This I Believe

by Ellen Ivy


This I believe

by Ellen R. Ivy

One of my favorite photographs, is a picture of our son taking some of his first steps. He’s grinning, arms spread wide, as are his feet. He’s dressed in yellow corduroy overalls, and he’s holding a jonquil. In the photo, I sit behind him, mimicking him–arms spread wide, mouth all a-grin. It’s perfect. Except for the jonquil. Mason, our son, was holding this flower with all his might and its hollow stem could not handle the pressure. It had folded over on itself. It would be an okay picture without the broken, dangling flower, but not a great one.

This leads me to the realization that it is the imperfections, the potholes, the misadventures that bring memories flooding back:  a flat tire on a miserable trip; busy people finding us a place to stay when we were so very, very off track; a palsied couple in wheel chairs on their honeymoon–heads bobbing as they moved toward a kiss. This last may have been the singularly most beautiful moment I’ve witnessed.

When our son was a toddler, a bit older than he was in the photo I mentioned earlier, he and I would march around the house a couple of times each week. We’d dance. We’d sing. One day I scooped up my little love and placed him on the dining table that we’d recently acquired–having waited years for it. “Here’s a stage for you. Dance for Mommy here,” I asked, holding my arms out as in the photo. And dance he did. Often.

In later years he did his homework at that table. It’s my favorite piece of furniture. Not because it’s the loveliest, and it is beautifully proportioned and carved. It is my favorite because of its scratches from the dancing tot, its indentations from the hard-pressed lettering of a kid who didn’t like homework, its dark edge where that same boy leaned over geometry and history, and, yes, Yahtzee and the Game of Life.

I treasure this table not in spite of its imperfections, but because of them.

Imperfections punctuate Life.

This I believe.