the explosive breathing of a bellows.

“Wha-hut?!” I blow back to him.

“You’re supposed to be singing!”

“You’re right,” I admit. “Sorry. Can you start again? I’ll be ready this time.”

YS sighs, the breath coming all the way from his toes, and begins strumming.

“Oh when the saaa-ints…..go mar-chhhing iiiin….oh when the saaaa-ints….gooo...mar-chhh-ing iiin,” I warble, dragging out the words so I can keep time with his notes.

We march haltingly through the song.
Our version is, by no means, the “standard” version of the song. The rhythm is hesitant and the words are slightly off key, but when we finish, it is as though all the saints that have ever graced this earth, have marched right through our kitchen and I can feel the blessings that each and every one of them has bestowed upon us.

YS is beaming. “No mistakes!” he says with pride. “And you knew all the words!” he adds, letting a little of his pride spill over onto me. “Wanna do it again?”
“You betcha! One more time, and then it’s off to school.”
We do an encore performance for ourselves and it feels just as good the second time through.

As we walk down the driveway and turn down the sidewalk toward school, YS reaches for my left hand and holds it firmly in his right. His hand is warmer than mine and that warmth spreads through my entire body. Although no words pass between us, we simultaneously begin lifting out knees high and our walking turns into marching, and, even though the guitar has stayed at home, we can feel the saints marching right along with us, all the way to school.