Posts tagged “Family

Giving Yourself Away: A Story of Friendship

This is not the type of writing  I normally do here. But this was a story I thought needed to be told, and asked my friends Kathy and Mary to sit down with me a month or so ago and tell it. A modified version of this article appears in this week’s Grant County Review.

::

Kathy Madsen knows how to celebrate a birthday.

On her birthday next week, Kathy will tie a bright red ribbon around her name and throw it into a five-state pool to match up with someone who needs a kidney.

That’s some party favor, let me tell you.

Last spring, Kathy was on her back porch in her pajamas drinking coffee when her friend Vangie called. Vern and Vangie Heupel’s daughter Mary, living in Sioux Falls, had just been released from the hospital after and ICU stay due to kidney failure.

Kathy reassured her friend that she would do everything she could, thinking that she might drop off a box of chocolates or offer to mow the lawn. But before she knew what she was saying, she heard herself tell Vangie, “I’ll test for you. If I can give Mary a kidney, I want to give.”

:: (more…)


There’s a Reason They’re Called Chickens

I have chickens* penned in my front yard. Right next to the apple tree. Between strays and intentional pets, now vandalistic landscaping, we’re running a regular petting zoo and small arboretum.

This morning, one flew the coop. It’s a 4×4 makeshift pen, but it doesn’t work with the idiom. After an hour of trying to outsmart an eight-week-old chicken, I’ve learned a few things I feel ready to share. (more…)


The Old Neighborhood

I was driving north on Lyndale Avenue. I crossed Interstate 494 running through the southern Twin Cities metro area and all of sudden I wasn’t sure I knew where I was anymore.

That’s not unusual for me, I know.

But this was my old neighborhood, and it didn’t look the same as I remembered. (more…)


Teenagers

As the students filed out of the classroom, he called one to his desk.

“Do you drive a green car?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered, and dropped her eyes. “Why?”

He took a moment, then asked, “Have you been to my mother’s grave?”

She looked up, eyes wide. “Was that your pickup truck?”

“No,” my husband replied. “That was my brother. But, thank you for the red rose you put there.”

::

Oh, teenagers. 

________________

Photo: The thinking tree beside Dad and Mom
Lindquist’s grave, with a rose placed by
one of Lane’s students and caregiver to
Estrid


Holding the Keys

“The secret,” he told me, “is to pull a cotton towel across the surface just so, while the car is still wet. It has to be all cotton, and you can’t let the sun start to dry it or you’ll get spots.”

I’d gone to visit my grandparents at the lake one weekend on a break from school. Grandpa was excited to see my car and was anxious to teach me the essentials of waxing and washing it. I wasn’t proud of my first car, the 1970-something Plymouth Volaré, dubbed the Vo-la-la by my brother. Of course, he had little room to talk. He drove my car’s big sister, the Chrysler Le-Bo-Bo, a voluptuous silver sedan.

Best as I could tell, my scuffed black coupe was a senior citizen hand-me-down that a misguided teenager souped up with an erector set, beginning with a hand-cut sunroof.

(more…)


A Doorknob Makes a Good Hammer

Grandpa and his watermelons, circa. 1915

“So is this grandpa’s ‘golden golden’ birthday then?” My son looked up from his pre-calculus textbook at the kitchen table.

“A hundred and four on the fourth. I guess it would be,” I answered.

My grand-dad celebrates his 104th birthday today in Minneapolis. I’m missing it because I don’t want to be credited with passing on to him whatever infectious crud has taken my legs today.

Every year, Grandpa Al gives his Birthday Speech. Usually an hour long, it features jokes, stories and sage advice from one who’s seen over a hundred years worth of the ongoing cycle of personal and cultural progress and decline. And it always includes head-scratching expressions like “a doorknob makes a good hammer, if you can’t find a screwdriver.”

I’ll miss hearing that speech and taking part in the highly competitive Willingham Pun and Sarcasm Festival. So I pulled up this audio clip of Grandpa telling one of my favorite stories from his teenage years.

Happy birthday, Grandpa. We love you.

(RSS or email subscribers, click through to listen to the audio.)

::

More on my grand-dad:
The Chicken Story
The Chicken Story (II)
The Chicken Story (III)
Dixie Cups on the Counter


In Sickness and in Health

by Paul Willingham

Bill and Becky Ann met at Purdue University where they both majored in Radio/Television broadcasting. They were married on the 13th of the month and believed that their marriage would not be undone by the superstitious whims of others. They were married for over 62 years. After broadcast gigs, first in Chicago and then at WCCO Radio in the Twin Cities, they struck out on their own and in 1949 successfully launched their own AM radio station.

For the next 20 plus years they successfully competed with and against stations with more broadcast power and were successful with counter-programming to the prevailing Rock and Roll and Top 40 formats of the day.

In the 50s and 60s women in business were rare and the glass ceiling was located somewhere just above the door knob of the corner office. But Becky Ann was a full-time active career partner with Bill as they owned, managed and worked together to build their business.

(more…)


The Luckiest Town in Kansas

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Aside from wanting to be free from the confines of a moving automobile, it really didn’t matter to me how long it took us to get there. I often drive with the GPS on not because I need the directions but because it displays the arrival time. Getting there on time matters. Most of the time.

But not that time.

I watched our ETA tick up a minute at a time as  we navigated our own made-up detour around an unending series of closed highways in the flooded Omaha area, making a ten-hour trip last a full twelve.

I could have stayed on the road another twelve hours, even another day or two, if it meant we never had to arrive at our destination and we could just go back home.

My traveling companion, on her way to a job interview at the end of those twelve hours, didn’t share my quiet comfort in the unavoidable delay. (more…)


Promises, Promises

Promises, Promises

Promises, PromisesLast night — while it still felt like last night but was really already morning and we had just finished watching stupid tv and waiting up for a teenage child to arrive home from an evening around the fire with friends — Lane leaned over in bed and asked the same question he’s asked when the calendar page turns to June 17 for the past 22 years.

Will you marry me?

Never the romantic, but joined eternally to a hopeless one, I gave him the same answer I’ve given for those same 22 years, except one.

No.

(more…)


We Remember: Love, Adrian

Pulling this from the archives . . . 
because I know no finer story for this Memorial Day 
than that of our very own hero.


“I bet Hitler is getting the quivers in his backbone if he has any left. I’d like to get at his mustache with a pair of my tweezers. Would I ever pick souvenirs.”

It goes without saying, I suppose, that somewhere along the way when sorting through the belongings of an aging parent, somebody’s going to stumble onto it.

Tucked away in a closet, or stacked behind the dusty crates in the attic, or even mixed in with bottle caps in an old cigar box in the bottom drawer, there is hidden the prize that no one even knew their parents had.

A few years ago while rearranging some of Lane’s mom’s things, we tripped over the treasure that left us all sprawled out on the floor laughing and weeping and learning and knowing.

We found every letter that Adrian ever sent to Estrid, most of which were written between 1941 and 1946 while he served as an Army Staff Sergeant in World War II.

(more…)


The Chicken Story (Part III)

Grandpa and his watermelons, circa. 1915

The Chicken Part of the Chicken Story

When I asked my granddad to record The Chicken Story so I could post it here, I expected he’d be able to get me just a short anecdote, on paper. Better than that, my dad set him up with a digital recorder, and instead of just my favorite story about chickens, I got a wonderful narrative history of his twelfth birthday, his first paying job (50 cents a day), and a slice of life in the early quarter of the twentieth century.

In the process of transcribing the story, I discovered Grandpa recorded the story for me not just once, but twice, each version just a little different and told as fresh as though the events happened yesterday. These posts have attempted to blend the best of the two.

Today we get to the punch line, and the chickens. Or, rather, the chicken. Singular.

(more…)


The Chicken Story (Part II)

A doorknob makes a good hammer, if you can’t find a screwdriver

Yesterday, I introduced you to the Willingham clan’s patriarch, R. A. Willingham, Sr., or as we know him, Grandpa. Or Grandpa Al. Or Grandpa George. Even though the R. in R. A. doesn’t stand for George.

My dad emailed last night with a few more details to fill out Grandpa’s CV:

Your grandpa had one of the top Boy Scout troops in the city of Chicago. The troop was in danger being disbanded before he took over.  My cousin Norman was a member of that troop and said that he was the best scoutleader he had ever had.

He once told me that his dad told him, “a door knob makes a good hammer, if you can’t find a screwdriver.”

He probably has held every office that churches require, including Sunday School teacher, deacon, elder, and Sunday School superintendent.  He took the office of elder seriously and willingly would fill the pulpit in the absence of the pastor.

He played the inn keeper in the Christmas pageant at Maplewood Baptist (Chicago) when I was about eight years old.  He grew a big dark black beard just for the show.

He and grandma Edna were also instrumental in starting a church in Oregon, IL.

With that, I’ll give you Part II of The Chicken Story. If you didn’t read yesterday’s “guest post from a 102-year-old guy,” click back to do so and learn that a fella can never have too many hankies. And stop back tomorrow, when we’ll get to talking about chickens and the punchline of the story.

That’s why they call ’em hamburgers

by Al Willingham

Grandpa and Grandma outside the dorm at Minnesota Bible College, Minneapolis MN, circa. 1950s

A grocery store in those days was a far cry from what we think of with a grocery store today. In many respects a grocery store today has many of the same features. Most grocery stores sell everything. You buy stationery, you buy stuff for your kitchen, there’s a pharmacy and so on and so forth.

‘Course they didn’t have pharmacies in that time. The doctor was his own pharmacist. He fixed his own medicine. And incidentally, the medicines that they gave me to take were liquid. And I’m telling you, after about two doses of their liquid medicine you got well in a hurry so you didn’t have to take any more. You might have needed it but you didn’t want any more.

Anyhow, [my uncle’s] store was sort of a general store. There was a certain amount of clothing and dishes and odds and ends. But instead of you taking a basket and going around the store and picking up what you wanted, you went to a place called a counter and he or one of his two clerks would stand with a little sales tab in his hand. If you wanted some rice he’d write that down, and after four or five items he’d go and get them and lay them on the counter. Then he’d go get whatever else it was you wanted and take care of you.

A little money exchanged in that store. People would say “Well I do my tradin’ over at Val’s.” My uncle had a peculiar name, his name was Valentiny. He was born on Valentine’s Day. As soon as he grew up a little he changed his name to Val.

He bought everything he could in bulk. Sugar came in a barrel. Flour came in sacks. He’d buy a car load of flour at a time and half a car load of sugar. One of my jobs in the store was to sack up the sugar and keep it on the shelf ahead of time. He’d put it up in one and five pound bags, stiff brown bags that they sacked it up in. And he showed me how to sack it up to get just exactly one pound and twist the end and tie it with a string that came off a ball that hung on the ceiling. My job was to see that the sugar counter was always well filled because that was one of the popular things.

Grandpa and Lil with Isaac, circa. 1998

The automobile was just coming into town and I mean probably one in 20 residents had a car. But he had a gas pump out there and it was my duty to fill up a tank of gas. The tank had marks on the side of it so you’d fill it up full and then drain it down into the car that you were servicing. And I think at that time gas was probably maybe ten or eleven cents a gallon.

My other duty was just to see to it that the papers and things were picked up off of the floor and keep the place as neat as possible. Next door was a butcher shop that was part of the store but had a separate entrance from inside and outside. One of Val’s brothers operated the butcher shop. I was also to keep that place tidy. I’d be responsible for checking into the meat market, and if there was any droppings on the floor I was supposed to pick them up. They kept sawdust on the floor and once a week they’d change it. Otherwise they just kept adding sawdust during the week.

They made deliveries to people in town all week. People would call in and they’d want pork chops for dinner. He had a route that would get delivered by 11:00 so the lady of the house could have dinner ready when most everyone went home for lunch.

Val was very popular in town. His store was located at a place called Five Points. If you asked where some part of town was, being a stranger, they’d say, “Do you know where Five Points is?”

“Oh yeah, I know where Five Points is.”

“Oh well, you go six blocks east from there and four blocks south and you’ll find the place that you’re looking for.”

Val owned all five corners. There was a blacksmith shop and sort of a general storage place, and then he had what they called this stand. It was the beginning of McDonalds. They  would fry up sandwiches —  called ‘em hamburgers because they would mix beef and pork together. That’s how hamburgers got their name.

Grandpa and Grandma (left) with friends

And this little store sold chewing gum and candy and perhaps other sandwiches I don’t remember. Coca Cola was just getting into the business and they had Coca Cola and cream soda and it seems like there was three or four others. You had a little container and you dropped a dime in there and you could slide the bottle over to a certain place. If the dime went through and released a lock and you could get the bottle out.

– to be continued –


The Chicken Story (Part I)

Grandpa and Grandma, circa. 1950-ish

A Guest Post by Grandpa Al Willingham

Two years ago family scooted down church pews while my granddad sidled up to a microphone. He’d been preparing his birthday speech for a long time. Years, I think. He rustled a few note cards between his fingers, but it seemed they were there just to put something in his hands. I noticed after the first two or three he never looked at them again.

We sat riveted, hardly breathing unless it was to fuel the next belly laugh. Partly because it was Grandpa, and he always captivates. But partly, I think, it was never having heard a 100-year-old guy deliver a monologue. For nearly an hour, he cracked jokes, told stories and passed out sage advice to a room full of friends, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. That year in his Christmas letter he observed that he’d been told the first 100 years were the toughest. He was looking forward to the next 100. He’s now two years into that second century.

My grandpa raised a family in wartime. He worked through the Great Depression, never out of a job more than two weeks at a time I’m told. He’s buried two beautiful wives and more friends than a guy should have to. He’s seen things I can only imagine.

Grandpa Al is Rock solid, passing down a heritage of loving and serving Jesus that could cause the best Baptists I know to covet. He served as chairman of his church’s elder board into his 90s and can still fix anything with a little prayer,  duct tape and baling twine.

I asked Grandpa if he’d help me complete four generations in this place. (My dad posts regularly, and Isaac guested here once last year.) Remembering a favorite story from the birthday party, I wondered if he and Dad could get it onto paper for me.

They did me one better. They puttered around with a digital recorder and for the next couple of days, we have the results of that here. I edited very little so you can get the feel for Grandpa’s conversation. In Part I, Grandpa sets the stage for the times with the sure sign of coming of age: he wore long pants at age twelve. In Part II, he describes his uncle’s grocery store where he held his first job off the farm. And in Part III, he tells a story of chickens, customers, and lessons learned about honesty.

All About Chickens and Chicken Soup and So Forth

Grandpa in 1912, not quite old enough to work

In order for you to understand the situation at the time, I was in my early youth. Upon reaching twelve, you lost your childhood one day and the next day you were supposed to be a man, a tradition handed down for many years from the Jewish people.

On my twelfth birthday — I had never had a birthday party before — I came home from school and nobody was home. I started doing the normal chores assigned to me. I got mine all done and started in on the ones that my dad would be doing.

Mother and Dad showed up along with a couple of cousins of mine from town and Dad and I continued with the chores. We got back to the house and it was supper time but I didn’t see any evidence of supper. I had noticed my dad had been carrying some wood into the front part of the house and I wondered what that was all about.

We had a peculiar house that had two huge living rooms. One was called the parlor and that’s where you put your best furniture. And when you had company you used the other sittin’ room. That was the showplace. You also had a parlor bedroom where the fancy bedclothes were on the bed and the bed never got used.

She’d made several trips in there and I wondered what that was all about. Finally she sent me in there to get a book of some kind out of the small library that we had. Lo and behold, the house was full of people from my school. I think all of my school chums or associates were there. I was attending a one-room school and we had about 20 students first through eighth grade. They immediately started singing happy birthday to me, something that was a total surprise to me.

Birthday parties had never been celebrated as far as I knew in my family. And of course they all brought gifts, not a very wide variety but I got about ten or twelve red bandana handkerchiefs and some more delicate ones presumably from the girls. After the presents were all open, my mother brought me in my present.

Mother and dad served them ice cream and cake – and ice cream was a real treat back in those days. You had an old freezer you made it with and you turned a crank until you couldn’t turn it anymore. You packed it with ice, and ice was also pretty much of a new thing they had learned how to make ice in the big city of Charleston. We lived about six miles from there. Anyhow we had that fun, and after everyone left then my Mother brought out a big package for me and it turned out it was my long pants suit true to tradition.

The dress code in those days for boys was knee pants or knickers, long black socks, a blouse and either a homemade knit sweater or jacket. I’m talking about Sunday-Go-to-Meetin’ clothes now. After you were twelve years old the dress code changed. Boys wore long pants, regular type suit, shirt and tie, white shirt and tie, and then that was designated as your Sunday-Go-to-Meetin’ clothes.

Maybe the oldest NBA fan out there, Grandpa saw the Heat and T-Wolves play for his 100th birthday

My mother was ill most of my life. Well, she lived anyhow. She thought since I was growing up now I should have a little business training. She had a  brother that had a little grocery store in town. She conned him into allowing me to work on Saturdays for six weeks. The reason for the six weeks was that during that six weeks spring was coming along and there wasn’t much to do on the farm. By the end of the six weeks they would be starting to prepare the soil for planting and they would require me to be one of the helpers.

So I rode horse back into town. The store opened at 6:30 in the morning. My uncle was just coming across the street when I arrived on horseback. He showed me where I could put my horse where she’d be in the shade, and gave me a bucket of water to sit beside her. I could change the bucket at noon. I thought it was very thoughtful of him.

-to be continued-


We Remember: Love, Adrian

“I bet Hitler is getting the quivers in his backbone if he has any left. I’d like to get at his mustache with a pair of my tweezers. Would I ever pick souvenirs.”

It goes without saying, I suppose, that somewhere along the way when sorting through the belongings of an aging parent, somebody’s going to stumble onto it.

Tucked away in a closet, or stacked behind the dusty crates in the attic, or even mixed in with bottle caps in an old cigar box in the bottom drawer, there is hidden the prize that no one even knew their parents had.

A few years ago while rearranging some of Lane’s mom’s things, we tripped over the treasure that left us all sprawled out on the floor laughing and weeping and learning and knowing.

We found every letter that Adrian ever sent to Estrid, most of which were written between 1941 and 1946 while he served as an Army Staff Sergeant in World War II.

The letters began arriving in Estrid’s mailbox shortly after the two met at a Lutheran youth convention in 1940. They really didn’t live too far apart, just a little over a hundred miles by car from Strandburg to Claremont. But in the days before highways and when getting a new tire to replace that always flat one took months, they didn’t see one another often even while Adrian remained stateside.

Take away internet, texting, even private phone conversations, and that left two smitten youths to tuck their dreams, thoughts and hearts into envelopes and entrust them to the trains that carried mail to the countryside.

I spent the better part of a year after we found them blanketed in those thousand letters, learning a man I knew all too briefly. I compiled the pages into two volumes, often calling Lane to the computer as I typed through eyes misted blind to share another tattered leaf of this beating heart.

In his eighth-grade educated hand, he revealed himself in sometimes tender, sometimes bold, sometimes comic words to the woman who made him feel like the luckiest and most alive man living.

After Adrian shipped out, the letters continued seemingly without end, back and forth from tiny South Dakota towns where Estrid taught school to “somewhere in France.” The two turned to handing over their soul-words to V-mail and the Army censors.

::

Our community nears completion of a new memorial to honor our local veterans. But it seems the heroes don’t get much more local than a dad and granddad. I thought to honor his memory this Memorial Day with some of his own humble, faithful words.

On love, home and family:

“You ask what I would like for Christmas. I tell you a little box of cookies would be the real thing or some little thing to eat. This is my first Christmas away from home. It’s a lot different than the ones I’m used to.”

“Don’t get me wrong now that I’m homesick. So far I don’t know what that is. We would all like to be home but there is a job to do first.”

“I’m feeling o.k. I always mention this and I’ll always tell you the truth.”

“The night before I was to leave I found him crying alone, in secret. My Dad is a big strong man, ‘He’s my Daddy you know.'”

“I feel like I have a job to do here with the rest of the boys. And then again I’d like to go back home and see Dad and help keep the farm going, which I had a lot of hope in continuing after the war. I hope my prayer that I may see Dad again will be answered. If it is God’s will. Mom and Curt want me to come home. If the Germans would quit I’d surely try and see if I could do something about it.”

“The Telegram of my Dad’s death took 21 days to get to. I never wanted to be home so much in all my life as I do now.”

“I had a letter from Alice today and she had sent a clipping about some Estrid Franzen and a troop of girl scouts.”

“Now the war is over for sure this time they tell me. It’s a beautiful night out. I still wish I was somewhere else.”

“I could see home and we fought all the harder to end it sooner.”

“Sometimes I think I’d like to be a city dude for a while. Maybe after I get home I’ll decide farming is too much like work and start selling prunes and vinegar.”

“It seems so long since I heard from you. These cold blizzard days are so long without mail or anything. Boy how I need to hear from you again!”

“I told Mom about our engagement this morning and she said ‘Well.’ I could tell she was pleased.”

On the war:

“I am ready to go any time my Uncle Sammy calls.”

“The people of England really know what war is. The children 5 and 6 years old have not seen street lights yet.”

“I see some front line action once in a while. All I can say is that at times it is terrifying. I think I prayed almost all nite a while back, even in my sleep.”

“I wonder if Hitler rests well at night.  . . . One of these days he may rest in pieces if he don’t hibernate some place where he won’t be found.”

“But the American soldier can really take it. Call it bravery or as we say ‘guts’ when a U.S. soldier was wounded or shot we never heard them cry or groan or yell for help.”

“While I was on my way westward ‘limping’ a French Crouix De Guerre with palm had arrived at home. I don’t see where I deserve it. I guess me and Patton had good press agents.”

“I’ve groaned within myself over one incident.  . . . It’s a story I’ll tell every time anyone talks about war as being glorious and being a hero.”

On the Army:

“I made expert at the machine gun today in record fire. I can say I feel a little proud over this. Mostly to think that the folks will be pleased. I drove a tank for the first time yesterday. It sure is fun to sit at the controls of those big babies.”

“We sure are having a stepped up training so maybe we will go over the pond sometime this summer or next fall. We surely are not ready to go yet.”

“This land looks almost worthless to me. I suppose that’s why they have Army camps in places like these.”

“Tomorrow I’ll try to whistle or toot like a train. Then maybe I’ll get a medical discharge for being nuts.”

“Seven days to get the discharge papers ready. It sure did not take them that long to get in the Army. According to hospital records, I’m not here anymore. Where I went nobody knows.”

On his faith:

“They have nicknamed me ‘Reverend.'”

“Love someone even if you don’t like them.  . . . They are all my friends. There are some fellows I don’t like. But they don’t know it.

There is a Pentecost . . . also a Seventh Day Adventist. They try to convert me.  . . . Better come down here Estrid. It’s two to one and I’m outnumbered and need some help.”

“Rev. Vick was right when he said the greater the danger we are in the closer God is to us. Us boys up here know that very well.”

“The suggestion you made to pray together at nine o’clock every Eve. is a good idea. So at nine tonite we will meet together in prayer.”

“God has a reason for keeping me here. I know I’ve had the experience of a lot of things concerning sin, faith, hope, trust, and surrendering self. These past three years have been hard and I did not realize how much so until recently.”

::

Surely the handwriting was Adrian’s. But so often as I read I heard the voice of another red-headed tenor. Through corny jokes and deep-root faith and tender words flowing from a God-softened heart, I recognized the familiar language of his son, the one I hear echo in the walls of this home every day.

Adrian and his bride taught their men that language of faith and love.


Of the thousand and some letters Estrid carefully returned to their envelopes and secreted away, only one was penned in her elegant hand. While she clearly wrote as often as he, Adrian faced the limitations of austere Army life and could not carry with him what was not necessary for survival and battle.

But one letter he carried. And he came home from war with that one letter: tattered, wrinkled and sweat-smeared. The date was torn off in case he’d be captured. And in that letter he and Estrid shared the bedrock faith that carried them for a lifetime.

“Whatever comes, dear Adrian, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that you are not alone. God is right there with you every minute of the day and He’ll never let go . . .

::

Photos:
Top: A thousand and some letters from war
Middle right  & left: Army microfiched and censored v-mail letters
Middle right: A "battle weary" SSgt. Adrian Lindquist
Bottom: The letter from Estrid that he carried into battle

Loving Monday: Why Family Matters

When mortality comes knocking, it seems always to spur just a little more woolgathering.

On an ordinary day, we might give a passing glance to our mist-like days, numbered few here on earth. But when ends come, even when they’re beginnings, the contemplation grows more into enveloping clouds.

Such have been my days this past week, most of which were spent in the warmth of a century-old farmhouse of a friend as family laid to rest father (and husband and brother and uncle and cousin and friend and neighbor and mentor and colleague and . . . ).

So it comes as no surprise to me that when John W. Beckett tackled the subjects of family, prayer, vision and values in his chapters of Loving Monday this week, the pages of my book flipped back to the chapter on family.

:: (more…)


Grandma’s Alphabet

My grandma would have had no idea what a blog is or what it means to guest post.

But earlier this evening, my mom dropped a gift in the comment box for my earlier post on my grandma. What she left there, really a gift from Grandma, begged for a little more attention than it might get tucked away in the comments.

So it seems Grandma has written a post for us without knowing it.

During her last few years here, Grandma had a harder time holding onto the day. She might struggle to remember who she was talking to. She would confuse dates, or times, or places. At times, what she said simply made no sense at all.

As Grandma began to drift away more and more during her visits, my aunt encouraged her back to the daylight by rehearsing her alphabet.

:: (more…)


Remind Me Again

Crazy week going on.

calendarWe’re on night three of four consecutive nights of baseball, which will be followed immediately by three straight days of basketball. Number One son headed off in the middle of it for three days of football camp. 

Remind me again why I thought having my kids out of school for the summer was a good thing.

My desk makes me downright claustrophobic as more and more files usurp the open space in bigger and bigger piles.

Remind me again why I thought it was a good idea to take Friday off.

I can’t for the life of me get my head around why, after all he’d seen God do for him and for Israel, Gideon turned out to be such a dork. In one breath he told the people he would not be their ruler — they needed to accept only God’s rule. But then he made like Aaron, collected a bunch of gold and crafted an ephod which became the next best thing in Israel’s little-g god prostitution ring. 

Remind me again why I thought I’d be done with Gideon after today.

:: (more…)