We made our annual trip to the Cider Mill this past week. The weather was absolutely perfect for the fall trek, cool and crisp with plenty of sunshine to keep us warm. We wandered the grounds, ate our doughnuts, and drank our cider, and then (of course) I took pictures like a crazy person.
Hide and seek at the Cider Mill….because, why not?
I started innocently, following the kids around and snapping occasional pics. Then it was goofy poses, to get them willing for the follow-up attempt at nice poses. The beauty of digital photography is that you can take literally a hundred pictures and know that somewhere in there are two or three keepers. Pic after pic of my kids on hay bales and rock walls, being crazy, being silly, and finally being “smiley for the camera.”
When I finished and turned them loose, I turned to see an older woman smiling and holding out her phone. “Would you mind taking a photo of us?” she asked with a smile, gesturing toward two young-adult daughters and her husband. “We never manage to get all together like this.” I agreed–who wouldn’t!?–and snapped a handful of pics of the four of them. As I handed the phone back, she complimented me on my “beautiful family” and my four-year-old’s darling dress.
I smiled sheepishly. “That was a hand-me-down from sister,” I admitted. “We didn’t save hardly anything between my older daughter and the surprise, but we saved that.”
She laughed. “I wondered about that! That was me, you know. I was the surprise.” She was smiling mischievously. “My mom always said–she’s ninety-seven now–my mom always said, ‘She keeps me young.'”
I burst out laughing. “That needs to be my phrase! I’m always looking at her saying, ‘Oh, baby girl, Mama’s so old….”
“NO!” The woman was beaming. “She keeps you young!!”
I sincerely hope I can adopt that attitude. A shift in mindset of that magnitude changes everything. I wonder what adventures she’ll lead us on; what paths we’re going to walk down because she exists. I know that the past two years of depression with my oldest would have been incredibly more difficult for me, without this little one’s unrelenting joy and sunshine to wrap myself in. Snuggling with an inquisitive, cheerful preschooler has been a blessed antidote to many of my days.
Maybe the “keeps you young” has already been happening. Maybe she, with her sweet spirit and loving nature and concern for others, has been keeping me from being beaten down prematurely as we walk the dark, ugly path of depression with our son. And how blessed we are now, to have him healing and returning–almost always–to his tenderhearted, sweet self (with that sly sense of humor). She was, somehow, always thoroughly untainted by her brother’s moods; now that unceasing joy allows us to rejoice more deeply in the healing that is taking place.
Our lives were changed dramatically with her arrival. But as my husband and I were discussing last night, there hasn’t been a single change for the worse. God knew exactly what we were going to need at this point in our lives. We can’t imagine life without her.
Yes, she keeps me young.