“What Did You Really Say?”

It’s been crazy at Shady Acres.  Ever since Christmas, there’s been coughing and sneezing and fevers and bronchitis and most recently, strep and The Flu!  And this Delaware Grammy has pretty much had it all.  Within the last two weeks, BL, OGA and I have had strep and flu with the lingering cough that just doesn’t want to go away.

To make matters worse, last Wednesday morning, Valentines Day and all, right when I was feeling my worst, I picked up OGA’s breakfast medications and gave them to BL.  I spooned them into her mouth with her usual mashed banana and never noticed a thing.  After she had left for center, OGA, who was sick as a dog, came out, looked over the carefully prepared breakfast sitting at her usual spot and said in her most accusing voice, “Mare-Ann!  You gotta’ get my pills!”

I was sick.  I was tired.  I was fuzzy in my head.  And I was cross.  “I already have them out for you,” I said shortly, and went to get them from the medication area.  They weren’t there.  I looked over and saw that her morning pill box was sitting on the table, empty.  I could not remember setting them over for her, but I said, “Didn’t you already take yours?”

OGA was sick, too, and she wasn’t wanting to listen.  She just wanted her pills!  Wearily, I turned back to the cupboard.  I picked up the latched box that held Linda’s breakfast pill, and realized with terror what had happened.

Well!  That huge mistake set into motion a big old investigation, and reports and documentations, and so many things that I hardly felt I had time for and knew I didn’t have the energy for.  There are some interesting dynamics in this situation, but they are too complicated for me to go into them here.  Suffice it to say that this Delaware Grammy has had to miss out on a lot of things between being sick as all get out and sitting at at my desk, or in my chair, sorting through lots of records, and making reports and getting all the medications organized so that we can go to a pharmacy generated multiple dosing system within the next week.  It has been a mess, a big job, but there are “glory stories” written all over this past week, and I DO NOT WANT TO LOSES SIGHT OF THE GOOD STUFF!!!

So I’ve tried to keep my ears turned towards the eternal – listening for ways that I could help my husband, and to see what he needed ahead of time.  Most of the time things were going okay in, and it seemed like, if I watched really closely, I could anticipate what he might need, or if not, I could ask him.  Most of the time, he would let me get something if he knew I was in the area anyhow, but often he would protest that he was fine, and he didn’t want me to worry about him.  So the last ten days have passed without too much angst between us.

Today has been especially busy on the medications front.  I worked on emails and logs and  forms and copying medication cards all day.  Around 6:30 tonight, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it into the pharmacy with my carefully organized medications, and that I was also not going to be able to go to calling hours for Dr. Crabb.  I stood at the kitchen sink and felt like crying.  I knew I could go to the funeral tomorrow (probably!) but I wanted to go tonight and talk to the family and just be with them for a bit for old time’s sake.  But I still had ladies to feed, my cough had gotten more ticklish as the day wore on, and I didn’t have my reports completed.

Certain Man came in from doing chores and decided to rustle up a salad for his supper.  I offered to fix him something, but  he waved me off.  “You take care of the ladies,” he said.  “I got this.”  So, I made OGA and BL their supper, got BL into her jammies and back on her chair, then went back to my desk to work on some more reports.  About ten minutes into my work of entering the extra prescriptions that I’ve had this month for OGA, I thought I heard him rustling around in the kitchen.  I knew he had finished his salad, and I couldn’t figure out what he needed now.

“Sweetheart, ” I called from the study, “is there something I can get for you?”  (Sometimes after he has eaten his meal, he decides he wants something else, but it isn’t as predictable  as to what that might be since he has been trying to 1’cut back.”)

“Nope,” he answered cheerfully.  “I’m just gonna’ make some sweet tea.”  Oh, that’s right!  The pitcher was empty after supper.

“I can make that for you,” I say, as I get up from my desk chair and come back out to the kitchen.  “I’ll be glad to make that for you!”

“Nah,” he said, pulling the Tupperware container down from the cupboard where we keep our family sized tea bags.  “I can make it.  I gotta’ learn how sometime.  You aren’t gonna’ live for– -gonna’ always be around to make the tea, and I need to know how.” He avoided looking at me as he dug the three teabags out and searched for the 4-cup pyrex measuring container that we use to make a gallon of sweet tea.

“Huh,” I said to him, “It’s true that I’m not going to live forever.  I think there’s pretty much evidence to indicate that none of us live forever.  But my question is, ‘What makes you think I’m going anywhere first???'” And I scrunched up my face at him.

And he didn’t even answer that question, at least not that I can remember, but he had the sense to laugh.  I washed the pitcher, measured in the sugar, he brought the hot, steeping teabags and dumped them in the pitcher and I stirred while he poured in the ice.  It turned out perfect in every way.  He could have done it by himself, it’s true.  He honestly does know how.  That little observation about the reason he should be “learning to make sweet tea” was completely uncalled for.

And now, I’m going to go put ladies to bed and then try to finish some more charting while he watches his beloved Ohio State play basketball.  It’s a quiet night at Shady Acres.

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The Face That’s Turned Away.

I pulled up my instagram account a bit ago, wishing I had a picture to share, and my heart caught at the one that filled the screen as a prospective “next share.”  It is a beatific photograph.  A bearded man is holding a baby against his face, kissing her chubby cheek.  She is beautiful, but looks exactly like she’s thinking what her Mama wrote when she sent the photograph.  “Why does this man with the itchy beard insist on kissing me every day?”

I cannot show it.

The man is Eldest Son.  The baby is Baby E, the little one that was placed in their home a little over three weeks ago.  I devour this little face with my eyes everytime a picture is sent, and everytime I long to show off to the world this newest grandbaby of ours.  I especially want to stamp her on my heart because, once again, we do not know how long she can stay.

But any time that a picture is shown on these places which we have come to use as the platform to show our precious little ones, this little one’s face must be turned away or blotted out  or obscured somehow so that her identity cannot be discovered.  I know all the reasons.  I know all the precautions.  I know all the rules.  I know all the laws.  And with my head, I say “yes” a thousand times to keeping our little one safe.

But my heart!  Ah, my heart!  It swells with wanting to share the miracle of a child, the wonder of a daddy’s love, her brothers’ pride, her Mama’s intuitive parenting and fierce, protective love, and that face- that sweet, round face with the pouty lips and pug nose!  Is she a beautiful baby?  I can’t tell. She’s wonderful.  She’s precious.  She’s sweet natured.

And YES!!!  She’s beautiful.  Of course she’s beautiful.  She’s one of our family.

So.   “Why does this man with the itchy beard insist on kissing me every day?”

For the same reason, Baby E,  that he tells you every day that you are beautiful.  For the same reason that he gets up with you when your mama is tired, and lovingly tends to your needs.  For the same reason your Mama opened her hurting heart one more time and let you in, and doesn’t hold back from loving you, even though it’s sometimes like a knife in an old wound when she realizes how much she loves you and how much she stands to lose.  For the same reason that three little boys rejoiced at your coming, love freely and with open hearts and hands, and in the carefree race of childhood, shove back the  “what ifs.”  For the same reason that your extended family watches eagerly for any pictures or stories that will help to make you more tangibly THERE in our heads as well as our hearts — All this because???

Because you are worthy of loving.  Because you are here.  Because you need a family, and frankly, we need you.  Ah, Baby E!  We will turn your face away for now, if needs be.  We will hearken to the ones who write the rules.  But we will not turn our hearts away  from you, nor our faces from The One who is writing Your Story.

In His Time.  By His Rules.  He is writing your story.  He sees your precious face.  Today I choose to trust Him to know the best plot, the best beginning, middle and ending.  He is a loving Heavenly Father.  He will hold you close to His heart.  He will do what is best.

And this Old Delaware Grammy’s heart will choose to offer a sacrifice of praise.

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Race and Kisses and Grandsons

He was our first foster baby.  He was officially placed with us when he was eight and a half months old, but he had been “ours” for several weeks before.  He was a chubby little guy, obviously of African American heritage, and we loved him with a ferocity that scared me sometimes.  Back then, foster care agencies were known to move children if they thought the foster parents were getting “too attached.”  A caseworker, Mimi Sommers, of Franklin County Children Services, had gone to bat for us, and had literally bucked the powers that be for him to be allowed to be placed with us.

“You can’t do this,” said her supervisor.

“Oh, yes, I can,” I am told she said.  “And I’m going to!”  And she did.

His placement was legal enough that we were allowed to bring him home for Christmas in 1975.  We pulled into Daddy and Mama’s driveway very late that night, but Daddy, Mama, Sarah and Alma were waiting up for us.  There was a fire burning in the fireplace, and we brought our swaddled, snow-suited little guy in, put him down on the rug in front of the fireplace, and unwrapped him.  He sat blinking in the firelight, looking at all the strange faces around the circle, and then a smile split his little face wide open and in doing so, opened the hearts of our Delaware family.

He was with us for 20 months.  We were first time parents, and we had much to learn.  He would escape from his crib at night, and explore the territory.  We found him sitting in the stereo one time, on the turntable, the spindle up between his legs against his well diapered sleeper.  It worried us.  We had no way of securing the front door from the inside of our shed-type house on West Avenue in Plain City, Ohio.  So we devised a plan for a “lid” for his crib.  Made of cardboard and held on by shoelaces, we made sure we could easily get him out in case of an emergency.  He loved it, and would ask to have it secured if we forgot.  He was very attached to Daniel, following him around, riding piggy back all around the living room floor, and sleeping in his strong arms whenever the chance arose.  Daniel called him, “Daddy’s little brown boy,” but never in a deprecating way.  It was affectionate and defining and respectful of the delightful color that graced the skin of our beloved son.

There were several factors that went into the agency’s decision to not allow us to adopt him, and while they would never be considered viable reasons now, they were then, and in August of 1977, our little guy was adopted into a family that did not want to have any ongoing contact with us.  The adoption went smoothly enough, but in the days following, this Mama felt paralyzed.  And sick.  And empty beyond belief.  We grieved deeply, but mostly privately.  It wasn’t that people didn’t care, but it’s a difficult thing for people to understand.

It was a few years later that Joseph’s adoptive mother called me.  She caught me up on this little guy that had so suddenly disappeared from our lives.  And then she told me this story.

She said that one day, Joseph had come to her and said, “Mama, you are white.”

“That’s right, Joey,” she said, wondering where this was going.

“And I’m brown,” he said, matter of factly.

“Right again,” she said.

“Do you know why I’m brown?” He asked her.

She said to me, “I thought, ‘Oh, dear!  Not this already!'” but she said to him, “Why is that, Joey?”

“Well,” he announced with a great deal of confidence and delight, “The Mommy and Daddy I had before I came here kissed me all over and made me brown!”

I cannot tell you how that comforted me.  I don’t begin to know how to tell people to navigate through this current race thing.  So many of the things we did and said back then are taboo now in the circles I operate in.  There are nuances and familiar words upended and so many connotations that I cannot figure it all out.  Sometimes I’m silent because I do not want to say the wrong thing.  Sometimes I’m silent because I disagree so deeply with what is happening, and I’m too angry to see straight.  And  sometimes I’m silent because it feels like everything I say further inflames emotions that will come back and hurt the people I love so very much!

Ever since Joey’s story, the color of brown has been the color of love in my book.  If every child could consider the color of their skin to be the special product of somebody’s love for them, wouldn’t that solve a lot of problems?

No, it probably wouldn’t.  Because that is too simple, and our world is too complex.  There will always be bullies, and this world will produce out of the vast store of hatred and prejudice the people who seek to destroy those who, through no choice of their own, threaten them by virtue of being different.

I just wish it wouldn’t be children who bear the brunt of it.  And more specifically, I wish it weren’t our three grandsons targeted because of their color in a modern school setting in  the quiet town of Sugarcreek, Ohio.

No amount of “kissing all over” can protect a child from this kind of attack.

Read our daughter in law, Regina’s post from this week, HERE:

https://leapoutoftheboat.blogspot.com/2018/01/racismyes-again.html?m=1

And weep for us all.

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Adventures @ the DMV

This was the year that Delaware Grammy had to renew her driver’s license.  I knew that I was supposed to get down there and get it done, but there were extenuating circumstances, and I kept thinking, “Next week, for sure, I’m going to get down there!”  But the weeks kept passing by, and finally I was down to the last week.  Then the last day.  Friday, October 13th, came up with various interruptions and when Certain Man assured me that I could go in on Monday, the day after my birthday since my birthday fell on a Sunday, I decided that Monday was a far better day, and opted to wait.

Monday had its own constraints, but eventually I found myself on the way down to the DMV, hoping that it wouldn’t take too long to get this license renewal behind me.  On the way down, I wondered if I would be allowed to take a new picture.  Sometimes, depending on the state of the photographic equipment, the State has opted to not take a new picture.  This resulted in Youngest Son, Lemuel, having a picture from his 14 year old I.D. on his Driver’s license.  It’s not so bad (usually) when it’s one of us oldsters keeping a younger picture, but in Lem’s case, the fresh-faced boy on his license was an insult to him as he entered his later teens.  And for this Delaware Grammy, it so happened that I really, really, really wanted a new picture.

The old picture, taken five years ago, was notoriously bad.  So bad, in fact, that shortly after receiving it, when I handed it to a clerk as identification, she handed it back and said that it wasn’t me.  She asked me something about why I was using my father’s identification.  I handed it back and protested that it was, in fact me.  She read it over, realized that it was in fact me, and said, “That’s a terrible picture!  You should demand a new picture.  They should HAVE to redo it!”  As I told my family, it did not inspire any confidence.  It did NOT!  I really wanted a new one.

Besides the photo business, rolling around in my head were the usual things about the DMV.  (The terrible wait, the terrible wait, the terrible wait.)  Also on my mind was the fact that I needed to get a replacement for a title that I had misplaced.  That always takes an act of congress.  I resigned myself to spending an hour or two within the confines of the walls of our Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

I came through the double doors at Delaware’s Sussex County DMV to discover that there was no line, and two people, a policeman and a nice lady, welcoming new arrivals and handing out numbers.  I told the policeman that I needed to renew my license and also get a copy of a title.  He said that I should take a number to get my license renewed, then come back for another number to get the title.

He handed me my number and said, “Your number is —- and they are calling it now at station 26!”

Huh!  They were!

I headed over to the station, was taken right in.  When I handed in my old license, the clerk said, “There is going to be a ten dollar late fee because your birthday was yesterday.”

“Really?” I asked.  “Yesterday was Sunday.  I’m not allowed one day’s grace?”

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “But we give you six months ahead of your birthday to get in and get it renewed.  We do not allow any days of grace.”

Bummer!  I should have gotten in while the getting was good!!!  Oh, well.  But the gal was helpful, kind, efficient,  There was no question about whether I was to have a new picture, and in a strange new twist, she even said, “You may smile if you wish,” and I wished.  Before I knew it, the paperwork was all completed and in less than ten minutes from start to finish, I had my new license in hand. The photo wasn’t going to win me any contests for being stunning, but no one will mistake me for my father.

Now for the title.

I went back to retrieve a number, and again was handed a number that was called while I stretched out my hand.  I walked over to another counter, had another incredibly friendly and efficient person to help me, and was finished there before I could believe it.

I walked out on air.  It was unbelievable!  I had literally been in that building less than 20 minutes.  I thought about my dark thoughts on my way down, my pessimistic expectations, and about how wrong I was about everything.  So often I think I need to “hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” but I’m not so sure that is working for me.  Maybe in this as well as a whole lot of other situations.  That “hoping for the best” business gets overshadowed as I “prepare for the worst.”

And I had wasted precious time fretting about what I was going to say if they didn’t want to let me take a new picture.  I had armed myself with my new Readers’ Digest in case I had to wait a long time and couldn’t find anyone to talk to.  It almost felt like I had been gypped some how.  All the angst preparation had been entirely unnecessary.  I had been treated with respect and pleasantries and efficiency and speed.

There was nothing left for me to do but to be very grateful.

And I truly, truly was!

And this old heart

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Adventure @ Walgreens

I just realized that it’s been quite a while since Delaware Grammy has updated her blog.  There has been plenty to write about, what with having several adventures and a bonfire/hayride and birthday, then a wedding, church retreat, siblings gathering and a baby shower.  Life keeps marching right along for the folks at Shady Acres Dude Ranch. Estate. Chicken Farm.  Whatever.

Early in the week before my birthday, my fine sisters, Sarah and Alma, and I went on a little bit of a getaway.  Honestly, I don’t think we have EVER done this before.  Just the three of us, telling nobody but our husbands and any necessary family members needed to hold things together in our absence, we took off in the morning on Monday and came home in the evening on Tuesday.  We shopped and talked and laughed and cried, we went to a motel in Bind in Hand and spent the night.  We got up the next morning, had breakfast on the same grounds as the inn, and went to a play put on by the Bird in Hand Stage in the same big building that we had breakfast.  Alma had heard about the production from her mail carrier, Diane Breeding, and thought it would be fun for us to attend.  The motel, breakfast and production was Alma’s gift to Sarah and I.  You can read all about it here, (but it’s getting awful late to get in to see it.  They are stopping production on October 28th.)  https://bird-in-hand.com/stage/mennonite-girls-can-cook/

After the production, we did a bit more shopping, first at the outlets and then at our favorite store — Goods.  And then it was time to grab a late lunch and get on home.  Which we did!  I’m so glad we could go.  But, as usual, I was so glad to be home again.

So, after being gone for two days, there were things that needed doing.  Appointments and prescriptions and catch-up.  I needed to go into Walgreens one afternoon to pick up a prescription, and decided to do some early Christmas shopping for stocking gifts.  I had been to the pharmacy, and was pushing my cart around, when I heard a furor at the front of the store.  I didn’t pay much attention, because there is often a hullabaloo in that store for some reason.  One of the last times I was in, the place was up in a heaval over a shoplifter who had gotten away, but was known to the store, and the police were there and it did seem as if there was a bit more publicity of the details than was necessary (but I didn’t know all the dynamics, and maybe there was a whole lot more than they were saying).

For whatever reason, this particular uprising didn’t pique my interest much as I motored about the store, looking for – well – stuff!  As I got closer to the front I began to overhear snatches of conversation that caused me to get curious.

” , , , don’t know who the vehicle belongs to … . .the other driver just left!”

“Yes, but another customer got a license tag number, and the color and make of the car!”

”  . . . it’s the one right outside.  She hit it and didn’t even stop!”

Then someone in the conversation mentioned “gray van” and I decided I had better investigate.  I was driving that “gray van, parked right outside.”

I stopped at the checkout and said, “Is there some sort of a problem?  I overheard something about a gray van, parked right outside?”

The Clerk was obviously relieved.  “Is that your gray van right outside the door?”

“Yes . . .?”

She couldn’t wait to tell me, “Someone ran into it and didn’t even stop, but the manager has the license plate number and color and make of the car and  – Hey, —–!  Here’s the lady whose car was hit!”  She hollered down to the photo department.  “Go on over there,” she said to me.  “She knows about it.  She’ll tell you!”

I looked at my cart and decided to park it.  I couldn’t bear to go look at my van.  I decided to go over and talk to the manager.  Of course she was waiting on a customer, and so she said that she would be with me in a minute.

“Is it bad?” I asked over the shoulder of the customer (who didn’t look like he cared a bit).

“I don’t know,” said the manager of Walgreen’s Milford.  “I haven’t gone to look, but the customer seemed to think it was important to pass on the license number.  Just let me finish here and I will go with you?”

“Do you think we should call the police?”

“We can do that for you,” said the manager.  “If you want us to.”

“I’m going to go and assess the damage,” I said.

“I’ll be right there,” said the manager.  “Just as soon as I finish up here.”

I put my cart by the door, took my prescription that was already paid for, and went out.  I was already thinking about what I was going to tell Certain Man.  I wondered if I could drive it home.  I steeled myself for carnage and destruction.

My Silver Chariot sat stoically exactly where I had parked it.  I couldn’t see anything on the driver’s side that warranted any dramatics.  I walked around the end.  Still nothing.  I examined the passenger’s side with a great scrutiny, but could not find anything at all.  By the time I was searching the unscathed surfaces for about the third time, the manager was out, waving the white piece of paper.

“Find anything?” She asked cautiously.

“I can’t find a single thing,” I said, still looking.  “I’ve looked and looked!”

She joined me in another round of “Ring Around The Vansie,” and then started looking for anything less obvious that would explain the hubbub in the store.  Finally she stopped at the back bumper on the driver’s side.

“Here,” she said, a bit doubtfully, “I wonder if this isn’t it.”  I came around to where she was peering at the area with intent.  I still couldn’t really detect anything there.  My puzzlement must have shown on my face because she pointed to a fingernail  clipping sized nick in the bumper’s paint and a small brush beneath it.  I moved in close to inspect, wiped the dust off and looked up at her with relief and a sudden crazy sense of hilarity.

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“Um, this isn’t anything at all to worry about,” I said.  By then, other people who were a part of the exchange inside had joined us.

“They said it was an old lady driving,” one man volunteered.  “I’ll bet she didn’t even know she hit you!”

“Well,” I said, ruefully.  “I’ve done a whole lot more damage to the front bumper by just driving into my garage too far.  This isn’t anything I’m going to do anything about.  It’s not worth it to call the police.  It’s not worth it to try to track down who did it.  As far as I’m concerned, there just isn’t really any damage at all.”

There was general agreement around the circle, and then the manager pressed the paper into my hand where the license number and color and model of the car had been written.  “If you decide to do anything different,” she instructed, “please call within the next two to four weeks so that we can go back on our camera and get any information that you might need.  Like, if you get home and find more damage, or decide that you want to do something about this.  Of course, depending on your deductible, you would still have to pay more than it’s worth.”

I looked at my trusty minivan (who has been our faithful replacement of the old white one that I thought I wanted to keep forever) and laughed.  The Silver Chariot was not bashed in, totaled or in any need of our faithful body shop, Start2Finish Collision over there in Harrington, DE.  I was truly giddy with relief.

“Nah,” I said to the concerned lady.  “I’m not going to do anything about it.  It just isn’t worth it!”  I stuffed the scrap of paper into my purse, and went back into the store and checked out my purchases and headed my undamaged van towards home.

I got to thinking on the way home about the people who had saw the incident and had been so zealous to report it.  I wondered what made them so conscientious to report it.  Had someone damaged their vehicle sometime and not stopped?

And that reminded me of another story I had read years ago (probably in the Readers’ Digest) about a woman who came out of a place of business and found her vehicle damaged extensively.  She was terribly distraught until she noticed that there was a scrap tucked under her windshield.  She gratefully grabbed it out and read.

Dear Sir or madam.
I am responsible for damaging you car.
Right now there are a number of people
watching me carefully to see what I’m going to do.
They think I’m giving you my name, address, 
phone number and insurance information in this note.
I’m not!

(I promise you that she wasn’t so grateful for very long!)

So any way that you look at it, I had the best end of the deal.  I had a car with no damage, and if I would have had damage, the good people of Milford, Delaware, were looking out for me.

~My heart gives Grateful Praise.

 

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Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings

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(DELAWARE GRAMMY STYLE)
makes 12 — Sheet cake pan

6 medium-sized baking apples, cut in half, peeled and cored
4 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/3 cups butter flavored Crisco
1 cup milk

To make pastry:
*Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
*Cut in Crisco until the particles are about the size of small peas.
*Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together.
*For ease in handling, separate dough into two parts.  Roll each half out to at least 10″x15″  (or 12″x 18″)  and cut into six equal squares of 5″- 6″ each.
*Put a dab of butter (like 1/2 teaspoon or so) on each square.
*Put about 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of sugar on top of the butter.
*Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the sugar.
*Place a half apple on top, with the middle cavity over the sugar and cinnamon.
*Fold the dough up and around the apple to cover it completely.
*Place dumplings 1 inch apart in the greased baking pan, with the seam down and the sugar cavity up.
*do the same with the second half of the dough.
*Pour over the the sauce made as follows:

Sauce:
3 cups brown sugar
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter

*Combine brown sugar, water and spices.
*Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes
*Add butter
*Pour over the dumplings, trying to drench each one with the sauce.
*Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.
*Baste occasionally during baking.
*Serve hot with rich milk or ice cream

Variation:  Sometimes I grate my apples – especially if I’m using seconds and don’t have nice “halves” and then I use a half-cup measure pretty tightly packed to put a pile of  grated apple on top of each sugar pile and wrap it in dough, just like it was an apple half.  Daniel seems to prefer this to having a half apple in there, but it is strictly personal preference.

Another variation that I’ve had (but never made) is to roll the dough out, butter the dough, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on it and then spread it with the grated apple, and roll as a jelly roll, slice as a cinnamon roll, and put into the pan and pour the sauce over it like you would with the regular dumplings.  Bake as instructed.  This is REALLY good, and I’m indebted to Loretta Miller for my exposure to this method.

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Names and Titles and Mamas Who “Never Go Away”

There has been quite a discussion going on over on Dorcas Smucker’s facebook page about what to call adult children.  Those of you who read my blog know that I refer to our children collectively as “The Offspringin’s.”  Certain Man calls them “The Young’uns”  (I’m not sure how to even spell that!) along with other specific dutch words that fit individual children at any given time.  His parents firmly believed that you did not give nicknames or shorten names in any way, and I decided early on that it wasn’t in my best interest to shorten his good, strong name in any way.  Hence, he has always been “Daniel” to me when I use his given name (or “Mr. Yutzy”).  When we had our children, it seemed like there was this plethora of names that just came naturally, and when I read somewhere that “a love child has many names” I decided that it wasn’t something to worry too much about.

We were a little cautious in the use of the words “kids” because we had been severely schooled in the sinfulness of that usage.  Even the name “Mom” was frowned upon by my paternal grandfather as disrespectful.  I can remember coming in from school on afternoons when Grandpa (David S. Yoder, Sr.) was there and calling for “Mom!” and hearing him clucking his disapproval and saying, “Ach!  The kids came home!” (A word that was verboten in his vocabulary under any other circumstances).  The correct word was “Mama.”  (And don’t you forget it!)

Along with that were other titles of respect. We would never have thought of calling our aunts and uncles by their given names alone.  It was always, Uncle Jesse, Uncle Lloyd, Uncle Amos, or Aunt Ruth, Aunt Naomi, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Dottie, etc..  To this day I wouldn’t/couldn’t call them anything different.  Somehow there was something that went with that title that was compelling.  And my myriad of aunts and uncles were worthy of all the respect given them.  They were beloved and Godly and always interested in the lives of their nephews and nieces.  When our children came along, we insisted on the same respect given to aunts and uncles.

But that is not the story, although the discussion on Dorcas’ blog spurred both the preceding paragraphs as well as this story.

When our children were very young, and even before Rachel was born, our children were exposed to a difficult family situation where the father had abandoned the family and the mother was struggling with a desperate mental illness and the children were temporarily in various homes who tried hard to provide some stability whenever they could.  Two of the little boys were with our family at various times and their heartache was difficult to see.  Our youngest son, Lemuel, was a curly haired, verbal, blond three year old at the time, and he didn’t miss much that went on around the little house on Andrewsville Road that was our home.

And so it was that one day while I was in the laundry room, working on the unending loads of wash, a little tow-headed guy sought me out with a furrowed brow.  “Mama.” he said, with that look of urgent concentration on his face, “Would you ever go away?”

I looked into his young face, knew immediately the impetus for his question, felt his anxiety and made a promise that I prayed I could always keep.  “Oh, no, Lemmie Joe!  I would never go away.  I love Daddy and your brother and sisters too much to ever go away and leave you.”  He turned abruptly and motored his way out to the living room where his unsuspecting siblings were involved in their own worlds.

“Our Mama say she NEVER go away, ” I heard him announce to them in full voice.  I wondered what in the world they thought of such an unexpected proclamation, but there were various acknowledgements of his statements that carried muffled through the walls.  I smiled at his earnestness, but scarcely had I had time to think before my little guy was back at the door of the laundry room with a proclamation for me.

“I telled your chill’jens you said that!” He declared with a satisfied air, like he had just settled a great big issue and since I had given my word and he had “telled them” there was nothing more to be discussed.  He turned away, out of the door, and went back to his play.

It has never, ever left my heart.  I can tell you right where I was standing when he came in to ask me the question that was on his young mind.  Often I’ve thought about all the Mamas (or Daddies) who go away and don’t come back, or are sent away and not allowed to come back, or who, for whatever reason, physical or emotional, are unable to come back.  How my heart aches for the “chill-jens” (some now all grown up) who are wishing for a parent to come to stay.

And my heart gives grateful praise for parents who are “staying” when no one stayed for them, or are staying at great personal sacrifice of their own dreams and opportunities.  Sometimes it seems like the years stretch on forever when the walls hold us in, and the demands of our little ones make us wonder if we ever even had a mind to think plausible thoughts, much less dream.  It takes lots of love to hang in there.  But it also takes energy and grace and creativity and commitment and wisdom and courage.  It’s a huge, scary adventure.  But it’s worth it.  So very much worth it.  And now that those “Chill-jens” have become adult “offspringin’s” and have brought into our lives other people to love and more little ones to nurture, I’m grateful for all the choices, some mine, and some totally out of my hands, that allowed me to be one of the Mamas who didn’t need to “go away.”

For this and so much more on this rainy Monday in Delaware, my heart gives grateful praise.

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