A Habit I Love

Yesterday, I helped Audrey pack her 4 little guys into her car after a brief stop at my house to retrieve a very important item – Henry’s blankie.

All was well with the world at that point.  Henry held his blankie safely in his arms and the older 3 were snapped in for the short ride home.  I kissed each of them.  Then Alex said, “Grandma, wave to us at the door.”

William responded quickly, “She always does.”  He paused for a moment and added this little inquiry… “Why do you always wave, Grandma?”

“Because I love you,” I answered.  And soon Audrey’s car was backing out of my driveway, I was standing on my little side porch under the little overhang and we were all waving good-bye.  It is sort of a rite-of-passage that each child began to wave from the car at a particular moment on a particular day.  Audrey would call on her cell phone and say, “Did you see (whomever) waving?”

I do this.  I wave.  I wave to Barry each morning as he pulls out of our driveway.  I wave and blow kisses when people I love leave my home.  But yesterday is the first day I really thought about it.  And now I have a second answer for William to add to my “because I love you.”

As a child, ever since I can remember, my Dad waved to us.  Hearty waves. Big, full waves.  He waved when we took off on our bikes.  He waved when my Mom piled us into the car, even if it was just for a quick trip to the grocery store.  He waved when we began to pull our own cars out of our driveway.  He waved when I, his only daughter, hopped into cars with boys… and I always loved that he did that.  That tiny gesture meant the world to me.  I felt loved.

The night before my Dad died, I had stopped by for dinner at my parents’ home.  It was a hot night in August 1975.  It was just the 3 of us…  We talked and laughed and talked some more.  I had just been notified that I had been selected for a teaching position and my parents were so very happy for me.  My Dad had been hospitalized earlier in the summer after suffering a mild heart attack, but that night he was all Dad.  All smiles.

And all waves.  As I hopped into my little white Volkswagon Bug on that hot August night, my Dad was at the door waving and blowing kisses.  He called to me, “Sis, do you need anything?” My Dad called me Sis… he is the only one who ever called me this… and I knew he meant did I need a little spending money.  I called back, “Nope. I’m all set.”

And we waved.

This is the last memory I have of my Dad.  He died early the next morning.  But it is a memory locked into my mind like a priceless painting.  And I know now that this is why I wave, my precious little William.  It’s because each time I do, that priceless painting is not a still-life.  It is life.  Life is all its movements and touches and kisses and hugs.  And waves.  Fingers and arms attached to the heart and the soul… from somewhere where my Dad still lives, even to this day.

When I wave and blow kisses to the people I love, I do so through my Dad… and these moments make me live.  Happy.  Happy.  Happy.

This is one little Habit that I love.  Love.  Love.

Waving… it’s that simple.

A Habit I Love was last modified: February 28th, 2010 by Sharon Couto
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SHOWHIDE Comments (18)
  1. Your post bought tears to my eyes. I have to tell you that I was so moved by your story about your dad. I will never wave goodbye in the same way again.

  2. I come from a family of wavers, too, so this made me smile. What a beautiful, heartwrenching last memory to have of your dad. It makes me all the more happy that I always wave goodbye to my children and parents.

  3. PASS ME THE TISSUES PLEASE! My waves will never be the same after reading this. I also wave to my grandkids after I kiss each one of them goodbye. It’s so important for me to stand in the doorway or on my porch and wave to them or any loved one.

  4. I have re-read this many times and cried each one. Such a sweet memory of your Daddy and a wonderful thing for your loved ones to receive from you. We are wavers, too. Every morning when the bus comes, we all (unless J. has to be at work early) stand out and wave to Jillian as she settles into her seat on the bus and they pull away. Her bus driver recently told her to tell us that that’s one of the ways that she knows that our family is full of love.

  5. Oh, my gosh, Sharon, this is so incredibly beautiful. I never before heard the story of your last night with your Dad and Mom. I can barely type for the swelling of my throat; it hurts. Forever and ever and ever I will hold your Dad in my heart looking at you as you snap a picture, the purple picture. Mr. K and his girl.

    Always, always, when Tony leaves for work in the morning and I am not yet ready for work but at the sink doing dishes, I lean forward and wave to him as he drives away. And he waves back. And I have in my heart the thought that we must do these things because we never know when our lives might be upended by sudden losses, and only these precious, beloved habits of love will sustain us as we move forward, ever forward, for that is what we must do.

    Like Nadine, I will never take those waves for granted or wave without thinking of their complete and utter preciousness.

    Once again, thank you for an incredibly beautiful post.

    Surely you must realize what a profound effect your writing is having on the world. All these little moments are what make life beautiful, and you are the agent of that beauty, sowing its seeds far and wide.

    Thank you, dear friend, for sharing your precious and remarkable gift.

    Love, Connie

  6. So beautifully written as always, Sharon. What’s so weird is that my grandma has done this all my life and it too means so much to me.

    Now, my kids get to see her stand under her porch overhang, waiting for us to pull away and leave, and then she gives us that special wave.

    There was one day when I was fumbling around in my van and was taking a long time to pull out of the driveway, and there she stood patiently waiting to wave to us. I just took a mental picture of that moment and still carry it with me to this day and count my blessings that I can still visit her and see her wave goodbye to us.

    In other words, after rambling, I so get this post. Beautiful.

  7. Sharon, you bring such meaning to each and every story, emotion, and gesture. You are such a special human being, and i feel so honored to know you…

  8. I knew this was going to make me cry.
    My dad isn’t a waver. He’s shy and outgoing all at the same time. He’s a nodder and a watcher.

    I’m holding my breath and having faith I’ll get home in time to say goodbye before he goes. You see, I’ve seen my dad’s last goodbye nod, with crystal blue eyes following me as I loaded my luggage into my SUV from my last visit home. The claws of dementia have tightened around him, pulling his world into a smaller tunnel until the other day he announced, “I’m tired and I miss my mom. I want to go home and see my mom now.”

    I know you know how I feel at this moment, as I hold my breath and pray I kick this cold, finish up with my own medical treatments, load my 4 Ark Kids in the SUV and begin the long drive back to Montana. And I pray … dear God, pray that I see my dad’s blue eyes dance with mischief once more when I smuggle him out of the house for a ride to town.

    Ok … tears over. Back to more Vit C and getting things done. Thanks for sharing your story!

  9. I come from a family of wavers, my kids have become wavers, as well. But I never really thought about it, it’s just something we have always done.

    I love the way you bring the spirit of your Dad into your everyday. And now, each time I wave, I’ll think about you and your Dad and all of the love that continues to surround you.

    What a wonderful man he was…what a wonderful man he continues to be.

    Love you, Sharon.

  10. I love this post.

    We are a family of huggers and kissers and wavers. We are very touchy-feeling, from the oldest to the youngest. It does’t matter how long the “stop by” was, we hug/kiss going in and we hug/kiss going out, even in a room of 30 people.

    My young children have already learned this and my 3.5 yr old has taken it to the extreme- he MUST walk EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON to their car (when leaving our house), shut their door for them and wave ONE MORE TIME.

    It is the cutest thing ever.

  11. My husbands parents are wavers as well – they wave until we’re out of sight when we drive away from their house. The kids love seeing how long we can wave to them 🙂

    What a wonderful, beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes. Cannot wait to explore your blog more!

  12. I love how you take the time to really think about life, even the small things like a wave. And because you do, your life is so much richer. And because you write about it, our lives are so much richer as well. You are THE BEST writer Sharon.

    I loved this post!

  13. I know I’ve heard this story about your dad many times, but it always hits me the same way… I so wish I had had to chance to met my Grandpa and to have seen his hearty wave as we drove away from him… Love you, Mom!

  14. Love this Sharon. Thanks for sharing this. I also have a fond memory of my Nana waving to me when we left her house. Always. I might just do the same some day too… Lovely post. So glad I read it. 🙂

  15. Once again, you have me looking for kleenex. Such a beautiful story about a beautiful man. I think it was the perfect last memory. I think I’ll probably remember this story when I’m waving for awile. Love you, Sharon!