YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

From the dest of Peggy Dale, Staff writer: Stepping stones

June 15, 2001

I've never been all that good at maintaining scrapbooks.

The kids' earnest attempts at artwork early on are stuffed into boxes containing report cards, award certificates and simple notes addressed to "Dear Dairy" and left on the bedroom floor.

There are plastic containers that barely hold the thousands of snapshots detailing our lives in the last 20 years. There's a handsome young couple, decked in bridal white, that bears some resemblance to more recent pictures of a not-quite-middle-age-and-never-will-be duo posing with two teens and a going-on-20 pre-adolescent.

Every school program, sports ribbon and "my child was student of the month at …" bumper sticker n the ones that didn't get adhered to the winner's bedroom door n has found its way into those boxes.


There are newspaper clippings of academic and sporting achievements, already yellowing with age.

Once in awhile I find time to go through those boxes, but oddly enough one photo or another draws attention, interrupting the task.

Those pictures and mementos may never get organized. Someday each child probably will be handed a box marked "yours," the buck passed to another generation. The box will likely be crammed into someone else's closet and eventually even be tossed out.

But there's one file that can never be erased and doesn't need to be organized.

That file holds the sounds of a newborn's first whimper, a toddler's attempts to master his parents' language and a sibling's cry for justice. There's the scent of a freshly diapered baby and the smell that came before the new diaper. Some things you never forget.

Within that file is a reel of memories of a little one's first steps, his first day at kindergarten and his first time at bat or dive into the pool.

Each stepping stone to adulthood is etched into that file — first day of junior high school and later high school, first time in the swine ring at the fair, first time behind the wheel, first prom. Echoes of laughter around the dining table when his friends or cousins are over are packed in there too, as are the grunts and hollers brothers emit while mimicking professional wrestling. That too, shall pass.

Tonight another chapter will be added to the mental memory book when our oldest, Jonathan, strides across the platform first to give his valedictory speech and then to accept his high school diploma.

This young man, who has to look down at his mom while earnestly engaged in argument, will be leaving in a few months for college; our family will have to adjust to one less.

Lately that memory file slips open unexpectedly and tears spill unannounced. It happens at the oddest of times n on the road listening to the laughter in the passenger seats, sitting in the back row at church trying to stay awake after a late night at work or simply while waiting for the last child to come home at night.

Those unwanted tears emerged the final time Jonathan touched the wall in his last high school swim meet and again as his academic awards were announced. I hear that dampness around the eyes is the curse of some seniors' moms as the school year winds down.

There are times when my eyes see an 18-year-old, but my ears hear the excited chatter of a 5-year-old who just sat in his favorite sprint car driver's car and can't wait to tell about it.

There are times when his logic defies mine (those seem to be many these days), and many times when I find myself trusting the son as I would his father (rock-climbing with him belaying the rope).

Time: they say it flies when you're having fun. And, Jonathan, we have.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles