Rubbings

rubbing2

 

 

I look at a brass rubbing my grandmother made over 40 years ago. She was living in England at the time. Immortalized in a photo, she smiles at the camera. While she was still living she and I had found it buried in a box with a bunch of others. She had me tape it to the back of her largest framed piece. ( the one above)

 

rubbing3

 

 

She, wearing her knitted cap to keep her hair out of her eyes, looked and felt smart. She was fifty-something, tall and pretty. Later she would tell me this was her favorite age.

On this day she and her friend, Cecilia, take a train to a nearby village. Cecilia was a wonderful photographer, always armed with camera and film. They walk a short way to the church. She finds a monumental brass of a long dead knight, his likeness now immortalized in stone, marking his grave.

She brushes the brass clean, places the white butcher paper over the figure, and tapes the corners. She draws out a vibrant blue from her waxes and begins rubbing the paper. Over and over the surface she rubs and rubs. Blue wax transfers the etching to her paper, capturing the image.

Over forty years have passed, she would be in her 90’s now.

And I pause.

She and my grandfather etched upon their own son’s life: Some of it good, some of it not.

He and my mother have etched upon mine: Some of it good, some of it not.

I am just shy of having lived to the age she was in this photo. I am realizing that the rubbings they have left are just that, waxy residues of their dreams, hopes and failures. And I am slow to judge realizing I have left my own waxy residues upon my children’s lives.

With fresh eyes, I tape the corners securely to the Stone of my choosing. His monument the one my heart longs to copy, the impressions He left on this world by His life and teachings the most beautiful:

Mercy triumphs over judgement.

He is not willing that any should perish.

Love never fails.

Taking wax in hand, I rub with renewed strength and focus, breathing petitions of help for a work that will reflect His grace.

 

 

 

My Great Aunt & the Pumpkin Patch

This day, she drives her well taken care of Lexus.  It is gold.  She is ninety-five.  She draws close with her warm smile and gives me a hug.  “It’s been a year since I’ve seen you.”  I say, “Yes, it’s been too long.”  One, because it’s true and two, because I am mildly surprised it has been so long.

She asks me which walking cane she should use.  I survey the rough, uneven ground and point to the more practical of two sticks.  She puts away her church cane with it’s slight diamond patterns reflecting what little sunlight breaks through the cloud cover.

It is a crisp, October morning.  I’d hoped for warmer weather.  We meet my dad, hug him as well.  He and I smile and match pace with her as we follow a herd of children to the petting zoo portion of this pumpkin patch.

A flock of white geese whisper of Christmas’ fast approaching.  A lone, mottled grey duck thinks he is part of their number.  She admires the geese.  We look at the ponies, they are fat and well taken care of. Five dollars for a Pony Ride, a sign says.

Our days are long past that, I am a little less than half her age and remember her younger.  She, one of five siblings.  Four girls and a boy.  She and the boy are all that are left.  She recalls stories of her life growing up on a farm, not far from here.  The smells, the red dirt, the animals overlapping the present and the past.

We take a hay ride, most of our group anyway.  Our older kids gladly offer to let some take their place because there isn’t enough room.  I love them for this.  We sit on a trailer, pulled by a tractor.  The leaves are beginning to change, not in full splendor yet.

After the ride, we walk to the fire pits to warm ourselves.  She and my dad roast some marshmallows, the smoke chases me away.  I flee to a neighboring corn maze, with two friends my age and three of our daughters.  We all become nine again as we laugh and follow our girls.

Hesitantly at first, they lead.  Single file down the trails; we find ourselves in the center where a railed bridge sits proud.  We mount the stairs, pose over the rail, daughters take our pictures.  You can see back to the small bonfires from this height.  You can see past the makeshift eating pavilions; carports laced with antique doors.  You can see the petting zoo.  We can see our teens taking photos posing in a Cinderella carriage; dreaming.

We climb back down and the girls lead us once again.  We come out the entrance.  That’s okay life is circular like that sometimes.  As we prepare to leave, we are allowed to each take a pumpkin. Slowly, we pick through the piles until we each finally find just the right one.

I walk with my aunt back to her car.  She pulls out an ad to show me; it’s for Daisy perfume.  A small glass container with three white Daisies on the lid.  She smiles and says she wants just the bottle.  She reminds me her moms birthday is coming up soon, that her sister, Daisie’s birthday has just passed.  She was my grandmother.

We smile warmly at each other.  I open the ad and smell the light floral scent, she tells me to keep it.  The whiff of perfume is an elusive ghost, just like our memories.  We hug each other and remember.  Eyes stinging from the cold.

in the morning

Psalm 30:5
Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Yesterday I drove over to Edmond.  There is a beautiful old cemetery that used to be a dividing line of sorts between Edmond and what I considered Oklahoma City.  Both have grown so much that there is no longer any division.

There is a neighborhood across the road that I spent seven years growing up in, being formed in.  My mom used to set me on top of the dresser in front of my window to tie my shoes and I remember the sound of the bells.  Early this week it dawned on me that there are no churches around that neighborhood, had I imagined the sound?

No, today at the cemetery the bells peal and I know now their origins.  A comforting, deep reminder of the passing time.

Many of my great~grandparents, grandparents, great uncles and aunts are buried there.

My grandmother Daisie rests there beside her husband.  The oldest surviving sister is in her 90’s and she installed the WEST bench on top of her parents gravesites, which sits below a tree.  One of the only trees in this area.  A small shade in the summer, a respite in a sea of dead.  My dad said, “The bluebird of happiness lives in its branches, so <<great aunt>> cleaned it the day before.”

No bird poop resides here this day.

My sister and I drove together to the service of my grandmother’s sister in law.  She was a lovely lady.  She has two daughters, who are about the same age as my sister and myself.  She had been on hospice with cancer and she and my great uncle had moved in with one of their daughters and her husband.

Her surviving husband and my great aunt are all that remain of that generation.  As the slideshow scrolled through family photos…babyhood, growing up on a farm, becoming a young woman, marriage, motherhood, pictures started streaming by of places and memories that I was a part of, my great-grandparents 50th wedding anniversary out on the old farm.

(Me holding the pop, my sister, my cousins and our great grandmother, Regina)

Group portraits of her and her husband, with my Daisie and all the siblings.  All gone but two now.  That generation quickly subsiding back into the dust of our beginnings.

And I cry.  I cry that things do change.  That we aren’t meant to grasp at them.  That clinging to what once was is a type of idolatry that I am to be divorced from.

I haven’t been back to my grandmother’s grave site since her burial.  The first two years, I just couldn’t.  But today, with peace, I gently cry at my grandparents grave and it is okay.  This is the way of things.  Soon it will be my parents turn.  And then mine.

And what is important is serving God with our lives right now.  Listening.  Obeying.

Those bells will announce my homecoming someday and His voice will welcome me and then my joy will be complete.

Esther

A couple of friends and I are starting a new Beth Moore bible study…I have wanted to do this one for the last little while and it is sweet that the Lord has worked it out so beautifully…while the kiddos learn Biology we can have bible study…

Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman : Member [Book]

Pam…you bless me…thank you….

September is a heavy month for me with the loss of my grandmother and the miscarriage I had in February of 2007 whose due date was September…there’s always a heavy sorrow in the air this month…it grows less strong each year, but it is still so present.

Thank you Pam for your sensitivity and your friendship…you are treasure!

bless the work of our hands…

It’s not quite Wednesday yet, when I sit down to type..

I have just been to your site and I sit here…in Oklahoma…crying over your post about reading the bible with your children…and your son’s grief over Benjamin pours over my own head…

and I immediately am

thrown back to yesterday morning, kneeling in the dirt of my garden, planting the smallest little seeds…radish…my furrow dug, the sprinkling of the seed and I am again

thrown back farther still to when we buried my grandmother and how I imagined myself a large giantess capable of cupping her in my own hand and gently laying her in the dirt, the furrow, then pulling the dirt blanket over her, tucking her in to her death bed…

and I cried…

tears on my garden over my grandmother, my grandfather Toby, who never was buried in a traditional since…and my tears are for them both and how much I miss them…how much…I…miss…them.

And the littlest of blacks seeds I am sowing…will they be plucked up by a bird of the air…will the water and sun cause them to grow…will God bless the work of my hands…and here I pause…

I ask Him to bless the work of my hands…otherwise it will all be in vain…

Walk with us Papa, and please…bless the work of our hands…

Daisie’s gloxinia….

today….on the front porch…it blooms…

daisie's gloxinia 909 003

I wasn’t sure what would happen to it…back here….

Creation testifies to His truth…all the time…

2 Corinthians 5

Our Heavenly Dwelling

 1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we GROAN, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7We live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

mourning a house…

I didn’t realize that when my grandmother-mom passed away  a little over a year ago, that I would mourn the home she had lived in most of her  life.  Afterall, she hadn’t lived there for a number of years….and I don’t often go back to that small town, even with tons of great memories I only like to visit that fishbowl in my imagination.

As soon as you enter the town, the acrid smell of sulfur fills your nose and lungs…oh, we are at Ponca…there is no getting around that odor!  The Conoco-Phillips stench has stained the town like tea leaves on a dish towel, each brown molecule imbedding itself in it’s very fibres.

I find myself having dreams involving her little house, all the fun things we did at that house…it encapsulates her love, her care, her constancy.

She, who cooked the Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners.

She, who smoked cigarettes, a chain smoker while she watched her soapies.

She, who made sure we had the just right prom dress, the back-to-school clothes, the little extras that she was attentive to.

She didn’t speak about things often…she just did them.  She didn’t offer advice, but she was there to help pick up the pieces….

“Handsome is as handsome does,” she told me once.

“Dinner isn’t over until the dishes are done!”  that jewel became my own mantra.

And I know, truly,  I miss that little house…I miss the woman that was once young and vital fulfilling her “little” duties as she pattered around that little town, that little house.  Her little fishbowl.

I miss her.

sometimes life hurts…and its okay….

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”

Isaiah 40:29

I have been off this last week…snappish and tired…and it finally dawned on me why….

A year ago, my grandmother, Daisie died…a year ago I was driving to see her, the seed of her at Mercy heart hospital….I was crying uncontrollably at the shock and the loss of her.  I was crying because her sister was there when she passed away….it made me sad for Marcie, comforted for Daisie, that she wasn’t alone when she left this world….that a loved one who had known her longest was with her.

Marcie had welcomed Daisie as a tiny infant interloper coming into the home, through their school days, life on a rural Oklahoma farm, hard work mixed with fun, making soap with their mother, using a common outhouse…life events filled with joys and griefs that spanned eight decades of loving each other.

Daisie loved her brother and sisters, she was so brokenhearted when her sister Ruth passed away, and she would talk about her fondly and say what Ruthie might have thought on a matter…absentmindedly almost. 

 Now I understand better that grief she experienced, I feel it myself…oh Daisie would have enjoyed this, she would have loved the color in these fall decorations, I don’t know if she would have been a fan of either of these two who are in the finals at Wimbledon.

And remembrances of assuring her that all would be well, the replays in my mind of the different conversations we had through the summer…the gentle smiles we gave to each other…the rewinds of the tape in my mind that recorded the tenderness I felt for her and was able to show her.

If there is a baptism of tenderness through the tears that overflow from our broken hearts, that is what I experienced over this last year…a baptism in grief, a baptism in tenderness, a baptism in brokenness.

I told one of my friends that I wanted to sweep her up in my arms like an infant and cradle her and in our own way that is what we were doing, we had moved her furniture here, her clothing, just those things that would make her feel more at home, nested.

After saying goodbye at the hospital, after painfully absorbing and acknowledging that she was gone, I walked into her room at my home and smelled her…..

walking into her closet with her clothing that had her particular mixture of detergent and perfume…

I felt cocooned in her presence, of past memories, shared pain, small pleasures and in some way it was a comfort to me, a sense that she was still here with me…a lingering of who she was. 

It didn’t seem right that these light and transitory things had outlived her.  Here, her little hearing aids, her favorite golden shoes, the outfit she wore last Christmas.  She should be the permanent fixture…not her furniture or her little clown collection or her photos. 

And the song by Ingrid Michaelson echoes through me, the truth of it that we are fragile boys and girls..

http://www.last.fm/music/Ingrid+Michaelson/+videos/+1-MgZ_tu8s5Wk

http://www.last.fm/music/Ingrid+Michaelson

Breakable

Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts.
So it’s fairly simple to cut right through the mess,
And to stop the muscle that makes us confess.

And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

You fasten my seatbelt because it is the law.
In your two ton death trap I finally saw.
A piece of love in your face that bathed me in regret.
Then you drove me to places I’ll never forget.

And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls-
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls-
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

 

And some part of me knows that we do go on, that we are not lost…that the seed that is our body is planted, but that the eternal being we are is at rest as well….that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, that is a promise.

At her burial, it was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, some of my closest friends were there to share in my grief…and as everyone walked away, back towards their cars, back towards life…

all I wanted to do was go be part of her planting…I wanted to scoop the soil over her casket, I wanted to tuck her in for that rest.  

It seemed wrong, like a trespass, that a total stranger would be the one to bury her. 

If my hands had been large enough I would have tenderly placed her in the ground, filled the hole with that Oklahoma dirt …tucking her in.   

Like planting a bulb gingerly with thought of what it would become in the spring, at its own resurrection.

And I remembered my other grandmother telling me of how her father would scoop up the soil in his hand and bring it close to his face, inhale….the warm, rich soil…our flesh is kin to it.

And then perhaps, just sit with her awhile.

But I didn’t, was not allowed to, that unspoken desire, I took and buried in my heart, tamped it down and walked away….

Daisie’s gloxinia, part 2…

The little brown plant was the original gloxinia, the new plant is the baby shoot that came out of the old plant…

After Daisie passed away and I was gathering her personal items up, I wondered where the little plant had gone.  I guessed it hadn’t made its way to Mercy Heart Hospital…I mourned for that little lost plant.

Perhaps it went home with some nurse or orderly, perhaps it had died and was lying in the bottom of a dumpster…

But no, it was neither of those.  My Great Aunt Marcie, my grandmother Daisie’s remaining sister, had taken it home.  She called and told me she had some of Daisie’s things, could I come get them.

When I went to her house, here was the little plant, dying, with what looked like, was a tiny shoot of green growing out of the death. 

Would it grow?

Would it die?

What a sweet picture.  What a sweet reminder of what we have awaiting us.  If a little plant seed, or a dying plant can be called to bring forth life….what of our physical bodies in the grave….that is our hope…

 

 

Our pastor’s have been working their way through John, and we are on chapter 5 right now.  In verse 28, (cause I always read ahead)…

Jesus says, “Don’t be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

Daisie’s gloxinia today…I thought it was lost, but I am glad it wasn’t.

 

Daisie’s gloxinia…

Last summer, on one of my many trips to Edmond, I stopped in Bristow to buy my grandmother, Daisie, some flower arrangement that she could smile at perhaps…lift her spirit while she sat in the hospital.  I came across the most beautiful, little plant with hot pink and white flowers…in it was a small little netted butterfly that matched the flowers.  Perfect!

I took it down the the Edmond Recovery Center and it did lift her spirits…a little bright piece of God’s creation in an otherwise drab critical care room.  With the monitors beeping and the cold air freezing us out, the little plant thrived, even in this environment.

I would like to say that Daisie did, as well, but she didn’t.  Sometimes upon rising she felt something in her chest that was not right…and on a handful of occasions, it caused her severe problems with her breathing, her blood pressure and her heart rate.  She didn’t know she was close to the end of her life.  I didn’t know we were that close to the end of her life. 

She, the strong woman, was now weak.  She, the strong woman, was now looking to me for help.  She, the strong woman, was like a small child in some ways..plaintive…don’t leave me alone here…come back real soon….I love you my Sarah Goodun…..one of the last times I left her, I brushed her bangs away from her forehead and kissed it…how I loved her….how I poured that love out on her that, her last summer…hoping to fill any emptiness she may be experiencing.

But I am only an earthen vessel, and one earthen vessel cannot overflow another…there was another earthern vessel who does overflow and I only hope she is in His tender presence right now. 

That is  my hope.