I was washing dishes, and it was unmistakable; I could smell my grandparent’s home. A mixture of dampness, mountain air, old furniture, and an old house. Only a ghost of a scent, it lingered for a moment and almost as soon as I recognized it and labeled it, it drifted away. Leaving me inhaling, searching for the source, yearning for the feeling of home it brought.
This happens, and I’m always awash in memories. One in particular of an old wooden bridge spanning a dried creek bed. The bridge that led to a hill and a gravel road where the two creeks crossed: our favorite place to walk and skip stones. I could never skip stones, but my grandmother could. Her strong hands, covered in age spots would curl around my chubby fingers and guide my hand to release the flat, carefully picked skipping stone. And it would plunk and sink decidedly into the water while hers always glided at least three times across the surface before delicately finding the bottom.
The thing about that bridge is we always came back across it on our way home, usually to ice cream cones and rocking chairs on the porch. And right now there are many bridges spanning different distances, and we are straddling them all. We are bridging from childhood to adolescence, from toddler to preschooler, from early elementary school to big kid. I am bridging from young mom to older mom, from newly married to simply married. Or maybe it is bridging from young to older, from naive to more mature. In many ways, we are all on a cusp.
Lately I’ve been examining my boys’ faces, searching pointedly for the soft, curvy lines of their babyhood and early childhood. Instead finding that those lines are quietly being erased and redrawn a bit more angularly, a bit more defined and particular, and sometimes I can glimpse the grown men they will become. And then when I examine myself in the mirror and see my own lines where there was once smoothness, crinkles by my eyes, creases around my mouth, it startles me to see the grown woman I’ve become. And the mother I am still becoming as I learn to guide them across their bridges with a mixture of support and freedom.
It is frightening to step across, now the expert guiding smaller hands. We continue to grow and change and encounter these bridges to new hills and gravel roads and creeks. We struggle to skip stones and depend on each other for guidance to land perfectly and softly on the surface. We may not be able to return to where we once were, to recross the bridges we have traversed. But ice cream and rocking chairs and porches? Those will always be there: spanning the distance, the time, the generations and bringing us home.