Dear Mrs. Elderly

You may not remember me, but I will never forget you.

I was visiting you at your temporary residence in a long term care facility, and you looked longingly out at the beautiful grounds on that late spring day.  The flowers were putting on a show, and you couldn’t afford to waste one more minute lest the rising temperatures would cause you to miss it altogether.

I guided your wheelchair slowly through the winding paths that meandered through carefully kept beds of annuals and perennials. You instructed me about each one, as you reminisced about your own garden at home.

Small talk and flower talk slowly turned to talking of family, and you, slowly and carefully turned the conversation away from yourself, and inquired of mine.  You were like me, you had a boy and three girls, and I spent a few minutes picking your brain for your advice and parenting tips and tricks.  We both agreed that there is a special dynamic with our youngest that we did not see with the others; a special, heart-wrenching, frustrating, worrisome angst that grips and squeezes, and threatens to suffocate even the most prepared, level-headed, practical Momma.  These youngest children (especially girls), we concluded, have a way of pushing our buttons, testing our limits, and trying our patience.  They are the ones that lead us straight to the throne room of heaven, crying out for mercy on behalf of our limitations and failures.

You looked at me, and though you had no way of knowing the battle that was raging at home with my girls, somehow, it seemed you did, and I felt understood.  You took my hand, looked me straight in the eye, and with the conviction of someone who has been there, you said “Don’t you worry about those girls, Lyn.  They will all three grow to be mighty women of God one day.”

Mrs. Elderly, do you know I have clung to those words for five years now?  Do you know, that in the deepest, darkest nights, when I thought God had turned his back on me and my girls, and the devil had won the victory, your words echoed in my mind?  I heard them when my oldest daughter, unmarried, took me out for coffee to tell me she was carrying my first grandchild.

Mighty women of God

I heard them in the midst of second daughter’s panic attacks.

Mighty women of God

I heard them when I drove our youngest daughter to counseling sessions.

don’t worry…one day

Again, when I found drugs in the bedroom and fresh cuts on my baby girls body, when I got a call from the school that she was being sent home, strung out and high from some bad weed that had been slipped to her.

Mighty women of God

Mrs. Elderly, some days, when I couldn’t see or hear God, I heard your words, and I held on a little longer, a little tighter to a promise that I know I heard once, in a garden, from the heart of God through the words of a gentle lady.

Thank you, Mrs. Elderly, for beautiful words spoken in due season.

This story needs a title

Rough draft…still working on it.

It seemed to Ruthie that she had lived in this little hole forever.  Her Papa had talked about leaving before, when times got hard and food became scarce, but her Momma wouldn’t hear of it.  She stubbornly put her foot down and quietly announced her intention to remain.  Momma said she’d rather starve to death here than leave this wonderful memory-filled home.  How Momma loves her little hovel.  From the time of their arrival, she has worked hard to make it comfortable and homey and takes pride in the presentation of the provisions that Papa brings home or that they are fortunate enough to find on their daily jaunts.

The inhabitants who had previously shared the building have since come and gone. They didn’t really “live” here, they were more like frequent visitors.  One to three times a week, the rooms would be filled with to the brim with a myriad of personalities and diverse activities.  From their peekhole through the walls, Ruthie and her family witnessed their laughter, tears, singing, and rousing speeches that Momma called “sermons”.    The best part of these meetings, if you were to ask Ruthie, were the wonderful aromas of the covered dishes that accompanied the visitors, and the generosity of those present who saved a bit to share with her humble family.

When the meetings were over, the five little mice would scamper about (Papa and Momma leading the charge), and help clean up, first from the middle of the eating room, and eventually the corners and baseboards. Every day, they’d clean, as Momma taught them, “like she liked it done”,  and would store what they couldn’t eat for later.  By the time the next meeting day rolled around, they would have licked the place clean, and were ready to start the next stash.

Those were the good days; days of plenty, of prosperity and plenty.  Those were carefree,  happy childhood days of sweet memories and contentment preceding some terrible days of heartache, hunger, and yearning; before Sissy grew up and moved away, and before Momma quit humming.  The sanctuary, once filled with sermon and song became eerily quiet, and the sound of their feet echoed through the hall.  Momma’s well-stocked pantry was quickly depleted, forcing Papa, Brother and Ruthie, for the first time in months, to venture outside the safety of their walls to look for food, often only to return empty-handed, hungry and more discouraged than ever.

They were right on the verge of complete starvation, and Papa had just about talked Momma into moving and finding a new place when they heard the most dreadful noises coming from the sanctuary.  Heavy footsteps, thunderous pounding and roaring laughter continued until well after dark, for nights on end.  By and by Ruthie worked up the courage to venture out and to her surprise noticed that carpet had been installed to cover the cold wood floors!  Also, a pile of bags and boxes alongside several large pieces of furniture had accumulated in the sanctuary.

Near as anyone could tell, there were three new inhabitants sharing their home. The eating room became functional again and continues to provides an abundance of food. Instead of one shared meal two or three days a week, they now  look forward to two, and sometimes three, meals every day. Gathering and cleanup is more of a challenge, as there are now people here to work around, but they quickly learned to wait  until the family leaves for the day or goes to sleep at night, they have  enough uninterrupted time to  eat their fill every day as well as the collect enough to put some away for a rainy day.

From her  bed, Ruthie can hear Papa snoring, and Momma’s gentle humming in the kitchen. She feels safe and secure as she counts her blessings before she goes to sleep;

For Momma, Papa, Sissy, and Brother,
for good food and fellowship with one another.

For hugs and kisses and bedtime prayers,
for laughter, and singing, and memories shared.