"Can I hold my little girlie?"
Towers of laundry surround me, "Ok."
He balances Rose over skinned knees, wedges one hand under her head. He tilts his head to match and whispers warm secrets to her. Between bricks of laundry I lean into their small world. "I will protect you," he croons and presses cheek to cheek.
She squeaks. He rocks. She chirps. He rocks some more and looks up, "She makes that noise because she LOVES me," he says. He lifts her tiny head and begins to sing, "My little Rose, my little little Rose, my baby Rose..." The turrets of laundry fade into the walls, and I watch to see the boy begin to be man.
The legacy continues. Thanks Daddy, Grandad, Grampa, and all the Greats, Uncles too, our men of renown.
52. Little boy who hums at the table and eats deep bowls of oatmeal.
53. Five-year-old sister who pours and cooks oatmeal while I rest on the couch.
54. Eight azure eyes of my children that SEE.
55. A surgeon, all blue scrubs and gray hair, who saved Lucy's sight.
56. Popsicles, watermelon, grass clippings up to the knees, sprinklers, and sop-wet children.
57. My mother, the measure of a woman, friend to me all these years.
58. Husband, bean-sprout-counter who points to each newborn leaf for the children.
59. Slow paced days, little ones gathered underfoot.
60. Cookies, nuts and chocolate chunks, oat flour, real butter.
61. Tides of laundry that ebb and flow like sand over the house.
62. Husband who wades the tide and calls our home a life on the beach.
63. A heritage of man-strength passed down from father and father's father and his father on down the family tree. A legacy of manhood.
64. "Hold me, Momma," and Lulu clamors up my creaky chair, grabs me in a bear-hug.