Thursday, February 26, 2015

I'll Like You For Always

My older sister is a librarian and as a young mother, I leaned on her guidance for children's book recommendations as needed. Of course, my boys are now well out of the genres of elementary school librarians, but I have fond memories of connections with her and with my sons over books we pored over, shared, and compared. Pattie was into children's books long before I was, because of her profession, and I remember in particular her bringing some books to read as part of a presentation at a ladies church retreat. 

She is a skilled crafter in her reading style, and I learned from her that day to emulate her captivating style when later in life I read to my children, just as I learned what books to stockpile in our own little family library, and which ones to read over and over. I have a small cache of those remaining books, books that I think I will have until I am no longer on this earth, or until I pass them on to my sons and their future families. 

One such book is a dog-eared copy of "I'll Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch. I can clearly see this columbian blue book cover in my mind, and I am never one to downplay the artistic creation on a cover that can convey a lovely introduction to a new found literary friend. Pattie read this particular book at that ladies retreat, which had to be back in the late '80's, as I know it was before we moved to The Woodlands in January 1991. Yes, a memory of a good book, superbly read, can stay with you for decades. I believe, too, that my family copy of this book was a gift from her at a baby shower. At the retreat, she had us in tears by the time she finished reading that book to the room full of adult women. And I can tear up at the mere memory of it, and I know clearly that I can easily cry if I were to read it today.

A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang: 
I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.
- Robert Munsch 

When I first heard of the book, I obviously did not have any children yet, and I did not know at that time that I would have sons that would someday tower over me. My affection for the book when first heard was out of a deep love for my own mother, and her deep love of her mother that I had observed firsthand. I was in my late twenties at the time of that book reading, and old enough to appreciate my mother to a large degree - although at that moment I did not near appreciate her as much as at this very moment that I am typing - but I was old enough to see ahead around the corner to the inevitability of time and of both of us aging. 

While I knew I would not have any stairs to someday climb to fetch her, or rocker to hold her in, I knew that I would love her forever, and that as long as I'm living, her baby I'll be. Mom and I have this game we play. She tells me she loves me more than I love her. And I tell her that isn't possible, because I have loved her all of my life, and she has loved me only part of hers.  We both win this game.

As my children entered my life, and took over my house, and my schedule, and my heart, the book, of course, took on a new layer of meaning, spanning across four generations of mother-child love, instead of only three. My own personal role of mothering intensified my knowledge of  just how rich the penned words in that little blue softcover book were, and many a time I held a wriggling tender little boy, singing to them in my mind the same chant that Pattie had crooned over that room full of crying church women. 

As I worked on this Valentine layout, looking at these photos of my very big boys, on the fence between boyhood and manhood, boys that have grown now into men that could carry me if needed, and boys whose laps certainly could now bear me, the images of that book, and the words of those pages came lighting back to my heart, and to my mind, as I tried mightily to stem the tide of time, and keep those boys with me just a little while longer.

We know by now how this chapter ends. We know that any mom and/or dad that succeed in raising their child trade off that success for a nest that empties, rooms that stay dark, cell phones that don't ring near enough, and calendars with far too many gaps in between true face time.

On this Valentines Day, as we began the wrap-up time with our sons at home every day with us, with one son in his first year of high school, everything became more cherished. And as I looked back on this Valentine's Day memory, the words "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as you're living, my baby you'll be" seemed as appropriate and applicable as they ever might be. 

I am blessed to see my sons turning into handsome, intelligent, fun, witty, caring, sensitive, compassionate, loving young men. I am blessed that they are both embracing college and all the opportunities that it offers. I am blessed that right now, at this moment, we are all healthy and whole and happy and employed in endeavors that speak to our commitments and our hearts. I am blessed with the excitement of seeing what they become, and pondering what lies ahead, and remembering joyfully what these last years have held. And I am blessed that these words ring true for me, and for my husband, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as you're living, my baby you'll be."

I'll Love You Forever ~ Valentine's Day ~ February 2010

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Crate Paper
Title Font: Silhouette Cut File

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet layout. I don't even have kids and that book makes me ugly cry.