Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer's Here and So Is Love

0Summer came on Father’s Day this year, and our nation was bathed in tears for yet another senseless slaughter. Nine exceptional people who had given so much and had so much yet to give were taken from us on a Wednesday night. My personal loss of a niece in Texas magnified my grief.

But amazingly when I turned on the television last Sunday morning while I drank my morning coffee, I unexpectedly found myself in church at Mother Emanuel in Charleston, SC. That heart-broken congregation worshiped God together and loved on each other with such intensity that their love flowed to my kitchen table.

They demonstrated for us what the nine stood for and what faith is. We know the nine would have chosen to stay here and take care of their responsibilities. That is the kind of people they were. Instead a chariot swung low and carried them to God’s presence. We cannot imagine the beauty and glory they are experiencing with Him. Believers in Charleston know that the love they shared there at the AME church as they trusted God and grieved and worshiped is but a foretaste of what the nine are experiencing That love and faith was so strong it came across the mountains and the rivers and the meadows to our farm.

Our Jeannie had just left the afternoon before. Her chemo was finished, and she came down to squeeze in a four-day visit before their summer schedule prohibited that kind of stay. Her bicycle was on the back of the van, and she hoped to try to ride again. But it rained each day. Yet she made certain to take long walks. She was in great shape when this illness hit, so she is determined to get back on the bicycle as often as she can so she will be ready next summer for the postponed last lap of her ride beside the Mississippi River to the Gulf.

Part of the four days was taken up by the many hours required for the trip down, and another part for the long trip back home. So she only was able to be here for two complete days. But it was so good to see her and to think she was able to drive that far. It had to be difficult—it has always been for us even when we were not recovering from anything—let alone chemo.

On top of that, on Saturday before she made the drive home, she took me with her to meet up with Leslie in Paducah. It was such a treat to be there laughing and loving with Les and hearing about her artistically gifted friend’s special wedding and about Les’s great new job. Of course, even after a three-hour breakfast, we were reluctant to leave, but Leslie had to drive back to Nashville and Jeannie to Freeport.

Jeannie and the rest of her family plan to stop by briefly on their way down to Leslie and Mike’s for their annual Fourth of July celebration there, but there won’t be time for any more late night talks.

In the meantime, we received word that Gerald’s only sister was coming from Wyoming. We met her at the airport Tuesday evening, and she regaled us with stories of her flight from St. Louis in a six-passenger “crop duster.” But she was safe and sound and that is all that mattered. She was even on time and no luggage was lost. She had left home at 4 a.m. and was properly tired, but we still did a lot of talking that night and have continued through today when niece Vicki picked her up to take her to another brother’s. Yesterday Vicki also took her around, and they ended up at her house. Ernestine came home with a table top’s worth of family photographs, so we did a lot of looking and reminiscing last night and this morning.

She had a rental car ordered, but Gerald and everyone urged her to cancel so they could loan her a car or better yet drive with her to visit as they rode. A special bonus for us was the Wednesday night visit from Keith and Barbara, Gerald’s youngest brother and wife. Although Keith has been here often for brother fun or business, it has been way too long that Barbara had been able to come. Her last day of work before retirement is Tuesday, so maybe we will be able to see more of her. Before Ernestine left today, we finished up at lunch the blueberry pie Barb brought us from Weaver’s Market. I had heard about the wonderful Amish goods available there, and the pie was scrumptious. Thursday night Gerald and Ernestine came back from their Union County visit with fresh blueberries Barb sent us. And they are good too.

Tonight we traveled down below Marion for grandson Sam’s graduation-going away party given by his Cedar grandparents. Their home at the end of the road is surrounded by huge pines planted 25 years ago, and their huge and attractive open garage was planned to hold such gatherings. The weather was perfect; and after the feast, adults continued talking at the tables there while the teens played on the huge lawn Fred mows between rains. It was easy for all of us to agree that these kids are a special bunch and have made us all proud.

As it darkened, David lit candles for us in and outside the garage. Darlene explained to me they always had a bonfire for Sam’s birthday, but last year it rained and they were unable to burn the damp gathered wood. So she was grateful to complete the bonfire at last. The kids gathered down by the fire. Those of us at the tables, who by now were eating the beautiful celebratory cake, enjoyed the beauty of the flames flying in the air seven or eight feet high. We were among the early leavers, but I suspect the teens stayed by that fire a long time. I hope the memory sustains them when summer ends and they have to go their separate ways.

The corn fields here are racing to reach that elephant’s eye, and some have already made it. The neighbor’s wheat along our driveway is golden and beautiful. Our killdeer has her annual nest in the gravel at the edge of the driveway and is setting on four eggs. If you come see us, stay on the right hand side of the road to miss her! Summer is definitely here; and if we follow the example of the congregation at Mother Emanuel, we can choose to do what Jesus taught: to love God, to love our neighbor; to love our enemies.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Church Bells Tolling

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Susie Jackson, 87

Ethel Lance, 70

Clementa Pinckney, 41

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45

Tywanza Sanders, 26

DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49

Myra Thompson, 59

Daniel Simmons, 74

Myra Thompson, 59

Love one another.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Just One Pair...

One of my joys in life has been when several of the grandkids came at the same time and stayed for the week. Although I never taught my own children to take their shoes off at the front door, they grew up and taught their children to do so. Gerald always changed work shoes to house shoes in the garage when he came in from the hog barns, but I would always tell visitors that they did not need to de-shoe. But I digress.

Anyhow when the grandkids were here, soon there would be a long string of shoes at the entrance from our front door. Since often a child would have two or three kinds of shoes (dress, tennis shoes, flip flops), there would be more shoes than kids in the house. I always got a kick out of that--no pun intended—the kick was metaphorical. I had Gerald take photographs for a memory.

Now just like the original four children at our house, the grandkids have grown up. Although Trent’s family is local now, he is busy with college and computer stuff. I seldom see him although I always get a big smile and hug when I do. His sister Brianna is still in Orlando with a Disney internship until her folks go get her at the end of June. Leslie is with her Mike in Nashville and is happily busy with her new job there. Elijah is home working at Union Dairy, but in July will be again working in inner city Chicago. Cecelie is working many hours at the thrift store where she worked part time during the school year. Tara, Erin, and Geri Ann are all in Texas, and I am hoping the younger two will be able to come up sometime after the softball camps are over. I am also hoping Tara, Bryan, and the three boys might show up someday on the way to Chicago. Since Bryan is a frequent flier to Chicago and sometimes takes the boys with him for grandparent visits up there, that may not happen. So though I am hopeful, I am not sure there will be any group times this summer.

I have explained all this to tell you how happy I have been for the past week that at least we had one pair of tennis shoes in the foyer. Sam has spent a few days with us sleeping in the brown room (a windowless underground bedroom) that everyone loves because it guarantees a good long night’s sleep since it remains dark until noon if necessary. Our wifi connection is more reliable than his at home, and consequently he has been able to get some necessary stuff done with Baylor. This morning he registered for his fall classes, and I took great delight in how excited he is about this chance to learn new material. I know people have to get a job and make a living after college; but in an ideal world, I feel that college should be about learning. And for Sam, it definitely is.

His shoes and Frisbee discs are gone now, and our entrance is uncluttered and lonely. He will leave for church camp in the morning—I suppose his last time for going to camp with his group of youth. We will miss his coming and going from Woodsong this week.

We are quietly and pleasantly celebrating our 59th wedding anniversary today, and it has been a good day.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

And On

Sure enough Michigan won last night, so tonight’s game (7 p.m. CST on ESPN) determines the 2015 world champion. I still want both teams to win because they are both so good.

With my husband and daughters’ concerns about the breathing noise my cold was causing, I decided I better get it checked. I was already scheduled for an INR, and the staff at SIMCO are so kind and quickly gave me an appointment at the same time with a P.A. since it was my doctor’s day off. She suggested an inhaler but gave me a backup prescription for an antibiotic if necessary after a couple of days with the inhaler. I am not adverse to taking meds, but I do not want to take an antibiotic unless I truly need it. I am still wheezing but hoping the inhaler works.

Before my appointment, I had managed to clean up the kitchen and then run by Katherine’s to do a couple errands there and met her newest aide. After the appointment, I called Mary Ellen to locate her, I ran by Kroger to pick up the prescription, by the post office drop box to mail a couple other cards, and headed to Mary Ellen’s house.

I arrived and was thinking how well my over-scheduled day had gone. I reached over to get Mary Ellen’s card from under my sweater beside me, and my hand pulled out one of the cards I thought I had mailed. At that moment, lights flashed in my brain, and I realized I had wrongly stuck her card in the mail with the other card instead of this one beside me. Her birthday money gift was inside and only “Mary Ellen” written on the outside of the envelope. I went inside shaking my head after our birthday hug. We both agreed I should call the post office, which would be closing in fifteen minutes, and she dialed it for me on her phone. I had been mildly disappointed that I’d missed the earlier pickup, but now I was glad. If it had been picked up earlier, it probably would be on the way to St. Louis, where no one would know who Mary Ellen might be.

I ashamedly explained what I had done, and the sweet mail clerk asked a few questions. I could not believe that she said someone would go outside and retrieve the envelope for me. Mary Ellen and I jumped into my car since I was parked behind her garage door, and I had her drive since she is definitely the better driver. Soon she was coming out of the post office smiling with her card with its birthday money in her hand. We had a great mother-daughter visit back at her house since Brian and Trent had not yet arrived with their planned birthday cake.

You better not complain about post office people to me ever!! (Although I have on occasion been guilty.) This kind of service was the same kind I grew up with in Jonesboro with Mrs. Coffman and Bermeice Brown working there. I love small towns, and I especially did yesterday where someone was so willing at the close of a hard work day to do such a special act of service for me!! Life goes on, and I am glad for the people it includes.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Mary Ellen's Birthday and Life Goes On

Today is a special day in our family because it is our youngest daughter’s birthday. I hope to see her before the day is over to hand her a card and gift. She works so hard that we do not see her as much as we’d like. She does it all—sells houses, keeps house, cooks often, helps Brian in the field sometimes, and helps their two young adults to be the success they are. Happy birthday, Sweetheart!

It has been a long time since I had a cold, so I guess I should not complain, but I am. In the meantime, while I sneeze, cough, and blow my nose, life at Woodsong goes on. We were torn between disappointment and pleasure when our geese married couple was followed by one tiny gosling. Evidently only one escaped the predators, and that was sad. But seeing that baby follow his parents swimming in the water was a sweet sight. Later they moved on to another lake as geese as the habit of doing. But we have had some others fly in and visit us with more and larger goslings following them.

Gerald has planted the asparagus thanks to cousin Bill Tweedy sharing plants with us. The deer have found them unfortunately. Tomatoes in the garden seem to be doing fine, and some watermelon, cantaloupe, and okra are planted. Strawberry plants have been ordered. Gerald is kept busy fighting the moles and mowing the yard that he keeps expanding. With all the rains and his care, it has never looked prettier.

We have watched a lot of softball the last two weekends. Not so much the first weekend since our Oregon Ducks won their two out of three quickly to advance to the Women’s College World Series. It was hard not to head to Oklahoma City, but a multitude of reasons made it seem unwise. We were thrilled for Geri Ann, and all of her immediate family including her three nephews was there to support her, and I know they had a great time being together. Mary Ellen watched with us, and we were thrilled if we saw Vickie and Aidan in the stands. I glanced at Mary Ellen’s phone and missed Erin decked out in yellow and green. The others were there beside them, I am sure, but we didn’t get to see them on the screen. It was sad to see the Ducks lose, but we are already looking forward to next year!

The reason I was glancing at Mary Ellen’s phone was a photo had just come in from Disneyland showing cousins Sam Cedar and Brianna Taylor together. The Marion Wildcats' band was there to see the sights and Sam would lead the band in their final march of the year in the Saturday night parade. Wish I could have seen that too! Sam is scheduled to be home today, and I am sure there will be lots to tell his mom. Brianna will be home soon as her spring internship is almost over. But the cousins were excited to be together down there in that magical place.

Now we are watching Florida and Michigan play for the championship. Both teams are so good that it is a joy to watch them. If Florida wins again tonight, the Gators will be the champions again this year. If Michigan wins tonight, they will have to play the third game for a two-out-of-three winner. It is hard not to be for both teams.