When I was a little girl, oh heck, until I was off to college, my parents would take me on our annual "fall drive". We would get in the car, me in the back seat with books and a pillow, and head out of the city to the country roads. We would drive in search of finding a pumpkin farm to get a pumpkin to carve for Halloween, plus some tasty hot chocolate to sip, and we would each keep our eyes darting about to point out the most beautiful leaves on a tree . . . well, until the next one. We would exclaim at the colors and wonder why the trees dropped their traditional green garb in autumn to dress up in oranges, reds, browns, and golds. As a young child, I remember thinking they were dressing up for the upcoming holidays. (I still like that idea better than the scientific chlorophyll explanation.)
Reflecting back on that memory and how strongly it stays in my heart, I wonder what family memories we are creating for our children, and which ones they will most likely remember. Some they will be far too young to recall. When Jasmine was a baby, she would always fall asleep during car rides. On nights when she was just so wide awake at bedtime, we would get in the car and drive back roads for 30 minutes until she fell asleep. Then we would carry her like a fragile egg into the house to make sure she stayed asleep tucked under the covers between us. Those drives in the darkness were precious. Joseph and I had long talks and we sang to Jasmine and I nursed her (yeah, I know . . car seats . . . but now and then . .. ) and it was like we were in this cocoon of darkness with our headlights just showing what was a few feet in front of us. I know she can't remember those days since she was so tiny, but we do. I hope she does remember trips to Camp Singing Hills and countless days of ushering, and movie quotes on the computer screen and staying up late to watch movies.
I think that Nicole, Caspian and Coryn will remember many of the events from our life in Oregon. They will remember midnight runs to VooDoo Donuts. They will remember countless trips to the ocean/coast. They will remember Saturday nights on the couch watching some ridiculously stupid, cheesy scifi movie.They will remember sitting at tables in bookstores with piles of books, and passing them around to share and picking out something to take home.
What I want all of them to remember, more than anything, is that we are a family and that we loved every one of our wonderful children. We weren't infallible (lord, the mistakes we made over the years!), and sometimes our intentions were good but our follow through was flawed. Sometimes we were tired or broke or sick or sad . . . . and that impacted our ability to be mom and dad. But overall, without reservation, we have loved our four kids with every ounce of love we had, and did the best we possibly could.
And when they are grown ups, and we are gone, I desperately hope they will look back and smile. I hope they will realize that family memories are more precious than anything else and that they will, in turn, create precious memories with their own.