Good Day to you all from the Towers!
Thanks to Elizabeth Sloan, I have discovered that a lightening bug is not a creation of NSA. Elizabeth, you may recall, was neck-and-neck with Kristy Webster as a finalist in our previous contest. Here is her first entry into “A Dozen Roses from a Single Thorn: A Valentine’s Day Love Story.
by Elizabeth Sloan
No, really. I finally get it. You know, that “one day you’ll appreciate me” bit. If I hadn’t waited so long before becoming a mother myself, you might have heard these words ten or twenty years sooner. I have actually said to your granddaughter, “ I won’t live long enough for you to appreciate me.” She just rolls her eyes.
For a few of my teen years, I was not a very nice daughter. I stomped up our carved mahogany staircase more than once, stalled at the landing only long enough to shout down, “I hate you mom” (but it was only a rumor).
I’m sure that hurt. I hope you had enough mother-sense to realize it was just my adolescent brain lashing out, spewing ingratitude more often than is reasonable.
You used to say that if something happened to me because of a missed cue during your watch, you couldn’t live with yourself. I’m sure I rolled my eyes. When I became “of age,” it was up to me to take heed for my chosen risks. I get that now, too. I did release a sigh of “Oh, thank goodness” when my little one turned 18, for that very reason.
I wear your wedding ring. If the day comes when my daughter joins her life with another, the ring is hers. I am only the keeper of the stones for the time being. A band of diamonds set in platinum; a symbol of commitment that Daddy chose for you without help from anyone else, as you were pleased to know.
Soon after you passed the ring on to us, I looked closely around the inside and discovered the miniscule engraving with your names and the year you married. The finger band is worn so thin from more than 60 years of day-to-day life, it is almost a miracle the words have not been polished away.
When I was back visiting, not long after Daddy died–the air was deep and heavy in the humid night–the diamonds flashed and sparked like a family of lightening bugs.
What I remember about lightening bugs is how your mother told us that when we stuck the bugs’ lights to our fingers like rings–a trick we’d been doing all summer long–they died. It was a quick lesson in growing up, and we stopped wearing those florescent yellow lights on dusky Midwest evenings. We still caught them in glass jars and let them light our way, but only for a while.
I appreciate you, Mom, in ways that can’t be explained, like bugs that light up the night sky. Because of you, I take feeling safe for granted. I know you understand what I mean, just as one day I hope my daughter, too, will understand.
The name for this is love.