Monday, September 18, 2006

First Night of Fall

I know what the calendar says...but you don't go by that when it comes to The Coming Of Autumn, do you? No. You go a little by the colors popping up in the foliage and we're starting to get a little of that now, too--much better than last year already. A little fire-red in the sumac, the aspen is flaring yellow on a branch here and there, and the oaks are starting their fade to brown.

But what you really go by to mark the beginning of fall is the first time you feel that flash of chill on the wind. That first day when you feel that north wind and think "oh, crap". When you get that feeling that you are a very, very small, unprotected creature standing in the path of the frozen wind tunnel that is Minnesota in January.

Our strange little family is huddled up in the house together tonight. Everybody has an ache or a pain, a sniffle or a sneeze bothering them. We copped out and ate pizza tonight...the ladies are watching some new shows and us guys (by which I mean me and Willy) are gearing up for Monday Night Football and the rhythmic weekly denoument of my fantasy football addiction.

Only one thing of real note over the weekend...a connection I made with "Tammy" that felt very, very right to me. She is very attached to her mother and seems to have a real anger problem toward her father...for good reasons as I get the story. Suffice it to say that it always makes her deeply anxious and unhappy to say goodbye to her mother, and yesterday was no exception.

After her mother left, she went to her room, then walked out of her room and stood crying in the hall. Without really thinking about it, I walked up to her, kissed her on the forehead and cheek, and just took her into my arms and stood hugging her. We must have stood there for 15 minutes. The hitching sobs gradually quieted to sniffles, and then to the occasional gentle shudder. The Wife observed this happening and stood away to just let it happen, bless her.

At length, I stood away, put a hand on each shoulder and made her look at me. I said "you need to understand that whenever you feel bad, or depressed, or lonely, you always have [The Wife] and I to talk to or just be with. You understand?" She nodded. "Feel better?" She nodded and that lovely small smile crept back to the corners of her mouth. I smiled, hugged her quickly again, and we went on with our evening routines.

Fifteen minutes out of my life, and I was able to make a girl feel better. If everybody spent a lousy 15 minutes out of their day to help a child feel better, there would be no need for a foster care system. Do you realize that?

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