In the past few months, my oldest son, who is fifteen, has: started shaving, received his learner’s driving permit, and started his first part-time job. I’m having some kind of strange feeling about all of this, but I’m not sure what it is?!
He is growing up, which, of course, means growing away. Normal. Healthy. Natural. But, oh, so hard on the momma. Where did my baby go?
Actually, he’s still there. The sweet, caring boy who used to cuddle on my knee now gives me giant bear hugs that almost break my back. I used to rock him to sleep at night, and sing to him, and kiss his face. Now, I am lulled to sleep by the music of a boy who stays up later than me.
I dropped him off at work a 7:00 this morning. I felt little … bittersweet? … as I watched him walk into the building carrying his lunch pail. My baby.
I’ve been thinking of my grandpa today. Edward James (Jim) Lidbury, a WW1 veteran. My dad’s Dad. He lied about his age in order to join up in Britain. He became a prisoner of war, who barely escaped with his life. His eyes would tear when he talked about the man who rescued him from the prison where he almost starved to death. He didn’t talk about the war very much, though. “It’s not for children to think about,” he’d say.
He was a boy when he went to war, but the war stayed with him his entire life. I remember visiting at my grandparent’s home when my sisters and I were children. While he made us toast from white bread, Grandpa would sing songs from the war. He’d sing and march in their little kitchen while we ate our breakfasts.
It was strange to think of my grandpa fighting in a war. He was a gentle man, soft-spoken, with a British accent. I remember him telling me once that even though many soldiers found the company of loose women, he never did. “I never kissed a woman until I married your grandma,” he’d boast. His other claim, I recall, was that he’d never let alcohol pass his lips.
I loved my grandpa, the way a child loves. He always seemed old to me. Even as he became more fragile, he retained a kind of dignity. He cried a lot. He missed his wife terribly. He was comforted by a vision he had of her standing at the end of his bed one night, telling him that everything would be okay. I can still see the shock in his face the first time he didn’t recognize my dad as his son. His bewilderment and tears. Oh my.
I was pregnant with my first son at my grandpa’s funeral. I pray he will never know war the way Grandpa did. I pray for peace.