Ruby and I stand on the warm sand beside the ocean, the sweet swells breaking mildly before us. I crouch before her, get her attention, and tell her this:
When you enter the water, walk straight out. As that first wave swirls around your knees reach down and grab a handful of that foamy stuff and press it to your heart.
The ocean is bigger than us.
* * *
Ruby and I stand on the mountain, hot summer sun and sweat. Around us is air and clouds and wind, below us is dirt and forest and rock. I give her a high-five, then crouch before her, get her attention and tell her this:
When you climb a mountain, find the highest point. Then pick up a rock — any rock, it doesn’t matter — and place it there on the highest point of the peak. Thank the mountain by making it that much taller. We are not conquerors.
The mountain is bigger than us.
My great-grandfather was John Keelty. We called him “Pop”. He had three daughters and so no one in his family carried the Keelty name until I was born and my parents named me Stephen Todd Keelty.
When my great-grandfather died I (as the last of his line to carry the name “Keelty”) was given his war medals. He fought in both world wars, and received 5 medals for his service.
Today is Remembrance Day, and so I took the medals out, showed them to Ruby, explained what each medal was for. Ruby’s full name is Ruby Joan Keelty.
Kate and I have been suffering the past few days. I injured my back playing soccer on Thursday and have been barely able to stand. Kate picked up a bug on the way back from Mexico, and so she’s been feeling drained — and hasn’t been able to relax because I can’t step it up (quite literally) to spend more time with Ruby.
Fortunately, Ruby’s grandparents have come to the rescue! We spent last night at Kate’s parents’ house so they could watch Ruby while we draped ourselves over their couches. And tonight, my parents are taking Ruby up north so we can spend all day Sunday doing the same to our own couches.
We’re really fortunate to have parents who live so close (although it is a two hour drive from here to my parents’ house) and are so willing to step in at the last minute give us a hand when we need it. It made a huge difference when she was a newborn, and it made a huge difference all last year when I was juggling Feedwhip and stay-at-home-dad-ness. And I’m sure it’ll continue to make a huge difference in the years to come.
Thanks, Mom and Dad and Mom and Dad!