Cats In The Cradle.
Back when I had more hair on my head than on my back, I listened to Harry Chapin sing his timeless “Cats in the Cradle” and was changed by it somehow. True artists do that, you know. Express truth in ways that can turn us around, make us ask hard questions, and be more honest as we face the guy in the mirror. This song paints such an accurate canvas of so many fathers and sons. There were certainly brush strokes on the canvas that depicted Norm and I. And as many young adolescent males set out to do, I determined to do some things differently than my dad and I did. Looking back at it now, I see some idealism and arrogance there [on my part]. But I also see some healthy energy. Some appropriate individualism mixed with respectful carrying on of all that my father gave to me and tried to instill in me as masculine values.
So this past weekend Jonathan came home from college. And although this college-kid-coming-home-for-the-weekend thing is new to us as parents, I find myself preparing to see him a little over the course of a weekend and be OK with that. Like Harry says, “Well he came home from college just the other day, so much like a man I just had to say, “Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?’ He shook his head, and then said with a smile…” You probably know the rest of that phrase.
I am just being a little more than a little grateful right now, as Jon and I had several trips to the woods and cut and split three loads of firewood. A lot of noise from the chainsaw and the blows of axes and wedges and sledge hammers, but some quiet conversation moments in the middle of it all as well. I subtly watch him work out of the corner of my eye, and I wish I had some of that stamina back. I work really hard to keep going and pretend that my shoulders and back are not as tied up in knots as they really are. [Advil has become a close friend of mine over the last years. She’s just there for me like nobody else.]
Times gathered around the kitchen counter. Around the dinner table. More than just proximity. More than just eat and run. This morning I sat in the garage, near the stacks of firewood, and watched as the Chevy truck drove down the drive, on the way back to South Dakota, and was filled with a wide mix of thoughts and feelings. Way too many to type out here. Brushstrokes on a canvas that is still being painted. Each little brushstroke counts. Each moment. Brushstrokes and moments combine over time, layer upon layer of color and texture and depth.