The hours of sunlight change as we move into the winter months. The winds grow colder and even the brightest sun in the clearest skies will eventually lose its warmth. But I don’t mind. I like this time of year.
Saturday evening and I arrived home after a long, overtime shift. The sun had already fallen by the time I reached my driveway. I could see the inside lights of my living room peek through the somewhat closed curtains across my living room window. Of course, my two dogs heard the sound of my car as I drove up. Brody the dog jumped on the living room couch and poked his head underneath the curtains to greet me with his happiness.
Buster the bulldog stood with his broad, stocky frame, waiting in the doorway and wiggling his entire rear-end. Bulldogs do not have much of a tail. But what he lacks in tail, Buster makes up for with his ass-wiggling enthusiasm.
Judging from both dog’s behavior, Oscar the bird realizes it’s me and he begins to squawk out loud. Oscar is my parrot. He is a large, blue and gold Macaw. He talks. He says hello and he imitates when I yell for the dogs to go outside.
Since Brody the dog is the cause for most of the mischief in my house—Oscar the Bird says “Brody,” quite often.
Some nights, Oscar mumbles himself to sleep by saying, “Hey Bro.” He also says, “Bro-Bro,” which are both versions of Brody’s nicknames. He occasionally mumbles, “Buh-Buh,” which is Buster’s nickname, and sometimes, Oscar mumbles different versions of, “Hey bird,” until he falls asleep.
It is good to come home to my family after long days at work. My wife welcomes me at the door. The dogs bark and cry when I come in. My daughter comes over to welcome me and Oscar the Bird squawks out loud. It is good to be expected, and it is good to feel welcomed. It is good to come home for dinner and sit down at the head of my table. We pass plates and share food.
I like that.
Same as people say, “A family that prays together stays together,” I say the same thing about a family that eats together.
I may not always say or do the right thing. Our house may be humble, and our cars are not exotic. I might not ever finish the next great American novel or see my name in lights. I may never be as wealthy as I’ve dreamed, and I might never open the mail and learn I’ve found myself at the top of the New York Times bestseller’s list. But—after a long hard day at work, after the hustle on evening trains, or the shoving on subways; after the hours of angry bosses, and after the sun goes down, I drive onto my street at the end of my day and the outside light above my front porch shines like a beacon to welcome me home.
Yesterday consisted of me working on a building’s sprinkler system. I swung wrenches inside of a hot steam room with low-hanging pipes that bang your head from any direction.
Nothing fit properly. Much of the pieces were mismatched, which caused the sprinkler system to leak, which meant after filling the lines with water, I had to drain the system again so the plumber could replace and connect a new pipe fitting.
I did not eat much and there was no such thing as coffee breaks.
In the end, all I wanted to do was go home . . .
Part of the season change is cold and flu season. Every family has their turn with this. I suppose this week belongs to my family.
Last night, the wife went to bed early and my little girl and I had some “Daddy and Me” time.
I made us two cups of hot chocolate, which we drank while sitting together on the couch with the only light flickering from the glowing screen of my television.
We shared a few donuts together. We talked until my daughter’s eyes became heavy—and then it was off to bed.
After putting my daughter to sleep, I put her mug in the sink. Then I walked over to the doorway to her bedroom to whisper, “Goodnight, Punky.” She sleeps curled up and on her side. Her pillows are surrounded by stuffed animals and her nightlights give off a soft pink glow.
When you care . . . you have to care all the way.
I care because the people in my life belong to me. And by belong, I do not mean by way of ownership. By belong, I mean intended because everything I have in my life, whether it comes easy or not, is done with intention.
Love is not just an emotion; it is a responsibility and an action. If given correctly, it is the bravest of its kind.
Love grows. It lives and breathes, and like anything that lives and breathes; love needs to be cared for and nurtured.
Sometimes I forget that.
Sometimes I feel like I’m about to lose my way and it’s hard to see where I’m going . . .
Fortunately, I have a light on my front porch
to act like a beacon . . .
and welcome me home.