It was two days before Santa did his twenty-four hour shift of delivering presents to all the children that made it on to his nice list. Not that I was expecting anything from him this Christmas but indeed I was overwhelmed with joy for some odd reason as I sat listening to the tune of Mexican Girl playing over the stereo.
I remember looking out into the garden as the leaves swayed briskly every now and again in perfect sync with the cool breeze. Spreading themselves out so the rays received by their suppleness was not in vain. Even the off white concrete driveway in the neighbors compound dictated that I wear shades if we were to exchange glances as it reflected the gloriousness of the day. Joy was definitely in the air and this was reiterated by my second youngest son’s request for a hug after our goodbye kiss as I headed on down to the squash courts with his three siblings, two cousins and an aunt.
If there was ever a woman that my wife should be threatened by, it was the beautiful game of squash. How anyone could fall head over heels with the sound of a small black rubber ball hitting the concrete wall at speeds averaging 151 miles per hour and the feel of a sleek streamlined racquet being drawn down in one hand, as determined eyes burnt holes into the ball, before the two kissed to become one and abruptly parted ways again, was beyond me.
But I had given in to her charms and we courted for two hours every Wednesdays and Fridays after life slipped out of the office.
I, of course, was not alone in this one sided relationship as there were other colleagues who shared my sentiment (probably not my madness) and joined me in this weekly ritual. Being on leave however, meant that I had to take the children down to the courts to introduce them to the game just so I could steal a few moments with her for the sake my own sanity.
But unlike the fast paced, high adrenalin games that I usually crave for, the pace of the game on this particular day was more like a snail in labour (if you’ve ever witnessed one).
This truth however didn’t deter me from enjoying the game as I spent time coaching and nurturing the four individuals that were enthused with learning the sport. Besides, it was also a time of learning and birthing much needed patience in me; and whatever time we invest in the lives of our children will reap great rewards when they are older.
So here I was. No fast paced game. No pausing for a while to try and catch my breath. No sweating profusely as was the result of playing a worthy opponent. No breaking new barriers by my heart rate. Only my impatience trying to rear it’s ugly head every once in a while as I forced myself to silently keep it in check. Something I find impossible without the help of the Lord.
In spite of all this, we spent an almost good three hours at the courts. After which we all walked for about a half a kilometer in order to get some DVDs from the nearest shop. The walk was made all the more eventful with my second youngest daughter riding on my shoulders.
While there however, I took the opportunity to get hot dogs from a nearby stand for the children and their aunt as I scouted around for an ATM.
It was a glorious day indeed, as I think back now. What was I doing anyway? Why go through the whole process of playing a game that you love but not at the pace you love playing it? Why go through with the coaching and the excruciating need for patience as the children hit the ball from Bangkok to Timbuktu? Why buy hot dogs and sit on the pavement outside the shops, like homeless folks, enjoying our meal?
Well, I was creating fragments. You see, we don’t remember everything we’ve ever been through (kudos to you if you do) but what we recall are fragments of them. And all it takes is a sight, a sound, a smell, a touch or a taste to whisk us to that particular instance in which that fragment was created. Where we have those deja vu moments as we get lost in reminiscing about the ‘good ol days’.
One such fragment is of little children taunting a fierce looking dog named Scatter, to rouse him from his slumber and run for our lives as he gave chase after the little culprits that disturbed him. Oh the priceless sight of the little faces of the children he caught up to, who couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry as they tried hard not to wet their pants.
On another occasion an aunt of mine, not much older than I, was climbing for mangoes while the rest of us were giving directions from the ground. Suddenly out of nowhere pops this huge green lizard causing her to yell her head off before jumping from the tree just as the lizard jumped toward her. Fortunately her slightly drunk father broke her fall as he came to her rescue.
Fragments. Some of them good. Some bad. But all have played a part in shaping the man I am today. I have taught myself to retain the good ones, learn from the bad ones, and even let go of the ones that stifle my growth and kill my potential.
Anyway, back to the glorious day of squash that I had with my children. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and look forward to having more adventures together. Why? Because I had the opportunity and privilege of creating fragments for them and with them. Fragments that will outlive me. Fragments that will be the very foundation on which my legacy is built. After all, people remember you by how you make them feel.
With all that said, 2013 has been a great year of discovery and a journey filled with so many fragments that we will definitely revisit in years to come. Especially with my wife keeping track of everything on her iPad. As I now stand at the crossroad of one year closing and another beginning, I find myself truly grateful for the beautiful woman whom I have the honor of calling my wife, and the seven beautiful children that the good Lord has blessed me with.
While kids dream of being a doctor, a lawyer or maybe even an astronaut, there is a particular fragment of a young boy who dreamt of having seven children when he got older. But that’s a tale for another day, best told over a hot cup of coffee and cold truffle.
So until then, from my family to yours.
May 2014 be all that you hope that it will be and more. And may the good Lord shower you with His blessings and grace as you go forth to create those fragments for, and with your children.
What fragments do you hope to create in 2014? Share it in the comments.