Monday, March 19, 2007


We’ve recently started telling Sam about my Mom. It’s been a difficult subject to broach, and we’re definitely taking baby steps with it. Two weeks ago, when Leah’s Dad was visiting, I took Sam to church while Leah stayed at the house with the twins. As we were walking out, I decided to try something. I brought Sam into the memorial garden. I told him that Grandma Wilks was there and that he could talk to her and she could hear him, but she couldn’t talk back. He wanted to see the exact spot where her ashes were buried. I showed him and told him that we could plant a flower there for her when the weather improved. It was a sweet few minutes for a father and son. This will serve as notice if he should start to ask any of you questions about her. Please don’t shrug him off.

Yesterday was a well-deserved spa day today for the Queen of the Castle, so the men of the house pulled themselves together and fortified the defenses for a day without Mommy. This was my thank-you, thank-you, a thousand times thank-you to Leah for not selling our children while I was away for two months. One day of complete pampering for two months of single parent child rearing. I still say I win.

Breakfast for the Stoddard men rolled through about two hours of our morning. We started with bananas and peanut butter, followed with a course of apples with peanut butter and raisins, accompanied by waffles with butter and powdered sugar, with a glass of crystal light grapefruit juice. Daddy ate Rice Crispies and had to fend off requests to share from all three of them. Don’t mess with my Crispies, boys.

We then dressed for church, all donning our Sunday best, including neckties (sorry, no photos, I’m not that competent). We arrived at church in time to catch the entire choir waiting in the glass-enclosed apse, or as the boys call it the “people bridge”, before the processional hymn. It was like our own peanut gallery. In we went after lots of waving and yelling “hi” to Molly and Pop Wilks.

After having temporarily disposed of the children, the twins in the nursery and Sam in children’s chapel, I sat myself down for some good old fashioned God worshipping. Sam comes up to sit with us during the Peace, which is about half-way through the service. We don’t always sit in the same place, so Sam usually walks very slowly down the aisle so as not to miss us.

This morning while shaking everyone’s hands and trying to catch Sam’s eye, I noticed that his eye was distinctly missing, as was the rest of him. I looked to the back of the church and there he was, hold the offering plate. He had volunteered to take the kid’s offering up to the front of the church. Such the proud father, it was also then that I realized we had better start giving him some money to put in his basket.

After the service had ended, we ran downstairs to get Noah & Aidan. Then we ran back upstairs so they could walk across the people bridge, something they’ve been asking to do for weeks. Daddy rules.

As I said, the people bridge is glass, so there is a view on both sides and above. The twins must have thought they were walking into another universe. Then we went into the church. They looked at the stained glass with wide eyes. We all lit a candle, as Sam likes to do every week. I’ve told him that each time we light a candle we have to think about someone we love. This week the boys all chose The Garveys. Then we ran down the aisle and cut over to what Sam refers to as the water fountain (baptismal font). We were going to check out the organ (it’s a Pipe Organ, Daddy, not just an organ), but were too late. Next week we’ll go see the Pipe Organ. Then it’s up to the bell tower! Who’d have thought that exploring a church could be so much fun? It’s like a Da Vinci Code for preschoolers.

Back we went over the people bridge, where the boys all stopped for a last look out. I caught up to them and heard this:

“Boys, do you see down there? That’s the garden. That’s where Grandma Wilks is buried. Would you like to go say hi? She can hear you, but she can’t talk back. Daddy, can we go down to the garden?”

More often than not, the times when you doubt every decision you make as a parent far outweigh the times when you feel you are doing the right thing. Every last shred of doubt was erased from my mind in the few short seconds it took for Sam to say those words. There has never been a single moment in my life where my breath was as completely taken away as it was then.

I brought my boys downstairs and into the garden where my mother is buried. Sam pointed the location out to his brothers. They all said hello to her for the first time.