Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Prose - Laura's Fortieth Birthday

My Mom and I were out walking the neighborhood in search of sage for her Thanksgiving stuffing. I knew Steve had a plant. He lived in our first house in the neighborhood, also moving here from Atlanta, an architect, he has done a lot of renovating at 2207 Mapleton. So, here we were picking away, I was only picking one leaf at a time, when Steve drives up. Caught in the action! As he gets out of his car he says, “you don’t want to pick from that side, that’s been peed on by the dogs”. He proceeds to break off a big chunk of sage from the back of the plant, away from the sidewalk. Steve invites us into the courtyard, to show my Mom some of the changes he’s made in the yard. Suddenly, he stoops down, picking up a brick.
“I have something here I think belongs to your family.”
The brick is broken in half, but putting it together we see DAD!, carved into the brick with an exclamation point. Jennifer was sure she hadn’t done it. We had moved from that house in 1976, when Laura was only seven. We didn’t think she would have had the strength to carve a brick at such a young age. It would have been just like Bill to have carved it himself. But, truth be told, I’m sure the brick was carved before our family moved there. Steve puts the two halves in a bag and passes it on to me. I said, “Laura had just told me she wanted something sentimental for her fortieth birthday”. My” baby” was flying to Denver to celebrate with her girlfriends. Quite an adventure for her to leave her three kids and husband, fly to Denver and stay in a hotel with her three girlfriends.
A few nights before Laura arrived, I became aware of her Dad’s presence. I burst into tears, and said, “you should be with us now to help celebrate our daughter’s fortieth year. I don’t want to do this by myself, this should be shared.
I attempt to glue the brick together, it seemed to work. I find our most beautiful gift bag, line it with tissue and gently put the brick in the bag.
As I hand the bag to my lovely daughter across the table at the restaurant where we are celebrating her birthday lunch, she says, “it feels like a brick”. Laura is my most outwardly feeling daughter. She had already cried when we sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She said she usually cries when singing to her children. I said, “yes, it is a very sad song”.
She reaches down into the bag, looking down, she exclaims, “it is a brick”, as she pulls out one half at a time and puts them together. The tears begin as I tell her where the brick came from. She gets up, comes around the table to embrace me. I tell her about her Dad’s visit, holding her in my arms I feel her sobs move through her entire being. This was a movement of energy that I’m sure was felt all around the table, to all the other seven family members and friends. The greatest of this energy was especially shared by the four of us, the original family, with Bill looping the thread.

1 comment:

A Week's Worth of Women said...

Really lovely piece, thank you. Mary