As I stood upon a chair hearing my friends play outside, I just knew that I was going to miss something.
Every fall, I always knew that some of my time would be spent standing on a chair as my mother knelt with straight pins gripped in her mouth measuring the cuffs in my new pants. I know I drove her crazy fidgeting as she tried hard to make them just right. Without failing, she would eventually take the pins from her mouth, look up at me and say “Can’t you stand still for just a minute?”
I would for as long as I could, and then without realizing it, I would be moving yet again. I am thankful for her patience.
Now as an adult, I look around at events or restaurants, I can see children being unsuccessfully corralled by their parents. At a restaurant the other day in South Carolina, I heard some comments out of kid that would have gotten me a semi-permanent place standing at the dinner table.
As I went to the restroom, I overheard that boy’s father introducing him to some of the finer points of understanding how to behave in a restaurant.
Needless to say, I imagine by the time he was done, there was a much calmer, more reserved youth returning to the table.
I am sure that my parent’s had some similar experiences with me, you know its funny though, and I don’t remember any of them. I just remember that I was supposed to behave. The tendency has continued even now that I am self-governed.
After spending several years as a journalist, I realized were are often like children. This assumption is especially true when covering an event like a memorial service or prayer vigil. I often wish to be a participating member of the event — joining in the songs and prayers.
Then I remember what I am really there for.
I am there to find an image or words that will convey the emotion of that event to the readers who are at home and unable to be there and to the families and friends of those being remembered.
I must evoke a keepsake.
The search for the sight of a grandmother wiping away a tear, a fireman bowing his head in prayer or a child singing the “Star Spangled Banner” as she waves the flag above her head often kept me constantly in motion, afraid I will miss something that will touch someone.
I remember at one event some years ago, someone said the same words to me my mother said years before as the crowd was singing the “Star Spangled Banner.” Out of respect for his wishes, I stopped for a moment and then went about my business.
So, yes, I can stand still for just a minute.
But if I did, someone’s story will not be told. Someone may not be moved emotionally by what they see their fellow Americans doing. Someone years down the road may not have a newspaper clipping to bring back a fond memory.