Sparkling

Linda’s life bar has been sparkling for nearly two weeks. While it would be easy to take this for granted and feel like she will always be around, Linda reminds us that each day is a gift.

Linda

“Aspen! Good morning! It’s a new day!”

Aside from tending and harvesting the garden, most of Linda’s time is free for the activities which bring her pleasure and fulfillment. She spends a few hours on the microscope daily, and her logic skills are nearly maxed.

Linda

“Oh–the molecular structure of the snapdragon flower is fascinating!”

Most of my Sims, and the visitors, too, love to spend time with the microscope. I recall that for Anya, back in gen 2, time at the microscope helped her learn to focus and develop logical thinking and analysis–she made much healthier choices and was able to complete tasks much better through the thinking and reasoning skills that the microscope helped her develop.

With Linda, it seems to be more a matter of the joy of exploration and analysis. Sometimes, I get the impression that she is thinking deeply about patterns: patterns in form, patterns through time, and patterns in her own life and the lives of her children.

Linda

“The bonds holding these molecules together are very strong.”

While Linda spends her sparkling days investigating molecular structure and playing video games, Salix joyfully dances, swims, and plays on the monkey bars. For an active kid, completing the rambunctious scamp aspiration is more play than anything.

Early one morning, with five days left in childhood, she earns her scamp badge.

Salix

“Yibzi! I’m now officially a rambunctious scamp!”

We’re working on Whiz Kid next. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to complete this in five days. Though she loves homework and is a very smart kid, her grade lingers in the B range, and we’ve got a weekend coming up. Guess it will be a weekend of chess for Sal!

Salix

“Yeah. I got this homework in the bag! Job done!”

Before school one morning, Poplar dug through the bookshelf and found an old dusty leatherbound book.

Cedar Bough: Space Explorer by Mesquite Bough.

“Hey, Sal,” Poplar said. “Come and listen to this story that our old great-whatever uncle wrote. Before he became a ghost of course. When he was like my age, I’m guessing. It’s about his mom! You know, that one that everybody thinks we forgot about forever. This book is all about her.”

Salix

“So then, Cedar headed into the depths of the darkest part of the galaxy, with giant crystals that looked like big rock candy floating all around her!”

“I learned all about the first grandma,” Salix told Aspen later that day.

“You mean Cedar?” Aspen asked. “Niko was telling me about this biography he read about her. I’m glad she’s not forgotten.”

Salix and Aspen don’t know this, but both of them carry so much of Cedar in them. When Cedar looked at her daughter Acacia all those generations ago, I wonder if she knew the ways that something of her own spirit and character would be passed down through Acacia’s children all the way down the line.

Sometimes, when I was a child, I would spy my grandma watching me and my cousins with a wistful look. When I’d ask her what she was thinking about, sometimes, she would tell me a story from her childhood, and sometimes, she would tell me about her mom or her sisters, or her own grandmother. We carry through us this lineage of feeling and memory, so we can always show these patterns that can be traced back to a particular person somewhere in the line.

Salix

When Aspen looks at Salix like that, I wonder if she is looking down the generations to a little girl who may be sitting there four generations hence?

With an afternoon free from tasks and chores, Linda danced by the pool. How many times have I seen her dance? Maybe five? And now, with a life bar full of bubbles, dancing in the sun is the best expression of a long life well-lived.

A moment has a fullness to it, when there is nothing else that needs to be done–when one doesn’t know how many more moments wait on this side of existence–when all the ripeness of a lifetime can be expressed simply through dancing, joking, and laughing with a daughter and granddaughter.

“Hey, this part of the song? It reminds me of that pattern of blue and gold blocks at about level nine of blic-block!”

“I know, right?” Aspen says.

“Guh,” says Salix, “you guys are really into video games, huh?”

Salix

“It’s the EXACT same pattern! Only with musical intervals!”

Aspen and Linda both know what a sparkling life bar means. They both know how lucky they are that Linda was there to see Aspen and Niko’s wedding, Madrona and Lamont’s wedding, the birth of Salix, and now, to have been part of most of Salix’s childhood. Salix is the only Bough who has had a grandparent as a part of her childhood. And in a day or two, Madrona’s child will be born. Maybe Linda will be here to greet it, too.

Aspen and Linda don’t mention Grim’s impending visit. There’s no need to. They’re not waiting for it. They just know it’s out there.

This makes each moment sweet. Linda’s not one to talk about her every thought. She’s happy to rely on the feelings between them to convey to Aspen the love and appreciation that she holds for her–and for every member of the family.

Aspen

“We’ve got this moment.”

Lately, Linda has been reflecting that the plants in the garden–those in the west beds, at least–are older than she is. It was actually Cedar who planted these trees, flowers, and shrubs, and Timothy who tended them.

Linda

“Little cells, little water, little sun–last so long!”

“This chrysanthemum will still be here after I have gone,” she thought. “I wonder who will tend it next. Maybe Niko? Maybe Aspen? Maybe the whole family? And then who, after Aspen and Niko have gone. What is it in the molecular structure of this plant that let its patterns carry on in its individual form long after my patterns have been passed on to the generations succeeding me?”

Linda

“Still as hale as ever–how old is it?”

In the evening, when Aspen came home from work, there was no time for melancholy. Look how much we have! The broad sun on the pavers, the silly electronica from the stereo, beautiful Aspen with a nose like Cedar’s, a smile like Palo Verde’s, a pot-belly and strong muscles like her mom, and a sum that is so much more than the parts.

“Nice evening, huh, Mom?” Aspen asks.

“Dear-heart, it’s the best!”

Aspen

“You ever hear the joke about the one-armed bandit?”

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