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Liam is 18!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


At eight months, he was spherical, and not always as jolly as he appears here; fussy he was much of the time, thanks to his tiny Eustachian tubes. We eventually got those fixed. 

Fussiness aside, there was a sweetness about that baby boy that I could not walk by. I just had to kiss him, every time. 


All those kisses added up and soaked in, I think, and the older he got, the sweeter he got.

The willow tree that's just crowning up over the deck railing here was planted, a slender whip, when I was big with Liam. And now, 18 years later, it's leaning perilously downslope, a tremendous tree, too big for its trunk, apparently, from the way it suddenly throws off pieces of itself, as if it's done with them.


And the little boy who had to stretch to see over the railing is leaning over it now, with a faraway look in his soft blue eyes. 


And his big sister is still looking over his shoulder, making sure he's OK. 


They're a unit, always better together. That has been the greatest gift--the way the two of them blend together, like root beer and ice cream, making something better than either alone. 


 We took her to Maine to look at a college, and she wound up staying. Ah, they were so young.


And now she's about to graduate, and he's the one looking at colleges now. 

They're both taking off. 


 Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving. But how can they know it's time for them to go?



Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming...I have no thought of time. 

Who knows where the time goes?--Sandy Denny, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?"


It's a great gift to be able to step outside the moment, and recognize the sweetest times as they are happening. A fine game of Jungle Jem, interrupted by a jealous little man who thought Jem's exercise bars were supposed to be petting HIM. That was only May! It was six months ago; it was yesterday; it was forever ago.


We were there for it. We lived it to the fullest. No love was spared. Always, there's been love, so much love. They'll carry that as long as they live. 


We haven't missed a moment, haven't missed a chance to say I love you. 

Today, I was headed into town to try to do too many things. I go into town so seldom now, all the little things pile up into big wads. And the more I put it off, the bigger the wad that awaits me in town. So be it.

I took the back roads, because it was a rainy November day and the sassafras and the oaks are  on fire, sizzling in the mist. I saw the gray cow named Christine standing,  negative bovine space against the rich autumn foliage, and I couldn't pull over fast enough.


I parked about a hundred yards up, grabbed my big rig with the long lens, and began loping back to capture her beauty. I was going along pretty good, almost there, when a car pulled up alongside me. The driver was rapping along to the radio in a deep voice. He had a huge smile on his face. It was Liam. And of course, because he's Liam, he stopped to talk with his Ma. And because he's Liam, I had to give him a kiss.

We'd both taken the back road on a rainy November day, me, reluctantly headed to town; he, joyfully headed home. Because for Liam and me, it's all about color, and heading home.



"Hi ma.  As I drove up I thought I saw a little black inkblot, running alongside you. To your right."

I had no doubt he did. How I wished I could see that inkblot, too. I cried a little and then we laughed, too, at the likelihood of his seeing anyone else but his mother, out here in rural Ohio running along a  country road, carrying a big camera, running back to shoot some cows. Town-wads be damned. There are cows and mist and colors. And those are what will matter in the end.


How could I not? They are anthracite to the trees' fire. And I've always liked placing inkblots in a landscape.

 Liam shoots cows, too. Last summer, making Bully's portrait. Bully, who would let us rub his curly forehead. 



After Liam pulled away, leaving me to my cowtography, a raven flew over, croaking sonorously. Ravens aren't supposed to be here in Appalachian Ohio, but I've seen four in the last three weeks. A pair, cavorting over the orchard, just last Saturday!  As the raven croaked along, two red-headed woodpeckers answered back. I swear, the birds are always talking to me, following me. I need to listen to them, get out more. I'm gonna do that.


If this isn't the oddest birthday post. All I'm trying to say is that I love this boy, who appreciates everything so deeply, and is so gentle and kind, quiet and gracious. 


I'm trying to say Happy Birthday to you, dear Liam, in a circuitous, cow in autumn, raven croaky way. 

Phoebe is much better at saying happy birthday! A mysterious soft package arrived yesterday, and Liam had instructions to open it immediately. 



There was a note in it that said, 

"Welcome to adulthood, little buddy.
 Here's the first thing you'll need.
 Love, 
Your big sis"


When I came home this evening, a giant flying squirrel came out to help me with the groceries. He had come straight home and climbed into his Adult Onesie.

"I was cold. And this is the best thing when you're cold."

Liam, you're all about taking joy in simple pleasures. That will take you farther in life than anything else. It will take you home.


And I still can't walk by you without kissing you. Happy 18, WilLiam Henry Thompson IV!

Love always, Ma

19 comments:

Julie, I wish you had about 12 children, 'cuz I could read one of your birthday posts every month of the year!
(...but this'll do for now; Happy B-day Liam!)
p.s... and love the Ivory-bill wall-hanging ;)

What fun this guy is. Only a sister could get away with giving a brother such a gift. Happy Birthday Liam. Happy days to all of you....

What a beautiful post. And I don't doubt the black dot. I've had a couple similar experiences here.

This post was so heartbreakingly beautiful, I'm sobbing. Liam -- you are a gem, and we all love you! Happy birthday! Julie -- whatever is in your genetic material... I wish more people had it. You make wonderful kids.

Posted by Anonymous November 8, 2017 at 7:45 AM

I wish Julie had about 12 children to help populate the earth with people raised to appreciate it, appreciate the beauty, appreciate all its wild residents. The world would be a much better place populated with Zickefooses and Thompsons!!!

Beautiful from beginning to end! In my next life I'd like to live in your family of love and laughter! Happy Birthday, Flying Squirrel!

Happy birthday, Liam! And to your sweet mama too. She did good with you.

And a brave, wonderful kid you are in your flying squirrel suit.

I have to say I got goosebumps when you wrote Judy Collins' words. Who knows indeed?

Wonderful, perfect! ♥
Thanks for sharing!♥
Happy 18th Liam!

@jeanniewig credit where credit is due--"Who Knows Where The Time Goes" was penned and sung by Sandy Denny, then of the Strawbs, later of Fairport Convention. Ahh, what a song! And I'm on a Judy Collins/Sandy Denny kick lately, if you can't tell!

Thank you everyone for the kind words. However. The thought of having, or having had, 12 children makes me, well, let's just say I don't wish I'd had 12 children, however amusing it might be to read their individual birthday posts. Would there be a blog if I had? Dubious. It's all I can do to squoze out a post for two birthdays now.

xo
jz

oh my... happiest of birthdays to Liam, and thanks for sharing all this LOVE with us, Ms Zick. Tears too, when they come along, but all the laughter wipes that out. That suit! I once had a tap dancing bluebird of happiness suit, but I think the f. squirrel takes the cake! Where shall we send the gift baskets of nuts? love to you all, Miss Weezie in TX

Sniff. Very sweet.

Oh boy. What a boy. You raised him right. Could ravens be Baker's spirit animal? Any mention of Chet makes me tear up, missing my long gone best dog, Tie.

What a lovely birthday post. Have the very best day Liam! Your comment about the black inkblot running by your Mom made me cry.

Can't say much that other folks haven't said about the birthday post, except this: Nov. 8 was my mother's birthday, and it seems to be a fine birth date for extraordinary people. Happy 18th, Liam!

And I'm also glad to see a mention of Sandy Denny, who isn't as well known on this side of the Pond as she deserves to be. A great talent, gone too soon.

It has been a pleasure watching Liam grow up here on these blog pages. He has become quite a fine young man. I love the story of him driving up the country road and stopping to be by his ma while she photographed a much loved cow. This is life, these moments, and all this love. Happy birthday to Liam. Much love to all of you on this November day.

And what a handsome lad he's grown up to be. Both your kids are amazing.

Every emotion experienced in this post, that's for sure. Great images. I love the black angus cows, dark bark, and colorful leaves image. Do your photos ever call out to be a painting? Whenever I read a reference to Chet Baker, I hug my deaf, skinny 19 year old indoor cat, who started out as a wild boy, closer and shower him with kisses on his head, his favorite spot (I'm sure his mother had done that too). Thanks for the reminders about so much in life. Happy Birthday, Liam; you're a very special flying squirrel! Kim in PA

LOVE the flying squirrel "onesie!" But I love Phoebe's note best. You definitely need one of those for entering adulthood! Mine has gone missing a time or two. Happy birthday, Liam!!

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