Who are they? Where are they going?
When I sighted the child, around three years of age, riding his (her?) father’s shoulders as he walked past my garden level window in Chicago. I had no curiosity about who they were or where they were going. I was aware of a prayer: be happy. Be happy at this moment.
The vignette stayed with me through my initial return home and a second extended stay in the Windy City. I am back in the desert of the Southwest once again. Nine months has not paled the image.
When in Chicago, Mike and I make our home in the basement of SD’s two level condo. I claim my space under the window, which sneaks scenes of the lives of the neighborhood residents. Occasionally one of the passer-bys spots me, and returns my wave as I work at my computer, keyboard, or sewing machine. It is easy to feel at home in this neighborhood of generous Midwesterners, lush foliage, and fascinating shops.
The memory of that child on his/her father’s shoulders plucks the string of love in my heart. Love for my children, grandchildren, myself as a child, children everywhere. What is more grand than riding on your father’s shoulders? Is there any other act more trusting, more innocent?
When we return from Chicago to the house we share with our older daughter and her two sons, we are met by young men whose shoulders are several inches above mine, and close to surpassing their grandfather’s. I hug my grandsons’ chests, an obligation they are expected to endure.
I would prefer to hoist them up to my shoulders, lift them to the swing, or carry them across the yard. The years plagued by an ever-present child clinging to my hip are gone.