"Momma," Jane rests a hand on my shoulder, "maybe Jesus will do something nice and make the splitting headache go away."
I press fingers to forehead, "I hope so," I offer.
"Let's pray. Jesus," she starts, "please make Momma's splitting headache go away. Amen."
I sigh, let the words surround me. "Amen."
In gentle strokes the evening eases in. Headache ebbs by gradual degrees. Through the haze I see Jane's blue eyes blink back at me.
"Do you want me to turn the lights off?" she asks and scurries to pour a glass of milk next to the window's fading light.
I pack a scoop of coffee in the espresso basket, press it down. I feel Jane at my elbow, her curls long down her back.
Black and frothy sweet, espresso pours out the double spout. We watch it fill a tiny metal pitcher, meniscus bulging. Hands like feathers I swoop the mahogany shot into waiting coffee cup, a long foaming stream, perfect aim.
"I'm always amazed you don't spill that," Jane says.
"Yeah?" Our eyes glued the chestnut liquid, I add several sloshes of hot water.
"I love watching," she says. "I think it is so cool." And I hear it, the admiration. Even a simple slosh of coffee is perfection to her.
The weight of influence presses in tight around me.
1582. Butternut squash fresh from farm cellar.
1583. Jane's whisper in my ear, "Momma, want me to make you eggs?" as I rise for the morning.
1584. How Rosie clamors up on the couch with Jane and Jack, desperate to do flashcards.
1585. Jane's smile, "I'm glad I gave that gum ball machine away."
1586. Jack's hug and nod as I kiss him goodnight before bed, "I know you need to get out to your husband," he says.
1587. Lucy's nose smudged with dirt when she comes in from playing outside.
1588. And how she assures me, "Momma, every year you're just looking more old." Her approving nod.
1589. How Jack unlocks and hold the door for me when I leave to meet some friends.
1590. Jane's description of my cooking, "Usually all your things are spectacular, you know."
1591. "And so they went to Bethlehem..." Lucy's sing-song voice from on the couch as she reads to a dolly perched in her lap.
1592. Jane fresh in from out back calls to the kids, "Wanna sing Rock-A-Bye Baby with me and the dulcimer?"
1593. Myra Rosie's sweet, "Ma-ma," when I go to hush the kids to sleep.
1594. Lucy's determination that grown-ups don't stay up late because, "They're tired, and they're scared they're gonna have a headache."
1595. How she cuddles her baby and follows me around, "Mom, my baby always wants to read Bible stories. You can read on right now if you want."
1596. Jack's exclamation, "Mom, LOOK, I can walk like a penguin!" red rubber band around his
1597. Big news: our baby's a BOY.
1598. Lucy's explanation, "Our baby has a part we call a tail."
1599. The six of us circled around the ultrasound screen and my doctor's assessment, "I'm 'bout as sure that that's a BOY as I am that the sun's gonna rise tomorrow."
1600. Dinner at Jesse and Libby's -- the soup, the apples, carrots and cornbread, pear honey and the bond of family that encircles the spread.
1601. Rockie Amelia almost one, all blue eyes, wide smile, and her daddy's adoring gaze.
1602. Sudafed, a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, and how my cold's almost invisible for a few hours.
1603. How Jane makes applesauce oatmeal for all the kids, feeds Rosie, and recites Never Tease A Weasel for breakfast entertainment.
1604. A spur of the moment afternoon stroll with a dear friend and her twin boys.
1605. Jane's exhortation to Jack, "You have got to stop whining. I do not help kids that whine."
1606. How she tries to help when I have a headache, "You can just give us stuff already made, and you can have apples and peanut butter for dinner, if you want."
1607. How Jack closes up the chicken coop for the night and confidently adds, "I said, 'Jane, don't bring a flashlight 'cause I'm gonna lead you.'"
1608. Another morning volunteering with the kids.
1609. Learning again that it's easy to give in a public setting, but how it really means the most in the privacy of home when my head is throbbing and my children need me.
1610. The baptism of giving.