Archive for February, 2009

Valentines Day…. on the Cumberland

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by rodzink

The sun was setting to our right… in the West… and we stepped up the pace, giving ourselves an additional handful of minutes to reach our destination, or stop in the next suitable spot.  With a few minutes to spare, we found the small lodging and hurried to set up camp.  Baker instantly began working on the fire, gathering sticks of specific size to grow our fire….  I rolled out our tent and stored food inside.. made necessary provisions before darkness set in…. Belle unpacked a chair and a book. 


I share their love of reading…..  Often, I find myself lost in an incredible book.  I have dozens… I noticed recently when trying to recall a specific phrase, that all of my books are full of turned down corners, making it easier to find pages that I love…. or wish to read again…..  Often… I hesitate…. unwilling to turn a page….  unwilling to near the end of a great chapter…. or finish a book….. 


I’m turning pages now…..  Spent a great deal of time in the current chapter….. and have dogeared many, many pages.  I’m sure to return to them throughout my days….  recalling the words in which I’ve been lost…  For the past several months… I’ve slowed my pace….  trying to discern the thoughts on subsequent pages….  wondering if I’m nearing the final pages. 


As I sat on the ground beside Belle…. I wanted to hear her read… realizing this was a familiar book…. she’s read it multiple times…. Perhaps, she is comfortable with it… can read it without great effort…. can pronounce the difficult words… and knows from memory… the next page…. She knows the ending …. and it’s a happy one. backpacking-valentines-day-cumberland-trail-48

I have a few days on my hands before the kids come back…. I returned home Thursday afternoon….  I found both their journals on my pillow….  a marker designating the most recent entries…  Belle’s journal…. the cover decorated with High School Musical clipart…. Baker’s… black leather..  They had written about our weekend backpacking adventure….  both had notes that I’m certain they wanted me to find… I had no choice but to scribble simple notes on the adjacent pages….. 




I discovered one of my books in Belle’s school pack…. The Last American Man… a true story about Eustice Conway, a man that moved out into the woods and is still there….  The book is not written on her level, but she reads on…  I have to consider my dog-eared pages…. and what she’ll make of them… 



And so….. I’m forced to consider the pages I turn…. the ones that I read daily…. the pages that are turned….  and the closing chapters.  I’ve earmarked pages that I will read over and over again…   As I grow old, I am certain to pull those books from the shelf.. and smile…. But today…. I’m refusing to turn the pages. 




Revisiting Baker…..

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , on February 10, 2009 by rodzink

Yesterday.. I uploaded a draft of pics…. some recent stuff with you, son…..   I hear your voice and I see you pulled in many directions.  When you’re away, I leave you messages every day… I know you’re not getting them.  And all I can do is remember when this all began.  I recall the helplessness.  I’ve said it many times… “Helplessness is the most cruel of pain.”  I only want your world to improve, but I notice your struggle.  Everything has changed.  My time we used to have every day is gone.  It’s really difficult to get all our stuff in… passing baseball, riding  bikes, playing soccer or army each afternoon with you and Belle.  I’m spread thin, but you shouldn’t pay for it.  I’m trying to ensure that your daily life is as consistent as possible, but it’s hard. 


I am amazed that you’ve grown so much… so fast….. Since you were born, I’ve walked into your room and watched you sleep almost every night…  Tranquil…  innocent…. I’ve sat beside your crib… climbed into your bunk-bed…  sleeping bag….  hammock…  Just to be close to you. 

I remember standing outside the viewing window.  You were premature… beautiful…  In an instant, nurses swept you up and out of sight.  My heart pounded and hurt.  Your little body was fragile and had difficulty. For a week, you remained in NICU… I couldn’t leave you.  That was 10 years ago.

It’s your birthday.  A time of celebration… a time for you to play… a time for me to reflect.  I only wish I could have kept your world safe and protected you from everything…. guarded your heart… covered your ears…  shielded your eyes. 

You have brought me more joy that I could possibly express… a lifetime of happiness…  pride…. I have held your tiny fingers as you attempted to take your first steps.  Ran behind bicycles as you crashed….  awkwardly kicked your legs in the new swing…  sank in the water as I moved my hands from beneath you… stand on a pitcher’s mound and sling the baseball with all your might…..  put your football pads on for the first time… I’ve watched you get up and run back to the huddle…..  struggle to steady your first rifle….  catch your first fish…. paddle the canoe alone…  I’ve held you in the middle of the night when you were afraid….  and you’ve held me…  I’ve watched you jump off boulders into the blue hole while pushing aside personal fears….  struggle to sit still at mass….  I’ve seen you show off in front of girls (thank God!)…. soccer, football, baseball, track….  I saw you receive an award at school for your character…  I’ve heard you pray and swear (didn’t know that, did you?)…  I’ve personally seen your kindness to others… watched you hold open doors for ladies… offer a hand to your sister….  training wheels to mountain bikes….  cribs to tents…  bathtub to Tennessee River…  I’ve read to you… you’ve read to me…  You’ve ridden in my backpack and now carry your own….

I remember the look on your face and the tears that I thought would never stop when we talked about divorce.  I will never… never forget the hug.  I swear that I’ll spend the rest of my days trying to replace the pain you must have felt.  I remember sitting in the park each night that I didn’t have you… waiting to see your bedroom light turn off…  It was only then that I could say “goodnight.”  I remember talking on 2-way radios while you laid in bed.  I’ve seen you try to understand what was going on while I had no answers.. as I didn’t understand.  I’ve listened to questions that I could not answer with words.  I’ve looked into your eyes while you told me, “Mommy says she doesn’t love you anymore.”  I’m certain to have stumbled through conversations….  redirect your attention…  hide out in the gorge….  I’ve watched you overcome…. get back up… return to the huddle… 

Baker, you are the gift I’ve always wanted… I promise.. the trail ahead is one worth hiking, son… for all of us…  I’ve been to the peak… crossed the valleys.. climbed the mountains… Looked into the eyes of a tremendous tomorrow.  We have much to do together.. I love you with all that I am. Happy 10th Birthday.

Back to the Tunnels…..

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , on February 3, 2009 by rodzink

It’s Sunday morning.  I love Sunday mornings.  From my bed,  looking out my 6’x6′ window, a cup of  strong, black coffee and a book, I can watch the sunrise.  Yesterday’s river gorge jaunt proved exhausting.  But a few minutes ago, I watched the sun rise on a new day.  The kids are still asleep and their “new day” hasn’t begun.  I have arrived first……..


Baker led our group… He needed neither direction nor reminder.  The gorge has become familiar to him and he instinctively knows the terrain, the open hardwoods of white oak, the deep ravines… the mental coordinates of the tunnels, the caves, the waterfalls…..  His boots greet the earth with a gentleness…  a peace….. but his adolescence is a beautiful and uncivilized story.  I can see the boy in his black eyes, but I can only expect him to grow indifferent, engaging in a subtle tugging within his own soul, as his childhood slips into a flood of memories. 


The tunnels have been sort of a passage.  Deep in the side of the mountain, they extend.  Walking around them is a simple task.  To ignore them as we pass… impossible.  Each time we venture there, the kids drop their packs.  At times, squeezing through tight rocks and crawling into absolute darkness….  emerging through a small crevice with accomplishment… and another fear conquered…..  By now, the tunnels have become commonplace…routine…. no fear involved…..  they can open their eyes on another morning, and watch, with confident anticipation, the sun rise on a new day…..


The tasks and headaches will someday be more difficult for them…. require more courage.  The rock crevices will be tighter…  the darkness will seem inescapable.. But they’ll both have to drop their packs and enter.  I, like any other parent, will have to wait outside the tunnel… peering inside… straining to make out the shadows or the faint light of a lantern…  I may still arrive first, however…..  Meanwhile, I’ll look for that sparkle in the eyes of my children…. the gentle reminders of an uncivilized childhood….. strain to hear the sound of small steps gently greeting the earth… and sit quietly with my children, watching the sun rise on another day…. a few cups of strong, black coffee and a flood of memories.