In a Blink
When she was still quite a young woman, hardly more than a girl, her mother told her it would happen.
“You’ll see, Frances,” she said. “Time will pass more quickly with every year. What seemed like such a long, hot summer to a child will be gone in a blink of your eye.”
Her mother had be right, of course. It seemed no time at all before Frances was married with a baby of her own. One moment, she was cradling her newborn son and in the next, she was watching as he flew down the porch steps and raced up the street to catch the bus to school. She turned around and her little school boy was at the state college. Before she properly caught her breath, he was off to the West, helping to build roads and bridges to connect the new lands with home cities here in the East.
In the next moment, her husband was gone and she wondered how that had happened so suddenly. He had only just retired, hadn’t he? She examined the gold pocket watch the bank had given him on that occasion. It was engraved just as she remembered with fond congratulations and the date. The date was seventeen years past. Seventeen years had slipped by so easily.
Her son came home and her granddaughter had learned to walk and toddled, giggling, about the house. It reminded Frances so strongly of the little boy who had filled her days with busy sounds. Hadn’t that been just moments since? How was it that the little boy had been replaced with the tall man with silver at his temples? Already, the giggling little girl was pinning up her long heavy braids, her rounded, dimpled face smoothed into the delicate profile of young lady.
Frances found she had given up trying to count the days. Her days had passed in a blink, just as her mother had said. Now unseen, she still watched in wonder as Time moved with its unaccountable speed. The man who was her little boy was silver-haired and held out gnarled and veined hands to the capable, matronly woman who greeted him, her father, with a kiss. The boy at her side was past childhood but not quite a man. Great-grandson? Yes, Frances knew that must be so.
She watched and her son grew frail, just as she had done. How long ago? Frances didn’t know. Her great-grandson, looking so much like his grandfather, stood in the foyer, greeting the visitors as his mother, still capable, but today, looking rather weary, sat in the parlor, arrangements of lilies placed about the room.
“I haven’t decided,” she said in answer to one of the guests. “This was my grandparents’ home and then, my parents. I don’t think I can even consider parting with the place. You know how old folks are. We tend to hold on to the past.”
Frances felt she understood that very well.
Now, once again, the house is full of sounds and Frances laughed to see the wrestling and tumbling of three more little boys playing the yard. The little fellows dashed through the house and out the front door. As they climbed into a waiting car, the three young men called back a cheery farewell to their parents. Again, Time had, like a thief, whisked away those childhood days.
Frances kept watch, trying to see every moment. To those around her, she was as Time gone by, a mere memory, though she stayed, afraid to look away and miss what came next. Again, as if no time had passed at all, Frances heard her mother’s voice.
“In the blink of an eye, Frances. It seems just moments since I dandled you on my knee. I’ll turn my head and you’ll be a grown woman. Remember, my dear. Time goes so quickly, slips through your fingers like silk thread. Don’t let silly cares take your attention for it is gone in a moment and leaves you behind.”