Sunshine and Saltwater on a Summer Day
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.

Daddy
 
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:

001 Summer days

Then I cooked them in my little pan:

002 Summer days
(This looks like a big pan, but there are only about a cup of lima beans in there)

And then I tried to divide them evenly so that I could share them with Certain Man:

003 Summer days

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. 
006 Summer days

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.” 

004 Summer days

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:

005 Summer days

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:

Black and White Reprint two
Here she is making a stack of chicken sandwiches.
She was a brilliant and resouceful person.

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.  

008 Summer days

It was a gentle summer rain.  It started out looking like it was really going to hammer us.  Our Girl Audrey 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 Audrey 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.”

18 Comments

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  1. Mary Ann, Mary Ann, You make my heart ache and yet I am smiling!! Your words remind me so much of my own home and my Papa, and I think there were a lot of similarities. (Not surprising, with them having been brothers!!) God bless and comfort your brave heart as you continue to adjust and heal. I missed your Dad, this last Yoder Reunion and Uncle Johnnie, too. It didn’t seem right without them there. I love you and pray for you, your Mom and the rest of your family. Your “cuz”, Shirley

  2. Those are precious memories that can comfort your heart!

  3. Just precious, Mary Ann. I have very similar sweet memories and thankfully I still have my dear dad. I look forward to spending some quality time with him this weekend at our family reunion.

  4. I just had a flashback when I read about your dad praying for his brother’s family in Ethiopia. I remember of having a missionary from Ethiopia named Paul Yoder at our church one time and my parents had them at our house for a meal and they had a daughter Debbie my age. Was that your uncle?

  5. @musicaljean – Yes, Jeanie, that is my Uncle Paul. He and his wife are both still living — in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Their Daughter, Debbie is married and has two children. This is so interesting!!!

  6. A very beautiful tribute, Mary Ann. Mom, too, prayed ahead and there are times that knowledge is a great comfort to me. ~~ Ahh, “Delaware Dessert”. I made some with apple pie filling not very long ago. Brian even prefers that to chocolate desserts and that’s really saying something!! Especially since as a general rule he dislikes cooked fruit. We first had it at your house once upon a time ages and ages ago!

  7. Those lima beans look delicious.  The picture makes me want to go to a roadside stand and buy some fresh limas!  (I don’t have a garden.)

  8. It is comforting that when you do miss a departed parent that you have so many good memories to draw on.  That has really helped me as well.  Remembering my father preaching, splitting logs for our wood heater, little things like that can just bring so many memories back.  Venison meat will always remind me of my father as well as blueberries.  Those Great Northern staples.

  9. I can just “hear” your Daddy’s voice say those things too. 

  10. Oh, and “Delaware dessert”…I’ve lived here 45 years and never knew there was such a thing, where have I been?!  Sounds great…I have some peaches ripening on my counter right now..if you wanta/have time to share the recipe that would be great!

  11. You had me in tears til I got to the end! I enjoy your writings.
    Those limas are my favorite veggie, hands down. Your pictures had my mouth watering. I wish I could grow them down here. I have never been successful.

  12. @Curtsellie –  The recipe is in the 1974 Greenwood Homemaker’s Fellowship cookbook. It is called just “dessert” and it is Dolly Schlabach’s recipe. In the latest printing, it is the first recipe on page 122. I change the glaze by adding a half a stick of melted margarine and some vanilla, and using 2 cups of powdered sugar at least. I use any kind of pie filling, but like to use at least a quart of whatever filling I use. It is called “Delaware Dessert” in my family because when Daniel and I were in Ohio, the recipe came from the Delaware cookbook, and all of his extended family called it that. So the name stuck, and it needs no other name in our family! Everyone knows that it is Dolly Schlabach’s Dessert recipe in the “blonde” Greenwood cookbook.

  13. You certainly started my day with my mouth watering!!!  Your memories of your family are always so warm and wonderful.

  14. great post and the fruits and veggies look yummy

  15. v from Idaho

    Oh my….you certainly have a way with words.  Tears are flowing here.  Blessings…v

  16. Thinking of you Dear BEG and hoping you have a nice day today.

  17. I enjoy your writings very much, too, Mary Ann.  You make the reader feel as if they’re right there experiencing things with you, and all the emotions that go with those happenings!  Thanks for sharing your heart with us.  Another thing I was wondering if you’d share, is the recipe for Delaware Dessert, for those of us who don’t have that cookbook.  It sounds absolutely dee-lish! 

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