We’ve been moving. Down scaling, preparing for the winter of our lives.
“Let’s move closer to the children.” I said. thinking about grandchildren.
We sold out, packed up and moved two hundred miles.
Now that we’re here, we don’t miss soccer games. We go to grandparents day, birthday parties and ice cream socials. It’s our pleasure in life.
This week I stumbled on two cardboard boxes. Boxes we packed away twenty years ago. Big, heavy boxes with broken corners, dirty, dusty and dingy. They were hidden in our attic more years than I remember.
One big old apple box, it rattled when I picked it up. Trophies and ribbons from yesterday. It was chock full of yesterday.
A team name, long forgotten, a boy’s name, dear to my heart, a year, already too far in my past.
Another box, lighter than I expected, still heavy with memories. I opened the box. Had to. Inside, neatly folded, stacked to the top, team shirts and jerseys from the past. Reds, black, silver, orange, green, and dirty white. I sat there in the middle of the floor. I rubbed my hand across the top shirt, trying to catch a bit of the past. I thought about the good times we had, even when we didn’t know we were having a good time.
It started with “Under 6” soccer in South Louisiana. He was our first born, just turned four and wanted to play. Qualified they said. It ended twenty years later, when the youngest son played his last high school game. In between, they played soccer, baseball, football, even church league basketball.
Heck, one of our sons even raised sheep for three years. He competed at 4-H sheep shows. We packed two sheep, a bucket of oats and headed down the road to one fair grounds after another. Fun!
They all collected trophies. Trophies for first place one year, second place another. Most improved another year. Blue ribbons, Red ribbons, gold and silver medals. Trophies for being there, for growing up, for being one part of the team.
For a while, it was their life and our life together. As their childhood slid past us all, , we boxed it up when they left home.
The rewards of raising three boys to become men and fathers of their own.
I want to say “we did it all.” Yes, I know, the boys were on the field, but Mom and Dad were in the car, we were in the concession stands, we were the car pool, we were in the stands and we had the band aids and Gatorades after the games. We were there when they won. We picked them up and drove them home when they lost.
We sold candy, we sponsored barbeque plates and fried catfish to raise money. I bought ten thousand soft drinks and five thousand soggy hotdogs and bad hamburgers. We bought matching T-shirts and baseball caps. We huddled under blankets in winter, sweated in July. One year, we built a baseball field in a cow pasture.
I put off conference calls, rearranged meetings, drove a hundred miles out of my way to get to a game on time. I bought enough gloves, socks, cleats, pads, baseballs, bats and soccer balls to outfit a small store.
Suddenly, it ended when the last one finished high school.
Let me tell you what I miss the most. That little hand, holding mine as we walked towards the car. The little boy looking up at me, reaching out with a hand that was a bit gritty, the kid with some dirt on his chin and the teenager, sweaty, exhausted and carrying grass stains on uniform pants that all the bleach in Texas wouldn’t clean.
If you raised your kids right, then you know exactly what I mean.
Maybe there’s still a bit of that in those two boxes I moved to the attic.
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