The Sound of Silence

“Do you hear that?” my husband asked early this morning. “The sound of silence.” Our son and his family had just left to return to their home in Mobile. I smiled and settled into the quiet with my morning coffee and the Sunday Review. The first opinion column I read, Why I Didn’t Answer Your Email, touched on the fleeting aspect of childhood—”My inbox will always be waiting for me, but my children will not.” The second, The Joy of Being a Woman in her Seventies, reminded me that at this age, I can be “…more content, less driven, and more able to live in the moment with all its lovely possibilities.” I put down the paper and reflected on the past thirty-six hours.

Jeb and Sarah had arrived in time for dinner Saturday in their usual fashion—a beep of the car horn as they pull into the driveway; not-quite-five-year-old Lucy banging on the door, “We’re here!”; dogs piling out of the car, barking, joined by our dog barking and all three quickly ushered into the back yard to pee and bark some more; hugs, kisses “We’re glad to see you!” You’d think it had been two years rather than two weeks since we’d see them.

Saturday evening we grilled chicken in the back yard, drank wine, and predicted playoff winners.  Discussions in our family, whether about the Saints, politics, or restaurants, are always spirited, even though we are usually on the same side. With Jeb and Sarah in town for the Saints vs. Eagles NFC Division Playoff game, the conversation was particularly enthusiastic.

After dinner, we were entertained by Lucy who sang and danced her own rendition of “Let it Go.” She might be the only princess who has a boo-boo on her chin because she nicked herself shaving…but that’s another story.

Sunday morning, Izzy, the eight-month-old pit/lab/boxer mix (DNA test pending) was up at 5:30, ready to take on the day. She announces the dawn and just about everything else, real or imagined. One thing about puppies, they are either on or off; mornings are definitely on. Lucy went out front with Papa to bring in the papers, The Times Picayune and The New York Times. Since her family reads the news on-line, newspapers are a curiosity to her. She called them magazines.

“No,” her dad told her, “these are newspapers. This is how people used to get the news. Before you were born, before I worked at the university, I wrote for a newspaper. And a long time ago, when Papa was a boy, he used to deliver the newspaper. He’d fill his bike basket with papers and throw them on front porches in his neighborhood.” Apparently delivering the news is much more appealing to a four-year-old than writing the news. She spent the next hour or so “delivering” papers all over the house—loudly announcing each delivery—and then picking them up and repeating the process. (She repeated the delivery game again on Monday morning at six-thirty.)

Her parents went to Sunday brunch with a friend, and Papa, Lucy, and I had breakfast in. Waffles with peanut butter are usually the breakfast treat for grandchildren at Grummy’s house, but Lucy also wanted eggs and sausage, because “that’s what Papa is having.” Then the three of us, and the three dogs, settled in for some quiet time and a video, Frozen. (Did I mention that one of their dogs is a very large eight-month-old puppy? Their other dog, Fritz, is a senior German shepherd mix who suffers from epilepsy and sheds a lot, and our Lola is a fourteen pound Pekingese mix, who sheds less than the German shepherd only because there is less of her.)

Movie time is not necessarily quiet time with three dogs and a little girl who knows every word to every song. When Elsa began to sing the Academy Award-winning “Let it Go,” Lucy turned to me and said, “I dance to this part.” And dance she did, pirouetting into chairs and dogs and belting out the lyrics in Ethel Merman style.

Sunday afternoon we did have some quiet time in the Superdome when the Saints were down 14-0 in the first quarter.  Luckily that was short-lived.

Our son Matthew and his wife Annie stopped by after the game to drop off an early birthday gift for Lucy. They brought their dog, Rosalita, a Chihuahua/terrier mix. She and Lola are best buddies. Izzy not so much. After breaking up a very loud but bloodless skirmish, we put the little dogs upstairs and the big ones outside. The guys talked football and watched replays in the den while Sarah, Annie, Lucy, and I sat at the breakfast table. “This is the girls’ table,” Lucy proclaimed. We admired the new leggings and sparkly sneakers Lucy had received for her gift. We talked about king cake recipes, shoes, and food.

By ten o’clock, Lucy was sound asleep upstairs; Matthew, Annie, and Rosalita had gone home; the dishes were done; and the dogs had gone out to pee one more time. It had, as usual, been a wonderful visit.

Tomorrow I will attend a funeral for the brother of a friend. He was only fifty-two—a vibrant, active man who was killed last week in a tragic accident. Too soon, for all of us, there will be an infinite sound of silence.