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April 2011
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Word Sketches of the Tayler Family on Easter Sunday

Howard stood in the kitchen holding his phone. He’d had a hard week, not because of external events, but because the work load he had assigned to himself was crushing. Through a super human feat of will and endurance, he’d gotten the work done. Yet the next week still had huge quantities of work to do. In that tired evening amid all that work, Howard wanted a hamburger. It wasn’t just about food, he also wanted company and I could not go. He made several calls, but others were busy. He scrolled through his list of contacts and said with a sigh “My phone is full of awesome people with whom I’d love to go out for burgers, but most of them live too far away.” This is the shape of Howard’s life, full of work and friends.


Kiki’s pencil moved across the paper as the words of the speaker filled the chapel. She was creating a comic labeled balance which featured a burning candle. I could not see much else from where I sat, but I suspect that she was trying to capture on paper the experiences she’s had lately with finding direction and purpose in her life. I watched her hands move surely, directing the pencil and eraser with precision. In mere weeks she would be 16, old enough to date according to long-standing family rule. This birthday marker would arrive after prom was over. “I’m kind of glad.” She confessed to me quietly “I didn’t want to deal with all that yet.” I was glad too, for many of the same reasons. Dating was coming along with driving, a first job, and countless other grown up things. I watched her confidence with the pencil and knew she would find the same sureness in other areas of her life as well.


Link was taller than me. It happened several months before, but still startled me every time he stood close. Somewhere in my mind he was still the toddler running across the lawn to hand a broken-stemmed blue flower to me. Back then I could scoop him into my arms and carry him. Before too much longer he would be able to carry me if he chose. Link’s new size and strength regularly startled him as well. He kept bumping into things, accidentally damaging his surroundings and sometimes the feelings of those nearby. “I’m not good at words” he said as part of an apology. It was an apology he made grudgingly, not quite understanding why his earlier words were wrong. Words would come to him, as will grace and confidence in his body. He had already begun learning the things he needed.


Gleek looked up at me. Howard happened to be in my field of vision and looking in my direction as well. For a moment I could see that they had the same eyes. Gleeks are more brown and smaller, but the shape was the same. They also shared the same impatient spark that drives them toward excellence and the pursuit of new things. Gleek looked away and the moment passed, but I tucked it into my memory.


I scooped Patch into my arms, he wriggled uncomfortably and I realized that he’d grown too big to be scooped that way. I put him down and we walked up to bed together. Patch was quite calm about being bigger. It fit his plan. He could picture himself getting bigger than me because his older brother had already done so. In the fall Patch would be headed for a new school. At first the thought of it has sent him into a crying panic. I told him he did not have to go. Then we visited the school and talked about what it was like there. It allowed Patch to picture how things would be. He decided that going was something he wanted to do. There would be tears in the process of adapting. I knew that, but I also knew how to help my son plan. Planning helps him feel happy.


Writing a word sketch of myself is tricky. I can only see myself in mirrors, reflected by my surroundings. I know that I often ask too much of myself. I am frequently stressed and anxious and I struggle not to spill these things onto anyone else. However I am also blessed with a clear sense of purpose. This has not always been the case in my life, but it is true right now. I am glad of it all.

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