A carnival gypsy once told me that the love of my life would be tall, dark and handsome. Somehow she failed to mention he would arrive on the waves of excruciating labor pains. Now, 23 years later to the day, my son can legally buy alcohol, towers over me, and resembles Paul Bunyan. He’s out on his own and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Still, whenever we talk, I oftentimes offer unsolicited advice. No, really, I do. Other mothers do this too, right? Right?? Well of course Jake’s response is usually one borne of frustration because, according to him, I’ve not kept up with his birthdays all these years and therefore don’t know just how old he is. My response is one he will never understand until he has kids of his own – he’s always my baby regardless of how old he may be. Or how tall. Or how thick a beard he decides to grow (I mean really, you do own a razor after all Jake!).
And many times during these mutually frustrating conversations, a mental picture of him will pop into my head. Like when he and I went outside to play in the yard like maniacs during a freak midnight snowstorm when he was 4. Or when he was a very convincing snowman in a school play at the age of 5. Or as a 6 year old on a trip to Luray Caverns….which is actually a pretty cute story and one that I go to often in my mental rolodex of memories because it never ceases to make me smile.
We used to make the trek to Luray Caverns every year, sort of a family tradition. These trips were always a great time. For those not familiar with the area, near Luray is another set of caverns touted as “The Endless Caverns.” To me, that sounds sort of horrible. The idea that you could possibly get lost and never find your way out of the dark, stone tunnels, eventually succumbing to starvation with your body going undiscovered for maybe centuries didn’t fill me with a great amount of intrigue. Sort of like an “always erupting volcano” or “constantly snowing tundra.” Okay fine, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic….but hey, it could happen.
Well, on this particular trip when we passed one of the billboards emblazoned with “Endless Caverns” Jake asked just what “endless” meant. Remember, he’s only 6 at the time so he was still trying to figure out the intricacies of the English language which can be tough on anyone. Being the vocabulary nut I am, I was thrilled to explain to him “Well, Jake, endless means that something doesn’t have an end…. never-ending.”
This is where I have to take a small sidebar and let you know that my husband’s running compliment for me at that time was “hot.” It could also be interpreted as a running joke. And having the goofy mentality that my husband did he was always coming up with a “you’re so hot…” comment. As in “You’re so hot you make lava look cool.” I know, I know….but what can you do? I married him anyway. Not sure what that says about me, all things considering.
So, back to the story….as the meaning of “endless” registered with Jake, he perked up and said, “Oh, so it’s like you. You’re hotless. Never-ending hot.” Why yes, Jake. That’s exactly what it means.
To this day I hold that small, innocent remark in my heart as one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. Not because it’s true and certainly not because Jake fully understood “hot” as it related to women, but because it came straight from his beautiful, ever loving six year old heart as meaning something special. Jake will never understand that when I look at him, I still see that wide-eyed, precocious boy who stole my heart the day he was born. I don’t think that will ever change. And quite frankly, I hope it never does.
Although seriously…. a razor wouldn’t hurt now and then.