The main purpose behind keeping this journal is to be able to share it with the kids. Someday, hopefully, they will want to read about their exploits as children, see photos of their global adventures, and find interest in the musings of their mother and father. I was fascinated by my dad’s collection of vinyl. In many ways, to me, by listening to his records, I could be transported back to a time of knowing him before I was born as though I were reading through his journal, going back and reading stories he may have forgotten, was unwilling to tell, or didn’t think were significant enough to share. I don’t get a lot from him about the time me and my brothers were the age the kids are now. I’m interested in what was going through his head—my mom’s, too—knowing the era had brought a lot of change. Our kids may not understand the reason we—as parents—do the things we do, make the decisions we make, act the way we do, but, again, hopefully, someday, they might, and also by reading this remember stories of their youth that they had forgotten.
So, I write this for future Sam now, so that he knows why I was so hard on him, why I had such high expectations of him, because I knew how much responsibility he could bear and how kind and thoughtful he had the capacity to be while at the same time pummeling the crap out of his little brother and sister.
We spent the night before we flew from Florida to Spokane at my mom’s house. When we made the original plan, I didn’t fully appreciate that she wasn’t feeling well. We were flying out at the butt-crack of dawn the next morning, but she insisted we stay there anyway, even though I knew she would not be able to drive us to the airport. Elise and Clementine slept in the guest room. Peter slept on an inflatable mattress on the floor of my mom’s bedroom. I slept on the couch. Sam slept with Nanny.
The alarm on my phone quietly warbled at 4:30, but—truth be told—I had probably been awake for much longer before that ungodly hour. I got in the shower before rousing the others. Then, got the kids dressed and a quick bowl of Cheerios in their stomachs before he finished packing the car and heading for the airport. The kids are expert travelers at this point, and their torsos and limbs follow a well-worn muscle memory of early rises, marches to the car, and early-morning drives to the airport, orange blurring out the window as we zoom to the airport. We tried to be as quiet as we could so as not to wake my mom, but—honestly—how quiet can three kids clomping off to the airport and me dragging incredibly heavy suitcases possibly be? I was surprised that my mom never got up to say goodbye. I figured she must have slept through it after all.
Come to find out she was up, but had been too touched by something Sam had done that morning to face us.
In her words, “Without a word, before I reached for my glasses, he handed them to me. He likes to help and like you said almost without thinking sees when and how he can.”
I can see him now and imagine him lying in bed with Nanny, sees her reaching for her glasses and—much as he did on the Washington Mall last weekend—recognizes a need to help and, so quickly as to be nothing other than instinct, jumps and answers the call. Like a super-hero.