Sunday, August 15, 2010


"Jesus," Jane whispers, "please give me a patient heart." Pine trees and open meadows whiz past her window, "Every moment, patient." She stares, "Patient. Patient." A slash pile smolders gray smoke by the road, "Patient heart."

Sandwiched into our car we sail through Montana back country. Grampa smooths a list between thumb and finger. Garage sales. He mapped them out. One here, another there, or wait two roads back, did anyone see a sign stapled to the phone pole? Craig and Grampa parse out country roads, small town streets, unmarked dirt trails.

"We did NOT eat up all the gum," Jack frowns at Janie from the way back.

"Yes," she says, "We DID."

"NO. We DIDN'T."


I lean over the baby seat and raise both eyebrows, "Janie. Stop."

Up front, Grampa unfurls a map. Worn folds gape open like little eyes. He runs fingers over the roads.

"But Momma, he's WRONG," Janie says.

"I know. Be stronger."

"But Momma, he's being a bad boy."

"I know," I say, "Be. Stronger."


Grampa assembles the map back into folds, presses the creases, closes worn spots. "Take a left." We trundle over railroad tracks and onto a dirt road. Stronger. I look at Grampa. Gray hair almost white. These past five years Gramma gone and he still makes maps and hunts garage sales. Five years, one next step and another. Another. And another.

I lean over the baby seat, squeeze Jane's hand. The car silent, we sit, wait. Another bend in the road, and patience builds. Strength begins.


125. Grampa. 89 years almost and still as straight and honest as the day is long.

126. A long car drive, a late night, and Grampa still awake when we all pull in.

127. Cedar and soap, the smell in my clothes when we get home from Grampa's cabin. I don't unpack, close the suitcase and hope that in the morning I can smell it again.

128. Red geraniums. Grampa plants them every year the way that Gramma did. Me too.

129. Shallow mountain ditch that the kids float. My piles of memories of when I was a kid.

129. Brownies.

130. Coffee.

131. Garlic, onion, blue cheese burgers that husband barbecued.

132. Grilled squash and onions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil.

133. Chocolate. Black chocolate.

134. Watermelon.

135. How a kiss or a band-aid heals all Lulie's owies.

136. How Jane can make tennies, jean skirt, gray leggings, and a big red flower all seem to go.

137. How the kids try to give me their money after payday like tokens of love, then settle for buying bananas when I give the money back.

138. A soft bed I fall into at night.

139. A strong husband who guards me 'til morning.

140. The gift of a morning run.

141. Teaching our children (and me) to keep a tidy house.

142. Thirty little girl toes painted pretty.

143. The colors we picked. Lulie pink for the bottle was pretty. Janie blue for the color was pretty. Me red for the twinkle in husband's eye made me want it.

144. The slow moments where Jack repeats the same question seven times, and I let the afternoon ease by, nothing better to do than listen and repeat. Or laugh again.

holy     experience


Southern Gal said...

Be stronger. Yes. Much to be thankful for.

Bon said...

I love love love reading your blog. You capture the most beautiful moments with your words. I admire how you handled the gum situation in the car. So simple and so right. I loved reading about Grampa too. The thought of red geraniums and garage sales melts me.

Lori said...

So he is where you got your love of garage sales from! Sweet list, my friend. :)

JoAnn said...

Your list is wonderful. it makes me hungry and I love Grampa. Grandparents are the best. So glad you could spend time with him.

Ben and Rachelle said...

So glad you got to spend time with such an important person. I love how going to visit grandparents brings back such a flood of memorie and how fun that you now get to share them with your kids.

Sara said...

My heart breathed gracias with you, a strong husband that guards me til morning. ...
As always a joy to splash around in thankfulness. Your blog, simply delightful.


Goat said...

This one made me cry. My daddy being patient with life since mama is gone. Oh my. Emma may some day realize how the patience lesson keeps coming back. And back. And back. Love the juxaposition of the two. Your writing is perfect poetry.

Craig and Bethany said...

Thanks, Momma. Sure love your daddy. Sure love him.

emily wierenga said...

i agree with bon. i love, love, love the way you make life simple and striking and so profound in the same breath. it hurts my heart, it's so beautiful.

and montana... now i know where you live :) i've always wanted to visit there. we'll come one day, friend (lord willing!). xo

Olson Family said...

So I just happened to be catching up on your blog when my girl runs in from outside, her face red, arms crossed adamantly in front of her, eyes all mad and full of tears. I invited her to sit in my lap and read with me. And at the end of this post, she unfurls her arms, wraps them around my neck and says, "So, I should do what Janie did, huh? She's more mature than I am. I'm proud of that girl. Next time, I'll take a deep breath and pray for a patient heart." We snuggle for a few moments. Bond over these girly issues -- these emotional moments that sometimes undo us. Then she runs out the door to play again -- all smiles and skip in her steps. Thank you. You are a gift.

Craig and Bethany said...

Wow. Pretty mature self-reflection. LOVE that girl.

And so enjoyed communing with you all when you passed through. Blessing upon blessing.