In keeping with Mother’s Day yesterday, my two youngest sons were around for dinner. And a nice dinner it was. But with dinner came an unexpected surprise.
|Surviving sons, L-R and youngest to oldest: Sam, Patrick, Seth|
There’s a span of 17 years between my youngest and oldest sons. The two younger sons are closer together than the middle and older. The middle child, Patrick, is only six years older than his younger brother, Sam—older enough to have persuaded Sam to do things he shouldn’t have and also older enough to have persuaded his mother that he had nothing to do with it.
This evening over dinner, I heard about yet another incident involving the creek that runs behind the house. The story goes that when the water in the creek was high and swift, the boys would ride the rapid toward the concrete culvert, which passed under the roads (and all the way to the American River a few miles away) until they thought they might get sucked in. And when that was not enough, Patrick would dare Sam to jump the span from one slippery side to the other in return for five dollars. That would, of course, be five dollars he never actually received—as big brothers are wont not to pay up.
I fail to comprehend how these boys survived to become the kind, gentle, funny, bright men they are today. Miraculously, they were not impaled on rusty bicycle spokes poking out of the mud or drowned after being sucked under and into the culvert only to be spewed out at the river and never seen again. They didn’t break their ankles while making the leap from bank to slippery bank. They didn’t develop any dreaded disease from ingesting malevolent bacteria found in the water. They were never treated for lockjaw from having been scratched by a rusty discarded supermarket cart.
And best of all, they didn’t lose their sense of humor over the retelling of these hair-raising tales within earshot of their mother. They experience a perverse pleasure in watching me gape slack-jawed in horror at their descriptions, racking my brain in search of clues I must have missed. Alas, there were none. In fact, even if I had sensed something amiss, Patrick was so skillful at covering his tracks that I never would have given it a second thought—the evidence notwithstanding.
Such is the life of tolerant mothers with adult children who possess an infinite capacity for memories. Fortunately for them, this mother is both loving and, at least in part, responsible for that sense of humor they haven’t lost.