Sunlight filtered through the thick canopy above leaving its lacy shadows on the cool flowing water below my feet. I felt her there in that moment and remembered a conversation from several years ago. We were on the way to my in-law's house to pick up little David who had spent the night with his Nana. I passed over a little bridge, green sign at my right marking the name of the little creek below us: Mortar Creek.
"Oh... Mortar Creek. Your grandaddy used to take us to swim in a Mortar Creek when I was little. I wonder if that's the same one?" I can see her looking at me from the passenger seat. All I see is her face.
"I'm sure it is. Can't be too many creeks by that name in this area."
I had no idea back then how little insignificant snippets of life would matter so much in years to come when the possibility of new moments were no more. That's just it... once someone you love is gone, all you have left to hang onto are the old moments.
My husband grew up in the little rural area near Mortar Creek. He terrorized that creek bed on a three wheeler as an adolescent, and now that he has a son of his own, he has been back down to revisit it, a trailer of four wheelers in tow, to share it with the little boy he loves so much. Making new memories where so many old ones were created. They beg me to go riding with them every now and again, but I wasn't raised doing such things. Creeks and four wheelers and woods are not familiar to me, but every now and then, especially on Father's Day, I agree to go.
Sunday was my first visit to Mortar Creek. The trip was actually Madalyn's idea, which is in and of itself pure irony. She is sassy and girly and high maintenance to the core, but she likes to go riding with her brother and daddy every now and then. I actually like this about her; she won't grow up as prissy as I did which will suit her well when she's older.
The water was crisp and clear, a lovely rock bed below the gentle flow. And as I rode along on the back of my husband's four wheeler, the father of my two children, I watched the shadows of the sunlight dance with the movement of the water, and I could picture that day so long ago. My lanky grandfather. My mother and her siblings, tiny and laughing, kicking, playing in the coolness of the water. And I felt her there with me.
We stopped a few times along the ride and collected rocks. We have pea gravel in our beds in the back yard, and Madalyn loves to pick up big rocks when we go different places. So she and I picked out ones we loved. I was attracted to the dark ones, some almost black with what I assumed was age. Perhaps she had touched one of them. I will never know. But I will think of her every time I see them.
Memories sometimes so surprisingly and beautifully intertwine, reconciling the past with the present. And when they do, it's simply lovely.