While grasping Calvin's wrist, we limped along the narrow road toward the water. Every few seconds I wiped drool from his chin with the corner of the bandana tied around his neck. He grimaced as the wind whipped his hair and the sun beat his face. A couple hundred yards further, when we reached the tip of Simpson's Point, I plopped him down at the top of the decrepit cement boat launch. It was a stunning day, and the mild waters of high tide had attracted the usual crowd of sunbathers, swimmers and waders.
We sat for a spell and visited with a few friends before a Parks and Recreation employee approached and instructed me to move my car because the back bumper extended inches beyond a no-parking sign. I hadn't noticed my error when parking, nor had I noticed it when I had wrangled Calvin out of the car, making sure neither of us would careen into the ditch at the shoulder. And though I was peeved that we had to leave our perch prematurely, I was grateful that we'd had a few minutes to soak up the sun before our day's "adventure" was cut short. On the way back to the car, the employee again approached and said he'd been wrong, that my car wasn't over the mark. By then, however, having made Calvin walk all way the back to the car, I decided it was best just to leave than to make him do it all again.
All summer, and especially on weekends, I've been lamenting my imprisonment with Calvin (Michael usually works several hours on Saturdays and Sundays, too, and Mary usually can't help on weekends.) Though Calvin has not had a seizure in over four months, lately, he seems restless as ever, and less interested in spending time in his beloved jumper, which means more of our time is spent walking in endless loops around the house and yard, and driving loops around the back roads in the car.
I had been mourning my loss again—the loss of not having had a healthy child. If things hadn't gone so wrong nineteen years ago, on a day like Sunday Calvin likely would have been off on his own, hanging out with friends, traveling the world, going for bike rides and runs, to the beach, to the park, on a boat ride, paddling, water skiing, fishing, skateboarding, hiking. Who knows?! And I'd be enjoying the day to myself, or with Michael even, perhaps in the garden or at the shore with a book in my lap, or simply walking a long stretch of beach without a little ball and chain weighing me down.
Later on, I took Calvin to the grocery store. We go there virtually every day. He likes to push the cart—it seems to make it easier for him to walk—while I steer it from the front. Even before entering the store, he gets a big grin on his face which only widens when he gets to cruising down the aisles, and especially when we head to the meat department which is his favorite. He loves to stand holding onto the low edge of the case and stare up at the florescent lights. It's near impossible to pry him away, and we end up making several stops at various spots along the case between getting other groceries.
Often, fellow shoppers smile at us. Some will tell me what a good mother I am, or remark on the love I show Calvin as we embrace in the middle of the produce department or in the check-out lane. On a few occasions, strangers have even given us cash, which I try my best to refuse.
When we exited the store, Calvin still had his big goofy smile on his face. It made me think about how happy it makes Calvin just to hang out in the familiar grocery store with its colors and lights and shiny, crinkly packaging. It made me think of how happy it makes me to see him like that. It made me realize that I don't have to be in some exotic place for days, or climbing some mountain, or visiting a new city to feel true happiness. Rather, what matters is the simple, easy, mundane moment—whether rounding a bend in the car and looking back to see Calvin contentedly chewing on his macrame rabbit, his shoe or big toe, or five minutes with our butts parked at Simpson's Point, or a half hour in the grocery store standing mid-aisle—with my sweet, smiley, loving kid in my arms.