“Come look,” said my husband, Bob, aka “Mitch.” It was a sunny Saturday in June, 1964. I followed him to the deck outside our kitchen door. I knew Bob had mixed cement to fill in a hole on our new patio.

Hearing his “How do you like it?” I laughed in delight. The hole was indeed filled and leveled, with Bob’s personal touch added.

“JEAN LOVES MITCH” was inscribed in the fresh cement, followed by a litany of initials: MC, DP,TR, JM,TA, JA — those of our six children with a “?” thoughtfully added to include the baby we expected the next month.

The proud artist/father beamed as each child, from Marian to Julie, admired his work. Each was pleased to be part of this one-of-a-kind etching. The remainder of  the weekend saw a stream of cousins, neighbors, friends, young and old, who came to see the latest attraction at the Mitchells’ place.

Three weeks later our “?” became Christine Marie. Later, John Richard joined our family. They were not added to the cement etching. It stood fixed in time as it was.

Cut to 1997, 33 years later. “Come look,” said our son Tim, 40 years old, partners with his brother John in Mitchell Brothers Painting. Our sons had spent weeks working on our house, the only home both had known growing up. The two spent many hours scraping, sanding, priming and painting and were justly proud of the finished product. 

And there on the patio was a new inscription. Power-washed clean letters showing in the dingy cement. “JEAN LOVES BOB,” Tim had written. This time, eight sets of initials followed, ending with those of John, JR. Like father, like son, I thought. And like his father before him, he waited for my reaction.

Pure delight, but doubled. Tim knew the meaning of the hug I gave him, then posed modestly by his masterpiece for my camera. This time there were grandchildren to share the fun and to hear the story of the first time, now from Grandpa Bob.

A 7-year-old boy had remembered his father’s touching gesture and had repeated it in his own way. The torch had been passed.

Jean Mitchell

Northeast Portland