Wednesday, January 03, 2024

The Children's Hour

 

I have not used my 2:00 a.m. alarm for quite a while, but the time has come. With two alarms set, a suitcase already in Lola, I sleep for a few hours, unplug the Christmas tree lights and head down to the Fort Wayne Airport. Fog and rain keep me company as make the hour drive. I was hoping to have the waning gibbous moon keep me company, but no moon in sight.

I arrive at the check-in, add points to my Advantage card, apologize for the duct tape on my suitcase (the zipper broke!), and head off to the gate. Everyone is a bit quiet; I guess because it is four in the morning, and no one is very chatty. I try, but to no avail. No problem. I have a book, a real book, and I happily settle in for an hour of uninterrupted reading. We finally board in the dark, in the rain and the lovely scent of coffee permeates the entire aircraft. I decide to wait until later for the coffee. My seatmate is a bit of an astronomer guru, and we have conversations of the night sky and the moon phases. He is also disappointed that rain is pelting the aircraft, although we both know that within minutes we will pass through the clouds and the moon will shine. We are right and since he is next to the window, he takes photo after stunning photo.

The early morning crowd is already assembled in Charlotte with arms still full of Christmas presents. Gates are full of folks heading out to the Bahamas and Vegas and New York. It is always fun to people watch at the airport…where are they all going? What will they be doing? I find my own gate to Charleston and settle back in with my book until we board. It is a quick and easy flight except for the medical emergency so we are not allowed off the aircraft until the patient is taken off. Later I see him in the ambulance hooked up to wires and surrounded by a staff of medical caregivers. We can only hope he is okay and will make it home for care.

Meanwhile I wait for Abe to pull up, and then just like that there he is with the twins. They jump out of the car yelling all the way, “Nannie, Nannie, Nannie!” I have missed those voices and those hugs of love. A short drive to the house where all the other family members are waiting, and it is non-stop conversation. Faith and Noah do not want to miss a beat and set the table up with all the games we play. (I filled my suitcase with games…no room for clothes!) The four of them bring out their ukuleles and Brianna’s guitar. The ukes are all out of tune so the first order of business is to tune them and get ready for band practice. In the meantime, my taped suitcase sits unopened and a bit ragged with the duct tape falling off! For a moment I look at it longingly as in, “I think I really need a nap, but alas, alas!”

   The Children’s Hour comes to mind as my imagination recites famous lines from the poem, “Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, that is known as the Children's Hour.” Our children’s hour consists of five games of Bingo, four games of Go Fish, three games of Old Maid, two games of matching, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree, I mean one came of Candy Land.

   Dinner is a family affair with all of us assembled at their big table. I am an observer and a participant all at the same time. It is fun to sit in the middle of a family and be a part of the conversation and the jokes and breaking of the bread. This is a house of hearty eaters and soon empty plates, and cocoa mugs sit idly by as more stories are told. Dishes, bedtime, stories, and good nights finish the evening. I am happy to retreat to “sleep, that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,” according to Shakespeare.

   Morning will come. Fresh coffee will be brewed. The sleep of night washed from our eyes, and we will start all over again. The next several days my life will be full of four Charleston Children.  

   Happy New Year!

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