REMEMBERING         It was a crisp fall Saturday in October 1995.

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REMEMBERING It was a crisp fall Saturday in October 1995. It was a day that you just knew you had to go out and enjoy. I had gotten up early that morning and decided that it would be a good day for a picnic. So the boys and I threw together some sandwiches, sat down and decided where we wanted to go. We had been to Tippecanoe State Park the weekend before, so we chose to stay close to home. Adams Mill Bridge was only twenty minutes away and, it had picnic tables, fire rings, and the countryside was so lovely, with all the gorgeous colors bursting out of the trees, like fireworks on the fourth of July.

When we arrived at the Bridge we found a good picnic spot. The spot was close to the mill and the fire ring was close to the table and it had a wonderful view.

Leaves had fallen out of the trees and collected in little piles on the ground, like little snowdrifts in the winter. I sent the boys off to collect firewood, marching like little soldiers off to war. It was chilly and the fire felt good. The smell of the smoke took me back to the days of my childhood, back to my days as a girl scout, setting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and singing songs. The boy had brought a football with them and was piling leaves up in gigantic piles and jumping into them as they caught the ball.

Adams Mill was a flourmill that was in operation in the 1800's. Although you are not allowed to go in you can see through the windows to get a good look at things. The heavy grinding stones set on the floor, dusty from lack of use. Outside in the front of the mill are two old buckboard wagons. The boys loved playing make-believe on the wagons and cowboys were the standard game. This is where they played until lunchtime.

It seems to me that there is nothing like having a meal in the out of doors. I think your appetite gets even bigger when you know that you're going to be eating outside. I think its because the food tastes better in the fresh air. We had only made sandwiches and chips but it tasted as if I were eating a steak.

After lunch we decided to walk down to the bridge. Adams Mill Bridge was an old rickety covered bridge. The beams were rotting and large holes dotted the floor of the bridge, like big picture frames surrounding beautiful pictures of a stream. Kyle is my youngest son. He was seven years old at the time and had always been afraid to go out on the bridge because he just knew that it was going to collapse the minute he'd step foot on it.

He would patiently stand outside the bridge on the road and watch as Nick and I would wander and explore this old, dilapidated structure. On this particular day, I was trying to coax Kyle to come onto the bridge with us and was expecting the usual "no thank you" answer. But low and behold, to my very surprise, he stepped onto that bridge like he owned it. You could see the fear in his every movement. It took such courage for him to take that first step onto that bridge but after a few minutes he tramped around that bridge like it was know one's business. You would have never known that five minutes before he would not step foot on it. You could just see the delight and joy on his face as he realized that he had enough courage to take those first few steps.

Looking back now I realize that those were his first steps to becoming independent. Kyle is now sixteen years old. He is a self-sufficient human being, needing mom only for a meal and some clean clothes. It seems he has no time for me now. Job, school, and friends seem to occupy his time. I now understand that you need to let your kids take those first steps of courage, because in the long run, it gives them self-confidence.

Enjoy your children while their young. They grow up to fast and then their gone. It seems like it's just a blink of an eye between being an infant and the kids going off to live their own lives.

I long for the days that were, for the days when my kids needed me for everything. For the days of those little hands rubbing my cheeks saying "I Love You Mommy." Days of playing hide-n-go seek, candy land, and chutes and ladders. The boys are grown, and those days are gone. Gone but not forgotten. Tucked away, safe in my heart, like important papers put in a lock box, to be kept safe forever.