My husband and I were winding down from the day. Talk meandered around our children, our home, our jobs and unfinished business. Enveloped in chenille, I dog-eared my magazine and padded downstairs for two mugs of tea. I put the kettle on and filled the tea ball. My eyes wandered idly around the kitchen and stopped abruptly on the refrigerator. The moment jolted me like an earthquake. Racing back upstairs, I confronted my husband with the horrible truth.
“Our refrigerator is naked!”
He peered over his Newsweek. “You just went shopping yesterday ...”
“No! Not inside—outside! No pumpkin patch. No turkey farm! Do you know what this means?”
Knowing a rhetorical question when he hears one, my husband deftly met this one with patience and undivided attention.
“It means our children are growing up!” I continued.
He patted my hand, buying a few more moments to reflect on this catastrophe befalling our household. On the brink of tears, I explained.
For years, as the children grew, our refrigerator rivaled the Louvre. Artwork and other creative treasures proudly covered the surface, never leaving in doubt the time of year. When silhouettes of presidents shared billing with lacy hearts and construction-paper groundhogs, it was February. Flowers sprouted in abundance in May.
Autumn was the best! In early October, pumpkins from school, scouts, church and babysitter projects appeared on the refrigerator surrounding a sign reading “Mom’s Pumpkin Patch.” One year we put up 87 different examples. Then, the November gobblers. Turkeys by the pound strutted across the fridge, often overflowing onto cabinets.
I found solace on my husband’s shoulder. “No pumpkins, no turkeys, no little children ...”
“It’s OK,” he consoled. “Let’s just enjoy this next stage in their lives.”
“I can’t put that on my refrigerator,“ I sniffed. The teakettle whistled from the kitchen.
My husband leaves for work before I even get up. When I came downstairs the next morning, there on the refrigerator, I saw them. Cut out of a brown shopping bag was a huge, goofy, grinning pumpkin. Beside it, with gaudy pink feathers, was the most beautiful turkey ever made.
I thank God for the child that lives in us all.
The AARP Bulletin’s What I Really Know column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Gretchen E. Hardy is a reader from Auburn, Pa.