Turning A Moment Into A Memory

 
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We have about 30 minutes to spare. Grandma is upstairs putting Adelie’s younger sister down for the evening. I feel fatigue’s tug from a long day. Sighing, I think about Netflix and glimpse at the couch—oh, that would be so easy right now.

Don’t play it safe, I snap at myself. Safe claims too much of my time. Go outside.

“Get your swimsuit on Addie, we’re going for a midnight dip in the pool.” No parents are present to protest. I grab some towels and a bag of pistachios, and we head out back. A cool breeze hints at fall’s approach as it breaks against the warm, September evening. The water, chilled from the week’s variable weather, falls below the comfortable threshold. We wade into deeper waters with loud “whoops” and “oohs” and big smiles. Jumping off the diving board, we toss some balls around and have an impromptu swim lesson. My attention is held—I am alive and happy.

The pleasantness of our swim at dusk doesn’t last long. Coolness seeps into our bones, but exiting the water into the warm evening air brings its own pleasure. We wrap ourselves in towels and sit beside the pool. The twilight mutes the finer features of the woods nearby. I open a bag of pistachios. Like the pool’s cool water, eating pistachios with a four-year-old has a way of grounding you in the present moment. Each nut presents a tactile challenge, but the rewards are well worth the effort and cracked nails. Our dog Willow rests her snout on my knee—4 pistachios for her, 19 for us. As I work my thumbnails into a shell, I hear quacks in the distance. Fall is coming.

“Listen,” I say to Adelie.

“What is it?” she responds, her eyes wide.

“Ducks.”

We train our eyes and attention upward. The gibbous moon rises above the treetops and is silhouetted against a deep blue sky. Captivated by the crescendo of the flock’s raucous calls, we freeze. Our silent smiles spread in anticipation. The lead duck appears over the treetops—wings flapping, neck craning—cutting the air as the team drafts in succession behind. From the center out, the string of ducks grows across the sky above us as it glides forward, like a wedge driven through the dusk. It leaves the night in its wake. They fly in a near perfect V, low and slow, as if just for us. A few stragglers bring up the rear, searching for the draft.

Their calls fill the air announcing it’s time—prepare, move, change is coming.  In silence, our eyes follow the flock on their mission to migrate. As the sky falls empty, a smile stretches across Addie’s face. 

She locks her eyes on mine and declares, “That. Was. AMAZING.”

Tonight was just a moment. But life is a series of moments, and those moments add up to memories. String enough of them together and it feels like happiness.


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Mark Edwards is a child psychologist by day and a husband, father, and grandfather all the time. He lives in Little Rock, AR with his wife and aging parents. Mark enjoys writing, building things, riding his motorcycle fast through the woods, and swimming in the pool with his grandkids.