When Dusty Memories Speak, Listen Closely

trophy pile two

The attic seemed to be calling their names.

Covered in dust and rarely discussed,

these symbols of victory (or at least participation)

seemed to have served their purpose in our family’s story.

___________________

But when my husband heard my plan,

he vetoed it with two sweet and heartfelt sentences,

“You can’t do that. I look at those trophies every time I walk by.”

I could see the sentiment in his eyes as he looked toward the dusty shelf,

and as I sat down to tackle the project in front of me,

I began to feel the sentiment myself.

Lifting the awards and plaques one by one,

I saw so much more than gold-covered plastic and rusty brass nameplates.

I saw years ranging from 1991 to 2016 —-

years filled with

uniform-washing

car-pooling

lawn-chair sitting

sideline coaching

concession-stand working

sweat

mud

laughter

tears

umbrellas

coats, gloves, and hats

snacks for the whole team

baby blankets spread with cheerios and toys to keep younger siblings entertained

used cleats but very rarely new ones

baseball bats

soccer balls

tennis rackets

golf clubs

softball gloves

basketball jerseys

football helmets………………..

I saw faces of teammates that have grown into our children’s adult friends.

And faces of parents who shared the sidelines with us………….

some of whom have gone Home now………and oh, how I miss them.

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I wiped the dust from each trophy.

Feeling the grooves of the bent elbows and knees of these figurines,

I smiled as I thought of the moment when they were held proudly in the hands of one of our kids,

celebrating the joy of pushing through the season of a sport they either passionately loved or patiently endured.

After I placed them all back on the shelf, I stepped back and took a good look.

These trophies belonged right where they were.

This mass of once-dusty plastic and metal meant more to me than words could ever say.

because when I picked them up one by one they told such powerful stories.

_________________________________

I held one trophy and felt the memory of Tim coaching t-ball with another father who quickly became a close friend.

I grasped another and reflected on a grief-filled season of baseball where all I could do was show up and hold my place in the bleachers.

I reached for another and almost laughed as I pictured me and Tim taking on the roles of soccer coaches when neither of us had ever played the first soccer game of our own.

I clung to a gold-coated football player and relived the memory of Nick’s first touchdown in an elementary football game.  How my heart melted in that moment thinking of all he had endured and yet knowing all he still had to face.

I picked up another and smiled as I saw Todd growing to love tennis not just as a high school sport but also as a lifetime hobby.

Trophy after trophy, I saw beautiful stories from the lives of Erich, Evan, Todd, Nick, and Olivia……………….

too many stories to tell but not enough to believe they had somehow come to an end.

trophy case

As I placed the last dust-free trophy back on the shelf,

I knew they were there to stay.

You can’t pack memories away when they’re buried so deeply in your heart.

______________________________

Life is different at our house this year.

School nights feel like every other night.

There’s no rushing around in the morning packing lunch boxes or looking for keys.

No, it’s quiet here.

The voices I hear most clearly are the ones, like those of our trophies, that seem to speak the loudest in the silence.

______________________________________

So, tonight as I write this post, I want to say something to parents with school-aged children.

Something my mom said to me when Erich started kindergarten twenty-four years ago…………………………

enjoy every minute because these years will fly by.

You will blink and all the hectic moments of helping with science fair projects and leaf collections and research papers will be gone.

You’ll walk into your children’s bedrooms and everything will be exactly where YOU left it……………

the last time YOU dusted.

The phone will ring and one of your kids’ names will show up and your heart will leap,

because they thought of YOU!

Or you’ll wish so much the phone could ring and hold the voice of your child when only Heaven will allow that gift.

So parents of young children, I’m begging you………………..

hold your kids tight.

Love them passionately.

Teach them to dream big dreams but brace yourself for the day when they take off in pursuit of them.

You’ll be so proud and so sad at the very same time,

so cherish today.

Make this year the best one ever.

Do everything within your power to be the best mom or dad you can be.

You’ll often feel tired and inadequate,

but as your journey of child raising comes to a close and you watch your boys and girls transform into men and women,

I promise you’ll long for one more tired night or one more inadequate day.

Parenthood or sharing in the lives of children in any fashion is such an honor.

Don’t ever take it for granted.

_________________________________

I bought a wall-hanging years ago to hang above our shelf of trophies.

I remember walking through Homespun Sisters with my sweet friend, Janie,

looking for the perfect message.

My heart nearly stopped when I read these words,

joy sign

“Don’t Postpone Joy”

To me, those three simple words said it all.

That’s what trophies and life are all about.

Celebrating both the big moments and the little ones.

Honoring both the winners and the ones who gave their very best.

Cheering on the faint of heart and giving a high-five to everyone who simply showed up.

Life isn’t easy.

Parenting isn’t either.

But no matter how hard it gets,

remember it’s fragile and fleeting.

So do this empty-nest mom a favor and please…………….

Cherish every single day with your children and no matter what……………………….

Don’t Postpone Joy!

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