The proverbial apron strings started growing between my kids and me the moment they were born. I found I was their lifeline to love, safety, food and every other need they had. Those apron strings held tight all through their childhood and teen years. They grew stronger as I cooked, did laundry, drove back and forth to school, helped with homework and baked endless batches of cookies and loaves of banana bread. When they traveled off to Panama, Mexico, China and Russia on summer mission trips, I found that the apron strings were more like elastic. They could stretch out because I knew they were coming back home in a month or so.
I thought these trips had prepared me for our son leaving for college, but as I sat in the driveway sobbing while his little green truck drove down the road and away from our home, I realized they hadn’t.
When we left our daughter in Phoenix to go to college it was the same thing, those apron strings felt as though they were being torn away! It all sounds so melodramatic but it really was a very difficult time for me. I didn’t know how to be a mom from far away but that was when I discovered heartstrings.
These heartstrings had been there all along, being formed right along with the apron strings. They were not formed from doing things and being needed, even though those things were done with much love. They were formed by life experiences that we shared together. The camping trip that got rained out, days at the beach that ended with a bonfire and hot chocolate, Santa Claus cookies made by my mom, picking berries with my husband’s parents, worshipping together at church, a barefoot daughter getting married to a wonderful man, standing quietly at Ground Zero, watching waves at the North Shore, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and funerals -- these are what they are made of.
I found that my heartstrings could travel great distances and not be broken by space or time. They had woven a symphony all their own, each one different and unique but beautifully blending with the others. Even when there are crashing cymbals or deep groaning sounds among them, the other strings carry them along.
They are intimately intertwined with God and His plans. They carry the melodies of my children’s grandparents that were woven into our lives, a legacy that goes on forever. They are constantly growing with every new life experience of all the people they are connected to.
The apron strings are no longer attached; I have long since let them go. Every once in a while I get to put them on when my kids are home or I go to visit them, but it is only for a short time. But those heart strings, they continue to play a beautiful symphony that grows stronger every day!
• Lt. Dana Walters is a pastor with the Salvation Army in Juneau.