We stood in the beautiful kitchen, back lights gleaming against the fresh cream colored tiles. My feet anchored into the wood floor as we were introduced to her husband. Reach. Shake hands. Eye contact.
I’ve known of her for years, but her regular presence in my life jump started again as she recently moved back to town. They all come back to Colorado, we always say.
My view of the stairs was blocked from where I stood, the stove and half-wall creating a sound barrier for the shy giggles that started at the bottom of the five or so steps separating us. A little boy leaning on the carpet, bare tummy sticking out from his footie pajamas decorated with carrots, radishes and broccoli.
“Come say hi,” invited the mother, “I promise they won’t bite.”
This little boy crossed over the threshold into the adult space – bravely walking into the kitchen and kept his eyes focused on the floor. Curly hair bounced on top of his head as he leaned into his mom’s caring and protective embrace.
We sat down to eat. He started to engage. I asked questions of school, what one does at first grade, the things he is learning. He politely asked if he could reach for the salt.
Boy do I hope my kids have the manners that this little boy demonstrated.
We chewed and we chatted and the little man warmed up. His gangly legs started fidgeting like only a six year olds can. When we were done with the meal he asked, “Will you play Stratego with me?”
Sharp breath in. Stay sweet my little beating heart. He doesn’t know. He couldn’t know. That Stratego , a simple strategy game, was one of his favorites. One of Dad’s favorites.
This one my dad taught me too, when I was probably the boys age. Hours spent trying to develop strategy, protect my flag, destroy bombs. I hadn’t seen or heard of the game in years. Here was a young fella, inviting it all up again.
“Why do you keep attacking me with your twos?” he’d ask.
” I can’t remember how to play,” I said “you’ve got to help me remember.”
Heart warming and magnificent to remember that games span decades and memories linger. That threes destroy bombs and only a spy can destroy a ten. He took my spy right away. Captured. Much like the flag.
It is humbling to be beat at a strategy game by a six year old.
I couldn’t put it into words that night just how special it was for this younger generation to ask me to play. A beautiful, expanding circle for my once nanny’s son to ask me to play Dad’s favorite game.
The candle light flickered as the new memory etched into my heart. Just like we etched our names into their kitchen table that night. That’s their family’s tradition. For guests to solder their name into the kitchen table. My husband took his time and we wrote my new family name in their table.
Stories, decades of time, connection – etchings in wood and fibers of my heart.
She knew my dad. I now know her son. We played Stratego.
What a beautiful thing.