My hands have been busy these past several weeks. Last evening, plodding around in my kitchen, trying to finish up a few things before the midnight hour, I had some time to mull over the things that were tugging at my heart while my head was too occupied with other things to take much notice.
Summer makes me miss our Daddy so much.
If there was a season that defined him, Summer was that season. My earliest, sharpest memories of him are of hot summer days. I’ve often mentioned the pole limas that he was so fond of, and that he spent countless hours planting, hoeing, picking, shelling and helping to get into the freezer. Certain Man planted my row earlier this summer, and last night, upon inspection, I had just a few to pick and shell:
Then I cooked them in my little pan:
And then I tried to divide them evenly so that I could share them with Certain Man:
And I ate my part of them with great enjoyment. They were splendid!
I could almost see my Daddy’s smile, as the taste of fresh, tender lima beans filled my mouth and my heart with the kind of thing that nourishes and encourages me on days when it just doesn’t seem possible that he is really gone.
That got me thinking about some other summer things. On my counter was a round, fat, red-fleshed watermelon. Middle Sister had stopped and picked it up for me at a local produce stand. I had sliced it open, and needed to finish getting it out of the rind and into the fridge.
On hot summer days, Daddy would float a watermelon in the old milk cooler. (This was the days before the bulk tanks.) On a late summer afternoon, some time before the milking and evening chores called his name, he would bring it and Mama’s big butcher knife to the back yard under the big maple and would call us to come. Mama didn’t like watermelon, so she usually wasn’t there, but his children would gather around him with great anticipation. I can still remember that ripping, splitting sound as he cut the watermelon in half. He would let us have pretty much as much as we wanted until it was gone. It was cold and sweet.
What a sticky mess we must have been!
What a wonderful time we had!
Also, yesterday, Certain Man came into the kitchen, carrying a cardboard box with a goodly amount of fresh peaches from another roadside stand. “They’re seconds,” he announced triumphantly. “I only paid $7.00 for the whole box! I thought I might get something made from them.”
Friend Karen helped me peel those who were getting too soft and I made them into peach pie filling to use with various and sundry things:
Today, Youngest Daughter took part of the pie filling and made “Delaware Dessert” which is Certain Man’s favorite dessert. It is a cake type batter that has a layer of pie filling between two layers of batter. It has a thin icing and is delicious when served warm with ice cream.
Peaches were something else that Daddy was intense about. I remember him heading off for the orchard, bringing back baskets and baskets of peaches. We would stop everything else and can peaches. He was proud of our Mama and her ability to can quality fruits and vegetables, and he would help with peeling or whatever needed doing. This is where I also miss my Grandma Yoder. Long after her mind was gone, she could still peel peaches. I remember her sitting with a cake pan on her lap, peeling perfect peach halves in one long beautiful pare. She peeled so thin that when she was done, even the tiny little protrusion at the base of the peach half was perfectly there. We found this picture of her at our recent reunion, and most of the grandchildren who were my age agreed that this is how we remember her:
Late last night, a storm went through. Our little farm got an inch and a quarter of wonderful rain.
It was a blessed and welcome relief to the hot, dry days that we’ve endured.
It was a gentle summer rain. It started out looking like it was really going to hammer us. Our Girl Nettie and I flew to the deck after one of my boxes went crashing down and put everything down from the deck railing. The wind was fierce and the clouds menacing, but then things settled down and most of the rain fell during the quiet night hours. I awoke this morning to a world that was washed, and my flowers looked like they appreciated the Heavenly watering. Our Girl Nettie has been doing a wonderful job, but there is nothing like good old rain.
I remember our Daddy praying for rain. In those hot, summer days when it seemed like day after day would go by and the corn would shrivel up and the Delaware summer was so hot we thought we would die. We didn’t have air conditioning. At nights, we would stick an old (and dangerous) fan into our window and try to move some air. After we were sleeping, Daddy would often come up and unplug it. In the mornings, on our hard linoleum floor, he would gather us around and he would pray. He prayed long prayers, and sometimes it seemed like he would pray around the world and back again. He would pray for people he loved who weren’t believers, and his voice would sometimes break over the words. He would pray for his aging parents “in the declining years of their lives”. He would pray for his “dear companion” which we knew was our Sweet Mama, and for each of his children by name. He would pray that we “would all come safely home without the loss of one.” He would pray for neighbors, for his brother’s family, who were a missionaries in far away Ethiopia. He would pray for the ministers and for the church and for the school. And he would offer grateful praise for the day that had been given, and for “the country place that we call home.” He would humbly ask for the rain which was so needful for the farm’s ongoing operations. He would thank God for Jesus and for the price that was paid for our redemption. He would ask for forgiveness for sin and “where he had failed and come short of God’s will.” By the time he got to this point, we knew he was almost done, and that our boney knees would soon get some relief.
I was riding this morning with our Sweet Mama. Suddenly, out of the blue she said, “Do you know what song has been going over and over in my head? Of course I had no idea. Then in a strong, determined voice she began that old song, “If I could hear my mother pray again,” except she changed the words to “If I could hear my husband pray again . . .” I listened as she plowed through the chorus, not missing a word, but her voice clouding over with tears as she progressed on through. She finished bravely, quaveringly, as the tears spilled over onto my cheeks, and then there was quiet in the car. I thought about those prayers of our Daddy’s and how the memory of them comforts me. I thought about how it must be for her to have prayed with him pretty much every single night that they were together for 56 years, and what an emptiness that leaves in her heart and home.
I am so comforted by the fact that we serve a God who is not bound by time. I believe those prayers of our Daddy are still circling the throne of God for us — and for many of you who read this. He prayed on down the corridor of time as he prayed for the futures of people he cared about. He prayed for the church to prosper, for the school to be successful. He prayed that we would be faithful, that we would come safely home without the loss of one. He “prayed ahead” so to speak, and that gives me renewed courage and hope in these hot, summer days when the memories of him are everywhere around me.
It’s not so far to Heaven, Dear Friends. Let’s all get safely home “without the loss of one.”