A Little Boy’s Hand in Mine

Once upon a time, many years ago, a three-year old boy not long to be four put his little hand into his mother’s and smiled up at her.  She smiled back with reassurance and promised him that she would keep him safe and never leave his side and then she led him across the shining sea to a new life in a distant land.   He said goodbye to his beloved grandmother and family in England and said hello to his new grandparents in America.

A New Life for my Son California 1986 (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

A new life for my son
California 1986
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

The little boy’s father had gone ahead of them but had to work away so he rented an apartment for him and his mother and that is where they lived, just the two of them, for a little while.  They didn’t know anyone else other than the grandparents, who both worked.   It could have been a lonely existence for them both, but they had each other and so it was that they began their new life, together.

They spotted a small grocery store across the road from their apartment although this road was nothing like the roads the little boy was used to in England.  This road was a boulevard and it was huge and wide and full of huge and wide cars, all zooming past on the wrong side. His mother made sure to hold the little boy’s hand extra tight as they waited patiently for the crossing light to turn green.

At the shop, they bought orange juice and milk and they discovered Lucky Charms cereal.  Every morning, the little boy and his mother would sit together on the sofa bed and watch Dukes of Hazzard, I Dream of Jeannie and Gumby on their small box-of-a-television while eating their Lucky Charms.

In the afternoons, the little boy’s mother liked to take him out for a walk as she had done every day when they lived in England.  She quickly learnt that they were the only ones who did this because everyone else drove their cars. They lived in Glendale, California and a walk along the boulevard and its vast sidewalks was nothing like walking along the small pavements of an English village.

Yes, it was very different,  but this is where they lived now and so, she decided, they must embrace it.

That is how the little boy would find himself of an afternoon, still clutching his mother’s hand as the two of them walked the length and breadth of Glendale Boulevard in that Californian late-summer heat but that little boy never once complained.  He never asked to be picked up.  He just kept hold of his mother’s hand.

During their mammoth walking expeditions they enjoyed finding new places where they could stop, sit down and get a cold drink and take in the sights. They discovered a library, a huge shopping mall and a cinema. They even came across a Pioneer Chicken stand where the little boy’s mother, much to his delight, would buy a chicken dinner for two now and then as a special treat.

So it was, that together, they explored their new life.

Then one day something extraordinary happened.  As the little boy and his mother were ambling along, as usual, they passed the cinema as they had done many times before but this time they noticed the poster board just outside the entrance advertising a new film and it looked like this:

Flight of the Navigator

Flight of the Navigator

The little boy was so excited and his mother could tell that he wanted so badly to see this new film, his first big film at the cinema. She didn’t have much cash on her that day, but she counted out what she did have and quickly realised, to both their relief and great excitement, that she had not only just enough to pay for their admission but also for a drink of coke and a small popcorn!  To share.

Such were the days.

The little boy was so entranced by the film that he made up another name for it when telling his grandparents all about it later that evening – he called it ‘The Flight of the Alligator’.  How his grandparents laughed and laughed, how we all laughed.  What joy did the little boy bring to their lives, to all our lives.

Son at the beach, tide out, California 'What new sea treasures can I find here?' (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

My son at the Beach, tide out, California
What new sea treasures can I find here?
(c) Sherri Matthews 2013

So then, as time marched on and the little boy and his mother were reunited with his father, they moved to a small town by the sea, far away from the big, smoggy city.  The little boy kept hold of his mother’s hand as she led him through new adventures and towards making new friends at pre-school and then to kindergarten and beyond.

They walked along the beach and collected shells and bits of driftwood, always the little boy handing them to his mother whose coat pockets became filled to the brim with these sea-treasures, only to be rediscovered years later, buried deep within those pockets.

They learnt together the fun of dressing up for Halloween, the joys of visiting pumpkin farms and carving Jack-0-lanterns.  The best thing for the little boy was that he always knew that when he first caught sight of the  pumpkins waving out from their fields, full and plump and burnished orange, ready to be picked,  it meant that his birthday was never too far away.

My boys at the Pumpkin Patch, California (c) copyright Sherri Matthews  2013

My Boys at the Pumpkin Patch, California
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

When the little boy’s parents bought their first VCR they thought they had made it.  When his grandparents gave him Pinocchio, his first video, he watched it over and over and he made up his own words to his favourite song, ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’.

My Little Boy One year before we moved (c) Sherri Matthews 2013

Me and my little boy
One year before we moved
(c) Sherri Matthews 2013

The little boy grew taller each year and he found his own way in his life in America.

With each passing year, he held his mother’s hand just a little less, as is natural and good and proper.  Then one day, he didn’t need to hold his mother’s hand any longer.

She had led him to the place where he needed to be, where he could let  go and be confident and sure-footed and secure.

Such is a mother’s job.

Now that little boy is a grown man. He has come a long way and his mother couldn’t be prouder. The love she holds in her heart for her son is as unbreakable as it is endless.

He is a man but she will never forget the feel of his tiny hand in hers as they crossed that shining sea together so long ago.

Birthday Boy (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Birthday Boy
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Happy Birthday darling boy of mine! With lots of love from Mom xxx

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, Family Life, Mothers & Sons, My California, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to A Little Boy’s Hand in Mine

  1. What a beautifully written tribute to your son, Sherri. You’ve given him the best gift, your love expressed in writing, that he can keep forever. Love this! Happy Birthday to your son!

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks so much Jill. Since I wrote a poem for my Aspie daugther’s 21st in August I wanted to write something for my firstborn son too! I will do the same for my younger son in November! I have asked my children before to make sure they don’t mind me writing about them or including photos (to a point!) and they are fine with it and I’m so pleased as then I can write what I feel is in my heart without worrying what they will think! Writing this took me right back to those days and those were precious times with my little boy 🙂

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  2. mvschulze says:

    Awesome portrayal, Sherri

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this short story, Sherri. Great pictures too.

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  4. Steven says:

    So nicely written! Lovely photographs too. You can’t seem to get that warmth these days with digital cameras et al – maybe that’s just me.

    I don’t remember this Flight of The Alligator, but it sounds like something I would have enjoyed. 😉

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    • Sherri says:

      Aww, thank you Steven. Yes, there is something different about non-digital photos isn’t there? I remember how I used to take loads of photos and get them developed next day, double prints so cheaply when we lived in America. Then I would send loads home to my mum and family back in the UK. Now I have boxes and boxes of them all from when the kids were young and still not in any albums! So, I scan them in when I can. But I do need to do something else with them all.
      Ha ha! Yes, look out for the Flight of the Alligator. A wonderful family film 🙂

      Like

      • Steven says:

        Wow, sounds like those photos have travelled more than I have! I am a sucker for photographs from ‘traditional’ cameras and photos which aren’t Photoshopped to glory, but I guess digital has its pros too. Don’t want to sound like a complete granddad just yet 😉

        Photo albums all the way! I have so many photographs tucked away on a hard drive, while it’s less hassle, it’s not quite the same to sit and look at them like a photo album. Being able to get them out and actually hold them, a memory in your hand, I don’t know that just feels so much more engaging to me 🙂

        What was that about not wanting to sound like a granddad? 😉 Oh well!

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        • Sherri says:

          Yes, photo albums are great and I gave up using them long ago which I regret. As you so rightly say, nothing beats going through old photographs and actually handling them. Yet another job to get around to…and no, you definitely don’t sound like a granddad, so don’t worry about that! You have a great eye for the artistic quality of a photograph which hasn’t been ‘Photoshopped to glory’. I love your expression btw, a classic 🙂

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  5. Another nice story-telling job, Sherri.

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  6. Rachel says:

    This is such a lovely tribute to your son, Sherri. It actually brought tears to my eyes, especially in those early days when it was just the two of you, hand in hand. Happy birthday to him!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, that is so sweet of you Rachel, thank you so much and also for your kind birthday wishes for my son. Yes, those days when it was just the two of us were very precious indeed. I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading it and that it touched you in this way (although sorry or the tears!)
      It is because of his birthday that I’m so late in replying to everyone’s lovely comments. Shortly after publishing this post we left to spend the weekend with my family in Brighton and am only just now getting caught up with everything. Not until I finished a mammoth house cleaning spree though otherwise I know I won’t get to it once I get on the laptop 🙂

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  7. Genny says:

    What a beautiful post! Wish Michael a very happy birthday for us!! Love, Dave, Genny and Josh

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  8. jennypellett says:

    Simply lovely, Sherri. That’s all I’m saying.

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  9. Jennifer Butler Basile says:

    Bitter and sweet – and beautiful!

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  10. tieshka says:

    Sherri, happy birthday to your son! It must be something watching them grow up. I’m sure he will love this post; I rather enjoyed it myself too.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Tieshka and also for your kind birthday wishes for my son. Yes, it really is, but the years go by and somehow it ‘just happens’. We just spent the weekend with my son and family, hence the lateness with replying to everyone’s lovely comments here. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it 🙂

      Like

  11. xbox2121 says:

    Amazing short story Sherri, it was very well written and I must admit had a unexpected ending I didn’t see coming. I had no idea until the very end you were talking about your son !!

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    • Sherri says:

      Ha ha! Thanks so much Bob, I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading this. Again, sorry for the lateness in replying having disappeared off shortly after posting this to spend the weekend with said son for his birthday 🙂

      Like

  12. Seriously, Sherri, your boy’s birthday is the same as my boy’s? October 4th? That’s a little… (umm, you tell me, what is THAT about, and how often does something like that happen?) Cool!

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  13. Denise says:

    Astonishing story of a life and remembered in such detail. My favourite bit was with the pumpkins.

    You and your son are a seriously beautiful family.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Denise, what a lovely thing to say. I’m really touched, thank you so much. Life is far from perfect but certain special times are so precious when held in our hearts and then can be shared with others through the written word. I’m just so glad that you enjoyed reading this and yes, especially about the pumpkins! It was such a novelty for me to see them growing for the first time when we first moved to America and as my son grew up it was always a ‘thing’ we shared that this time of year with ‘fall’, as Autumn is called over there, and the leaves turning and the pumpkins fully grown that it was his birthday just around the corner. I will never forget those times.

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  14. Beautiful story, Sherri. What a great tribute. I hope you are still holding his hand, even if it is from a distance. Parents never let go, and appreciative, loving children, hang on forever. Love it. Blessings.

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    • Sherri says:

      What wise words Johnny. Yes, mothers never really does stop holding her children’s hands do they? How do we let go? We can’t, it’s as simple as that. Thank you, as always,for sharing your thoughts with me and I am so glad that you enjoyed reading this post. Many blessings to you this day my friend 🙂

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      • parrillaturi says:

        Thank you Sherri. A loving mother will never let go. So sad that there are those who simply stop holding those precious, delicate hands, and the end results can be devastating. Thank God for moms like you. My mom held on to me until she could no longer remember who I was, but I continued to feel her gentle hands, until the day God called her home. Blessings my friend, to you and your loved ones.

        Like

  15. What a lovely tribute to a beautiful journey. I had a tear in my eye when it was over. You are lucky to still see the little boy in your son.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Jane for your lovely words, I’m very touched to know that it moved you so much. The years go by so very quickly, and suddenly we find that our children have grown up, flown the nest and have their own lives. As mothers though, we never forget those precious times shared and which we keep hold of, hidden in our hearts. Only now, in this way, the memories can be kept alive, through the written word.

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  16. Pingback: Letting Go of “Love Lane” | Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom

  17. How did I ever miss this? How beautiful and touching-where are the tissues? You so aptly caught how we mummies felt and still feel. Memories that we hold forever and cherish. xoxoxo

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…I wanted so much to express in my heart my memories of my time with my ‘little’ boy when we first moved to California all those long years ago. Of course, not long after we moved, we met you! We mummies never forget do we? Always cherished, held so close in our hearts. I’m so glad that you knew my little boy back then…much love to you my dear friend, thank you so much for reading xoxo

      Like

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