Time marches on. Whether I like it or not, it’s been almost seven months since I became a widow and single mom to two amazing boys. Whenever Mark died, more than one person told me that Andrew and Ben would grow up more quickly in some respects; they most certainly have. As I’ve encountered this, I’ve chosen to embrace it, since I cannot stop it from occurring. It is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve seen more compassion, more thoughtfulness, and more empathy in them; I’ve also seen a quiet, subtle sadness that makes my heart ache.
But such is life. I am saddened that they have to travel this road with me, but at the same time, so thankful I don’t have to travel it alone. By “alone,” I mean in the physical sense only—I’m glad that my house remains loud, boisterous, and anything but dull. I cannot imagine going through life a widow without my precious sons.
They are growing by leaps and bounds. Both are over 56″ tall, almost up to my shoulders. My latest facebook posts show Andrew, outdoors playing catch with me, and Benjamin, showing off his robotic alligator he spent all day building. They are so different and yet so alike; the perfect combination of both Mark and me, all jumbled up into two tween bodies. I dread the upcoming changes that will take over, as puberty, hormones, and boy questions beg to be addressed…but I trust that God will give me the wisdom to handle whatever they throw my direction.
Yesterday, I tackled mowing our enormous (at least by WF standards, a 1/2 acre) yard. We here in North Texas haven’t had much of a winter to speak of, so mowing has remained a chore throughout this season. We have a riding mower, sitting on our back porch. Don’t get me started about that, it’s something Mark and I agreed to disagree about. I’ve never ridden a mower, my Kentucky daddy informed my husband before we married in 1988 that “mowing was man’s work” and that I had never even started a mower, riding, push, or otherwise.
I had occasionally used our push mower, a self-propelled beast that is actually easy to run. Since Mark’s death, I’ve mowed both front and back yards, using only this mower, because I haven’t a clue as to how to run the riding monster. Heck, I don’t even know where the key is. Mark hid it from our mechanically-inclined son, Ben, whenever he was barely 2 years old. I’m hopeful I can locate it before summer rolls around.
Mark always told the boys that once they became 10, they could 1) shoot a shotgun and 2) help with the yard mowing. Andrew’s actively working on that first one, we’ve been duck hunting, and he’s now shooting trap through 4-H twice a week. The yard mowing, though, I’ve been hedging (no pun intended) on. I don’t know why I’ve been stalling…Andrew is more than mature enough to take my instruction on using the self-propelled mower. He is strong enough to engage it, smart enough to grasp the mechanics of it, and has more energy in his lanky 75 lb body than I will ever have in my almost-49-year-old one.
So, last night, I gave in. Mowing 6 inch high grass in 40+ mph winds (hello, now I know what the Dust Bowl was all about!), I glance at the back porch. Andrew’s sitting in the chair, sad because I told him “not today” again. He’d already declined the weed eating option, he’s been doing that for over a year, and today, it’s all about conquering something new. As I make my umpteenth pass by the porch, I catch his attention, and wave him over to me. I swear, he literally sprang off of that porch, his face a mixture of jubilation and disbelief. “You’re going to let me mow??” he exclaims. “Heck, yeah, if you think you can handle it!” I reply.
After a few instructions on general operation and safety, I pull the mower start cord, and off he goes. As I stand, no hover, nearby, making sure my “baby” is doing all the things correctly, I can’t help but notice that he looks a little taller…a little older, as he walks our yard, handling the mower with the maturity of a much older kid than 10.
He mowed for quite awhile, and did a good job. He will be ready to do it again, and looking at our weather forecast, he’ll definitely get the opportunity soon.
Yep, time, it marches on. I can’t stop it. All I can do is follow the advice of a very wise man that I knew and loved for over a quarter century—embrace it, grab hold of every day, and have no regrets.