"Mom, will you read me a story tonight?"
We snuggle deep inside the gift of warm blankets. Just he and I. I hold his favorite. A big yellow hard bound collection of Curious George. As I read, I'm also thinking.... Remembering.
We get to page five and he stops me.
"Mom, do you think when I get older and I'm a dad that 'The man with the yellow hat' will have a name? Will he be called something different?"
I chuckle and then give him an unexpected answer. No, his name will still be 'The man with the yellow hat'. That's what it's always been... Even since I was a young girl reading these very same books.
His eyes grow large as he tries to picture me as one his own age, snuggled in tight with his Grandma or Papa. I get distracted as I watch him smile. We finish reading and then I just hold him tight. He's the youngest. The other two have stopped asking me to read to them. Caleb asks still, and I am thrilled.
Such a sweet and innocent heart beats inside the chest of my youngest man.
The boys and I travel up the highway a bit to visit a place that has become special. It's a home for patients who have been diagnosed with severe memory loss. I consider it to be one of the sweetest places I know. We walk in with Lucy (our small poodle) marching in front of us. They know our faces and ask if we would like the code to get in and out of the door since we are "regulars" now. I feel a sense of honor. Through this big secure door we walk into a different world. Everyone is happy... Over joyed actually. They love to see children and pets too. Nobody appears to be sick. There are only smiles and greetings. Several greetings. They may have just said hello and met you with names, but by the time introductions are over, they have forgotten and the introductions start all over again.
We find ourselves in the dining room soon. I circle the room. I bend on one knee and take the hands of many, one at a time, and tell them how they bless my life just by knowing them. Lucas and Colby go to the beautiful grand piano that stands in the corner. They sit down and play a few fun things for these people who have stolen our hearts. The people applaud and the boys laugh. Caleb leads Lucy around the room and brings more smiles to faces as Lucy gets spoiled with hugs. Lucas and Colby spread their charm person to person. They sit and listen as the stories begin to spill from the residents' minds. They aren't the best at remembering two minutes ago, but they remember two decades ago like it was just yesterday. The history that is within these walls is remarkable! As conversations unfold, the sound of piano keys fills the room again. I look to the piano and see that one of the patients is playing. What a treat! I am told by the director that 'M' doesn't play anymore. She used to sing opera and she used to play the piano non-stop, but she can no longer read music and she cannot remember any music either. This is a rare moment. The boys smile, knowing that they had something to do with it since they had just played at that same piano. A lump forms well within my throat as I see the effect that these people have had on the hearts of my children.
Their hearts are tender. Their world is bigger as they are witnessing a community of people who are tucked safely into this very blessed home made especially for them. My boys ask to go visit this place. They even have "favorites" that they like to sit and chat with. The boys know that they will not be remembered from one visit to the next, but that doesn't matter to them. They just want to go and love these people. Oh, and may I just say how these people love them back! It is a sight to behold.
We leave through the big door and load into the car. The boys grab my cell phone and call their dad to tell them all the new stories and memories of the day. I drive back down the highway, leaving a bit of me behind within those walls. They steal hearts there, ya' know.
We will go back. It won't be long before they ask me to take them back, and we will travel up the highway again.