She loves Fred Astaire, Mary does. She knows his footwork, his stats, his signature. At a recent costume party we expected Fred to show and (s)he did not disappoint. Our family loves Mary for this quirky enthusiasm. We know a lot about a subject we didn't care about until Mary cared.
Stuart and I caravan through the mountains with two carloads of kids. We drive through the dark, the headlights on in the early morning hours. One by one we pray for comfort and grace for the difficult days ahead. A phone call the night before. "Surgery sometime tomorrow." Would we get there in time? We pile out of the car, meet Grandma in the hospital parking lot. The kids jostle to push the elevator buttons. "Faith, you can push the button to the third floor to see Grandpa. Charlie you can push the button on the way back down." We find Grandpa Tom in his hospital pjs, his eyes light up when we squeeze into the room. "Oh! You didn't have to come! You're missing work. Yo…
"Daisy Duke," Stuart smiles the words and I eat them up. I wear a white shirt and a pair of blue jean shorts, shorts that cover over middle-aged hips and thighs; Stuart pats my behind as I scoot by with an armload of laundry. "Daisy Duke." Beauty fades but he finds it still.
I grin at him over folded clothes, "I'm so thankful for you." A girl wants to be beautiful to the man she loves. The words sound sweeter with age.
All day he calls me Daisy except when he channels Morgan Freeman, "You're lookin' fine, Miss Daisy." Then I forget the day's honey and I just want to whack him with my handbag.
My sister-in-law lugs a heavy bucket of water around her herb garden, gives each plant a long sip. "It's been three weeks since we've had rain," she sighs looking out over the dusty vegetable garden and the shriveled brown grass in the pasture beyond. We help my brother pick beans and pull the weeds around them. The dry ground pulls back and some of the weeds snap off above the roots. We give up in the strawberry plants, sit on the porch, listen to the dogs pant.
We travel home in an air conditioned bubble. The whole length of the Shenandoah valley is crispy brown, the corn stunted. We pull into our Amish county driveway, greener here but the grass is short and the air hot. We breathe shallow breaths, unpack, crank the air conditioning. No rain in the forecast, three weeks and counting.
Saturday there will be a wedding, an outdoor wedding, and finally rain threatens. Stuart is on the phone with the bride. "Pray that the rain holds off," she says. Saturday w…
It's been halfway to forever since I've clicked open this space. A move and a school year and a cobwebby middle-age brain to contend with. The little things race by without my seeing or recording and I don't know how to start here again. Words are work and need mind space to percolate. I'm already long on work and short on space. Where to start? A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. A new birthday lens and a few memories of the Fourth. I grabbed the camera to savor the things that made me smile.
A yellow bird in the yellow sunlight in a cheerful yellow house. Buttercup, she's called. Girls in straw hats in a thorny tangle of blackberries. Fresh blackberry cobbler for breakfast. Daisies on the hills and insects fluttering up with each step in the grass. Fresh blueberries and cream cheese frosting on sugar cookies. Assembled by at least a dozen hands. Devoured by more than a dozen mouths. We laugh because a few years ago we carried these boys in backpacks and mad…
I like Barbie movies becaus thay are relistik, Claire writes for a language arts lesson.
I correct spelling and ask, "Realistic? Why?"
"They do real things."
"Yeah, like fly," says John.
"Hush. I really want to know what Claire thinks. What about the love parts, Claire? Are the love parts realistic?"
"Yeah. One saves the other and after he does the saving he gets to keep her."
And this, "Mary was about our John's age when she had Jesus? You can have babies when you are a teenager? Wow! I can't wait!" This from Faith who has her whole heart set on a house filled top to bottom with children...a mom waiting to happen. "Well," she plans, "when I'm about seventeen, I'm going to Wal-Mart to find a boy who is nice to people and if I like him, he'll be my husband and I can hurry up and be a mom." These are the children we are entrusted with. These we must shape into suitable life partners. Whew!
They’re frayed with a gash above the hem and pockets that bulge out, those cargo shorts that Stuart was wearing on a day when we were going out.
“Are you going to wear those?”
“But they're so ratty.”
“OK. I’ll change 'em.”
And he did. He changed into blue shorts with pockets that bulge out.
“Are you going to wear those?”
“Yes. I need to.”
“But there are bleach spots on the front. They’re not very good shape. You have nicer shorts.”
He changed, back into the first pair of shorts, and we went out the door.
Why couldn't he wear one of his better pairs? We’re going to spend all day together. I just love to look at him but, OH, those shorts.
We walked and held hands and the children shed, shed their hats and water bottles and sunglasses. The pockets in the cargo shorts made room for these things as the children dropped them or handed them to their Papa.
We walked. Single file. Mama in back, four goslings in the middle, Papa in front with a little one in his arms and his poc…
We were reading John 6 this morning and we came to the part where Jesus asked his disciples, "You do not want to leave me too, do you?"
Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
The kids were impressed with Peter's answer. "How come Peter's like that, Mama? How can he be so awesome sometimes and so stupid at other times?
The power has been blinking on and off at our house for the past week and this is what I drew on for an explanation. "Well, it's kind of like the power around here. You know how everything is running fine and then the power blinks off and a few minutes later it comes back on? Peter is kind of like that. He has great faith but sometimes, under pressure, his faith shuts down for a little while. But the thing about Peter is that his faith, just like our power, always returns."
A few hours later the power went off giving the children a c…
Her children rise up and call her blessed. Yeah, right. Maybe someone else's children do that. Not mine, and I wish they would stop rising so darn early. That would be a blessing. The thoughts that churned in this mother's heart when it beat stronger and surer a half decade ago when I was up to my eyeballs in diapers and sippy cups.
Today is Mother's Day. To celebrate, Claire drew me a card on a piece of notebook paper in church where she was informed by today's sermon that it is a significant day. Happy mothers Day, Mama! A bouquet of flowers drawn underneath. For lunch, we hit the McDonald's drive through (where the cashier wished me a Happy Mother's Day) and then went to Lowe's for home improvement materials (where an employee operating a fork truck said the same). It has been a great day.
I do mean this. Around here, every day is Mother's day. Not the saccharine, stress-inducing, sainted, card-bestowing, mother-worshipping kind of day. Thank goodness!…