We are too old now not to be honest in our retelling of some things, aren’t we?
And looking back, if we are honest, one of the reasons we stayed in Memphis was because we were waiting for my stepmother to die. Not wanting her to die, of course, but simply waiting as life unfolded, allowing time to wash by us.
We filled this time, our 10th summer in Memphis, with work and everyday busyness, with short trips and little family adventures. My sister finished her residency, and I went to Portland to celebrate. The family up the street who had a daughter our daughter’s age built a river house not too far away and invited us for a weekend escape.
It was the summer of Olympic celebration, and our neighbors banded together in full athletic dress to march in the July 4th parade. We had a picnic on the block, played games and let the children run in the sprinkler.
We ignored our house, ignored our yard.
Before school started, we drove to the beach, the four of us, for a week to stay in my stepmother’s condo where she and my father eloped, where they spent every spring and fall of their short nine year marriage.
You found a Rubbermaid container of pictures that I didn’t have time to go through. We’ll look through them next time, I said.
You found my father’s tackle box, full of hand-painted lures, saltwater flies, and his fishing knife. You went through the ancient box piece by piece with our son, being careful of his small fingers and six-year-old curiosity. To his delight, you rigged a rod and took him out to the water for a test run (a generous gift, because you hate fishing).
Our son slept with the box by his side.
We’ll leave it here for our next fishing expedition, I said as we packed up the next day.
I think you ought to stick it in your car, you said. It’s something of your dad’s that you should hang on to, in case anything happens.