Every night about 8:30 my sweet Caroline stops being so sweet and starts being upset. Jonah did the same thing and usually I can settle her down pretty quickly by wrapping her up, popping in her pacifier and rocking her in the rocking chair. Tonight it was extra difficult to get her to calm down, but when I did Jonah was already in bed (they share a room) so I gave him a quick kiss and told him goodnight. I was on my way out when he told me he wanted to rock in my chair. I had spent so much time trying to calm Sweet Caroline that I hadn't really said good night to my Sweet Jonah and he was wanting my affection. So I scooped him up and rocked him in the chair too. He's so big that it's not as easy as it used to be, but a Mama's arms can stretch wide enough for even the biggest boy.
I rocked him there, next to Sweet Caroline's crib- bed that used to be his bed- in the rocking chair I was given just before Jonah was born. It's a chair that used to be my Granny's chair. It sat in the living room at her house and it was reserved only for her. I can still picture her sitting in it. She would be sitting with her elbows resting on the arms, leaning forward. Her toes just resting on the ground, pressing down in a slow rhythm to rock it back and forth. She would be wearing her dark green housecoat and her glasses. The time I am remembering most is when I was teaching myself to crochet and she was looking at the scarf I was making. She would lift her chin and then look down through the bi-focals on her glasses, slightly frowning in a concentrating sort of way. Her hair was brown with silver-grey mixed in- much like my mother's is now. I can see her clearly pulling out row after row in my scarf because I had made a mistake almost a foot up. I was compelled to start over. She wasn't a perfectionist- she just believed in doing a thing the right way the first time.
Today is the anniversary of the day that she died. Not the most important day of her life, but one that I cannot shake, today. And here I am, tonight rocking my oldest baby in her chair in my own slow rhythm. She never met him. I regret that very much. But I am rocking him in her chair and I am trying to remember any lessons I might have learned from her.
Like learning to keep your mouth shut when necessary. She was apparently a feisty woman with a quick tongue when she lost her temper, but I rarely saw her lose it. I think she must have learned to tame both as she got older.
Like taking time to laugh and talk with your children. I always remember her and my mother, anytime we would visit, sitting up after everyone else in the house had gone to bed. I don't know what they would laugh about all the time, but I know that sometimes it was at my Grandfather's booming snores. Often I would fall asleep to the soothing mumble of their voices. I try to remember to spend time with Jonah, and someday Caroline, just listening to what they have to say and laughing with them.
And like doing things right the first time. Like being unafraid to start over when you dropped a stitch so you can fix a mistake. Repair it before you get so far that you can't imagine how you could possibly go back and fix it- even though it seems so very small.
Small like my children. But they will grow, and I will rock them in her chair, trying to do things right so things don't have to come unraveled later. Just like she taught me.