My sister sent me a picture of my nephew’s old Bus. Keith had texted me a few months ago as he was clearing out his old room and preparing to move sometime in the near future. He wanted to know if he should save the bus for me. I said yes. But now, months later, as both my sister and I have had to deal with much clearing after our Mom’s passing, she asked me if I REALLY wanted it. I told her I didn’t know what to do with it (though my heart strings were wrapped around it like a ball of yarn.) So she donated it to a child somewhere that needed it and the energy and spirit that had gone into it so many years ago. It was this bus that Keith and I played with for at least 5 years. He would hand me his bus and then he would grab his Tonka Truck and we would race around the house shouting “BUS!”. It started when he was still 2. I had to bend over to hold the top of the bus and scoot it around. He, being small then, did not have to stoop down too far to push and run with the Tonka Truck. The bus was also made by Tonka and, hence, it took much abuse. So as holiday meals were cooking, Keith and I would run thru the kitchen, down the hallway, to the bedroom, back up the hallway, through the dining room, into the family room and then we would create a make-believe crash next to the fireplace all while shouting “BUS!” as we ran and scooted the wheels of these toys through the house. As an adult, in my 30’s, I was quite out of breath after doing this 5 or more times. Running while stooped over pushing a Bus was hard work… but oh did we love it and it bonded us for a lifetime. I was his hero. When the family gathered, I would be the one who played “Bus” with Keith and we also went outside and did other things, too. There where some moments when I wanted to chat and be with the adults and share, and when he asked if I would play with him, I would say not right now, but soon or later. He seemed so disappointed when I said that.
As Keith got older, play was more about sports. We threw the football, baseball, used the pitching net, roller skated, shot basketballs, scooted on Razor Scooters, and then later on as he got into his teens, we would take walks with Stormy, my Black Lab who traveled with me where ever I went. Just recently, this past May, Keith came to visit me when I was staying at my old childhood home. Mom passed away in February and I was there going through her things and packing them up. My sister, Keith’s mom, and I thought there were a few things that he would like. After he arrived, I took him out for lunch and later we played a card game called “Magic.” It was quite different but each card had a purpose or special power and as one played the cards they had an affect on the cards of the opponent. He was quite good at it and it allows the use of the imagination. It allowed us time to chat and just be in each other’s presence… sharing time. It was very good and afterwards, I helped Keith pack up his car with items of his grandmother’s that were now his to use in his new home that he would be moving into soon after that trip.
The bus has always been the cenotaph of my relationship with my nephew. It was our beginning of play and of time well spent. It was the boy’s joy to have his aunt spend time with him. There is no other gift we can give someone that is better than time. To play, to listen to a boy’s imagination, to laugh and watch them grow.
Much later, I saw Keith graduate from high school and then 4 years after that, we all took time off and gathered to watch him graduate from college. Such a good boy he was and now such a wonderful man he has become. I like to think that I had something to do with how he came to be… and yet, he is his own person with a little bit of all of us in him and each of us holds on to something of the past, with clenched fingers, to remind us of the special moments that make up the life that evolves and moves on…