Captured in the Moment

Lessons in the Stream of Life

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Debra Caffey Vines HS VikettesI love the #tbt (Throwback Thursday) posts on Instagram and Facebook. Without fail, they can transport me back in time and make me smile. Sometimes I even laugh out loud over the memories that rise to the surface. I love seeing other people’s photos and stories as well. Somehow, I feel I know them just a little better than I did before.

Recently, I posted up photos of myself and a few of the drill team girls from my sophomore year at what was Vines High School in Plano, Texas from back in 1976. It brought a lot of people to the surface that I haven’t heard from in years, and we all enjoyed a bit of reminiscing. I also posted a photo of my husband from his high school days. Because the boys resemble him so much, early photos of him get lots of comments from friends old and new. It’s a great connection, however brief.

Anyway, it made me start thinking…mostly about our sons who have grown to adulthood knowing us only as Mom and Dad. Considering that we were in our 30’s before they were born, there is a good chunk of our life that we’ve never really shared with them.

Do they know that their dad was an exceptional high school athlete? Do they know that he was a leader among his college peers? Do they know that when I look at them, I sometimes see the boy I met in college? Do they know what an awesome, loving father he was when they were babies? Do they know he once thought he aspired to become a doctor?

What about me? Do they know how much I have always loved music? Do they know I was on the drill team in high school? Do they know I love to write? Do they know what I dreamed of being before I was their mom?

Overwhelmingly, I would answer no to those questions. Certainly, they’ve heard a few stories, but they’ve only had glimpses. I am feeling a gentle prodding to reach out to them. I keep coming back around to the importance of sharing those stories now, before it’s too late, not only for the entertainment value but for the tie that binds…that invisible thread of likeness that runs through us and links us together as family.

It’s too late to sit around telling the stories now that our sons are grown and gone from home, but I’ve opted to forgo chastising myself for getting lost in the daily grind of living. Instead, now that I have a little more opportunity on my hands, I’m thinking I’m overdue to put a few of those photos and their stories on paper for them. I’ve decided to start sharing them by letter and email…really doing it “old school”, as they say. Perhaps they are too young to fully appreciate them now, but down the road…well, it might just open up a door of understanding on who we were in our youth, who we became, and the shadows of us that live in them today, both good and bad, I’m sure! . I’m excited! I think it could be the most fun project I’ve launched in a while, and even if they don’t admit it now, I think my sons will be glad I took the time to do it one day.

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Big Diversions Come in Small Packages

ipad import 62014 2182 - CopyGetting the doing part done has proven a bit more of a challenge than I thought it would be. The month of May began with me relaxing on the beach with a friend in Galveston. Little more than a text message, poor communication, and one kid’s return from college later, I had derailed into old patterns faster than a speeding bullet. My youngest son, Blake, arrived home with his new puppy, Daisy, in the early hours of a Saturday morning, and by Monday, I had already turned down a path that wasn’t on my map a few days earlier. Big diversions come in small packages.

Before I get much further, let me clarify that I’m not blaming or justifying my actions in any way. I made a choice. I had every intention of making my son be the responsible party for his new bundle of fur and energy, but the truth is that he was no more ready to parent Daisy than he was a new baby. And, when he got a job and was gone all the time, the caretaker in me stepped up to the plate. Before I knew it, I was raising Daisy, not so much for him, but for her. She was in our home now, and I saw that she was very smart. I wanted her to grow into a “good” dog, and I also had a home and my sanity to protect! Puppies are puppies, and she was a puppy with a capital p.

I dove into my role as Nana to Daisy, and like young mothers who find themselves overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for a newborn or toddler, I slipped into early mornings, play dates at the dog park, games of fetch, and any number of other activities that would result in sweet Daisy’s exhaustion and sleep. I gave up morning showers, makeup, and styling my hair knowing that all such efforts were wasted energy when I would only be returning to play outdoors to sweat it all off again. My baseball tan returned as dog park tan, and shadows of an old self lived again. Ponytails, flip-flops, and workout clothes were my uniform, and at day’s end, I was ready to hand off the puppy to anyone that would take her so that I could get a break. I had all the markers of young motherhood, but at 53 it came off looking like I was just a slacker. I am sure my friends and family were beginning to wonder about the changes in me.

Anyway, the months passed, and I gave them up to the care, training, and love of Daisy. Sometimes I hoped that Blake would decide he’d made a mistake so I could keep her when he returned to school. But, in my heart of hearts, I knew that in spite of our bond, she was clearly his dog. It was as if she knew that he was the one that had saved her from an uncertain future. Her joy when he walked into a room was palpable. She wagged her tail so hard that her bottom swayed with it causing her to waddle as she met him on the front steps of our living area for cuddles and kisses. I knew she loved me, but she loved him more.

In mid-August I moved my boy and his dog back to school in Mississippi to figure out their new life together. It’s been tough on all of us, but each day it gets better. Always reflecting, I look back on the summer now and understand that Daisy came into our lives as much for me as she did for Blake. Only he will ever know her significance in his life, but for myself, I am beginning to see that she taught me about the need for reasonable boundaries when it comes to giving myself up to the needs of others. She taught me that sometimes I have to say no, sometimes I have to put myself first, and that “getting the doing part done” will only come when I understand these things. Who would have ever thought that such profound lessons would come in the guise of a 9-pound ball of black fur?