For my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary, the song “Remember When” by Alan Jackson played over a slideshow as pictures of my grandma and grandad over the years flashed across the screen.
With family and loved ones gathering to watch, I remember how touching the moment was. The song itself was nostalgic and evoked emotions from the people in the room, especially older couples. A few people were wiping tears from their eyes. But, as a young teenager, I didn’t fully grasp the song. I couldn’t.
Then, 15 years later I became a mom. One random day, when my son was a little over a year old and walking everywhere, the song came on and played throughout our house.
And the lyrics hit me. Hard. I finally understood and could feel throughout my whole body their beautiful meaning. I sat there on my kitchen floor and sobbed tears, letting the words of the song absorb me and allowing myself to remember when.
Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
I went back to the day of my grandparents’ wedding anniversary and imagined what they were feeling as they stood arm in arm. Both of them in their 70s, had experienced the loss of their parents and other family members and friends throughout their life together. But out of death, came new life. The birth of kids. The birth of grandkids. And even the birth of great grandkids.
I then recalled how much my life had changed since that day. My grandparents both have passed away, one not far after the other. But not too long after their deaths, my husband and I welcomed our first child into this world and were thrown into the blissful chaos that is parenthood. Our lives, now forever changed, disassembled, and rearranged, revolved around the little boy we fed, changed, bathed, held, and rocked every day.
Remember when the sound of little feet
Was the music we danced to week to week
I flashbacked to my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. Every Sunday, my grandma would cook a huge dinner and have the family over to all eat together. I loved going because it meant spending time with my cousins. We would scarf down our food as quickly as possible so we could be excused to go play. We would run up and down the steps to the basement and inside and outside playing tag, hide n seek, and any other imaginative game we had invented that day. When it was time to leave, we would begrudgingly gather our shoes and jackets to put on and then give a peck on the cheek to each of our grandparents who were probably still scrubbing dishes and picking up our mess. They did this week after week after week.
Now, I know why. The sound of little feet. As I sat on the floor listening to the lyrics, my son ran around laughing and playing. Pitter patter. Pitter patter went the sound of his feet. And I remembered when all those times those feet ran to greet me when I came home from work. All the moments those feet ran down the hallway to show off how fast they were. All the moments he and his other little friends ran throughout the house tearing it apart. The music we danced to week to week.
I continued listening to the song, and I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of sadness. Those weeks to weeks were going by too fast. My husband and I had too many “remember whens” with our son already.
“Remember when he would bite our noses when he was a newborn because he thought he could get milk out of them.”
“Remember when he could fit on our chests, and he would sleep there peacefully.”
“Remember when he would smash the food in his face.”
“Remember when he would eat his toes.”
Those were all over.
The song was wrapping up and the tears were still flowing down my face. The last verse played gently out.
Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won't be sad, we'll be glad
For all the life we've had
And we'll remember when
My final recollection from the day of my grandparents’ anniversary was the joy on their faces and in their smiles and laughter as they watched all of their memories being shared on their screen. They had a lifetime to look back on and remember all the beautiful ups and downs. And they were glad.
The song ended, I wiped my tears, and went to chase after my son. Pitter patter went the sound of his little feet. I smiled because, for now, that was still the music I danced to week to week. And I am forever grateful for that.