"That's at least eight dollars." Jack arches his brow, pokes at a lump in my hand.
There, like a freshly hatched egg, a tangle of coins and bills, a snarl, curled, rumpled, pressed and softened, the money, he had hunted it out of the four corners of his drawer.
"That's at least eight dollars," he says again, voice resplendent. I unfurl my fingers, count it with my eyes: a five, two ones, change. Lucy peeks around Jack's shoulder. "For Lucy's pants," he adds, "that she wrecked." She gazes at my face. He holds his eyebrows in that perfect arc.
I trace the crumpled bills, the linen-y green crushed around dimes and nickels, a penny, a quarter. I pull my eyes from the small heap in my palm, and there, Jack, face radiant, eyes splendorous blue.
In that split second of lucent blue, I see it. And then again in the shrug of his weightless shoulders when I say, "But don't you want to buy something with this?" Hope, hope unbending, the confidence of a man, all his boyish features hung on blink-less sacrifice. Love.
And so I look into his azure eyes and nod before he scampers off, Lucy in tow, adventure wild around their ankles. What could I do? I took the money. I tucked it away and memorized the resplendent resolve of his sacrifice.
3846. "It might be illegal for Myra to be a pirate," Jane oversees, "because you never hear about pirates in America. I mean it might have been ok a long time ago when Indians lived here, but not now."
"Wouldn't it be funny if the antichrist came to our house, " Lucy wrests the back door open, trots in from the henhouse, "and couldn't find anybody 'cause Jesus had snatched us up?" She grins, see-saws a buff egg in each hand.
She clomps a navy rain boot from each foot, lobs it onto a black tray masquerading as shoe mat. An egg cradled in each palm, her center of gravity recaptured, she presses one egg to her cheek. "Warm. Mom, it's still warm."
Myra bucks through the door. Lucy bobbles over the lip of the sunroom, "Myra, noooo. Watch out."
Lucy sidles past the lawyer desk, then stops, snuffles the egg, sniffs it again, whiffs and snuffs. "If you smell eggs they smell like chickens," she chirps. Trifle-sniff-snuff. "This one smells like poopy," she adds. Then gentle between fingertips, she delivers it to Craig.
All pluck and good cheer she trit-trots after Myra.
Trit-trot, trit-trot. Expectant, sanguine, the afternoon trails behind her in a wake.
3817. "Do you need one and a half cloves of butter for that?" Jack oversees the apple crisp recipe.
3818. I explain that women wear brassieres. "You wear unders on your ---," Lucy trails off, speechless.
3819. The Tuesday-girls decide to all take personality tests and compare.
3820. "She cried a little bit, not very loud, so I sang Jesus Loves Me. And she said, MY LEG HURT. so I rubbed her leg." Jane says when I ask if Myra woke up in the night.
3821. "How-yoo-ya. How-yoo-ya. How-yoo-ya," Myra belts out in Christmas bliss.
3822. I get to go running with Cerissa and my Dad on vacation, always a pleasure.
3823. A dear friend calls and we spur each other on in the promise-land of motherhood.
3824. "I'm really trying to think of it as a high and holy calling, not just a mundane task," she says, and I tuck it away like a banner to pull out later.
3825. The girls and I paint our fingernails and toes, 80 in all.
3826. We celebrate Thanksgiving with Craig's side of the family. Buoyant cheer, merrymaking, and joy, peace, kindness, sweet potatoes and blackberry pie. Unmerited grace.
3827. Running shoes. I find my favorite running shoes on a special sale. Love!
3828. I skip-de-doo past the arms of more sale racks and head straight home.
3829. "Even when I give you bad news I'm still building trust," Lucy concludes on telling the truth.
3830. PENPAL letters.
3831. Crockpot chickpeas.
3832. Crockpot black beans.
3833. As the tides of morality ebb and flow in this country, our Savior ever remains the same. Constant. Sure. Purity himself.
"Mommy, I think I might know why this is such a rain storm," Lucy tweedles from the very back seat of the suburban.
Like a burst bag of M & M's on hardwood floor, rain droplets pummel the windshield, wipers feeble antennae in the deluge.
"The clouds maybe are exploding," she trills.
The squeak-squeak of wipers and the willowy curve of the road ahead, the children giddy, on we drive straightway to the ocean.
"What if God dressed up like you, and played tag," Jack grins to Jane, the corner of his mouth a toing-ing spring. "And then," Jack says, "He disappeared when you tried to touch Him?" He shakes his head as if a tree full of apples. They titter and guffaw.
"Mom, do you know what number infinium is?" Lucy chortles, grown-up knowledge all big inside of her. "Means it goes on forever," she lilts.
Forever. Infinium. I gather the moments like agates in the sand and tuck them in next to infinium.
3802. Voilent bluster of a storm, trees down, power out, we sleep a night in the crisp sheets of a fancy hotel, then to the beach house, to family.
3802. We walk the long salty beach.
3803. Rain and hail pelt our faces. We slosh our boots through puddles.
3804. Myra capsizes in the waves. Grandad carries her home.
3805. We line our pockets with agates.
3806. Air hockey, Banana Grams, Canasta, Gobblet, radio theatre, The Silver Chair, The Horse And His Boy, tall and fat mugs of coffee, pots of soup, late night pecan pie.
3807. Bowls of chocolates.
3808. The children gambol and hurrah with cousins, every staircase another winding adventure from which to leap.
3809. We visit the Newport Aquarium and the gaggle of us on field trip together.
3809. We slip into the hot tub, the children in bed. We chat and laugh and weave the bonds of friendship.
3810. Next day, we bring the ship-ful of children, all cheer and clamor, in the hot tub too.
3810. Thanksgiving dinner. 21 of us and a table long, long enough to seat this ocean of family, we eat together, high tide of loyalty and love thick at our elbows.
3811. A gull devours a crab out on the front drive. The children blink their amazement. "I wonder if gulls just don't have a way of cooking their food," Jack wonders.
3812. "Your spirit," Lucy announces, "how you feed your spirit is read your Bible. How you feed your tummy is eat regular food."
3813. "I'm thankful for Uncle James and Aunt Janey's hospitality," Jane says as we circle up for nightly prayer. Me too, and for the whole promenade of family gathered together.
3814. Craig drives the whole long trip to the ocean and back.
3815. "I love Joe's fit," Myra narrates on the way home.
3815. "Should I sit in the backseat for a little while," I offer later. Jane grins. "Then you can do damage control," she chirps, "'cause the kids don't necessarily always obey me, but they always obey you."
"My act of service," Jane says, "was taking care of extra bowls at lunch." She leans on an elbow, spoon slack in a pool of black beans. "And my words of love," she says, "are for Momma." She tucks her chin, "I love that you make us obey you."
I watch the shy top of her eyes, an easy smile slung across her face. "Jane, I'm so proud of you. Why do you say that?" I hold her eyes like a bird in my hand that lilting ribbon of a smile slack and serious.
She rounds her eyes, arches her eyebrows. "So that we can learn to obey authorities," she says, "like God and Daddy and the people that are over you." She plucks her spoon and scoops up shining pebbles of beans. She presses them to the roof of her mouth like chocolate.
I let the moment flutter, a ribbon in the wind, watch her carry on as if she'd traced the simple A B C of penmanship. The day wound up into a tight bobbin of a night, I catch my breath at the clarity.
3789. Tuesday-girls iron out Thanksgiving plans.
3790. A checker-plaid button-down -- rosy red and iced teal.
3791. "Mom," Lucy announces, "we can pick our nose. We just can't eat the thing that is in our nose."
3792. I find another friend loves God's word. We visit while my children build block towers for her baby boy to topple.
3793. Olivia comes to dinner. I am blessed by her laugh, her earnest questions, the lull of conversation a gentle breeze through the leaves of the house, her presence pleasure. Friendship encircles us.
3794. A migraine -- pain explosion. "Lord help me through the pain," I pray. Hours later I arise weak and well. In the kitchen, to the gentle shush of crayons on paper, Lucy sings again and again, "Not my will but Your will. Not my will but Your will. Not my will but Your will." Her words the ticking clock at my back, wash me with strength.
3796. I visit with Mom, the low-tide of the headache washes out. I fall again to bed and rest.
3797. Sophie and dinner, the exchange of friendship and faith, we wash it down with apples and cinnamon, coffee and boardgames. The 16 years difference in our age melts to level ground, peers, and the lovely, lovely result: friends.
3798. Craig takes Jane to the annual Turkey Shoot.
"That's the way it always is: older people know more because they've done more and seen more," I say shaking my head over blooming scoops of brown sugar atop the kids' oatmeal.
I smooth a mound of coffee in the espresso basket, press it down with the tamper. Jane rinses egg batter from a white cereal bowl, the overspray a wake at my elbow. "Unless they've wasted their life," I add, "then they don't know as much."
Jane snaps the faucet hose back in place, quells the spindrift. She wads her hands into the hand towel. "They always know more," she says and brushes the towel up to her elbow.
I swivel the tamper in the espresso basket, shimmy off excess grounds until the coffee packs into a circular brick. "What do you mean?" I scrape the scoop along the shiny rim and loose coffee flutters to the sink.
"The older generation," she says and secures the white sackcloth towel back to the oven door, "knows more because they don't have as much stuff, and they aren't spoiled." She nods as if listing the ingredients for the eggs and oatmeal she just made.
Less stuff. Less spoiled. A feather of a thought, I turn this over in my mind. She clips off to clear the dishes and rally rouge bits egg and crumbs.
My wide river of a day and the current eddies. Less stuff. Less spoiled. Yes. The election, another incremental change in our world, I realize afresh: this world is not my home. I pray to be worthy of the challenges ahead.
3763. "Do you think chickens in Mexico speak Spanish to each other," Jack wants to know.
3764. "I hope we get lots of ads for our guy," Jane says of the election, "not that that gets people to vote."
3765. "We didn't call any of our babies Goliath," Lucy says, "'cause he's a very wicked guy."
3766. "It's election day today," I announce. Across the room, Jack widens his eyes, then bows his head to pray.
3767. Tuesday-girls at Mom's we pray for our nation over quinoa salad and salted chocolate.
3768. The cousins make a book club with our kids. Circled around the speaker phone they read to each other and make up discussion questions.
3769. "You know what this apple pie is to celebrate?" I announce Wednesday morn as I peel and chop apples, "That even though Obama won, God is still in control." Jack bounds into the kitchen. "Really?" he says. "Really."
3770. I visit the night away with a dear friend. We even hop coffee shops when the first one closes before we are done.
3771. "Toot in the bathroom, not at the table," I warn Jack. "I find that pretty funny," he guffaws.
3772. Mom and I morn the election over coffee and pastry. Even in our astonished disbelief, the Lord is the path beneath our feet, the breath in our lungs, and the destination in front of us.
3773. Craig's mom drops in to say hi.
3774. "Lucy poked it out with a pencil," Jack says of his missing tooth. "We were playing."
3775. "Why aren't you leading in being joyful? The Bible says you HAVE to be joyful." I grouse to Craig. "Be JOYFUL," he commands. And what can I say? I submit. And JOY comes! Who knew.
3776. Saturday, the sky blue tang, we roust the crew and trounce to the local cupcake shop. Salted caramel cupcake. Who knew I would be 34 before I had the best cupcake of my life.
3777. We play games and eat popcorn all evening. Everyone practices being a good sport. Even the grown-ups.
3778. "It sounded almost like a violin," Jane says to Joey's coos in the bedroom.
3779. A treat for me: new eye make-up.
3780. "Why do you think adults have longer ears than kids?" Lucy wants to know. "'Cause ears never quit growing, "I say. "My ears are longer than Joey's and Myra's," she nods, "but Emma has longer ears than all the children in our family, and Ellin has the biggest of the bigger-ear-people. Logan has pretty big ears too."
3781. We run into our very first neighbors from our very first house and have lunch to catch up, the friendship still fresh.
3782. "Big girls get unda-wears on," Myra announces in the bathroom.
3783. "Daddy said he's gonna start running," I tell Jane. "I didn't know any boys liked it," she says.
3784. "Jesus my only way. Jesus wuv me," Myra says.
3785. "In Heaven we won't have to brush our teeth," Lucy whispers to Jack after they get ready for bed.
3786. "I a big girl," Myra chimes, "but Daddy's da boss."
3787. "You can have some of my lollipops anytime you want," Jane bursts when I tuck her into bed.
3788. A week of quiet before Thanksgiving, preparation, I greet it - eager.
Us plus seven now. Family of nine.
Momma always said, "Make your own fun." I guess this is what she meant.
Join in the banter! Please leave a thought if you've stopped by. You all add richness to this journey.
Cheers! ~Bethany ~