Revisiting my daughter’s features in my granddaughter’s infant face…


                I have been away from my “normal” life to remember my life…

Walking side by side and straight ahead down my occasionally busy Vermont Street we travelled with no sense of time just place. The remaining autumn colors illuminate the hill tops while our feet crunch through the now fallen leaves.  My daughter with her newborn daughter comfortably tucked in her front pack baby carrier and I chat like two teenage girls while our telling brown eyes show the impact of the pandemic whiplash we suffer from. What we thought life should be, changed in what seems like a moment. As we make our way down the street, we frequently check the baby. We adore tending to this baby. Amazed at her growth in her few yet many weeks. Moving forward together while staying in the moment.

Walking past an Appalachian trailhead I notice a crankiness in my hips. I ask my healthy and very fit daughter if her hips ever hurt? Possibly looking for a kindred spirit or not wanting to feel as old as my body might be suggesting? She lovingly looked at me and kindly said “yes, always.” Giving it a bit more thought and consideration over the next number of steps I mentally calculated my recent running and hiking miles, as the discomfort didn’t add up. A broad smile began to appear on my worried face. Recognizing and acknowledging all of the lateral swaying in an effort to comfort this new beautiful baby each late afternoon was the physical difference. Sharing my not so earth-shattering revelation with my daughter we had a hardy laugh and a mutual understanding. Maybe not teenage girls giggling but two women, two mothers chatting…

We keep COVID conversations to a minimum as we do the emotional thoughts of a quickly approaching and uncertain holiday season. Too much to handle right now. “When the world returns to normal” is a frequently stated comment when introducing situations, we once deemed as “normal living.” From playgroups to family gatherings we imagine our plans, but we also acknowledge the possibility of the world not returning to “normal.” We hope it does but just don’t know…

We reach our 2-mile mark and decide to turn back as the next corner is precarious and we prefer not to challenge the universe today. An abrupt change in direction impacts just us two as the baby sleeps enviably and blissfully unaware. She has all that she needs in my daughter. Her world appears complete.

As with our direction the conversation shifts. We have two miles to go and the pace is solely ours. My daughter asks questions about loved ones that have passed many years ago at this point, but their memory lives within us both. Wanting to learn more about our family history while allowing me to indulge in favorite stories we make our way back home. Suspecting she was longing to have an even better understanding of her legacy in order to one day tell her daughter about the people that came before her and have genetically participated. Time is as fleeting and precious as our memories. 

Unscheduled days offer the opportunity to veer off the expected. Highlighting only the happy, the endearing, the noteworthy and the quirky family stories. Choosing to navigate our family history with more positives than not. Verbally shaping how our family memories will be shared and preserved. However worthy nothing to date has been formally written down to dispute my many wonderful and lovingly embellished family tales.  A task for another day as this will do for today. Today was exactly enough. 

This is the role of the mother. And in that visit, I really saw clearly, for the first time, why a mother is really important. Not just because she feeds and also loves and also cuddles… but because in an interesting and maybe an eerie and other worldly way, she stands in the gap. She stands between the unknown and the known.” 
Maya Angelou, 

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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