I don't know what made me think of this memory, but it's been floating around in my head for a few days now. Maybe it's because I felt like August would never end, the month full of sad anniversary dates. I flew to Portland on August 1st, ten years after J died and one year after Dad passed. I didn't really say much about it at the time, but when I mentioned that Portland was hard, that was an understatement. There were moments when I could not bring myself to leave the condo. I couldn't imagine seeing anything I hadn't seen already and I wouldn't run the risk of running into old memories. So I sat in my room and watched TV on my computer. Then I got home and I was happy and things were good with the exception of a little work anxiety, but the month just dragged on and on. I know I am not the only one to feel this way and it's quite possible that sound you heard this morning was a collective sigh of relief.
Any way...the memory that's been floating around in my head. It came to me while I was in the cafeteria one morning. There was a man trying to maneuver around the cafeteria with a tray in one hand and a baby propped up with the other arm. I thought for a moment of offering to hold that baby while the man finished getting his things. Then I realized that we were strangers to each other and people usually do not let strangers hold their babies. That's when I remembered this story Dad liked to tell. We were on one of our typical Colorado trips. I was still a baby and really fussy. The cottonwood trees had me all stopped up and snotty. The family had gone to one of those chuck wagon dinner shows and I stood on Mom's lap crying, with her arm wrapped around me while she tried to eat her dinner with the other hand. One of the young cowboys performing in that night's show came by and took me from Mom. He carried me all around the dinner hall, picking up empty plates with his other hand and filling glasses of tea all with me tucked in his other arm. He handed me back over to Mom when she was done eating.
Of course, I have no memory of this. I just thought of Dad's story when I saw this man and his baby. I thought about how no one would do that now, but in the late 70s no one cared. People were still trying to set their babies on bears in Yellowstone for photo ops. That might have even been the same trip where Dad pulled a sizable trout from the river while we were on a hike. He didn't have his fishing license on him so rolled the fish up in a (clean) diaper and stuck it under me in the backpack I was riding in. I never wore a helmet or a seat belt. I have the scares to prove that I never wore knee pans. I can't imagine ever walking up to a stranger now and offering to hold their baby for them. My friends who have kids, I know for sure would never agree to hand their baby over to complete stranger no matter how frazzled they were in that moment. Yet, there I was thinking about making that offer and remembering the time I was whisked away by a singing cowboy.