Last Saturday, my husband and I took our two granddaughters ice skating as part of their Christmas gift from us.
But today, it was all about the boys. Duckpin bowling with the boys, that is.
For Christmas, we gave each of our older four grandsons a real bowling pin with a promise to take them bowling. The choice of bowling was easy… we knew that Andrew (6), Jake (4), William (4) and Alex (3) would love it, but we also wanted to honor Flo, my deceased mother-in-law. Flo didn’t just love to bowl… she loved to bowl. She loved the challenge, the individual and team aspect, the community. She loved the statistics, the trophies, the banquets. And she especially loved the bowling attire. Flo was very proud of her East Providence Bowling Academy bowling shirts… they gave her a wonderful sense of belonging to something.
The past few years of declining health prevented Flo from bowling, but that didn’t stop her from heading to the bowling ally. She had become a great friend to Peter, the owner of East Providence Bowling Academy, and she loved to visit, to bring him homemade pies and cookies and soups… and Peter would take Flo to the market, to church, and pretty much anywhere she wanted to go. Flo often told us that she thought of Peter as her 4th son. Flo so loved her special bowling ally that we decided to hold the reception after her funeral Mass and burial at this very place where she had spent so many perfect days and evenings over so many, many years. So heading to the bowling ally today with our grandsons was a wonderful Christmas journey that would also highlight the New Year.
The boys were beside themselves with excitement, and couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw that Barry’s brother, Uncle Rick, was joining us… and even better (sorry, Rick), their “big” cousin Max, too. Max is almost 14, and he is not only a hero to the little guys, but he works at the bowling ally! This day was just getting better and better.
So OK… I was the lone girl in a pack of 7 guys. Me… in my precious bowling shirt with the name FLO embroidered near my heart. I just had to wear one of Flo’s bowling shirts… the ones I had found tucked so neatly in her armoire.
I know Flo was smiling on us… I know she was with us at the ally today. I could feel her warmth embracing us. Flo may have loved to bowl… but her boys? Nothing could touch that love. I also wore Flo’s charm bracelet, the one with the sterling silver bowling ladies and bowling pins. Even the boys were mesmerized by this special bracelet.
Now, of course I wanted Flo to be proud, so on my first time up, I said, “Come on, Mom… let the girls teach the boys a lesson or two.” And here is what happened…
Today was a day of more than a Christmas promise. Today was a day of angels and memories and honor and journeys. Today was a day that I will never forget… and I know that my precious little grandsons and my wonderful nephew will never forget it, too. Today was about more than colorful bowling shoes and strikes and pizza and lemonade and ice cream and vending machines… today was all about love. Love.
Thanks, Flo. You began it all.
(And oh, for those of you who care to know… I beat all 7 of the guys, including Barry and Rick, in the first string with a score of 95. Boo-yah! And I had the highest average of the day. Not that anyone’s counting…)