Children, Still Under Warranty

Yesterday’s post on Seuss’s book about growing old and irrelevant arose partly by the fact that the book was sitting within reach on my desk. The other choice of blog posts surely came from feeling old and irrelevant–an obsolete child, in the good doctor’s words.

And perhaps some of that funk derives from the emptiness of the house now that the grandchildren and our daughter’s family have left for the coast. There are still remnants of that brief and pleasant storm that passed through from South Dakota.

At last word, the girls, both somewhat anxious about what they were going to in their new world, were delighted to find that now they would live, like Granny and Dumpa, in a place where they could play in the water. They would get to know the smell of salt spray, chase fiddler crabs, watch pelicans dive and run from the waves. And they have exchanged blizzards for hurricanes.

We live vicariously through our children, who remind us of the smothering alarm of a bucket of water up our noses on a summer day, the feel of wet grass under our toes-es, and the possibility of every moment. Those possibilities dim when they leave, and it takes a while to relearn obsolescence and be content by still waters.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Yes, they’ll be about a five hours drive away–instead of 25. So in theory, we’re more likely to visit and have them come here–maybe a half dozen times a year, instead of once or twice. We’re thrilled, of course.

    • I’m thrilled for you, Fred. Grandchildren are such a special part of our life. I hope you get the chance to make many happy memories with them now that they are closer.

  2. I love vicariously enjoying youthful energy, like the movie Step Up Revolution. I can’t believe I once had that amount of energy, but I bet I did. I would dance for hours at frat parties in college, just as vigorously stomping and jumping as I could imagine, trying to make a hole in the floor of those old houses.