I opened my desk drawer not long ago, pulling it way out and getting a rare glimpse into that dark corner that rarely gets my attention. I saw the stack of old calendar planners that I had saved. You know how it is. I saved them just in case I ever need a piece of information that they might contain. Maybe the date of a doctor visit or a surgery or a test of some sort. The ones that I eventually pulled out of two separate drawers went back to 2002. Seriously? I had no idea how much time had passed. Did I really need to keep my planners from 12 years ago?
I gathered the ones together that I had no intention of keeping and decided to take them downstairs to throw them in the kitchen trash can. But before I did that, as I sat at my desk chair, I opened one of the oldest planners. I was quickly pulled back in time as I flipped through its pages. So many memories came rushing in. I reached for another planner, and another, as I sat there lost in memories.
We were in the midst of life with busy kids, that’s for sure. I was homeschooling all three of them, with our friend Amy helping to tutor Aaron. Then I saw the transitions that we were going through with Aaron as we had him tested, enrolled him in the local high school here, and had him then admitted to a Wichita school for special needs life skill training. All the appointments that I had written down brought back so many recollections of that time.
There were football practices and football games for Andrew. I remembered all the times that Gary took him to practices, or I did when Gary was at work……as well as the year that Gary helped coach Andrew’s team and the hours they spent together that year. Then later came the wrestling practices and many wrestling meets. And after that came track for Andrew.
With Andrea, it was largely her music that kept us on the road. Piano and violin lessons, recitals, and special events related to her music. Then there was the season that she and a friend tried volleyball. Oh yes, how well we remember that experience!
All the doctor appointments for each of them, much less for me, were meticulously recorded. Dentist visits, physicals, wisdom teeth surgery, orthodontist visits for Andrew…………and so many more. For Aaron, there were the specialists, of course. The EEGs, the MRIs, the VNS surgery, the five day video EEG in the hospital……..all of it. I smiled at the ER visit for him when he picked up a snake and it bit his hand. I remembered that I wasn’t smiling that day. And his broken wrist surgery was there as well, of course.
We spent countless hours in the car as I drove them all to their activities, especially Andrea and Andrew. I drove them to practices……….I drove them to jobs……..I drove Andrea to college in the early days before she got a car. I drove Andrew to and from our local high school when he went there to finish school, before we got him his truck. It seems so long ago!
I saw records of so many church activities for all of us. Ministry and growth and friendships were all over those pages, for each of us. And there were other treasures as well, such as the visits from friends or family over the years. These people arriving on this day and leaving on that day. Or our trips back home, for many happy visits and then as time passed, the trips that were ruled by sad and hard times.
I saw the date on which I had written that my dad was starting yet another round of chemo. Just three little words – Dad starts chemo. Then a year later, all the blank pages during the month that I stayed in West Virginia with him and mom the month before he died. The same blank pages were there from the year before when Gary’s mother died……and a year later when Gary’s dad died, two months before I lost my dad. So many long trips home………so many blank pages when our normal schedule didn’t matter.
These planners that I held in my hands held far more than dates and times and schedules. They held precious memories of a life that is now in the past for us. The words in black and white…….the scribbled times and the jotted notes………were full of meaning for me. But they didn’t hold emotion or feeling. The feelings are in my heart, stirred alive as I read the facts of our busy life being lived during those active days.
And I would not take back one second of it! No written words in a planner can convey the bonding that was occurring during all those endless hours of time spent together………….whether it was in our van, or in a waiting room, or sitting on bleachers, or nursing one back to health after surgery.
Behind all those sterile words on those lined pages, there was sharing. Talking about relationships as we drove along, or what God would want one of them to think or to do, or what their dreams were. There was laughter…..so much laughter. We still laugh about some of those moments today. If I said to Andrea, “You sophomore or junior?”……she would laugh and laugh about that moment. Or to Andrew, if I said, “I laugh in the face of G-forces. HaHaHaHa!!!”……he would laugh, or at least give me a patient smile while he rolled his eyes.
There was plenty of embarrassment as well, trust me. Andrew’s embarrassment at having his mother drive him to and from school for several months is the stuff of legend……….but there was a lesson to learn. The same for Andrea during her first few months of college.
I wondered, as I read, where I got the energy for those extremely busy days. I was younger and it was just life, how we did it, and I didn’t think a thing about it. Now it would be daunting. Then, it was normal.
While that life is in the past for us now, I know that the time spent together put down roots in their hearts that are still growing today. What occurred in the past is still a part of their present……our yesterdays are a part of their today’s. It’s helped them be who they are, and who they are yet to become. So our yesterdays are also still to be a part of their tomorrows.
To young parents who are now where I was all those years ago, I would say: Look at your children with fresh eyes. See and know that one day, in what will seem like the blink of an eye, your little ones will be driving away to begin their own lives. The time spent with them now can never be reclaimed or lived again. We can never re-live today. Each day, each moment, each event, each conversation, will make them into the adult that they are yet to become.
And so many of these moments and these conversations happen in the dailiness of our lives…….the routine that can become too routine and tiring on some days. Treasure the moments………claim each opportunity to learn and to laugh together.
Some day you might open up your old planners, if you have them and keep them, and smile at the memories. Maybe shed a tear or two. But hopefully you will be mostly thankful for days well spent in the lives of your children and your families.