Tonight we walked the neighborhood. It had rained earlier and outside was damp, the pollen stifled and off we went. Amos and I without shoes and the my two older boys in sneakers. It was a rare combination, no sister, no soccer ball, no stroller, no bikes or scooter, not even a phone to take a picture, just the four of us. A mother and her three sons. I noticed their little boy bodies had changed. My oldest son is tall and willowy, long legs and arms, narrow feet. My middle son growing taller is also thick and sturdy, robust and built for strength. My littlest boy is just right, a bit of chubby remains from babyhood and his toddler legs move more quickly now, though still a bit unsteady and his arms are often up and out for balance. His own lightly tanned skin is soft to the touch and his nearly white gold hair silky compared to the thick mops of each of his brothers.
It was a moving picture frame of before and after, a peek into the future. My older sons had once been tow heads too, though now their yellow hair was a soft brown after months in captivity. It ebbs and flows each year, blond after a summer of salt water but a shade darker each subsequent Spring. They grew inches each season too, my oldest like a willow tree, my middle like an oak, and my littlest like a red fern. Ah, yes, a red fern, an image from one of my favorite books by Wilson Rawls. The story goes that a red fern can only grow when planted by an angel, magic in the natural world and two year old Amos with his special needs certainly is our red fern.
I like to think he is the link between the two brothers that are as different as two people can be and live in a world where they may have moved on from one another, despite the earnest teachings of their mother. I imagine Amos as the red fern pulling each towards the other, earth and light combined together to grow a beautiful relationship, the youngest brother representing the roots that will grow them bound tightly to one another. Their love for him is nearly as powerful as my own and the joy he has cemented in their hearts is worn on their shirtsleeves.
He will be the plank that bridges the divide even when their dichotomous spirits are sure to compete in an effort to stifle their relationship. Amos alone will quell the disharmony and love will certainly prevail in the life of these three brothers, who will be men far sooner than I like and far longer than their brief span of boyhood. The gift of him has surpassed my wildest expectations and for this, I am truly thankful. Despite the worries that plague me and beckon my fears, my peace and contentment is broad when I contemplate the relationship my children have secured amongst themselves and today, I will let that joyful knowledge wash over me and be enough. It is, you know.