Thursday, March 21, 2013

the Con-way connection

The past week has been a pretty painful one (literally), and I've been spending a lot of time laying around, resting the inflamed discs in my lower back.  Sure, that means I had a lot of time to write, but I was either a.) feeling sorry for myself that I'm only *slightly* over the age of 30 and have to deal with the back of an 80 year old (my doctor's words...not mine), or b.) feeling the after effects of my pain killers (which, in retrospect, could have made for some pretty trippy posts), leaving me feeling too scrambled to write coherently.

Then, today I woke up feeling as close to 100% as I have in the past 7 days.  I was ready to write...something...anything...but I couldn't get the inspiration (or time) to do so.  Story hour at the library (really, it's 'Story 2 Hours') had me helping a wiggly Raegan "shake her sillies out", listening to stories about spring, and glue-sticking cotton balls and rainbow-colored strips to a cloud (p.s. glue stick + cotton balls + room full of toddlers = a HUGE oversight by the darling little volunteers at the library who come up with the crafty ideas for story hour).   #whendidthisbecomemylife

Once I de-cottoned myself and my toddler, we headed to the grocery store for a few things, and the obligatory toddler tantrum in the middle of the store.  "Awesome!"...highly embarrassing moment in life (dark cloud), followed by blog post once we got home and my blood pressure lowered (silver lining).  We were heading onto the highway toward home, when Brynn said, "Mommy, I'm going to look for a Grandpa Conley truck".

My father-in-law, Rick, drove truck for Con-way, until he passed away unexpectedly in April 2010.  Gavin has a few Con-way trucks in his rotation of toys, and every so often when I'm cleaning up, I'll find one parked near his bed, or lined up with other trucks and cars along the wall.  Shortly after dad died, I remember driving to work one morning and was in a bit of an early-morning-mom-of-toddlers daze.  I glanced into my rear view mirror, and noticed a Con-way truck behind me.  Instantly, I perked up knowing that, in some way, dad was with me--checking in to say 'hi'.  Since then, it's become a bit of a family 'thing', that has even passed on to other people who knew of my father-in-law.

Brynn has a unique relationship with her grandpa.  She only met him once, in 2008, when she was just 4 months old, and he passed away in April of 2010, just two months shy of when he was supposed to come visit us in Colorado.  When he passed away, Brynn asked more questions at the age of 2, than her brother did at the age of 4.  She wanted to know, 'why' and 'how', and 'where'.  Although her questions were that of a 2-year old level, I knew what she meant and did my best to help her understand.

Bonding with Grandpa, June 2008
Since then, she's our most excited fan of the 'grandpa Conley truck' sightings game (for lack of a better term).  When she spots one, the smile on her face is unmistakable, and her eyes follow the truck for as long as physically possible (and with Brynn's exotropia of her eye, sometimes it can be for a bit longer than you might think!)

Brynn is also a five year old.  A girl.  And an offspring of one of the most frenetic-when-there's-a-task-at-hand people I've ever met.  (*ahem*: guilty)  When she wants something to happen, it had better happen, or else you never know what dimension of Brynn you will encounter (a trait I've passed down and have discovered bites me in the ass more times than I'd ever envisioned.  And she's only 5.).

Today, as we pulled into the driveway, I unclicked my seat belt and turned around to offer the choices for lunch so I knew what to prepare when we got in the house.  I was faced with a toddler shrieking 'kitty tat!  kitty tat!' in the direction of the squirrel...and 'THE face'.  A not-so-delightful combination of pissed, annoyed, angry, frustrated, confused, let down, and disgusted; Brynn's 'face' is not one to be viewed without signing the proper release forms.  Her narrowed eyes, squinchy brow, and scowl that can be adapted for the level of disappointment she is currently feeling combines to create something that many Hollywood makeup artists would surely like to replicate for a possessed zombie look.

We exchanged a few 'Brynn, what's wrong?' 'NOTHING's before I grew exasperated and finally asked her what she'd like to do.  She told me she'd stay in the truck until she was ready to come in.  Being the *spectacular mom* that I am, I lowered the windows several inches, exited the cab, and began unloading Raegan and the bags.  Being the stubborn and headstrong 5 year old that she is, Brynn stayed in the truck long enough to make me find things to throw out, just so I could go outside and inadvertently check on her.

About 23 minutes passed.  Good lord, she's persistent.  After 10 minutes, I was kind of regretting my decision to let her stay in the truck and began peeking stealthily through the blinds on the window behind the garden tub.  After 16 minutes, I was watching the clock.  Soon, I noticed the back door to the cab slowly open and her long legs sidle out.  I dashed to the kitchen and nonchalantly began getting lunches ready.  When I put Raegan's plate down on the table, Brynn spoke up and asked for lunch.  I gave her a look that said, "spill your guts...then you eat".  Without hesitation, Brynn spoke.

"Mommy, I'm just sad.  I didn't get to see a Grandpa Conley truck.  I really wanted to, I haven't seen one in a long time and I was thinking of him.  So I needed to see one."


The little curly topped girl sitting at my kitchen table just metamorphosed from a temperamental, emotional grump to a sentimental, emotional idealist.  It took all of me to hold back the tears upon hearing this, but they were soon flowing as we shared an in-depth discussion about her grandpa over a lunch of shell pasta and veggies.  She told me how she dreams about him, how in her dreams he visits her and plays with her and how she wishes that she would wake up and it would be true.  She told me she thinks about him every day, how she wishes he didn't have to die, and how she used her fifth birthday wish to make him come back alive (yeah, that one really got me, too).  It is a conversation that I wish I had thought to record, because I fear that the day will come that I don't remember her wise words and intuitions.  She left me feeling so refreshed and grateful.  Brynn has this visceral connection with her grandpa, despite his physical absence on this planet, and when things are overwhelming and the house is running wild, I know we can count on Brynn to be our own Con-way truck, to let us know that dad will always be with us.

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