A few days ago, I was tossing a tennis ball to my 2-year old grandson, Graham, in the back yard. He had the racquet, and though he would swing wildly sometimes, he did often connect. In my world, that’s beginner “baseball” (even though we didn’t have an actual base or seamed ball).
When he’d “hit” the ball over the patio gate, I’d cheer and holler for him, chanting “Home run for Graham!” Or when he’d pop it on the patio roof, I’d yell “Out of the park!” He began verbally joining in at times as best he could, smiling and cheering whenever the ball disappeared, saying a few syllables that were intended to be just what I was saying.
Eventually his mom came out and, after walking with them through the gate to the driveway, I said goodbye and they left. And as I came back in the gate, an unexpected waterfall of emotions overwhelmed me the minute I stepped up on the patio, all of them centered around sudden questions racing through my mind.
- Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was pitching whiffle balls to our four kids in this same back yard?
- Weren’t Julie and I cheering for them just the other evening, helping them find first base next to the swing set? And second base next to this same patio? And third base beside the tree? And where is that tree after all?
- Wasn’t it just a few days ago that I was all-time pitcher, everybody’s umpire, and the nightly ball finder in the neighbor’s yard?
- Wasn’t it just last week that we were celebrating home runs and grand slams when they’d crack one over the garage roof?
- Wasn’t it only the other day I had to convince my future MLBers not to use real baseballs in the backyard?
- Wasn’t it just last night that we made a game out of picking up all of the outside toys and came in for a snack, everyone sweaty and loud and loved?
You’re right, it wasn’t. But in that millisecond of a memory just inside my patio gate, it sure seemed like just yesterday. Still does. Kenny’s right — don’t blink or you’ll miss the years between yesterday and today.
Personally, I’m glad it seems like just yesterday, for it means the memories are fresh. Up front. Real. Center stage. Alive. After all, it’s the yesterdays that let me know today will all too soon be tomorrow, and they beckon me to live in light of all three. So those days aren’t ones I want to forget. I want to hold them close and cherish the treasure of remembering so many beautiful “just yesterday” moments.
And they don’t stop. As I watch our last one prepare to graduate from high school in a few days, it seems like just yesterday I was rocking her in the basement at who knows what hour of the night or morning while watching NHL playoffs. She wouldn’t sleep and Julie needed to. Yep, that’s the same basement where now four little grandkids come over and play trains. Or watch Little Einstein. Or run and hide from Papa and Nana. Or practice crawling. Or simply sleep. But…
- Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were playing Tocker down there, beaming tennis balls against the wall in the middle of the winter while bandaging up wounds and refereeing close calls?
- Wasn’t it just the other day that our girls made crazy home videos they hope no one ever sees in costumes they hope we never find?
- Wasn’t it just last week we turned the toy room into our son’s room?
- Weren’t we just yesterday in that same basement watching one of them dance, or sing, or play, or study, or cry, or laugh?
- Wasn’t it just last night we all scurried down there when the tornado siren rang out after we were all in bed?
- Wasn’t it just yesterday we were playing Wii tennis? And foosball? And ping pong? And wasn’t it just yesterday I was getting beat at Madden? Again?
You’re right a second time. It wasn’t. But backyard or basement, it sure seems like it was.
And I’m glad.