I went to Colorado last week, leaving behind The Husband, the munchkins, and my mother-in-love, who came up to watch all of them and do mountains of laundry, because that's just something she likes to do, and we are happy to oblige her by providing a Himalayas of laundry.
No, you can't have her.
The occasion was my father's 80th birthday. My family of origin all converged at my Successful, Elegant, Never Had Kids brother's house, with its sweeping views of Colorado Springs and distinct lack of clutter, fingerprints, or -- let's face it -- dirt.
It was a wonderful four days, filled with tall tales, family lore, and laughter. My dad's twin brothers came up for a day, adding another dimension to the experience, as the three of them told stories from their childhood.
And after childhood. They all went to the same college. Here's one from my Uncle Intellectual: "I remember going over to your Dad and Mom's apartment after school. We'd drink cognac and listen to Bolero and talk about art and literature." My Dad and his brothers were country boys from Shelby County in East Texas where such things were unheard of. How sophisticated they must have felt, just kids themselves, round about 1951, standing around a record player, sipping their cognac. Can't you just see it?
Every morning, I'd wake up to silence. No Thunder Cats with their elephantine feet pounding over the stairs. No children with their abnormally loud voices debating the merits of cereal vs. oatmeal. I'd slip out of my iron bed with the crisp sheets, tiptoe across the hand-scraped oak floor, and sit on a luxurious sofa, sipping my coffee, looking out at the quiet, peaceful morning.
Yesterday, my sister and I hopped a plane, sharing the first leg of her journey. For two hours, we barely drew a breath, as we dissected the visit, teared up at various points as we remembered certain tendernesses exchanged by my parents with us, and with each other, and caught up on each other's life.
I kissed her goodbye as I headed to baggage claim, and she to her flight home. Grabbed my bag, waited for The Husband, kissed him quickly under the watchful eye of the TSA agent directing traffic, and headed for home.
No one was in bed yet. Hugs and kisses all around. "Out of my whole trip, the best part was coming home to you," I said to each of them. And meant it.
"Mom! Mom! Mom!" a voice whispered urgently this morning at 6 am. I opened one eye. "Sookie (the cat) pooped on the couch in your office!" said the Princess. I gave her instructions for its disposal (the poop, not the cat, though that was tempting) and curled back into the Lizard Eater sized hollow in our mattress.
TAP TAP TAP. Someone is tapping on my forehead. It is Little Warrior. "I want to cuddle with you."
No, you can't have her.
She climbs next to me, wraps her arms around my neck, and falls fast asleep. Sleep is long gone for me, and I lie there, listening to her breath in my ear, and the thunder of cats without little fog feet and Bo Peep and the Boy discussing the superiority of cinnamon waffles to plain waffles and The Husband reminding The Princess to put away her violin and I know that I am home.
And I am glad.