I remember the muffled whispers from these two young boys as they negotiated an imaginary scene. Little Mitch and Ethan were hard at work making a movie in their minds. Their dimpled hands moved little toy figures from one place to another over an ever-changing landscape of cloth and couch pillows.
The child in my heart wanted to join them in the action – but I knew this was their time to bond, so I refrained and just watched these sweet boys from a distance do what they do best: imagine. “Petcheew, petcheew”, Ethan sounded with great energy. Mitch replied, “Aaaaahhhhh” as his chubby fingers escorted a little Star Wars figure from the air into a carpety ocean. Their imaginary tale continued for another 20 minutes. Quietly I sat with a smile on my face and an even bigger smile in my heart. I didn’t just see two little boys playing … I saw how much they loved each other and that filled my heart with the deepest joy.
Every single day these little boys created a storybook of adventure. Each page written moment-by-moment, sometimes with great brilliance. Furniture turned into vast mountain ranges, carpet into deep valleys. Our little home became an infinite universe of endless wonders.
Sometimes I wish I invested more energy in playing with my children when they were young. I tried, but looking back, I could have done better. I should have done better. But I suppose that is the lament of every parent. Maybe that is why grandparents are so great at what they do … because they finally learned that nothing is more important than the time we spend with family. They are less concerned with accumulating things and seem to be more interested in making moments – because by comparison, they don’t have many moments left.
Several years ago, about two years before Mitch was diagnosed with DMD, I sat at the kitchen table of a woman whom I just met. I had flown to Arizona to document some of her life story. Her name is Anita Farnsworth. A more lovely and kind person I have never met. I consider her a dear friend to this day.
She described in a most beautiful way her love of family. She has 14 children and more grand & great grandchildren than I can count. If I were to tell you the number, you might think I exaggerate. I carefully placed a microphone on her kitchen table and asked her to just talk to me. Soon I was swept away with her story as images from her words flooded my mind.
I asked her what it meant to be a mother. She said her first delivery was very difficult … and just after her delivery someone asked if she was going to have another, she said, “I don’t know why anyone would have more than one.” With a chuckle in her voice and a glowing smile on her face, she then said with tears in her eyes, “But then, I forgot about all of that. Why cut yourself short on blessings. [With children] there is so much love.” By the end of her beautiful characterization of motherhood, my eyes were overflowing with tears, overwhelmed by the truth of her words.
Imagine that … children are at once the most rewarding and challenging assignment in life. They are the source of great pain, worry and heartache … while at the same time they bring the richest joys and deepest fulfillment.
Sitting at that humble kitchen table was a woman who became a master teacher. I learned more about life in those few hours with her than I learned in all my years of university. About two years later, when she discovered Mitch was diagnosed with a fatal disease, she wrote me a most compassionate letter and offered her love and prayers. I was reminded of that time at her kitchen table when I felt so much love from her heart. I wept again … grateful for those who mourn with those that mourn. Grateful for those who have love in their hearts. I long for that day when the world lays down its weapons of war, its rhetoric of hate and shame and trades those cruel tools for more powerful agents of change. Love.
Imagine that …