Sunday, July 31, 2011


Three teen grandchildren—Elijah, Trent, and Brianna--spent last week helping in our village church with Vacation Bible School. Seems impossible that the little kids who used to come yearly to attend VBS are now old enough to work with the younger children—and they did a splendid job. I have to fight to keep from still seeing them as the little group that used to follow me into the grocery store like little ducklings. People would smile as we went by, and I would be so proud of those little guys.

But summers come and go, and seemingly suddenly these same kids are all grown up—two will start college in just a couple of weeks. They still make people smile, and I still know pride that they are my grandkids.

Our summer evenings used to be spent in local ball parks watching Gerry’s girls play softball. (We also watched Leslie at the Carterville park one summer and attended a game or two watching Elijah and Trent in far-away parks. If I remember right, preschooler Leslie was picking flowers in the outfield or something like that.) We still go to softball games, but now those games are usually in college stadiums or on TV. This spring we were cheering on the Southern Illinois University Salukis, for whom Tara used to play, because Erin was there at first base as assistant coach.

Now Gerry and Vickie’s youngest, Geri Ann, is about to enter her senior year of high school, and this week she is playing with Southern Force for her sister, Coach Tara Archibald, at Chattanooga at the Amateur Softball Association 16 and Under national tournament. I can remember tiny Tara playing with a broken arm one summer—with her doctor’s permission, of course. I’d be rambling around the park with Erin, and then a few years later when Erin was playing, I followed Geri Ann around making sure she did not fall into the creek that goes through Marion park—or was that just Erin? Elijah was there in a stroller and sunglasses for some of these long-ago games. At Harrisburg and Johnston City, Vickie always brought Geri Ann to the park in spotless condition fresh out of the tub--but with sand bucket and shovel. No child ever left the parks with dirtier clothes and face than she did. I remember that I supervised Sam in that Johnston City sand pile also. That was back when he would watch big league games on his living room television and run the imaginary bases there making a home run every time.

He came home Saturday night from his youth group’s mission trip to Joplin, MO, and I was blessed to be there at his home when he arrived. As we anticipated, the week working in Joplin had been life changing. He was fortunate to be on one of the groups working indoors—repairing things, salvaging filthy tables and other school equipment, and painting walls. He said that the roofing crew knew temps in the three digits on top of the tar-covered places some days. Major chain stores there are still operating in tents while new buildings are being built. He just kept remarking that photos cannot begin to capture the devastation there. And yet he said people have come together to solve their problems. Prayers are frequent on a daily basis in a downtown tent.

One of our families moved last week within their city, and two more will be moving soon to other locations. Our oldest great grandson will be starting kindergarten on August 9. Erin is still hobbling and taking antibiotics and enduring a major life style change, being confined to her house and watching more television than she has ever watched in her life. Her doctor says her knee looks good, and we hope she will soon be back to her usual active life.

While it was hard to act surprised, our family kept the Facebook messages flowing as we congratulated Mike Thompson and our granddaughter Leslie Eiler on their announced engagement. At his parents’ home in Ohio, Leslie finished reading Jane Eyre and received a proposal and she stammered yes. We are all admiring the ring on the posted photos.

Oh, there have also been promotions and awards in the family this month. And Leslie’s mother Jeannie rode 60 miles the other day on her bicycle, which deserves an award. So many changes and transitions have taken place this summer. Makes my head swim. But life was meant for transition. I was helped to appreciate all the summer’s growth and change by Sandra Henry, the daughter of my second cousin Shirley, whom I used to meet to play in the creek between Mt. Airy Farm and their farm home on another hill. Sandra posted today on Facebook: ”Once told that if you always did what you always did that you will always be where you always were. Much truth in this simple statement!“

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