The Grandma I Miss

0306-From original small 3 x 5

The one I miss.  The one I’ll know more of one day, the young one in these pictures.  The one that was old when I loved her, but still so young. Who wrote and read and talked of times I never knew.  So interested in the world, she was.  In governments, in plots and poetry, and not so much in whether her stockings stayed up leg or not.  She who let her clothes wear out so she could afford – fixed income of nothing, to buy me and my sisters a dress now and then.  A flight to come see us.  A phone call to see how we were doing. Stamps for the letters she wrote to tell us how she was.  Groceries she bought and always shared.  Tight with what didn’t matter, leaving ample for what did.    I miss her light blue eyes of sparkle, light in hew, bright in vigor, the sparkle with something that ‘hit a funny bone’, the spark when wheels were turning at the exploration of an idea.  Her eyes, they sparkled beyond the ability to see much at all.  Her mind wouldn’t give out, even when hearing, sight, strength and hope slipped away.

Grandma begged me not to leave her.  College was calling me.  I felt I could not stay.  I hate that I did not stay.  She passed just months after.  Somehow I think that though she wanted me to stay, she wanted me to go, too.  She was the one who talked of education, of opportunities of learning.  She would have been the one to thrive with a college education, not even an option for her as her father had abandoned the family, her salary was needed, so work she did.  Grandma was born in 1899.  There weren’t many in those years blessed with a way to attend college, Grandma was just one of the many unfortunate.  The education she did receive, she soaked into her core and kept with her the rest of her life. Large speeches and selections of poetry memorized, math done quick ‘in my head’. Writing skills she developed all her life.  We always said, as Grandma stood peeling apples for pie, listening to her expound on the rise and fall of every nation under the sun, and all the details that went along with their changes, that she should have been a history professor.  She was really very interesting to listen to.  Her vocal inflections, the lightness where lilt was called for, the laughter in her voice.  The serious sound of heartbreak, the solemn sound of sacrifice.  She didn’t miss a thing, from the way a country fell to pieces, to the happenings of her childhood and beyond, boys that loved her and she jilted, her memories working as a switchboard operator, memories of her Momma, hair pulled back tight, white apron over heavy ever-day dress, standing over hot stove baking 40 pies a day in the busy rivertown motel where they lived on the Missouri river.

0178bLast week at the pool, splotchy faced, just having pushed myself a bit too much, I made my way across the expanse of noisy kids to the hot tub.  Slipping beneath the bubbles I glanced up to eyes that nearly took my breath away.  So much like Grandma’s.  Twinkling. Lite blue.  Never have I seen eyes so much like Grandmas.  Not common eyes, but distinctive and beautiful.  Day after day I’ve seen the eyes and smiled.  Finally I mustered up the courage and fumbling for words blurted out “This is a crazy question, but do you happen to be Irish.” to which the lovely lady replied “I sure am.”  I then told her all about my Grandma, how much her eyes looked like Grandma’s eyes, and how much I still miss her, though she’s been gone since 1987.  Grandma’s look alike, she’s become my friend.  We talk at poolside most every day.  As her sparkling eyes tell me another tid-bit about life, I wish Grandma was still with me, even more.


(Mom looks so much like our little Mary)


0184-Muriel Edmondson, Andre Edmondson, Nona Edmondson



Watching You

Holding onto giant warm hand with cold hand small, we walk, he and I, out the door into a hot summer morning, kind of slow we go, to little old Honda green. And make our way blue sky day to hospital waiting. Twenty-one years ago today. Crazy. Back then life was all about me and Adored Husband. Our educational goals. Me and my uncomfortable body, stretched beyond a beauty bump. He and his sunburned ears from too many hours on hot roof. Me and my sleep, he and his sleep. Me and my feelings about he and his feelings. We and our dreams for the future. You were part of those dreams, but they were still my dreams about me and Dad how you’d fit into them.

Then a morning passed, and an early afternoon, and here you were, as beautiful as they get. Tiny and all intact. And here I was, could not take eyes off you. Any little thing you might have ever wanted or needed was offered before you asked for it. Dad couldn’t take his eyes off you, either! We hardly slept, days on end – just sat in dark of night watching you sleep, watching you eat, watching you watch us. That’s about the time Dad starting saying “He have ourselves some 24 hour entertainment!” We were just ridicules over you. We couldn’t help it. The way you recognized Dad’s voice the first moment we spent with you, as he said some words to you, and you turned and looked right at him. How in the world had we been blessed with such a child?

Days and months went by. Every little eye sparkle, little soft sounds you made, we didn’t want to forget your baby ways. You could not roll or crawl yet, but I’d lay you on your side, and roll a soft blue ball to you, and no mistaking it.. you used your hand to roll the ball back to me. Three months you were, and rolling a ball back and forth to me on the soft blue carpet of the travel trailer floor where we lived. Oliver the cat made you chuckle deep in your chest, which made Dad and I howl with laughter. We’d always stop what we were doing when the cat came your way to listen to you do your hilarious gleeful chuckle at Oliver.

It was hard to hear you at night when you woke up and wanted fed because you were not a bawler. You made your request for whatever you wanted in a quiet way. Onetime Dad and I almost took you to the doctor because you cried for maybe 30 minutes, we had never heard you do that before. Later we realized we’d had you out and about too long, and you had just gotten over-exhausted.

When you were 9 months old, Sis was on her way. I was very nauseated. And now I was worried about having another baby. How could I possibly love the next baby like I had loved you? Shocking, but it was not a problem. When she arrived, I was sleepless and smitten all over again. A gorgeous beauty girl, taking our breath away, her own little person, and so strikingly lovely. More night and day watching, not wanting to miss a thing. You were an amazing big brother. It took years for you two to start scraping at each other. I think it was middle school. And by the time high school came along, you were back to what you had always been. A very supportive brother to your sister. Working for hours with her on tennis and encouraging her to hang out with you while you played golf, one hole after another, taking her into following you hole after hole, until you’d managed 18 holes on Lobo Ridge.

Baby All Mr. Business arrived, another beautiful baby we couldn’t keep our eyes off, – 10 years apart you boys are, and yet you were gracious about the age difference and from the time he was very young, found things the two of you could enjoy together. When you left for college, I thought All Mr. Business would adjust quicker than he has. We are going on three years, and he still cries at night sometimes, missing the brother who shared his room every night all his life, talking into the darkness they did, talking their boy talk, and now your bed is covered with an 11 year old’s stockpile of air-soft, cap, cross-bow, water, sling and other such weaponry, and no brother, and sometimes the sting of it makes for salty-wet tears pushed back with fist.

When Butterfly, yet another precious dolly for not missing one thing came along, you were 16. An awkward age for dealing with a baby sister at home, and though that be the case, the two of you could not be more alike. She is the female version of you. Always in trouble for being too happy, bouncing through her day, hardily annoying her careful brother working hard on some project, she hearing little of what in going on around her for the busy thoughts she is engaged in, flinging, skipping, bounding with her happy self around the world of five while he screeches at her to JUST STOPPPPP IT!!!! She hurts, I mean aches with sadness when we drive away from Montana goodbyes. The hysterical sobs of parting are just a fraction of how much she loves you and misses you being home to follow you everywhere, ride shoulders around Seattle on damp foggy Christmas night, chatter your ear off, share your time and “just a little taste” of your coffee.  She has Sis this summer, it was been a treasure as they have roomed together again as always, have told Alonna Grace stories, shared the closet space and laughter a few months.

This weekend we squished ourselves into the Prius, five of us, to come see you.  See your apartment, see you hike up a mountain.  Watch you show us how to hammock, watch you drive a golf ball to as far as can be driven, still sleepless for the sake of watching the wonder of our kids. Twenty-one years ago, life circled around my life and Dad’s life. Today after dinner we sneak out door, monopoly game in motion, we hope kids don’t notice:) Giant warm hand holds cold hand small and round the loop we walk, hashing and rehashing ways to transport selves from here to where you are.




His Waterways


My heart is tired, but I need some God Word.  I open to the front page.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty”….  just they way I feel today. Formless and Empty. Too many days on end with adrenalin flowing rapid and regular, acid dumping into my being from the constant crisis of life. A son sick for seven months off and on. A mass of bones, his 10 year old form curled yet again in a ball with the pain of taking in small amounts of fluids and the few foods he tries to swallow.  Months of testing. Still the pain. Our dog, a solid member of our family for almost 15 years, he’s dying, and slow. Our 10 year old in sobs telling me “Mommy, it says in the Bible that where two or more are together, God’s Spirit is. Me and Shawnie are together”. Holding him.  Telling him God’s Spirit will not leave when Shawnie passes. Through salty streaks along his tormented face, he tells me he wishes he could go with Shawnie.  Hot tears.  No words. Husband’s job yanked here, than there. Where we will be next year, no one knows.  No affordable school for our son if we don’t move. My business still floundering. Our college kids needing so much we are unable to give, like time and being present. Our five year old Butterfly like a trooper trying not to need much, but is missing the luxury of stories, coloring pages with Momma, planting flowers in the yard. The stress robbing me of my kids, robbing me of self care beyond basic cleanliness and nutrients. Sitting up straight becomes impossible. So disconnected I feel from my body, a tired brain with a sloppy appendage called me, that’s the state of my being at the moment. I’ve run out of fuel. My gauge on empty.

“…and darkness covered the deep waters.” Couldn’t have said it better. I have not one ounce left to give. Darkness so deep I can’t sleep when night comes. Restlessness and exhaustion, all at once.

“And the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.”  God.  He arrives.  The scene an isolating place. Then he comes near. He hovers. With determination, I sneak away today, thinking I’ll manage a quick swim. Call after call to this doctor, that vet, to the pharmacy, the grocery store to pick up some things that sick boy’s stomach might tolerate. By the time I get to the parking lot of the pool I just sit there and stuff down a bag of chips I bought for the family, half reclining, half sitting … just flopped exhausted, no strength to even get myself in the locker room, let alone swim, Key in ignition, I drive toward home.

But I’ve met him there before, Spirit God. Near the water. Early morning run along river, slowing, stopping for a moment of stillness to feel His Spirit power surround me. I’ve felt His Spirit as I ran in rain, mud streaks up my legs, rain dripping off chin, I have felt Him there, Him seeing me, and loving me, we run together in that water place. I’ve felt Him near-by as I wash the dishes. The water pushing aside heavy suds before laid down to dry on towel white. God’s Spirit has healed me in pool water, the anxiety I’ve known before, anxiety that has managed to keep me fearful – until 30 minute laps in ugly swim cap creates a calm in me. His Spirit in pool water also chased away excess fat that did not belong to my form. Water for tea, His Spirit in water has flowed through my cells and given strength to body. Water showers for washing. Water in eyes that keep dryness away, water in and throughout me. I’m made of many parts water, and bits of other stuff. God’s Spirit weaves Himself into this life. I feel formless and empty with the stress of life. But I’m not. God Spirit hovers near, in the deepest darkness He hovers.


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water” Genesis 1: 1-2



OK, it’s lame, but I collected key chains when I was a kid. I really had no need for a key chain. I owned nothing worth locking up. But I did have a need to be all grown up, and for some reason had the idea that if one were to be anybody at all, one would have a collection of some sort. I noticed most everybody collected, and made a great big deal out of the collection by placing it on display. Spoons on a special wall mounted holder, dolls, music boxes, pine cones, tea cups, snow globes, caps, fossils, buttermilk cartons, even antique barb wire. So thinking I needed a collection myself, I set out to collect key chains. My most treasured key chain was from Hawaii. It was shaped like a flip flop, out of the same materiel, and blue:) Not sure who gave it to me, but I really treasured the thing. I must have showed it to a dozen people. As new keychains were added with the years, and as one ring then another rusted shut, I began to wonder what I’d do with 8 or 10 nearly unusable key chains – so decided to toss them.

I thought I’d outgrown collections. Then I married and set up house. The bug bit again. This time, a grown up version of the same. Tea Sets. Yesterday I was getting ready for a party and was pulling pieces out of my hutch. I got to thinking about collections – I’d started the tea set collection but at set number two realized I did not wish to have dozens of pots and cups and sugar bowls that all provided the same service. I instead decided to collect beautiful people, and treasures that reminded me of them. As I looked at the contents of the hutch, it struck me I’d done just what I set out to do.

There, handsome as ever were and Mr. and Mrs. Spring Chick in top hat and tails for him and all loveliness for her. Tiny painted ceramics that a friend hand made to set atop tower of goodies for our wedding reception almost 24 years ago. I collected Cheri when we were children. Our parents met before they were married, college days. Somehow our lives weaved in and out, some years loosing touch, other years living in the same community. She and I were college girls in the same town at the same time, hanging out, talking wee hours into the night about who knows what. Years later, each in different parts of the country, we found a way into each others lives again. Now a week doesn’t feel like a week if we haven’t, over the phone, prayed together, had a good laugh, shared something raw, or real or creative. I view Cheri as my educated friend and my friend of the arts. When she is not painting or writing, she is forever reading on a topic new to me. I love to hunt for new ways of understanding life and people, and so back and forth we share what we learn, and challenge each other toward the practice of stretching old ways of doing and thinking, emotional and spiritual palates sisters, I think:)

Just beyond Spring Chicks sit some lovely peach glass. The way light refracts on the cuts, a gleam that warms me, is like the beautiful lady who gave the set to me. I collected Naomi one summer when I was 18 and she probably in her late forties. She was a pastors wife, mother of four, her oldest already finished with high school, her youngest three or four. She lived across the street from where I was staying. That summer I spent on Long Island with my cousins Cindy and Charlie who had to catch the train to work each day. On long hot afternoons Naomi would come by, little shadow just beyond her Momma, asking if I’d like to go walking. I’m not sure what an 18 year old and 40 something Mom of four could find to talk about, but in any case we become adored friends. Age and life season mattered not a scrap with us.  Naomi had family on the west coast, so when I hugged her goodbye before heading out for the bus station home, she told me she’d stay in touch. And she did. Many times I’d get the call Naomi was on her way out for family time and hoped we could meet. Each visit, we’d find a few minutes to take a walk. Our talks were just as before. No time was wasted to pretense. When her teenagers were struggling, her husband was moved to yet another church, her Dad in the process of dying, yet still so hard on her mother. Naomi worked to see the good side of people while telling the truth about her situation. She embodied what it meant to experience and tell the truth of life, at the same time make good choices about her feelings. Hurting, loving, forgiving and good to the bone. She listened through my ramblings. What would I planned to take in school, how much I hurt from this, or was ecstatic about that. She and I shared honestly and loved deeply. One day another call. Naomi and her husband had been traveling home a late night from a wedding. It had been raining. Beyond the details – she died along the road. Though Naomi is gone, she is still in my collection. Collectable friends I keep forever.

Blue and white china spreads across a better part of the hutch. A 14 piece set I happened upon at a church rummage sale years ago. Bought it from a sad woman who had just been divorced. The china was a wedding gift from her ex. He didn’t want her anymore, he wanted somebody new – so the dishes had to go. Heavy in my hand, and beneath sheen are drawings of home spun belonging. Beautiful blue on white homes and farms blur between faces, one then another and another I have known – each discarded for someone new. Years, sometimes 20 or more, tossed aside for the rush. Old love is so much work. Who wants it? The chase, the catch, the passion. A drug induced high – not a sketch of house for two, snow covered roof, edges rough, colors fading and oh so random the way real love looks.

Relationships deep and lasting require self honesty, vulnerability with the other – drudging side by side through the slights, disrespect, the hurts and selfishness. Through the wounds of you and the scars of me, hurting the other sometimes with no intention. Working, working still more. The humbling task of counseling, wearing thin tired prayer knees, whatever it takes for trust to form again into comfortable, longing love. No shame for the soul whose spouse has decided to go. Who can stop an intoxicated fix when laziness for the care of the other as been expanding for decades.

Blue and white memories of dinners around table, savory steam from bubbling gravy, warm rolls, salad tossed, little eyes looking on. Will dinner tonight find Dad loving Mom? Mom smirking at Dad? Cold as ice this time, will it be? Might we breathe easy, eat hardily and laugh? Or will food lodge – hard to swallow and hurt? Blue and White Currier and Ives reminds me there are aching little hearts at stake.

I collected a Man I want to keep. A man I want to get to know for the new man he is today. I don’t know today’s husband. But I want to. I want to fall in love with him all over again. Who needs a chase. Everyday’s a mystery when marriage comes to us in this way. Forever love calms and paints all things blue and white when ground under feet shifts about – shoving aside what we have known. Love hunts for all things salvageable related to he and me. I sweat to work on growth for me as powerfully as I want he and me to be whole and sound. To work and work and work is my gift to the man I collected 24 years ago, and my gift to our love children. The passing of time we’ve taken on together. Giant warm hand still holding cold hand half it’s size. This simple treasure worth far more than a momentary fix. I like blue and white hoarding space in my hutch the way love sprawls out beyond ourselves.

One piece of crystal sits in my hutch. The candy dish was a wedding gift from a friend who never made it. I collected Lavon much the way I’d collected Cheri…. Mom and Dad had known her and her ex before college… lifelong friends. She was Mom and Dad’s age. Her son, I really adored. Auto accident and he was gone when he was 16 and I just 8. Lavon survived but marred by the passing of her son.  She had firm opinions on the best and proper way for everything. When Adored Fiancee and I wanted to have an early morning wedding in a field of wildflowers, she was the one who told us we’d have to have an afternoon wedding in a church. I listened to her. She was only days away from meeting Jesus, cancer had helped itself to her and was gaining. Not the warm and fuzzy kind of friend, but a loyal one, and always welcoming. She had been through more than most people I know, and had managed to know her dignity, and the dignity of others. She taught me to hold my head high, or to try anyhow, no matter what. She’s another piece of my collection I’m storing where moth and rust can not decay.

Made in the Czech Republic, the white on white tea set to me is the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Aunt Ruth sent me money as a birthday gift one year to “buy something for you this time, not the kids”. I had hunted for months for just the right tea set, driving up and down the corridor, seeing many lovely sets but nothing I couldn’t live without. One day during a lunch break, peering through the hospital gift shop window, needing a distraction to get my mind off the sordid horrors of what was waiting for me in the ER, I was overtaken by tea set white, grand in every way, and all this time just down the hall and up the escalator, perched in window and waiting for me to take home.

Aunt Ruth was thoughtful. I stop and scoop mail out of box at end of day, sight of hand written address moves about in my chest – though she’s been gone a long time now, still the first thought is that it’s from her. She was one who kept in touch, by letter, gift, phone call, even email. Aunt Ruth is one of my collection I miss as much now as I did when she first passed, and it’s been many years. It’s one thing to be a little girl and have a thoughtful Aunt stay in touch. It’s quite another to have that aunt become a confidant and friend, one woman to another. She had the best kind of humor. Working the dailiness of life into hilarity. As ways of communicating changed, she changed with them. Back and forth we’d email simple nothings of our day, dull details flavored with a random witty crack to warm up grind of life. It seems so fitting that the most elegant of all china in my hutch came from her. The kind of elegance I admire. Solid and simple, yet grand. That was Aunt Ruth.

The other tea set I have is a beauty. It’s all flowers and butterflies. The colors eclectic, patterns mixing and matching each other. Such a bubbly set. It was given me one Christmas by my sister Becky. She’s the gift giving sister in the family. If I had decided to collect 20 tea sets, she would have made sure to help me in the endeavor. Christmas boxes mailed from across the country, filled with thoughtful gifts for the family. Any time I go for a visit, she sends me away with clothes and quilt makings, books and candles. I remember, chin in hands, elbows hard into brown shag carpet, resting there as I watched her at work turning yarn into hats for everyone she decided needed one that childhood winter. Butterflies on cup and pot reminds me of the way my sister sees things. She tells me often things are meant to be used, not hidden away for preservation. She also is forever reminding me to slow down and just take life in. Now I’m not sure she manages slow down herself very well, as her nickname as a kid was “Road Runner”, so I can take the advise from her as one who understands having a million interesting projects and friends and thoughts and not enough time to take them all in, rather than from a naturally routine-ish plodder who hasn’t a clue. Butterflies on cup, one of many reminders of my impressive collection of beautiful people. Salt and Pepper Shaker hunted down at a thrift store by All Mr. Business. White crochet bowls by one of the neighbors tuned treasured friend. A set of yellow painted birds from a precious friend I collected in the nursery at church long ago.  Hand carved Russian stack dolls from a college room mate turned sister (and auntie to our children).  Tiny spoon plate made for me by my College Girl. My hutch holds a fraction of the hundreds, maybe thousands of reminders of love from the beautiful people I’ve collected over my lifetime. Pictures hand drawn by all of my children, quilted wall hangings, homemade dresses for my daughters, gift books, silverware, house and dinning table made by Adored Husband, letters, recipes, poems, songs, towels, plants, and endless hours of listening and care that have been given me by the beautiful people in my life. Come to think of it, I do like collecting after all.



Along the Way

Frosty Barn 2013- wide

Tomorrow Christmas Vacation ends.  All Mr. Business goes back to school, Adored Husband goes back to work, College girl gathers her things for a return to dorm life.  Butterfly and I will be back at it again, driving, forever driving.  Breakfast, snack and sometimes even lunch from a car seat.  The never-ending drives from school to gas station, doctors’ office, to the Y, to Rite Aid, the dry cleaners, post office, the house for a few hours, and sometimes back in the car for All Mr. Business again. 


I love our drive, although it takes more time than the highway, but it’s back roads all the way.  Down the hill, round a few sharp turns, along a road that parallels a busy bike path, through back part of our small town, past soccer and cow fields, under a railroad tussle, past homes, sheep and fence lines.  Every morning the world peeks at me, looking far different than the morning before.   One morning it’s fog heavy and mystical.  Another lacy frost.  Mornings of green on ground, blue above.  Mornings of soft dancy show-off rain.  Mornings rain comes strong enough I barely see beyond the wipers.  Flooding across the moor deep enough to close our route to school.  Mornings behind some sluggish ole truck, driver reluctant to get where he’s a-go’n.  Mornings without a car in site. 


Butterfly, All Mr. Business, and Car Pool Pal chattering as we move along.  Or singing loudly to VegiTales sings the 80’s, or telling some knock-knock joke that makes me smile.  God and I silently chattering up our own storm.  We talk about today, about yesterday and tomorrow.  I take in comfort from our friendship.  God paints me a new picture every morning, just for the fun of it.  Taking in the radical change from the day before, I’m always surprised at the way new day art makes me feel. 


School boys are delivered to an institution of learning, Butterfly and I meander from school to Y, to needed stops, then back home.  I can either be a frazzled mess we live out of our car, or feel lucky I’m given such a view as the scenes I pass day after day, not one the same, and life all about.  Under every mundane task is hiding fulfillment beyond anything I’ve chased.  I’m Okay now for Christmas Vacation to end.  Off we go, down the hill, round a few sharp bends and beyond. 



A Warming Chill

Morning wakes me up, but still.  Too quiet.  Breathe deep and slow, sinking back into unconsciousness before another day begins.  Perfect silence is interrupted by “thud”, and frantic feet flying one direction, then the other on the floor above my head.  I now lay worried.  It sounds as though Butterfly has slipped out of bed and is needing to get to the bathroom but not managing to get there.  Guilty for not rousing myself, but still I pull the quilt tight under my chin and soak in a last chance at rest before the whirlwind of a day begins.  Then I realize it’s not one set of feet, but two, wildly flying about – loud happy voices waft through the house.  Adored husband rolls toward me, reading my thoughts.  “It snowed” he says.  “SNOWED?!” I say sitting straight up in bed.  Snow!!!  Forever 10, nothing makes me happier than for life to come to a screeching halt by ice and snow, kids outdoors most of the day, sliding up and down the hill, happy whoops, back inside for warming up, out again, finding yet another set of dry gloves before more fun is to be had.  I don’t get out much, but stay busy wiping up puddles made by little boots and soppy snow pants, making hot drinks and soup, and more puddle management.

Our neighborhood is a bit stodgy.  We keep to ourselves mostly.  That is, until snow falls.  Snow extracts people, transforms them – loud and happy, until the temperature rises, steals away the white, and once again the neighbors disappear to busy and alone.  But while the snow is here, it tugs at us until we are milling about and everywhere.  People with sleds, snow boards, skis found buried in far reaches of attics and closets.  Crunching across snow, through drifts, up icy patches.  Hearty fires, S’mores, kids old and young flying past each other down, down – screams.  A quick roll to avoid the corner of a house, fence line, or human.  Loud grunting exertion righting ones self once again to march up steep and ice – for another chance at hurling downward.

Life is that way.  So backwards.  So upside down.  Like the way it takes cold to make us warm.  Sometimes takes hard times to make us soft, pain to make us strong.  Comfort can isolate.  I hear ten year old All Mr.Business’ heavy boots at the door.  Sparkling hazel eyes show me the glories of wounds incurred on the snow hill.  Raw ice burns on side of chin from a wild crash with another body hurling downward.  It burns and he’s proud and he’s off for more.  And it starts to snow once again as darkness moves in.  The rare sounds of happy fun continue late into the night in a cold we are all so in need of.  





Early Christmas together, four days few.  Full and wonderful, and now, Goodbye son. Goodbye to hearing you from across the room out-playing your sisters Spotify tunes – respective lap tops. Goodbye to thoughts deep and random and passionate. To shirts and shoes, earphones, books all stacked up and gum wrappings. Goodbye, adventures with your little brother out the door and into ice air to golf on frosty green.  Back home, the telling of impossible strokes the 10 year old has managed.  To shoulder rides packing Butterfly through the lights of downtown, the rest of us trudging behind as you take us to to experience the wonders of Seattle Coffee. Goodbye to you and Sis working on the latest software for drawing on laptop.  Goodbye whirlwind of togetherness.

When you go, there’s a hollow space – a deadness in the place. Sis stays another couple weeks, then she too will be gone and far. No piano echoing through house, no one to shop with, her bedroom floor even vacated and alone. No Sis and Butterfly dancing and reading and painting. No Sis to help 10 year old Mr. All Business work a project for school.  I’ll have to say Goodbye all over again.  I swear I loose years off my life each time I say goodbye, tear washed face, pounding chest… and hurting.

I prayed – whole life through – each of you would grow to be independent and strong, give more then take, and serve the Lord with all you are.  So now your’re flying away, back to home sweet school, back to your job at the local Alzheimer’s Unit, working as a nurses aid.  “Good night” you say to confused resident you tuck into bed. “Don’t let the bed bugs bite. And if they do, kick ’em black and blue.”  A chuckle and the light grows dim. Back to Chemistry, midnight mud hot springs, hikes in 0′ below snow.  Back to all we ever dreamed for you.

I HATE goodbyes – those grand aches of goodness. Goodbye.

Responsive Reading

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
 and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary’s Reaction to the News She Would be an unwed pregnant teenage Mother of God

Luke 1:46-55

New Living Translation (NLT)



All is still. Girls asleep in their room, Son and Dog snoozing in boys room.  Adored Husband still sleeping.  Think I’ll turn the Christmas lights on and clean house.  Shall I start from front door and make my way round to the kitchen, or start with the kitchen, get some things brewing, baking, then make my way to the front door?  Leave shiny floor in my wake? Or shall I start up the stairs with our bedroom, all piled high with too many loads of clean clothes needing home sweet drawer and closet?  What about the windows.  Shall I try to wash windows in the dark?  The oven, the fridge and microwave?  The tile grout, the bathroom deep clean?  The walls…shall I whitewash wall messes?  Shall I take all shoes with signs of winter mud underneath and beat the sordid clumps, beat souls together out the door, strong and loud.  Shall I rush about yanking sheets off beds, pile high for more work and still more, panicked I can’t make the house the beauty I want forever for to be?  No.  I’ll not go there.  They sleep in sheets, the ones I love.  Asleep in happy dreams and together.  I shall light candles here and there.  Slow and nice I move. Move past candles through the happy dance of beauty making.

Christmas Candle


Holy Underthings

The drive to Nordstroms to meet with the plastic part fitter, I’m a mess.  Want to go alone, but find no way of doing so.  Butterfly is along, chatting happily from back seat, asking me random questions.  “What are we doing after we go to the mall, Mom?  Are we going back home?  Is Sis going to be home by then?”  Our college beauty-girl is coming home for Christmas break.  I meet her at the airport tonight.  She hasn’t been home in months, and the house is all a buzz. The kids and I put everything together just right, but day before college beauty-girl arrives I fall apart and cry the entire day.  I have put off getting a prosthetic four months now.  I want more than anything to have a Merry Christmas with our kids.  I’m so lousy at faking.

Grey drizzle, wipers going, butterfly and I make our way down the interstate corridor.  We play Christmas Music.  It’s hard singing with a throat lump.  She is still chattering as we make our way out of car, Butterfly and I.  We are in the store, weaving through the bustle of the season, the escalator up, up toward sparkling Christmas trees.

Another bit of a walk and we are in the lingerie department.  There’s a line.  I wait behind one beautiful lady after another.  I think I’m the only one here today not buying lace and satin because I’m lovely enough to show off for my man.  I hate the gouge in my chest, numb and not belonging.  No matter how much Adored Husband tells me every day he finds me beautiful, I feel like trash. Butterfly’s warm hand swings mine.

“May I help you” says another gorgeous lady.  “I have an appointment” I say.  She rushes to the back room and in time Kind Eyes greet me.  “Hi” She takes my hand, tells me her name.  She smiles and talks to Butterfly.  We walk past the panties and satin gowns, down a narrow hall of mirrored doors, walls papered in flowers, soft carpet.  Christmas tunes playing as key unlocks room at end to the right.  We pass through the door. In the fitting room there are the preliminaries.  The measures.  The questions.  Cat rarely gets my tongue.  I can’t find much to say.  Slow at answering Kind Eyes questions.

I sit there in a fluffy overly turquoise robe and wait a while longer as she rushes away only to return with the loveliest girlie things I’ve seen in a long time.  Beautiful things.  Things I had thought would never be part of my life again.  The prosthetic is completely hidden.  I can’t stop looking.  I look like me.  I feel the shock.  It warms me.  I turn to look at her.  She’s busy loosening each, one by one, from their hangers.  Even the hangers are pretty.  Somehow industrial undergarments are all I can imagine will hold a prosthetic.  These are nothing of the kind.  No-one can ever tell from sight I’m missing a breast, that I’m wearing an engineered pillow that fits in a pocket.

This lady probably doesn’t know it, but she works for God.  Her calling is holy.  I think of the designers of these bras.  They must be God’s agents, too.  The engineers who make the best prosthetic they can, thinking of everything from comfort to heat transfer – ministers, all of them.

The song playing overhead  “… till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”  I leave the holy place of lingerie, Butterfly and I.  We weave past the sparkling Christmas trees, down the escalator and out into the grey.  “…a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, la, la, de, daah….”