As my parents reached their post-senior years, Greg and I spent time with them more frequently.  That is an amazing time to spend with parents.  You learn more about their lives than you may have ever known or realized.  One thing that had always been important at our house was the kitchen table.  My mom loved to prepare food for people.  It was one of her gifts to others.  The kitchen table was more than a place where we ate, though.  It was an important place for socialization.  I can remember family and friends (“grown-ups”) visiting around the kitchen table from when I was little, and those were happy times.  My parents were always delighted when company came.  In their later life, they had moved from the area where our family had roots to a place in the world that was my dad’s, and my mom’s, fantasy for living.  Many people made the drive into an area of Missouri’s wilderness to visit even then.  As they reached their late senior years, they moved to be near my brother in a neighboring community.  This is where they lived, independently, into their 90s.  During this time, we visited more often, and during this time, people whom they had known from their childhood through their early years kept in touch by letters or came to visit.  Mom always wanted to serve food, or coffee and pie, to anyone who came.  At this time, I became more aware of the love that they had for others, and how that was exhibited through their smiles and their deep, genuine compassion.

This morning, Parker was in one of his deep contemplative moods, one where he is happy with the world, with a smile that reflects complete peace and joy.  It is as if his light shines from inside.  Weekend mornings are one of the more common times to catch him wearing this expression, when he seems to know that peace in the day lies ahead, with Greg cooking in the kitchen, good stuff in store for the Newfs, the company of your pod – all the good things in life.  I see that same kind of purity in his expression.

He has always had these moments in time, throughout his adult life, with an expression that conveys happiness, peace, joy or love, with so much purity that it is humbling as well as warm and inspiring.  I am caught, frozen in a moment that will distract his thoughts, wishing that I had a camera, because I want to be able to remember this and be refreshed by that memory when he isn’t here any more.  There is nothing that says “Life is good” or “I love you” more clearly or more genuinely.

I’m a simple human, easily distracted by a multitude of priorities and often too serious.  I’ve learned a lot from my Newfs over the years, and this lesson from my parents and from my Newfs:  Your smile is a very important gift, and it reveals your priority for those you care about, or who care about you.  One of these days, I hope that I will master this reprioritization and will be good at that too.

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