Making new memories in an old haunt…..

Woke up this morning extra early, in anticipation of travelling along as a chaperone (is that what they’re still called?) for Andrew’s 4th grade class’ field trip to River Bend Nature Center.  I use the early morning wakeups to say my morning prayers before my feet ever hit the floor.  ‘Cause it seems once they hit the floor, they don’t stop until bedtime. 

This morning, I said extra, knowing full well that I would need them as I travelled to a place that Mark & I have loved for years.  My biologist/naturalist/conservationist/outdoorsman, soon after moving to WF, connected with Beverly Williamson, a Wichita Falls resident with a dream for a nature center in the city.  He jumped in with both feet (he never did anything half-way), lending his expertise to applying for grants, serving on the board for many years, volunteering time and talent, along with many others, as the vision Beverly had came to fruition. 

I can remember standing on that windy pavilion for an Earth Day celebration over a dozen years ago, thinking, “will this place ever be completed?”

But it was.  It is a thriving, beautiful place, complete with a butterfly conservatory full of native plants and an educational center to boot. 

As I pulled into the parking lot, memories of all the times we’d been there together flooded my mind.  From dedications to seasonal events to the Christmas magic of ElectriCritters, they all came back to me, as clear as the day they occurred.

Made it through the morning, trying my best not to embarrass the 9 year old son, who was in my group.  At lunch, the rain stopped, and we were able to eat on that covered pavilion that my family has frequented numerous times over the last dozen years. 

As children & various adults sat down to lunch on a cool, cloudy day in Wichita Falls, I couldn’t eat.  That’s usually not a problem with me, but before I said my silent grace over my sack lunch, I left the picnic table, searching for a special reminder of our times there.

There, among many, was an inscribed brick, one we’d purchased during a River Bend fundraiser B.C. (before children!).  As I found it, a smile crept over my face, completely dissipating the tears that were threatening to well up in my eyes.  It was so Mark.  In only two words, he succinctly expressed his view on life in general, for posterity. 

And as I made my way back to the crazy loud laughter and conversation of  80 + fourth graders, a song kept playing over and over and over in my mind.  It’s a favorite, I bought the LP over 30 years ago: 

“Photographs & Memories” by Jim Croce…..

Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these
To remember you

Memories that come at night
Take me to another time
Back to a happier day
When I called you mine

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh, how I loved you then

Summer skies and lullabies
Nights we couldn’t say goodbye
And of all of the things that we knew
Not a dream survived

Photographs and memories
All the love you gave to me
Somehow it just can’t be true
That’s all I’ve left of you

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh, how I loved you then

Returned to the table, said a silent prayer of thanks that we have so many memories and photographs.  Then I hugged my son.  I hope it won’t scar him for life 🙂