Thursday, June 22, 2017
He is just a old plastic Little Tikes sandbox. His eyes are gone and his plastic is scuffed from children jumping in and on him.
Numerous trucks, shovels, action figures, sticks and stones found a home in here. Mr. Turtle kept his secrets well. His smile remains ambivalent. His demeanor stoic. He hid toys from siblings, he was a safe deposit box for stolen coins, and he hid misdeeds--a broken picture frame, an empty box of cookies.
My husband helped me stuff Mr. Turtle into my car this evening. When he closed the hatch, I had to turn away and pretend I was looking for something. I didn't want him to see the tears welling up in my eyes. I walked back into the house and let a few tears slide away...I could feel the pain in my heart.
Mr. Turtle has been sitting patiently in our crawlspace for twenty years. The children were far too old for him when we moved from California to the South but I still packed him into the moving truck. Every time I looked at him....I could see my children, all three of them, sitting and playing in the sand with the bright Napa Valley sunshine shining on them and a blue blue sky above them.
I saved Mr. Turtle because I secretly hoped I could give him to one of my children when they had children. It would be like a resurrection, Mr Turtle emerging from the dark crawlspace under the house into the bright sunshine which held children and laughter and a new life. I pictured grandchildren sitting in the sand, not understanding their own mom or dad sat in this very same sandbox.
Unfortunately, my daughter, though married, never talks about having children....my one son has special needs......and my other son is working and on his own and never speaks of a girlfriend....only generic friends.
I always assumed I would have grandchildren....but lately I realize..... maybe not....and I'm surprised how sad I feel. In hindsight, I see what I did wrong as a mother, what I didn't do enough of, what I should of or could of done....and perhaps that why grandchildren are important....they offer you a chance, with perspective, to try and be a bit better at loving and caring for children. A second chance.
My mother was tough....and not very good at mothering....but she transformed herself for her grandchildren. She doted and cared and splurged and spoiled. Until her dementia starting stealing her mind in her later years....she adored and loved my children with an affection I never experienced from her. But I may never get a chance to redeem myself.....and I see in my own parents' death, how quickly you disappear from human memory. Only a few people remember them now.....and with time.....eventually that number will be zero. So, I understand the sense that you live on in your grandchildren....at least for a little while.
So Mr. Turtle is now sitting in my car.....waiting not for my grandchildren....but for some other children. I put an ad on Craigslist and we will exchange dollars for dreams tomorrow.
I guess I could keep him stored away for another few years.....but something in me told me it's time for him to go. I can't explain what exactly jarred my memory that he was sitting there in the darkness and waiting but suddenly I felt it was time. I've looked at a lot of objecst and keepsakes around my house and realized without grandchildren....it may be time to find other homes for them. Perhaps Mr. Turtle is, in some way, the easiest treasure to start giving up--treasures I saved for a generation that might never exist.
I am sure Nancy, his new owner, has plans for Mr. Turtle. She has children.....maybe her children will sit in the sand in a bright hot southern sun and enjoy him. And maybe Nancy will get to place a grandchild in him some other day some other time.....life just doesn't have guarantees ...does it?