When You Wonder What You Really Have to Give

Sometimes when I’m tucking Gideon in to bed, he wants me to tell him a story. And so I run back through the memories in my mind to try to find one, because the best stories are always the true ones, the ones that happened at a real time in a real place.

And it’s hard for me to push through the muddled mess of recent things like groceries lists and task lists and heavy thoughts from the day, so I just start talking about when me and “Uncle Dave” were little and before I know it, a vivid memory comes dashing toward the front like an old friend.

The other day, I began something like this…

When Uncle Dave and I were little, we lived on a river. And every once in a while, Pa would ask us if we wanted to go on a boat ride and we always said yes because we always wanted to. And so me and Pa and Uncle David and sometimes Aunt Gee-gee would get in the boat and put on our life-jackets and Pa would rev to life the engine and troll us down the river.

I continued,

“And as we went down the river, I would look over the side of the boat, and I could see…” and then this lump welled up in my throat and these tears popped in my eyes because all of a sudden I could see, really see it all again so distinctly. That moment. That absolutely beautiful moment when my Daddy spent time with us. And I wanted to finish my sentence because Gideon really wanted to know what it was I saw, but I couldn’t get the words out for the ache of how precious those minutes were. Those minutes when my Daddy didn’t do anything all that spectacular. He just took us on a boat ride.

Eventually, I managed to choke it out, the rest of the story, the part where I peered in wonder over the side of that fishing boat, that cold metal boat and saw a trout and some seaweed and the water was so clear and even now I can see the way it rippled off the edge and it was just beautiful. But the beautiful part being more the memory of my Daddy in the boat with us, him trolling us down the river.

Because now that I’m a grown-up I know a little more about the importance of time and how precious all these moments really are. These moments when you don’t really have anything to give but yourself and you’re just enjoying life together. And isn’t that the greatest gift we give? The gift of ourself?

And later I wonder what Gideon and Hope will remember about me. Will my telling them a story make them feel loved later? And when I take them someplace new and catch that wild joy in their eyes, will this come back to them? Maybe down the road on a hard day, will they remember this? It isn’t much. But, it’s what I have to give.

I always have myself to give. And a memory of a Daddy who took us down the river in his fishing boat gives testament to this–time is always the greatest gift.

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