Sunny day. Kids playing in the backyard. Husband mowing the grass.

You’ve been there.

That was the setting last night at my house, after a round of pancakes and bacon for dinner. During that meal, my 5-year-old mentioned something about looking forward to going to bed.

Who are you and what happened to Hayden?

The kid who is famous for the phrase ‘One more minute?’ when told it’s bedtime all of the sudden couldn’t wait to be tucked in? He went on explain that he planned to wear his superhero pj’s, the ones that light up when you move, the ones from Papaw Mike. ‘Cause when it lights up, I know he loves me.‘ I smiled. A smile soon followed by a lump in my throat, a bitter combination of missing my sweet dad, yet happy my little guy has held on to fond memories. After all, he was only three when Dad died.

Hayden went on to say he missed Papaw Mike sticking his tongue out at him, the Dum-Dum suckers he snuck the boys, and his hugs.

Me, too.

So, while the boys played baseball and Greg trimmed the yard, I ran upstairs to my memory box and sifted through some of Dad’s favorite things that I grabbed for safe-keeping nearly two years ago:

The half-eaten pack of Necco wafers.

The last grocery list he wrote, with a rarely mispelled word.

The now-faded McDonald’s receipt where he purchased his last coffee.

I hadn’t done this in a long time, yet it was important for me to feel this connection. I quietly tucked these items away, and suddenly looked forward to our usual hectic bedtime routine, just to see Hayden’s pajamas blink in the dark.

A moment that would usually go unnoticed, yet now seemed so significant.

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