"Nick, we are at Pat's. Call and wish her 'Happy Birthday.'"
Like footprints, the notes record our previously unannounced departures.
"Mom and Dad, I'm @ JJ's."
With hope in tow, we placed the notebook open faced just inside the front door, leaving behind weak knees and a house with no one in it.
"Brian, Nick's @ work. I'm on a short walk with Michael. 6:45 p.m."
Hurriedly scribbled, barely legible, the messages united us with answers to: Where are you? What are you doing? When are you coming home?
"Nicholas, I'm on a bike ride at Adams. Dad's out watching the Cleveland game. Let's eat supper at 7."
Even two of our fur-children are mentioned: Michael, our 13-year-old Springier Spaniel, and Lucky, our son and daughter-in-law's mix.
"Nicholas, Dad's at the library. Lucky is in our bedroom so that Michael won't bother him."
Some of the notes go back several years; others are more recent. Reminders show up here and there.
"Brian, pick up hams after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21, not Thursday."
"Hey, remember pop in freezer."
Today, as I glance through our messages, I lean into a place, where my family stayed connected with our handwritten notes to each other.
"7:20 p.m. Brian, I'm on a walk with Michael. Back in 40 minutes. Nick's @ Heelan game."
Most are only a few words spread wide across the pages, announcing the to and fro of our lives together.
"6:45 p.m. Brian, I'm on a walk w/Michael."
"Mom and Dad, I'm @ the Dunes playing B-Ball."
"Dad, I'm at B-Ball game."
The children are grown and gone now. As for the notebook, I'll toss it someday, but for now, I think I'll keep it.
"Ma and Pop, thank you for being such wonderful hosts. The only one who could do it better is Baby Jesus. Love you and we'll see you next week."
A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her column writing has won first-place national and state awards in The Federation of Press Women competitions. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Copyright � 2007 Paula Damon