Memories of Yesterday

Christmas had ended and the children were all tucked away in the bedrooms for well
earned sleep. By children – I mean my children, their spouses, and all the grandchildren,
who come to Nana’s house for a Christmas night sleepover and a morning after Christmas
family gathering. It has become an Amsden tradition. All the kids, who are old enough,
pile into one bedroom, crowding on beds, making pallets on the floor, or sharing a blow up
mattress. Parents choose an empty bedroom where they put the little guys in port-a-cribs or
between mom and dad in the main bed. The tucking in process is challenging yet thrilling
as the whole gang gangs up on Christmas night.
Saying good night sounds like the closing of any episode of the Waltons. “Good
night John Boy” can go on for an extended time as brothers taunt sisters just for old time’s
sake and one brother must out last the other brother just for macho sake. Mom, who is me,
listens contently as the memory of days-gone-by is relived on one special evening each
Christmas night.
Yesterdays – how the thoughts of them warm my soul. I remember the sweet, little
faces of my children that looked at me with love in their eyes. Yes, love in their eyes at all
times. And, did I mention that those small fry charmers were always grateful for everything
I ever did for them? Come to think of it, we probably were just like the Waltons: big
family, lots of love and caring, every problem solved by the wisdom of the parents. Yep,
that is how I remember yesterday.
Yesterdays – how they can tell any story we want them to tell. They are like novels
and we are their authors. Perhaps I might be just a little culpable for having re-written the
narrative of child-rearing. However, the reality of today can have a wake-up call on the
fantasy of yesterday.
Christmas night, Lex awakened unable to breathe. My son and daughter-in-law
knocked on my bed room door to ask me to come, look, listen, and help them decide what to
do. I think they thought that all my experience tending to children had made me a PhD.
Expert that I was, I suggested that we wait and see if he would improve.
The night’s vigil was long and morning brought no relief. Uncomfortable and
unable to be comforted, Lex was sick. Early the next day, we took him to a walk-in clinic.
The nurse practitioner (much closer to a PhD) urged us to go to the emergency room.
Children’s Hospital in St. Louis was our destination.
Waiting rooms, examinations, lots of crying, real PhDs, medicine, more crying,
breathing treatments, long hours, lots more crying (this time from the adults), and Lex
received the care he needed. About midnight, he was discharged and we headed back to
Nana’s house. All the other children and grandchildren had returned to their own homes.
My son, daughter-in-law, and Lex live in California; so they were with me for several more
nights. We fell into bed without the Walton ending.
That day was a reality check on yesterday’s narrative. I really do know that life is
not made up of the happy-ever-after, fairy tale story. I really do know that life brings
challenges for real people who have real needs. I really do know that; I remember that. I
actually have never lost sight of reality. But, one night, one time a year, I indulge myself in
remembering yesterday through Christmas-colored-glasses.

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