It’s 4:53 in the morning. The only sound I hear is a train whistle. Must be close. I can practically feel the tracks under the weight of the freight. I like it. It’s a comfort sound, reminding me of the part of my childhood spent living in Southern Illinois.
I can feel it coming. The sound and vibration drawing me in like a guided meditation.
Another childhood is asleep on the couch in the next room. My daughter Abby. Now a young adult at 25, living her life without training wheels. Do you know how hard it is to want to run alongside and keep her safe when that part of my job is over?
I just spent the week of Thanksgiving in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Abby and I both grew up. She now lives two hours from there, so before I return to my beautiful life in Florida, I got to spend two days with just her. All to myself. Merry Christmas to me early.
The plan included good food, movies and rest for two people feeling under the weather. Just as well, because the weather was 40 degrees and rainy. We were right where we were supposed to be. Roasted chicken with sauteed spinach and garlic were on the menu next to spaghetti and Italian sausage and made from scratch marinara sauce ala Abby. “I like the dressing you made.” A big compliment from my offspring who once had a chef coat for watching Iron Chef, bakes Bon Appetit cakes from scratch and can make a mean standing prime rib. Previously accurate comments included, “mom, they make a thing called salt. Have you heard of it?”
The first movie up in the two day get well and be together sleepover was a ride in a time machine back 20 years. It opens with a breathtaking aerial view of the Austrian Alps. “That’s incredible footage. And that was before there were drones,” I said. “Probably filmed by some guy hanging out of a helicopter,” Abby said. Those hills were definitely alive.
The Sound of Music. In this beautiful film made over sixty years ago, there is a timeless message of anything is possible if you only believe in yourself, live your dreams and, against all odds, love always wins.
I was five years old when the movie was released. About the same age as Abby when she first saw it and when I started singing the song Edelweiss from the movie to her at bedtime. My house when I was little was built off the sound of the music my father and Abby’s grandfather made with his golden voice.
When Abby was a teenager, she said, “When I turn 18, I want us to get tattoos together. I want to write ‘forever’ in my writing for yours and I want you to write ‘bloom and grow’ for mine.” I never thought music from my voice could ever matter enough to another person that they would want a permanent message to remind them of their experience around that. I was deeply moved by her request.
The only tattoos I had at that point were four blue dots marking me as a target for radiation treatment. On a springtime visit to Oklahoma from Florida in 2021, we did it. Abby has “bloom and grow” in my cursive hand, across her collarbone. And, as you can see, I have “forever”, printed by her, on my wrist. I chose her printing over cursive because I wanted the youngest, most innocent version of her with me – forever.
I just had a vision of one of those time lapse film images of a rose bloom opening, on a loop.
Bloom and Grow Forever. I think it can be true for everyone. That’s what I see happening in me and hope for Abby to see in herself, too.