one of these is not like the others…..

Early morning sun, hanging basket, summer flowers….. and that one, last strand of Christmas lights.

Christmas lights in June. Yes, we are those people!

It’s interesting how the morning shadows caused me to see that strand of lights.

And it’s interesting how a change in routine can cause you to see something that’s been taken for granted.

This week marked 20 years since a particular son graduated high school.  It also marked 20 years since the Army recruiter whisked him away to a longer than I imagined career.

And for the last 20 years, with notable exceptions (like wars and fishing trips), he has called home most every Sunday evening.

6 p.m.ish  …give or take an hour.  Or a day.

Since he lives on the other side of the country, his phone calls are a connection I treasure.  A clearing house of sorts for all things family and then some – like the treasure he scored after a round of haggling at the 2nd hand store, his new favorite fishing hole, what mischief his dogs got in to, the likelihood of deployment.  We bring him up to speed on family and his brother’s recent deployment.  We talk of books and hobbies and how we got the gravel road in front of the house oiled.  Now there’s only one inch of dust to clean every day instead of two.

We talk about hopes and dreams – his and ours.  We laugh.  And he outlines his latest ideas on life after the Army.

Two weeks ago he was home for a short visit.  Gathered around a table, his brothers, their wives, his father and I, we picked up where we left off the last time we were together.  The Sunday phone calls took on flesh and bone, real-time story telling, laughter, and hugs.

These four men who had grown up in my home, sitting around a table… it felt as though one had never left.  That he never would again.

But he did.

For one more far away deployment.

And his leaving felt as foreign and awkward as if it were the very first time.

Last Sunday I knew the phone would not ring at 6p.m.ish.  Nor did it ring tonight.  But I listen for it anyway.  And I am amazed at how that simple call, about things so ordinary, became extraordinary to me.  It had become the way to wrap up the week and move on to the next.

So tonight it feels good to write these words and share a picture.  To punctuate the week.  To move forward to tomorrow.

And maybe even to look at my small space on the internet as a new Sunday night tradition.

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