Rob Taylor " Signs of life: The memo you better not miss
If Guys Could Talk
Grand County, Colorado
It happens to everyone: that jolt that instantly awakens the anthropologist, the philosopher (a.k.a. the Linus Van Pelt) inside. For some, it’s the economy, a milestone birthday, a Chicken Soup book, a funeral, a reunion, a recall election. It’s always something we didn’t anticipate. For me, it was 30 pounds of innocence.
Flashback: 3 weeks ago …
I hammer away on my laptop while my 3-year-old stacks blocks. Suddenly, by stealth, after sneaking a swig of my iced coffee, she sidles up in her Ugg-boot-clad (happy) feet, cups her hands, whispers “daddy” and waits for a reaction she does not get.
It’s my loss.
Her tiny voice fails to penetrate the spreadsheet-induced fog I’m in ” the one hijacking my senses. Despite my pent-up, inappropriate seriousness, the fire within her cannot be quenched. One thing she knows: some things in life are more important than spreadsheets. She inches closer, targets my right ear, and percolates again.
“Daddy,” she whispers, louder, sweeter, with urgency this time, sort of like Enya turning a new page and cutting an “Enya Face” album.
“Huh? Oh, hi honey! What is it?”
“Daddy, I have a secret.”
“A secret. Well now, that sounds delicious. What is it?”
“I know all about letters,” she says pointing to the tower of blocks.
This was news ” bigger and more salient than the stimulus package, and delivered with panache … consistent with her M.O. Not a week earlier, she cornered me with her doctor kit and gave me my yearly physical: pulse, blood pressure, stethoscope, the whole nine. Turns out, I needed a shot. As she readied the plastic hypodermic needle, she rolled up my sleeve, eyeballed me and said with drummed up seriousness, “This won’t hurt, daddy.”
I’d be lying if I told you that the twinkling in her eyes, the sweetness in her voice and that toothy grin didn’t say something more: something sobering, something like,
“Daddy! Hello? You in there? Life is happening. I’m all over it. Follow my lead.”
This was my wake-up call ” prematurely delivered some might say, since my 40th birthday, the official beginning of “Era of Second Thoughts,” is two months and change away. No doubt, like those who have gone before me, as I blow out the candles, I shall contemplate things anew ” things like I’ve got a decade or two (tops) before the Oatmeal and Polyester Years lay hold … like maybe I should guzzle a bottle or two of Oil of Olay to stave off the wrinkles … like I’d give anything to have her whisper in my ear just one more time.
For now, I’m still digesting, “Daddy, I know all about letters.” After she whispered it, I snatched her up onto my lap, intrigued by this waist-high creature with a heart full of all things worth exploring. We laughed. We squeezed. And from somewhere underneath the skin, the Longfellow within me sprang to life: “Daddy, I know all about letters” ” the ins, the outs, the ups, the downs, the loops, the sounds … ALL about letters. That’s when I remembered she had “Life” (cereal) for breakfast. I vowed to try a bowlful the next morning.
“Tell me about the letters, honey,” I said.
As her eyes beamed back at me, her thoughts were laid bare: THIS is what it’s all about! You got the memo, daddy. I’m so happy.
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