We sat behind a young family in church today–three young kids and two exhausted parents. They had more courage than we ever did at their age, sitting there following the proceedings while two young girls drew and the toddler boy looked over his mother’s shoulder and multi-tasked beautifully–his thumb in his mouth and a finger in each nostril.
The younger girl was dutifully filling out the donation envelopes. In large capitals, over the neatly typed areas for “Name” and “Amount” she wrote, “I AM A CAT.” I was a little disappointed all five didn’t go into the collection basket; it would have given the parish secretary a chuckle.
The dad was yawning and the mom ended up with the little boy dozing over her shoulder for the last thirty minutes. But they still smiled at one another and at the two conscious ones left.
Thirteen years ago we were trying to play a game of cards in a mobile home in Arizona. The kids were supposed to be asleep and it was going to be a nice quiet adult time in a hectic day of tourism. But bedtime was out of the question for both Aidan and Abby who had decided that seeing skydivers, gila monsters and ostrich farms wasn’t enough. What could be more thrilling than attacking your grandparents?
I’ve written about Patrice’s dad, Bob Knox, before. He was in his element playing cards and had an amazing memory. Twelve of us would be sitting around the table and he’d take a deep breath, waiting patiently for his new son-in-law to figure out the game, tap the cards on his table and say, “Go on, Kevin, throw your queen of spades already!” We first started noticing his memory slipping during card games when he started asking what was trump.
My favorite memory of Bob was his subtle method of child management. On Christmas day, my three year-old son was watching television in the extra bedroom–far from the gift-opening noise in the living room Bob didn’t see him on the couch, figured someone was wasting electricity and turned off the set. That same power button set off a howling behind him that made me jump a room away. I ran into the room, looking for blood on the ground and saw Bob yelling louder than Aidan, “Stop screaming! Stop screaming!”
Bob’s first words captured on this video clip display the same irony he always used–making a gesture of affection sound like some kind of punishment. He always knew his audience and knew exactly what to say to a little boy to mortify him.
This video clip captures Bob’s deadpan comedic style beautifully–as well as Helen’s. They’re both able to hold it together pretty well until Abby hits Helen with a right cross.
We hadn’t seen this sequence until a month ago–we’d completely forgotten its existence. I’d wager that if we could see behind the camera Patrice and I didn’t have the same look that we do now. We were probably tired, cranky and anxious to get the kids to sleep and get on with the card game.
But like that family in front of us this morning, we were probably aware of how special those moments are–especially if one is a cat.