© November 2005
I stood in the driveway and watched my grown children drive off into the
I looked down the road until I could no longer see their vehicles.
“They live way too far away from me”, I said to myself. “When did they
up and become parents of small children?
Shouldn’t that be me?”
I slipped back inside the house and just walked through the rooms
for no reason in particular. I was just missing them already and looking
for signs of their having been here. There were pillows on the floor
where they had been tossed from the couch that had been used for a bed and
few stuffed animals lying around where the children had been playing.
I smiled at the little fingerprints on my mirror. I didn’t wipe them off.
I thought back to the time when I tried so hard to keep the fingerprints
off the mirrors and doors when my children were small. Now, I wanted the tiny fingerprints to stay so that I could see them there just a little longer.
Oh, I knew I would eventually clean the glass doors and the mirror but for
they remained a work of art, a collage of tiny fingerprints for my
As I walked around the house, I picked up a few items on the floor and
straightened a chair. I decided to sort through the toy box and I found a
flying dinosaur, a skeleton, and a Frankenstein that had mysteriously taken
up residence in my box of toys. It always amazes me how Ben, the
five-year-old connoisseur of toys, remembers the items in the toy box
knows whom they belong to and if anything is missing.
I walked into the kitchen and there on the back of the sink was a bottlebrush
that had been left behind. “Ah, even Tessa left something behind,” I announced.
I suppose she had help since she is just four months old.
“I wonder what else has been left behind,” I said out loud to no one in particular.
husband heard me and joined the search for things left behind.
It seems like every time our family gets together something is left behind.
When I call my children to tell them what they have left behind I am usually
told, “Oh, just bring it when you come.”, “Keep it for me until I come back
next time”, or “Hey, I really need that, would you mind mailing it to
“Oh look! Here’s Tegan’s tooth,” I said to my husband as I picked up a
ziplock bag with her name engraved on it. Tegan had a loose tooth and
had managed to wiggle it out earlier in the day. “Now, she can’t put it
under her pillow. I wonder if it will work if I put it under my pillow.
Tooth Fairy is going to be so confused!” I laughed.
a pair of tennis shoes,” Mike said.
“And three socks!” He
Maybe the mystery of extra socks in the dryer has been solved.
some people are wearing three socks at a time!
Ben left his rubber spider,” I said to my husband.
it will be here when he comes back.” He replied.
“Not if I can help it.” I said as I recalled my last encounter with the
creepy artificial arachnid. I remembered how Ben had giggled like crazy
the first time I had seen one of his monster spiders he had placed in a
strategic place for me to find. He loves to see me jump
and he is never disappointed since making Grammy jump
take much with or without spiders.
“You just never know when you might need a huge black spider that
looks and feels real.” I said as I hastily threw it in the box with
shoes to mail to my daughter.
“I hope she doesn’t have a heart attack when she opens the box but
I imagine she’s pretty used to rubber spiders by now.”
I walked on around the house finding more things that had been
left behind: A toothbrush, a ponytail band, an angel figurine, a pie pan,
a frozen teething ring in the freezer, and last but not least
insides of a turkey fryer.
I was really kind of enjoying myself. It gave me something to do after
left to take my mind off of missing them.
Then my eyes teared up as I noticed the baby outfit beside the sink
where it had been left to dry after spots had been scrubbed out of it.
The little outfit, now stain free, reminded me of the trip to the emergency room
with Rowan due to a gash on her head that was caused
a flower pot pulled over by her curious little fingers.
“Hmmm, things left behind. . .”, I pondered to myself. It seems there is
one thing that is left behind on every occasion. Memories are always
left behind, I reasoned, and what a precious thing good memories are to us.
I thought how each item left behind reminded me of the person it belonged
to and the story surrounding it. The insides of the turkey fryer that was
left behind reminded me of the delicious Thanksgiving meal that we
all enjoyed. The empty pie pan reminded me of Katie’s delicious pies.
The angel figurine reminded me of the white elephant gift exchange
game that we play every year. Even the bad memory of Rowan’s injury
reminded me of how frightened I was at the sound of her cry. It is
a bad memory that turned into a good one as it reminded us of
precious little Rowan is to us.
Memories happen even if we aren’t aware of it. The stressful and difficult
moments often become memories that we look back on later with
laughter and joy. They are the stories of the future when one day
will say, “Remember when ___?”, and everyone laughs.
Then, of course, there are some memories that need to be left behind.
The memories of past hurts, unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger
should be left behind forever. These are the things that we should
keep until the next time, mail back, or bring with us to our next visit.
Yes, I stood in the driveway and watched my grown children drive off
into the distance and I remembered my own parents once doing the
same thing. I never knew then that I would one day be the one waving
from the driveway and feeling my heart drive off down the road.
That’s because there is one more thing besides
left behind . . .and that is love.
have a child is to decide forever
have your heart go walking around outside your body."