Cotton Candy Clouds, Spaceship Smoke & “Farties”

This is something I wrote several years ago (my oldest son is now almost 25), but I wanted to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it.

“Cotton Candy Clouds, Spaceship Smoke and ‘Farties'”

“Mom, I’m joining the Army,” my oldest son announced last week.*

The way he said it, it was as if he were telling me we needed to buy more toothpaste.

I never saw it coming.

You’d think I’d be used to stuff like this. He was always doing the unexpected. It was his specialty. He definitely marched to the beat of the music playing in his head, music only audible to him.

I couldn’t have been any more surprised if he’d told me he was going to dye his hair purple and join the circus. Not that there’s anything wrong with the circus, mind you. My husband and I tried to take the kids to Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey every year when they were younger and we all loved it. Purple hair… well, that’s a different story. It makes me think of a girl I know. She has auburn hair with purple highlights, but her roots are “blonde,” if you know what I mean.

Anyway, back to my son….

You get the idea I was caught off-guard by his announcement. His decision was exciting and worrisome at once. Exciting? Just think of all the doors that could open up for him as a result. Worrisome? The same reason. I can practically feel my hair turning gray at the thought of him being sent overseas. But let’s cross that bridge if we come to it.

Since his announcement, I’ve found that little, everyday things send me into a reminiscing session. Ok, call me a sentimental fool. I’ll be the first to admit it.

For instance, while walking across the parking lot a couple of evenings ago, my eyes were drawn to the magnificent display God had thrown across the heavens. The sky was a deep sapphire blue—crystal clear—something one sees only in late fall or winter. A fingernail moon sailed high to the left and opposite it were swaths of pink clouds reflecting the final reach of the setting sun. “Pink cotton candy clouds, Mama!” I could hear my son at age three stating excitedly. That’s what he always called them. To my knowledge, up to that point in his life, he’d never had cotton candy—actually, he only had it once his entire childhood, that I know of. Although the concept of spun sugar is fascinating, it’s still nothing but pure sugar, and he was hyper enough without it. But those wispy, pink clouds were indelibly printed with that name from then on, both in his mind and in mine.

Spaceship smoke…. Clear, cold mornings are the best time to see it, but on certain days it’s visible anytime. Spaceship smoke…. To some it’s simply caused by the heat from jet engines hitting frigid air high in the atmosphere causing condensation to form in a visible strip of cloud-like substance; to some they’re “chem-trails” criss-crossing the sky, spread on purpose to poison everyone in some diabolical scheme about which only certain high-ranking government officials know; but I prefer to use the imaginative, poetical name that came from the creative mind of a three-year old. Whenever I see those trails left by jet planes, I smile and think…spaceship smoke.

We’ve just had another Halloween. I passed a bowl of candy sitting on a table. In it was an assortment of various delicacies guaranteed to rot one’s teeth. But there on top was something that threatened to make me cry. Don’t roll your eyes! I said I was sentimental! An innocent plastic-covered roll about two inches long, filled with little round candies that are sweet and tart at the same time—Smarties. My mother-in-law always kept some in her purse when the grandkids were little. They always knew they could score some candy from Grandma. The problem was, for a long time, my son had trouble saying anything with the letter “s.” It always came out sounding more like “f.” Well, you see where I’m going with this. I’ll never forget the day when he ran up to his Grandma—did I forget to say it was in church?—squealing in that high-pitched voice only a child can have, “Grandma, can I have some farties?” I was mortified at the time, but now… now, I smile.

The book of Proverbs tells us, “A merry heart does good like medicine.” After nineteen years of memories on which to meditate, I can truly say, my son is “good medicine.”

*He decided against joining the Army, but it doesn’t stop the reminiscing.

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