Wishes on Paper

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The crumbled, ripped, stained piece of paper on the left holds a list, written in my mother's hand, of the dreams and desires of her children for the new land, new house, new life out in the country.

It seems a little funny now, that this is out in the country, six miles from town. But when you're 16 or 12 or 10 or 8 or... and have just had your life uprooted from sidewalks for bicycles, friends just down the street, and a library a short ride away, then, well, six miles on a busy highway may as well be another country entirely instead of just out in the country.

So my mother sat down with us, pencil in hand, and asked us what we wanted. We wanted a lot. We wanted a blizzard (at least 12 feet of snow), a bear, curtains, doors, elephants, a baby grand piano. We wanted llamas, a swimming pool, a log cabin, a riding lawnmower. We wanted to adopt somebody. We wanted dressers and sleds and dogs and friends. Landscaping, a bulldozer, chickens, and shotguns. We wanted 9 tickets to England, a bigger refrigerator, and a helicopter. We wanted bookcases and trees. My mother wanted "all serving the Lord." Someone else wanted "a new house." Someone else wanted a "hole in [redacted]'s wall."

Mom wrote down everything we said until the page was full and then she hung it on a wall in the kitchen where it stayed for a long time. Eventually it was stuck in a file and we forgot about it, remembering every now and then when something we'd thrown out as a wish on a piece of paper actually materialized.

Nineteen years later, this year, Mom found it while going through a filing cabinet. We sat down again with a fresh piece of paper, Mom once again holding the pencil, and we went through the list, laughing at the entries ("help," "clean yard") and marveling as the second, fresh piece of paper started filling with what we now had, or had once had. Things like doors, curtains, llamas, sheep, a bigger refrigerator. Eight tickets to England (sorry, Dad).

We still haven't had a blizzard with twelve feet of snow, there are no bears or elephants wandering the pastures (thank God), and I'm not sure anyone would agree to give up our ancient, un-tuneable upright piano, even for a baby grand, but it was amazing to see what desires had been fulfilled. Things that seemed so impossible at the time. Things as simple as doors, a clean yard, trees, and bookcases. There's even a hole, now patched, in someone's wall.

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