Our Daughter Writes . . . and Weeps

That Man That I Love Most and I have a daughter,  Rachel, who is a trauma therapist with a firm in Washington, DC.  Her work is mostly with the black population, and with the poor.  By virtue of her training, (and even her job description) what she sees every day breaks my heart.  (Which is a good reason for the practice she has of speaking in generalities and not telling me much about anything!)

A few months ago, before the present crisis, she wrote me one morning.  I was surprised to see an email from her, because she usually calls.  But on this morning, she had something specifically for me:

Hey Momma- 

I wrote this today because I’ve had a lot of client’s come through here talking about their fear and their anxiety around having young, black sons. You usually seem to like to read the stuff I write, so I thought I’d send it to you. 

There’s no expectation for you to read it or like it or even think it’s remotely good. I just wanted to share it with someone. 

There was an attachment – and I opened it and read-

Unknown Suffering

I cannot understand.

My white skin cannot hide

I sit in silence.

The tears flow as a mother cries

“I prayed for girls-

Girls don’t scare police”

Her voice is shaking

Tears are streaming from her eyes

She is confessing

She is afraid

“What if my sons…”

“’The talk’ is obsolete”

Those sworn to protect produce fear

The men at the corner store

The boys who think they’re men.

The drive-by shootings

Her voice is small from crying

She whispers, “My boys…”

I listen

I contextualize

I put her struggle

Into the context of my whiteness

I hear her-

And I think of my three nephews

I think of their black skin
I think of their futures

I think of statistics

Telling me they aren’t going to make it.

Their lives matter-

But do their dreams?

Her fear has encompassed me

I am not crying for her-

I am crying with her

And then I realize…

What do dreams matter,

If lives are disposed?

What do dreams matter,

If life is unprotected?

What if the dream is simply life?

Her thoughts continue to race

The “what ifs” bombard her

Her tears continue to flow steadily

Her words haunt me:

“I prayed for girls…”

 

And here are the “three nephews” that she was talking about.

(Aren’t they simply gorgeous?)

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Frankie (5)                                    Liam (6)                                                       Si (7)

Getting ready to start back to school, and looking so cool!

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A Puzzle of Desperate Proportions

I was on my way home from Dover, just making my way down Shawnee Road, almost home when something caught my eye.  It was a person, lying in the grass maybe 15 feet off the side of the road, a short distance from our chicken house lane.  It appeared to be a woman, and she was in an almost fetal position, just lying in the soft grass.  I had someone directly behind me, and I was preparing to turn into our lane, so I slowed down, and called Middle Daughter who was at home.

“Deborah, do you know anything about someone lying in the grass up beyond our chicken house lane?”

“Uh, no!  There’s someone there?”

“Yes, there is.  Would you please go with me up to check things out?”  (I have a great deal of respect for Middle Daughter’s nursing abilities, and I was pretty sure that whoever was there wasn’t well.)

“Sure will!”

By now I had pulled up in front of our garage, and in a very short minute, Middle Daughter and I were on our way back up the road.  The gal hadn’t moved.  We pulled up alongside the road, and Deborah got out, while I waited in the van.  When she got over to the gal, she roused up, sleepy and confused.  I could not hear what was being said, but shortly Deborah and the stranger walked towards our car.

“She has been walking,” Deborah explained to me in low undertones, “and it got too hot.  So She stopped to rest.  She needs some fresh water and she needs to cool off.”

Certain Man had taken someone home a few weeks back that was walking home from work and was overcome by the heat, and I expected that this was somewhat the same case.  We brought her home and Middle Daughter got fresh water, ice for the water bottles, and the gal was on a fast speed ahead chatty mode.  Somewhere in the rapid fire conversation we pieced together her story and who she was.   She was the granddaughter of old friends.  When I asked which of their daughters was her mother, there was a bit of hesitation, and then she told me.

“Was she always a mess?” she asked with a crooked smile on her face.

I thought about the lives of the four children who were born to this couple and the irregular home life they had as children.  “Those four children had a tough time,” I told her gently.  “Life wasn’t easy for them.”

She didn’t look convinced, but chanted on about her life.  I looked at her, skinny as all get out, tattoos covering much of the exposed skin.  28 years old.  No lower teeth. And my heart ached.

“My boyfriend and I tried all day to get a ride from the hospital home, but couldn’t find anyone who could drive us.  My boyfriend just got out of the hospital.  He thought he had MRSA, but the doctor said that it was just infected hair follicles.  We walked and walked, and finally I just couldn’t go on.  I laid down beside the road on the grass, and he went on.”

“Where do you live?”  We asked.

“Out on (a country) Road,” she said, mentioning an address over ten miles from the hospital.

There were plenty of other things shared, but a lot was neither cognitive nor an adequate explanation of why she was where she was on this hot afternoon.

“I just got out of the hospital myself,” she suddenly announced.  “Just three days ago.  Complete system shutdown and organ failure.”  She didn’t seem to have any reservations about telling us these details, but she did not elaborate.  By now we had gotten her water bottle refilled with a fresh supply of water with ice, and two to spare in case her boyfriend needed some, too, and Deborah was preparing to take her home.

I looked at her carefully and on impulse I asked her, “Is there anything else we can do for you?  Give to you?  Something that you might need?”

She ducked her head and looked wistful.  “Uh, well, maybe you shouldn’t ask that to someone who has hardly eaten in three days.  Would you have any food?  Like some non perishables?  I don’t think there is anything in the house.”  Her voice was apologetic, hopeful, but not demanding.

Food.  That was something we could do.  There was most of a loaf of homemade bread on the counter, bananas, canned soups in the pantry, a large bottle of apple juice, baked beans, Spaghettios, an unopened 12-package box of Ramen Noodles.  We gathered up a few things and put them into grocery sacks for her.  She stood by the kitchen table, her hands clutching the bags as if she could hardly believe it..  She looked so vulnerable and broken.

I spoke her name as I walked close to her, and she looked up half expectantly, half fearfully. “–May I please pray for you?”

“Oh, yeah, sure, sure,” she said.  “That would be okay.  I mean, we all can use some prayers.”

I drew her into my chest like she was one of my own girlies and she came willingly enough.  She was skin and bones in my arms, I could feel her ribs and backbone hard against her skin and I wanted to cry.  I didn’t pray long, but i tried to pray as much Love and Grace and Divine Direction as I could into a short half minute or so.  She wasn’t very comfortable in the situation.  I was barely a couple of words into the prayer when I felt her right hand, under my arm, making a flicking motion, like she was brushing away the words as fast as they were spoken.  I finished quickly, hugged her one more time, and she went off with her bags with Deborah, looking more like a gangly 14 year old girl as she walked away than the 45 year old woman she looked like when I could see her face.

She went home to a small, disheveled trailer on a back country road.  Six adults lived there together, and no one had a vehicle.  Although Middle Daughter’s work takes her into many difficult situations, this particular situation weighed heavy on her heart.  When there was no sign of the “boyfriend” the whole nine miles between our house and the trailer, she took another way home, found him and took him home as well.

Like a puzzle of dark colors with almost no defined lines and certainly no straight edge pieces, this story haunts me.  I feel like there are pieces lying on the table that are whole and good. And we all know that a puzzle with an irregular border can be/is beautiful, but I feel like there are lost pieces and damaged pieces, that are so far gone that any hope of this puzzle ever fitting together in a whole seems very, very remote.  I do not know this girlie’s heart.  I know that there has been exposure to Jesus and his claims upon her life.  I also know that she has seen people not live out what they professed.  It’s no excuse, but people have used it from the beginning of time, and it still gets used today.  I heard enough in the few minutes that she was in my kitchen to know that under everything that would cause me to cringe, there is a heart that has been broken.

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Sunday Snafu

So.  Yesterday I went to a bridal shower for a young friend at a country mansion  – a big, huge house up off a Kent County road north of Harrington.  When it came right down it,  I didn’t much feel like going.  It was at 4:00 Sunday afternoon, and that’s a good time for me to grab a nap on any given Sunday.  But this guest of honor was the babysitter for the Thursday Morning Bible Study group that meets at our house for (literally!) years, and she was good.  Plus, I happen to love her. We are a part of her support group (she’s on staff with YWAM in England), and she met this Aussie and they are getting married next month.  (I like him, too!)

I didn’t realize where this bridal shower was going to be held, or I may have opted to stay home.  I have admired this place often from afar, but never dreamed that I would ever be on the inside of it.  As I said, it’s HUGE.  And very NICE. By the time I realized where it was, I was almost there, so I decided to not turn back.  I parked in the front roundabout drive, gathered my courage about me, and made my way to the door.  I was welcomed warmly. There were a whole bunch of pretty young “twenty-ish” females, giggly younger girls, and Mamas and Aunties, and I hardly knew ANYONE except the guest of honor and members her family.

The kitchen was directly off the large foyer, and the food was arrayed in splendor! Dainty chicken salad sandwiches, meatballs, cucumber and cream cheese pinwheels, veggie trays and dips and on and on and on! It was an impressive array of fancy foods, but I had just come from one of those “5th Sunday Mennonite Potluck Dinners” at our church and I was not the least bit hungry.  I picked up some things (skipping over the desserts, though, for real!!!) got a glass of basil infused lemonade, and headed out to where the seating had been arranged.

The day was sunshiny and clear, and the organizers wanted us to eat outside, where chairs and a few tables had been set up.  The sun was quite hot and the only shade was from a large deck umbrella, but I found a spot under it that was at least partially in the shade for part of the time.  There were pleasant looking women around, and I picked up some conversations which I enjoyed very much. I even had a discussion with a two women about falls and the elderly and how a single fall can change our lives forever and many pertinent observations were made, arising from the experiences with parents and grandparents – not just by me, but by the two gals I was talking to, as well.

There were quite a few people at the shower, and it took time for everyone to get their plates finished.  The party was about an hour old and not a single gift had been open. I began to think about going home.  But then they handed out a party game printed on a pink sheet of paper.  Maybe this would be a diversion.  I took a look at it, and it was a whole bunch of questions about our personal cell phones!  For pity sakes!!! At a Bridal Shower???  I thought maybe it would be about the bride and groom, but then I thought that I would probably know more about my personal cell phone than I did about the bride and groom (especially given some of the recent questions raised on quizzes at bridal showers) so I decided to see if I could answer at least some of the questions.

However, I’ve developed an increasing distaste for people on their cell phones at social events, and I had left mine in my purse, out in the kitchen of this mammoth house. So I went to retrieve it.  It was right where I left it, so I took my purse and headed back out to the sunshine.  I was doing all okay, just meandering along, thinking about some of the questions when disaster befell!  Just past the kitchen, I caught my toe on a very slightly raised ridge between the dining room and the step down into the sun room and suddenly felt myself hurtling into space at an amazing rate of speed.

I crash landed with absolutely no grace or glory onto some kind of expensive scratchy rug and felt my right elbow dig hard into it. Ouch!  That kind of smarted!  Of course there were all sorts of exclamations and people leaping to help me up and asking if I was hurt and all sorts of unsolicited solicitous remarks.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t too damaged, and hiked myself up (mostly unassisted) brushed myself off, insisted that I was fine, and escaped back out to my chair where I tried to finish the pink-sheeted game without any more attention.

Scarcely had I settled myself back into my chair when I got this picture from my daughter in law, Regina-

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“Frankie wanted you to see his banged up face and missing tooth.”
“The nose and tooth are from a bad bike wreck and the eye is from a hard game of baseball.”

I looked at that poor little battered face, and it made me very happy that I hadn’t fallen on my face, or knocked out a tooth. (I’ve fallen hard on my face, and needed stitches some years ago, and let me tell you, that’s no fun!)  But about then, I rubbed my elbow that was smarting and my hand came up sticky and damp red.  I tried to quietly dab it off, but it was really smarting.  I suddenly felt tired and sad and old.  I decided that I was going to just go home.  I spoke quiet words to the bride and snuck out.  The less people who knew anything, the happier I would be.

So I told Regina all about it and got all sorts of sympathy from Frankie- so much so that I felt better. But then I took a picture of it (because I couldn’t see it) and I guess it was no wonder it hurt!

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I shouldn’t have looked at it. I think I felt better before I saw it. But at least it wasn’t on my face. I made it home and told my offspringin’s and my siblings my tale of woe, complete with pictures.  Today I have some sore muscles, but I’m not in terrible shape.  However, I’ve discovered why My Sweet Mama didn’t like to tell anybody about her falls — especially her offspring.  It seems like well-intentioned people in general and adult children in particular have perfectly logical and sincere answers about everything.  And they don’t like to listen to reason. Most of my dilemmas come from not paying attention.  But even the best payer of attention sometimes gets hung up.  It’s just the way it is.

Besides,  I’m not quite ready for a “full time supervisor.” Not yet, anyhow.

Do I give Grateful praise tonight?  Of course, on many counts.  But why don’t you go think of some of your own reasons to give grateful praise, and I will keep all these things and ponder them in my heart.

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Anniversary #44

“Hey, Charis,” I said to our Oldest Granddaughter the other day.  “Guess what!  Tomorrow is Grandpa and Grammy’s anniversary!”

“Huh!” She said, looking up momentarily from what she was doing.

“Yep!”  I said, trying to draw her into the conversation.  “Guess how many years it is.”

“Um,” she started uncertainly, screwing up her face.  “Fifty-four?”

“No, not quite,” I said, laughing.

“Um, uh, SEVENTY?”  Her voice had that high-pitched quality that children often use when they really have no idea and probably don’t much care.

“No, Charis!  I’m not even that old.” I said, still chuckling.  “Here.  You figure it out.  I was 19 when I got married and now I’m 63.”

So she wrestled with that for a while, and with Grammy’s help to confuse her with a foreign way of doing math, we finally came up with the answer.  “You got it,” I said, “Grandpa and I have been married 44 years!”

“And tomorrow it will be 45!” she announced triumphantly.  So that needed straightening out, too, but we finally got it all squared away and she went on to tell me how many years her daddy and mommy had been married, and I never did get the enthusiastic response I had sorta’ hoped for.

You might say that was a bit the story of the day.  I came down in the morning to find Certain Man on the recliner with a really bad headache.  I offered to get him some medicine but he had already taken it and was waiting for things to settle down.  I was into my morning routine when I suddenly remembered and looked up from whatever I was doing to announce cheerfully, “Happy Anniversary, Darlin’!”

He was really feeling pretty bad, I think, because his response was somewhat noncommittal.  He hoisted himself out of his chair and went out to do the morning chores, feed the baby calves and check the chickens.  He came back in, sweated wet from the already oppressive heat and humidity and went to shower.  I made breakfast for him and then he went off to work.  I needed to take Audrey for her monthly blood work, then drop her off at center, get gas for the mini-van, drop some insurance information off at Audrey’s doctor, and go to the bank for Audrey.  I made my round, stopping at Big Lots for a few things, at the nursing home with Linda’s clean clothes and ended up at Redner’s to pick up some celery and eggs for a potato salad that I wanted to send to Ohio with Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in law.  I got home around 11 to discover that the florist had delivered my beautiful arrangement of flowers from That Man that I Love Best.  I had almost forgotten what day it was until I saw the bouquet on the dining room table.  It was a bright spot in the middle of a day that had been so ordinary.

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They were so cheery, so bright and exactly what I wanted!  I love carnations, since these were what he would buy me when he first started buying flowers for me.  I often think about that young man who didn’t really have any idea what he was doing when it came to buying flowers (not that I knew any better).  I wonder what made him first venture into a flower shop, looking for something to buy that wouldn’t break his budget, and yet would be acceptable to his sense of design and beauty.  He has consistently chosen so well, and I cannot remember a single time when what he purchased didn’t please me.  (There were a few years when he would send roses in a long purple box, and that was always exciting, and it wasn’t that I didn’t like them, but I finally got the nerve up to tell him that I preferred carnations, that I liked  it better if I didn’t have to arrange the flowers because I really didn’t have a clue as to how to do that, and besides, carnations were cheaper and they lasted longer!)

And so, the day passed.  Middle Daughter was planning a trip in the evening to Shakespeare in the Park with some friends, and that meant that Daniel and I would be spending the evening at home.  Which was fine with me.  We were trying to get ready for a trip to Washington DC the next day to help Youngest Daughter move, and there was plenty to do to get ready for that.  I made the potato salad, got some stuff around to send along to Ohio, worked on some of the laundry that Youngest Daughter had sent home in preparation for her move and watched the weather.  When a severe storm watch was announced, and the friends that were planning to go to Shakespeare with Middle Daughter began to drop out one by one, I got to thinking that maybe Certain Man and I should go out for supper since Deborah was going to be home after all.  But it sounded like a lot of effort.

Shakespeare in the Park got cancelled about the time that Certain Man came home from work.  I mentioned that going out for supper was a possibility but that wasn’t met with any enthusiasm.    It was POURING down rain, and Certain Man was exceedingly weary.  His partner in the Plumbing Inspections Department, Lawson, has retired and the unit is running on short staff.  Friday was a long, hard, hot day.  Plumbers that try to cut corners and get away with things are quick to get angry at inspectors, and the traffic home had been an irascible mess. Besides, we had to clean up a futon in the shop that Youngest Daughter wanted, go fetch a trailer for hauling everything and then load the things that were going to Washington the next day.  Well.  Maybe we could stop for ice cream or something at Vanderwende Farm Creamery when we went out to pick up the trailer.  Maybe. If we felt like it.

The evening progressed and one by one the things got done.  We went out to pick up the trailer, and it was still raining.  I looked over at this man that I love most and decided that we were not going to stop anywhere.  I wasn’t at all hungry anyhow, and we would just celebrate later.  We went right by Vanderwende’s without either of us saying a word about stopping.  We were in the middle of a good discussion about something else anyhow, and there didn’t seem to be any good reason to get ice cream when neither of us really wanted to.

So we came on home, finished up what needed doing and called it a day.  We had wonderful good wishes from friends, and even people advising us to enjoy the day and each other in some special way.  I crashed into that bed of ours that night, too tired to move from my spot.  Certain Man was soon snoring gently beside me.  I thought about that day, 44 years ago when we pledged our lives to each other.  He promised to love me.  I promised to obey him.  (Yes, I did!)  I thought about how there are anniversaries that we have celebrated with great fanfare and excursions and weekends away and special words and meaningful conversation.

And I thought about this very ordinary day, when he went to work, and I did the things that I had to do.  When he came home, so very tired, but still needing to do things for our children or someone else, and how we worked together at the things that needed doing, without resentment at each other or quiet peevishness for a special day being so ordinary.   In a very real sense, the day was a picture of our marriage.  There have been many days of marking high events, high emotions, good times, (as symbolized by those yellow carnations) but for the most part, it has been the two of us, a team, doing what needs to be done, enjoying the being together, doing for our family or our friends, being faithful, working through the hard times, forgiving each other and not allowing ourselves to be upset when life is ordinary.  There has been lots of “spaces in our togetherness” since we don’t always enjoy the same things, but when it really matters, we’ve forged an agreeable compromise.  We both like people, having guests, our adult children, our grandchildren, our church family, and so much more.  We’ve had lots of time over these 44 years to figure each other out somewhat, and it’s nice to be comfortable together.  We’ve been so blessed.

So when people ask me if we had a nice anniversary, I can say with a great deal of conviction, “We really did!  Nothing special or earth shaking or unusual, but still satisfying and sweet.”

For these 44 years and so much more, my heart gives grateful praise.

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Linda Walks

It’s been weeks since Linda landed in room 215 at the Milford Genesis Health Care Rehab ward.  The first four were spent, still in a cast, but going to therapy every day.  She didn’t seem to be hating it any, but wasn’t all that enthusiastic either.

Every day, with the exception of three or four, I’ve gone into the nursing home to collect laundry, put clean laundry away, straighten her closet, wash her face, talk to her, adjust the pillows under her elevated legs, check on her progress with the staff, or in the evening, to sit by her bed, smooth her covers, sing her some favorite bedtime songs, and to pray with her before she slept.

There were days when it seemed right to pick up a dozen Krispy Kreme Donuts from the local Royal Farms and take it in to the staff.  They treated me so well, and were almost without exception, eager to chat a minute, learn about things that worked with Linda, and to inform me of anything that was an improvement.  They were kind to Linda, thought that she was “so sweet,” and took very good care of her.

She has had a succession of good roommates;  women I’ve become friends with.  They have been of a great help to me, informing me of things that have happened, and letting me in on their lives as well.  This started back in the hospital, and always, always, I’ve prayed for Linda’s roommates when I pray the nighttime prayers.  They have been grateful, and their thanks has been one of the ways that God has moved me to continue this practice, night after night after night.  In the nighttime prayers, I’ve also prayed for the nursing home, for the nurses, the CNA’s, the therapists, and even the janitors.  I’ve especially prayed for the “hands on” caregivers — for patience and for strength and for wisdom and insight into the needs of the patients.  I’ve prayed for gentle hands and kind words.  I’ve prayed for everyone who is there, in a general sort of way, that there would be healing for those who are there for rehab, that there would be peace.  I’ve prayed that those who come into Linda’s room would sense the very presence of Jesus, and that it would be a place of peace and comfort and calm.

About two weeks ago, Linda’s cast came off.  The healing was complete.  There were no restrictions, nothing to hold her back from full rehabilitation.  It was Thursday, the day before the July 4th weekend.  Her therapy sessions for the first week were very spotty, but when I inquired as to how she was doing, they would say that they felt that she was making progress.  “Just not very fast.”  Last Friday, when I went in, the delightful gal who has been doing her therapy caught me up on how things were going.

“We are pretty sure that most of this is behavior,” she said, “because she is doing just fine with transferring and such.  But she just will not stand up for us for any length of time in the rehab room.”

I was not surprised.  Linda tends to be a little lazy when it comes to such things, and if someone is going to do stuff for her, she is very inclined to let them  And as far as the work of rehab?  Let’s just say that years ago, she broke her left wrist in a fall at Easter Seals and we never did get that hand back to normal.  “She can,” (as her mother says) “be a little stubborn.”  I stopped by during one of the sessions, and it was obvious that she really wasn’t cooperating to the extent of which she was capable.  My heart was heavy.  I mulled over the possibilities and breathed a prayer for wisdom.  If things didn’t change, she was going to end up over in long term care.

I finally had a chance to speak to the physical therapist.  She was a bit disheartened, but not giving up.  She just didn’t know how to reach our blind, non-verbal, autistic girlie.  I didn’t know what to tell her with any concrete suggestions, but I finally said to her, “You know what?  I’m going to really pray about this.  I’m going to ask God to give you guys creative ideas and I’m going to think really hard and ask God to give me some ideas as well.  I’m thinking we just need to find the right solution to this.”  They agreed with me, and I went on home.  I later thought about how much Linda likes ice cream, so I called back and talked to the therapist about incorporating ice cream into therapy.  She was delighted with the suggestion. She also mentioned that they felt that the ankle brace that had been sent along as a precautionary measure, didn’t fit into Linda’s shoe properly, and they wondered if that was part of the problem.

Like I said, that was Friday.  On Saturday, Middle Daughter, Deborah, went in for me to sing to Linda and say prayers and bring home the dirty laundry.  Her mother, with a death in the family and (at almost 88) having health issues herself, had managed to get in earlier in the day.  Of course, being the weekend, there was no therapy.  On Sunday, I bought an ACE ankle brace at Wal-greens, went in and made sure it fit inside her shoe, and wrote a note to the therapist.  And prayed.

Monday afternoon, I stopped by the nursing home because I was out anyhow, and I was surprised to see one of the therapist coming down the hall towards me.  She was fairly dancing and before I could get anything out, she said, “Did they tell you???”

“Tell me what?” I asked.

“Linda walked today!  And not just a little bit!  She walked from the back of the rehab room all the way out to the nurse’s station!”

I could not believe my ears and my disbelief must have sown on my face.  “How in the world???”  (This was the girl that wouldn’t even stand, much less walk, just three days ago.

The therapist said, “I don’t know why, but this morning I said to Felecia, ‘Why don’t we just try her with one person on each side of her and try walking her that way?’ So we did, and she walked!  Is she up now?  Because we will show you!”

My heart was somewhere in my throat.  I peeked around the corner to see if we were talking about the same person.  Yep!  It was her, alright.  Sitting in her recliner like a bump on a log.  Linda???  Walking???  And then it seemed as if the stirring of the Holy Spirit began stirring something warm and alive in my heart.  Wasn’t this exactly what I had prayed for?  The therapist decided that it wasn’t worth getting her up just to prove that she could do it, but the whole atmosphere was charged with emotion.  It was time to celebrate!  I went out to that Royal Farms and found the racks full of just delivered donuts. Perfect!  I corralled myself a dozen and headed back into the unit.  And celebrate, we did!!!

But that isn’t the end of the story.

When I was leaving the nursing home two nights later, a nurse, standing at her medication card, looked up with a smile and a comment about my frequent visits.

“Yes, well,” I said, “I wouldn’t want her to forget me!”  Then because she was working the evening shift, I asked her if she had heard about Linda walking earlier that week.

“Yes!” She said, beaming.  “It’s amazing!”

I told her then about how we have been at a loss to know how to motivate her and how I had told the therapists that I was going to pray for good ideas and things that might help, and how I felt that it was a direct answer to a very specific prayer when someone came up with a solution that worked.

“Well,” she said, laughing.  “You must be spreading pixie dust all over this ward because it seems like everyone on this hall is making phenomenal progress right now – getting better, faster and are just far above the expectations!  We can’t figure out what’s going on!  It’s a little unusual, to tell you the truth!”

And this Delaware Grammy was suddenly on Holy Ground with goose bumps to boot!

So I told her how I had been praying for all of the staff as well as the patients there in the nursing home.  I said that I have been praying exactly that for the people in there.  I explained how I prayed that Linda’s room would be a place of peace and that when people come in there that they would feel the presence of Jesus.  She looked at me strangely and said something about that being an incredibly nice thing for me to do.

And I said to her, “It’s not me, for sure, but it is an incredible God!”  And then she let me out the back door into the night and I came home with this quiet, joyfully incredulous place in my heart.

But one of the things that sorta’ made me wonder a bit was that I couldn’t figure out why God didn’t tell me that tip.  I mean, I should have known it because Linda has always liked for there to be “both arm support” even when she was feeling good.  I never thought about it.  All I could think of was that lame suggestion about feeding her ice cream as a reward for co-operating.  (No one said anything, but I was pretty sure they thought that was a little far-fetched.  And not age appropriate, for sure.)

However, the next day, I was talking to Linda’s mother.  I asked her if she had been in to see Linda during therapy and she said that she had been there.  “But I didn’t see her walk,” she said.  “I did see the funniest thing, though,” she said, chuckling.  “They had Linda on the bicycle!  And they were feeding her ice cream!  Every time she would pedal a few rounds, they would give her ice cream.  Then she would pedal a few more rounds, and they would give her ice cream!”  She paused and laughed again.  “Funniest thing I ever saw!  I never would have thought of such a thing,” she said, “but it was working!”

“No, I wouldn’t have thought of it either,” I thought.  But I did ask, and I shouldn’t be surprised at His direct answers, especially when it comes to one of these who cannot speak for themselves. Linda has a long way to go, but she is progressing.  If this keeps up, she will be able to come home.  So I plan to keep on praying – for her, for healing, for the people on the rehab ward, for the nurses, the CNA’s, the therapists, the janitors.  I plan to keep on praying for wisdom, insight and creative ideas to help her cooperate.  And I’m especially going to pray for peace and for the presence of Jesus in Room 215 at Milford Genesis Health Care.

My Heart gives grateful praise.

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Marking the Season, Remembering the Days

These days are closing in on my heart in ways that make me stop, step back and regroup. I had to talk firmly to myself in the doctor’s office this afternoon because I suddenly was crying and the tears were dripping off my chin in a most unflattering matter.  Even though I couldn’t see, I’m pretty sure people were looking at me.

There  are a thousand reasons for tears, I suppose.  There are family issues that trouble me.  There is much uncertainty over our Blind Linda and Medicaid’s strange regulations.  The broader church family has issues that make me shake my head, scratch my head (and sometimes hold my head in my hands in despair or shame or sorrow — or all three!).  There are people who speak Jesus with their mouth and something else entirely with their walk, shedding a skewed view on the Light that sets men free.  I have a rebellious right foot that seems to have decided to keep up with my crazy wrong — I mean left foot in giving me grief  I told Eldest Daughter, Middle Daughter and Beloved Niece, Holly that I’ve been hobbling around like “an old woman” to which Eldest Daughter, in an attempt to comfort me said, “Well, Mama, you have every right to hobble around like an old woman.  You’ve earned it!”  (Really, Chris?  What is that supposed to mean???)  It’s full moon, and Our Girl Audrey (whom I just bragged was doing so well) got hit with the Green Eyed Monster at her day program and thinks the world is against her, that she isn’t being treated right there because they won’t let her do “the shredding.”  I think I must have told her too often that she is the smartest and the prettiest one there because she is suddenly feeling entitled.  And that’s not even everything!

(So yes, there seems to be plenty to trigger the tears.)

However, I think the main thing that is squeezing  my heart so hard that it makes the water stand in my eyes is this whole season that we are in — these days when we mark the anniversary of Sweet Mama’s last four weeks on this earth. Everywhere I turn, I keep seeing pictures of her.  This one caught my heart especially, taken by my sister in law, Polly Yoder, and so, so typical of Sweet Mama with the babies of her family.

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My Sweet Mama, my younger brother, Mark, Jr., Mark’s youngest son, Timothy, with his newborn son, Travis.  This picture was taken about a year before she passed away.

Sweet Mama loved babies.  I remember how excited she always got when she was getting ready for the births of my youngest siblings.  She wold sew little flannel kimonos for them, and lay in a supply of Baby Magic.  She sewed those old fashioned “belly bands” for wrapping tightly around the newborn’s tummy to keep the baby from getting an umbilical hernia.  She had her babies at home, so she would make supplies for the birth that could be taken out and burned before inquisitive eyes would wonder just what sort of mayhem had gone on in this birthing  business. She confided to me that she “dreaded” the labor and delivery, but there was never any question as to whether she loved her babies.

This picture started the tears all over again. Yes, I KNOW she’s okay! I KNOW I’ll see her again, but I miss her!  And there are so many things that I wish I could tell her tonight — like happy news of Clint and Sharon’s engagement (Wouldn’t she have a heyday with that exciting news?) or about Lem and Jessica’s pregnancy, or Tyler and Amy’s new baby boy, and all the “woman details” that we like to know.  She loved to hear about the love affairs of her grandchildren.  She felt sorry for them in their broken hearts when that happened and aggravated when they were the heart breakers. Life news — babies, love, engagements, weddings — these were the things that she loved to hear and talk about.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to call her up or stop in and just talk awhile! TWICE this week I dialed her number when I was trying to call someone else. I don’t think I’ve done that even once in a YEAR! It’s like she’s sitting on my subconscious, saying, “I was wishing you would call!  I haven’t heard from anyone ALL DAY!”  The truth is, if we were even able to bother her, she probably would answer in that short, clipped way of hers that she would use when she didn’t really want to be bothered.  Remember that, siblings of mine?  It was this unmistakable, short off sort of way, and we knew that she was either involved in something else or talking to someone else or aggravated about something and could hardly be bothered to answer the phone.

Two years.  Sometimes it seems like yesterday and other times it seems like decades.  And there is no “fixing” this in any satisfactory way.  It’s just another bump in the road of life, reminding me again that it we did not come here to stay.  It’s a reminder that Heaven is not all that far away, and there is so much more to LIVING than here and now, It’s a reminder that the time grows short.

Maybe I have earned the right to hobble around like an old lady.

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Grammy Nights and Busy Times

It was Grammy Night. Charis had come into the house with lots of high hopes for what she wanted to do. But I hadn’t gotten input from Grandpa about the spray painting that I had hoped to do (and I know enough to know that it isn’t a good idea to just go about and randomly change the colors around here).

So we washed her “squiggwie fings” (water beads that grow in water that get smelly after a couple of weeks and need rinsing off) and washed dishes. She had some snacks and I told her that we would go and plant the marigolds once Auntie Beebs was able to help us. She found a fly swatter and tried to kill the flies that kept buzzing in and out, and made a few trips outside to ride her bike out to check on the kittens.

And then came back in and stood quiet at the kitchen sink, watching me work. It was then that I heard a pensive little voice say, “Well, Grammy. I’m not having the kind of fun I was hoping for tonight.”

There was no anger, no angst or incrimination of this Grammy who just wasn’t measuring up. Just a quiet stating of facts that made me smile — but also gave me a reason to ponder a bit.

Ah, yes, my Charis-girlie.  I hate to tell you, but you might as well get used to it.  Over your life span, I’m afraid that there will be a whole lot of times that we don’t have the kind of fun we had hoped to have.  But if you just hold on, keep that heart of yours right, and let God work it out, you’ll find that there is great satisfaction in what you are able to do.

And if you hold on even longer, you will discover that satisfaction is worth a whole lot more than just having fun.

For Grammy nights, for words from my grandchildren, for marigolds planted and a friend from long ago that is sleeping upstairs in my spare bedroom.  For an old bike made new, for container gardens, for the winter supply of pellets safely unloaded, for a husband who puts up with so much and for progress for my Linda-girl, for this and so much more —

My heart gives grateful praise.

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