The day after my son Teebo moved out of our house six years ago, I confronted the empty nest head-on by making his bedroom into a home office. At the time, I simply did not foresee that the next six years would bring on this slew of grandkids who would need extra bedroom space for overnight visits.
Thus, at times like the Christmas holiday just past, Teebo's room reverts to its former life as a bedroom with the addition of a portable Graco Pack-'n'-Play that, at present, accommodates two-year-old Bootsie. In the corner sits an armless wooden sewing rocker where Pa-pa usually piles an overflow of stuff waiting for his attention.
However, when Bootsie is here, the rocker becomes the spot where she and I read books or, more often, sing songs before bedtime. This gives us a handy, quiet spot, away from the hubbub of her older siblings where she can enjoy Googie's undivided attention and an earlier bedtime as she winds down from the day and prepares to slip into sleep mode.
Next to the rocker sits our three-shelf bookcase, the top of which is the designated showcase for Pa-pa's more recent golf trophies. So, you can maybe imagine Bootsie and me last night, rocking away and singing from our Christmas repertoire songs about the likes of Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa Claus.
As we do this, the night light glints off the row of golden golfers, all frozen in various stages of their classic club-swinging positions. One has just completed his swing and assumes the familiar pigeon-toed stance with the club poised just overhead.
Another draws his club back and prepares to swing, while yet another, in the same position, looks rather ridiculous because his club is missing. I imagine it has fallen behind and underneath the bookcase, a victim of one of the dusting sessions I regularly execute with careless abandon. At any rate, the golfers glint golden in the soft, low light--and Bootsie thinks they are angels.
As you might guess, this sparks a conversation that I have to struggle to carry my side of without coming right out and laughing. In my mind, golfers and angels are pretty much diametrical opposites. I have never watched as a golfer, robed in translucent iridescence, fluttered his way from hole to hole on the back nine. And few golfers I know sport a halo or, after missing a putt, speak in a language that I would classify as cherubic.
But I am fascinated and delighted to know that Bootsie thinks these are angels--that as she drifts off to sleep here at Googie's house, in Uncle Teebo's old bedroom-turned-office, she imagines a row of angels watching over her and keeping her safe.
I hope she outgrows the Pack-'n'-Play before she realizes that there are not really angels in this room where, for the past two nights, I have rocked her to sleep before gently laying her just below the row of what are really nothing but cheap plastic golfers. It is kind of sad, I think, that there are really no angels in the room at all.
No, wait--there is one precious angel here after all. And hers is the steady, rhythmic breathing I listen to as I cast one last glance behind me and pull the door shut.
"See you in the morning, my angel," I whisper. "You sleep tight."