Leading The Way

With her 92nd birthday approaching (the end of August), my mother Ruthe must contemplate the final days (or years, we hope) of her incredible life on this planet. I’ve shared her stories more than a dozen times in this space, among them Everybody’s FineThe Tale of Bobbie Pringle (in 2 parts), and Safe In His Arms. I’ve also posted poems where she was my subject:  Mother of Mine, Touchstone. Along life’s journey, she has embraced numerous adventures, taken surprising risks and absorbed monumental losses. What a blessing she has been to me (and her other offspring)!

The photo above was taken a couple weeks ago. She needed groceries and I was in town, so we drove to the nearby SuperCenter. Because she lacks the stamina she once had, I suggested she try the motorized shopping cart. I’ve never used one of these devices … nor had she until that day! (Keep in mind, she’s almost totally blind, with only a sliver of cloudy light squeezing into the uppermost corner of her left eye.) Still, I figured the electric cart was worth trying, since I worried her knees might give way during our trek through the massive store.

As things turned out, we managed to collect her groceries without inflicting excess damage to the cart or any merchandise lining the aisles … and thankfully, no customers were permanently injured during this endeavor! When she first grasped the forward/reverse lever, the cart unexpectedly shot forward, leaving me far behind. I caught up quickly and decided to set my hand to the “wheel” to control the cart’s speed and direction. It was my chance to walk beside her, guiding her to the k-cups, the oatmeal and her other important purchases. Making our way (slowly) around the store, she depended on my guidance, but strange as it might seem, she was leading the way … as she always has! Continue reading “Leading The Way”

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Let’s Go to the Tape

As in Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, our “stockings were hung by the chimney with care” … save one minor detail – we don’t actually have a chimney, just a mantelpiece (where a gas insert is supposed to go). Twenty stockings in all were hung, one for each of our grown offspring, as well as the in-laws and grands, with an extra stocking included for my Beloved’s brother who lives nearby.

Given the number of people coming together, our Christmas gatherings usually have a boisterous and sometimes chaotic quality. Children are everywhere, running inside and out, upstairs and down, constantly asking when we eat next, or more importantly, is it time to open presents yet!

The pandemonium was short-lived this year. Because Christmas fell on a Monday, out-of-town family members were quick to depart. A ski slope beckoned. Others had work responsibilities. The adults didn’t even have time for a customary late-night poker match.

Once the house fell silent, I remembered a blog post I’d read before Christmas:  Why Christmas Never Lives Up to the Buildup. Posted by Tony Reinke, a senior writer at DesiringGod.org, the post mainly addresses Christians living in what Reinke calls “the space between.” (With both Christmas and my birthday coming on the same day, I experience this “buildup” as a kind of double whammy.)

Continue reading “Let’s Go to the Tape”

Papers, Please?

Since the passing of my mother-in-law on March 1st, my Beloved and I have sifted and sorted through the tangible mementos she left behind. There are photographs and slides aplenty, so I set myself to digitizing as many as possible to add to our (informal) family archive.

My mother-in-law with her mother-in-law, about 1948

Scanning the vast collection of photos/slides, etc. required lots of time … and I’m not finished yet! What’s more, the stack of photos seemed to multiply every time we opened another box! My initial enthusiasm diminished as the number of digital images grew and my eagerness took an unexpected turn to frustration.

I had a nagging sense something was missing. But what?

In my mind, the possibility of a personalwritten memoir (or several, if fortune smiled) would help flesh out an understanding of my mother-in-law that forty-seven plus years of being her daughter-in-law had not achieved. By digging deeper, I thought to solve the mysteries of Inscrutable Daisy. Continue reading “Papers, Please?”

Inscrutable Daisy

My mother-in-law died last week. She turned 94 last October, so her passing wasn’t unexpected. In addition to dementia (which prevented verbal communication), she suffered congestive heart failure. Bed-bound over the last six months, she slipped away quietly in her sleep. That was a blessing.

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Previously in this space, I’ve shared tidbits about the complex relationship betwixt my mother-in-law and myself. Certainly, I have always admired my in-laws for crafting a long-term marriage. I’m sure they had their share of struggles … but they celebrated 65 years together before my father-in-law’s death. Continue reading “Inscrutable Daisy”

Between Friends

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. You’ve probably heard a version of this message from the Ad Council, a gentle caution for drivers and passengers alike.Friends-Dont-Let-406606-web

I’ve decided a similar message should apply with respect to social media. Maybe something like this:  Friends don’t let friends contrive junk. I know, I know! It’s clunky and doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as the Ad Council declaration. But the meaning should resonate.

The sterile contrivance that is social media purports to keep us “connected” to friends and family. In truth, it’s a time-consuming distraction that draws us away from numerous activities and human interactions which once occupied our time and attention.

Social media in its varied applications also tends to work as an echo chamber … a mishmash of individual posts to which others respond by clicking share or like. But for me, the dreaded copy, paste and post if you agree is most exasperating. What if I agree with a post but choose not to copy, paste and post? Is my non-compliance misconstrued? (Oh, dear! What will people think if I don’t comply?) Continue reading “Between Friends”

The Big House

On separate occasions over the last couple weeks, two of my grandchildren have asserted:  “My house is bigger than yours.” Perhaps this is a twenty-first century equivalent to the claim from my era:  my dad is stronger than your dad!strong man

When the five-year old initially made the statement, I gently disagreed with him. “Yes, you live in a big house, but not as large as this one.” Factually, I was correct but this grandson would have none of it. Some weeks later, when my four-year old granddaughter posited the identical suggestion, I admitted the possibility. (She does live in a larger home than the grandson.) Continue reading “The Big House”

Ten, Two and Four

For people who are into fine dining, there’s big news in our locale. The news revolves around the Texas chain of hamburger joints, Whataburger, now introducing their brand to northwest Arkansas. (Yes, the fine dining reference is written with tongue-in-cheek.) I think I’ve eaten at a Whataburger maybe twice in my life.whataburger

All the buzz about this new chain coming to town reminded me of other local burger places I’ve enjoyed. Though fast food is mostly off my list nowadays, I’ve relented from time to time when I’m entertaining my grandson (actually, when he’s entertaining me). He likes kids’ meals … cheeseburger (no pickles), fries and a toy. Recently, his parents have stressed healthier choices, so Sonic and McDonalds are slightly verboten. Continue reading “Ten, Two and Four”

Exult In Monotony

Children (and grandchildren) are such great fun! When we’re at play with them, they have a way of wringing every possible measure of delight from whatever activity has captured their attention at the moment.children_at_play Push a child on a swing, push him or her high, high, and higher! You’re bound to hear the child squeal, “Again! Do it again!Ring around the rosy, all fall down and inevitably, the activity must be repeated. (They scramble quickly to their feet for another round.) It’s rare for any child to lose interest before the adult begs off from the tedium.

I’ve heard my young grandson tell me from time to time, “I’m bored.” This high-energy kid loves to be active and doing-doing-doing things non-stop. The idea of a child being bored amuses me. (I wonder if boredom is simply a modern invention.) What my grandson is really telling me … he needs direction. As I guide him to a new activity, he’s immediately distracted by it and moves forward quickly to entertain himself. Continue reading “Exult In Monotony”

Don’t Move Me, Bro!

When our five-year-old grandson is here for the day (as he was today), he’s always anxious for the male members of the family to show up at end of day. He looks forward to playing video games (XBOX) with our oldest grandson … and he can’t wait for my Beloved to arrive home so they can “drive” the big white truck (a Ford F150) together. The child hops onto his granddad’s lap and they motor around our 3+ acre lot. (The other grandchildren are equally thrilled when they’re given opportunity to get behind the wheel.)semi-truck-image1

If this little guy were allowed to drive a truck like the one pictured above, I think he’d be more than pleased to give it a try! He has been interested in vehicles since he was a baby. The other day he showed me one of his Matchbox cars, which I immediately identified as a fire truck (it was red, had a fireman insignia painted on the side) and he respectfully (but adamantly) corrected me:  “It’s actually a tanker truck.” (Yes, he uses the word actually.) Continue reading “Don’t Move Me, Bro!”

Inves-Deflate

From the moment the Wells Report was released, social media lit up – once again – over the scandal of under-inflated footballs appearing to be a common practice for New England Patriots football games. Call it Deflate-gate if you like. Detractors and Patriots slam the report, others are demanding Tom Brady’s head … or at least a season-long suspension.deflate_1708The story/scandal has provided fodder for a slew of coarse jokes and innuendo. Given three months for sifting through information that resulted in a 139-page report – which generally blames lower-level employees while stating the quarterback Brady was “generally aware of inappropriate activities.” Frankly, when I read a few of the text messages released online, it seemed more than likely to me that deflating footballs was standard operating practice and after the press ran with the story, obfuscation and cover-up followed. Continue reading “Inves-Deflate”