Amy’s Necklace

AmysNecklace

“My darling, you look magnificent tonight.” He bent to kiss his wife’s neck as he fastened the clasp of the gold necklace.

Lilianna’s face remained passive. “Yes, how very thoughtful of you. Your secretary has such exquisite taste.” She allowed her dulled eyes to meet her husband’s in the mirror.

He turned away to reach for his tie and handed it to her. “You will wear your new bauble to the reception tonight. We are meeting the new Russian ambassador. It is not yet widely spread, but he will take my place next month. Our time here in America will end soon, and we can return home.”

“And what have we there?” she asked as she tightened the knot. She regretted being unable to keep the bitterness from her voice.

He grasped her shoulders. “Family. We have our family there. We will return to our roots, to our homeland. We will return to the glory that is due our service these many years.” He chucked her under the chin. “We have done very well here, and will be repaid for many years to come.”

*           *           *           *           *

The affair was grand, indeed. Lilianna smiled at all the right people, turned her shoulder to those who were not, behaved just as she had been trained these many years.

She kept her eyes on the time, and offered her excuses at five minutes prior to her short tryst.

Certain no one had seen her, she slipped to the side alley and into his car. She fell into his arms.

“Oh, Brian,” she whispered. “Our time together is so short.” She took his face in her hands, caressing. “How can I thank you for what you have meant to me, how you have saved my sanity in this crazy life I must lead?”

“Lilianna, my love, surely you cannot leave with him! Come away with me!”

“You know we could never do that. They would search for us and find us, and that would be the end.” She paused and looked out the window. “But maybe that would be a better end than what I will have back home.”

In another twenty minutes she joined her husband, and took his arm.

“My dear!” He took her hand. “The music starts again. Shall we dance?”

They had just stepped onto the floor when his eyes dropped to her neck. He stopped abruptly. “Where is the necklace?”

Eyes wide, her hand went to her throat.

He shook her. “Where is the necklace?”

“I – I don’t know,” she stammered. “I had it on. It must have fallen off. I don’t know!”

He took her roughly by the hand and led her off the floor. “Show me. Show me exactly where you have been tonight. Exactly!”

Her face turned ashen as she took a moment. “Did you see it on me when we arrived?”

“Yes, yes. When we took off your coat at the entrance, it was there. We were together until I went off with the new ambassador. Where did you go?”

She walked to the reception area, retraced her steps around the rooms where she’d mingled and drunk, even to the ladies room. She looked at her husband repeatedly, her eyes reflecting astonishment at how agitated he was over the loss of a necklace, how wild his eyes looked. Of course it was a lovely necklace, of Soviet Rose gold, but really a mere trinket compared with her other jewelry.

Now he had called in security, and black-suited men scattered about surreptitiously, eyes darting into dark corners, casting suspicious glances at other guests. Surveillance cameras were inspected.

*           *           *           *           *

City headlines the next day blared the headlines that the Russian ambassador and his wife were found dead in their hotel room.

A lesser story, three sections back, gave few details of a man named Brian found murdered, his ransacked Toyota Matrix two miles away.

*           *           *           *           *

Ten years passed. Time had not been good to the little Toyota Matrix, and it was rather mangled by now. But, with a little TLC in the right hands, it proved to be a blessing to a nice family for a couple of years, even facing up to the challenge of the Tennessee mountains. The engine eventually blew though, and the family had to say goodbye to their trusty friend. A few days after they relegated it to a junk yard, the husband returned to it, to retrieve the seats that would prove useful for another vehicle. He was dumbfounded to discover a gold necklace under the middle console.

*           *           *           *           *

Some days later, a Mr. Smythe stepped into his home and was met by his wife, who stood on tiptoe to kiss him hello. She looked into his eyes. “That’s quite a twinkle you have today, my dear. You’ve not been seeing someone on the side, have ye?”

Mr. Smythe held his wife closely and smiled a dreamy smile. “Darlin’, you mind well my old job, from which I am happily retired?”

“With the government?” She pulled back a bit. “That smile doesn’a mean you’re a-thinkin’ to return to it, surely?”

“Oh, na, love, never you fear. But the good Lord has handed us a blessing this day, that I could use my old experiences and intertwine them with this job that I love nowadays.”

“Being a jeweler?” Now her eyes twinkled.

He went on to explain. Last week a nice man had come in and handed him a necklace. “Fourteen karat Soviet Rose gold. I knew it right off. I told him, though, I’d have it priced for him by Monday.” But, due to Mr. Smythe’s knowledge and experience, he’d known to look a bit deeper. “I canna tell you more my love, but my contact flew in that night to receive what I’d found. Many mysteries long past will be solved with this new piece of evidence.”

“With the necklace?” pondered his persistent wife.

“Ah no, love. The necklace goes back to the lovely man brought it in. ‘Twas the tiny dot impressed upon it. I wouldn’a known to look, but for my old job and our Lord’s grace.” He took his wife’s face in his hands and kissed her rightly. “Isn’t our God grand! He bringeth all things to His light, for His glory!”


 

Leave it to my Amy to get a real-life surprise that provided an intriguing springboard for all kinds of stories to conjure up. The story above is what I came up with.

What actually happened:

Amy’s family did buy a Toyota Matrix a couple of years back; it did take them through the mountains of Tennessee; the engine later blew, and he took it to a junkyard; he went back for the seats and found the necklace under the console; they took the necklace first to a pawn shop, but then to a jeweler to get a real appraisal; it is 14k Soviet Rose Gold; the necklace was worth far more than the pawn shop offered.

Amy! Please post anything else related.

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What Kind of Sin?

WhatKindOfSin

It is generally agreed that the essence of sin is to do that (or not do that) which displeases God – to disobey Him. And sin separates us from God. It’s not that God turns His back; it’s that we turn our backs on Him when we disobey and choose our own way instead of His.

The remedy for sin is repentance, to turn around from our own path and direct ourselves to God.

In the Old Testament, God laid out several different types of sin, and several types of sacrifice to symbolize repentance.

Now that Jesus Christ has become our Final Sacrifice, we no longer follow the Old Testament sacrifice covenant – it is no longer needed, since Jesus paid the price for sin in full when He died for us.

In 1John 1.9, God tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we sin, it is important to recognize that we have sinned, acknowledge our sin, confess it to God, and repent. Why is this necessary, if God has already forgiven us through Jesus? Because when we sin, we distort our relationship with God; and we want a right relationship with Him so that we may live life abundantly. (John 15.10, 11 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.)

Be aware:

  • Sin in ignorance
    • We don’t even know we sinned, but we did. Examples: Our words may offend when we say something without knowing the situation. We leave the store with something stuck in the cart that we forgot to show the cashier. We forget a loved one’s important date.

For these, we must ask the Spirit to convict us where needed, and confess that we sin in ignorance. Ask the Spirit to show you how to rectify, if needed.

  • Give in to temptation
    • Sometimes we sin because we are weak.

Ask the Spirit to strengthen you, that you will live in the strength of Him.

  • Sometimes we sin in rebellion. (I don’t care if this is wrong! I want it anyway!”)

Pray Psalm 51.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

  • Sin from selfish ambition
    • We see something we want (or don’t want to happen), and we manipulate to achieve our goals.

Pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done, O Lord.”

  • Sin in our hearts
    • When we judge others, it is a sin in our hearts. Other examples: We have a dirty rotten attitude toward a friend or family member and think we’re not sinning because we’re still smiling and being “kind.” Looking with lust. Imagining illicit activities.

Memorize Scripture, let it fill your thoughts. Psalm 119.11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

  • Sin in emotional struggle
    • Whether in anger or heat of passion, in turmoil or pain, we can say or do things that normally lie outside our personal makeup.

Proverbs 4.23 Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.

If your heart is pure, then what comes out in a squeeze will be pure.

  • Bringing someone else into sin
    • We have no right to entice or drag anyone else into sin. Examples: luring someone into an affair; sharing your drugs or pornography or alcoholism; talking someone weaker into evil / having someone do our dirty work.

1 John 4.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

  • Sin from evil ambition
    • In our hearts, we wish destruction or evil on another.

Pray Matthew 6.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

  • Defying God
    • Some people willingly, openly, and brazenly act to defy God. They blaspheme the Holy Spirit and set themselves up as gods.

Matthew 12.31 says, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”

1John 5.16 says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”

  • Sin of omission
    • If we simply forget to do something, this falls under the first item in the list, Sin in ignorance.
    • However, if we know to do something right, and decide not to, that is sin of omission. Examples: We feel directed to pray for a certain circumstance, and decide not to. God guides our attention to someone in need, and we ignore the need. We know our duty, and neglect it (i.e., reading our Bibles or attending church). Ingratitude falls in this category (1 Thessalonians 5.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.)

Pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5.17).

  • Sin of deceit
    • Any one of the types of sin may involve deceit, whether we are attempting to deceive others or deceive ourselves. We may purposefully “forget” to do something we know we should. We may lie to ourselves that “giving in this once” won’t matter. We may lie to people in order to stir up dissension or get something we want.

Proverbs 12.20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who devise evil, but the counselors of peace have joy.

Fall on your face before our mighty and gracious God. Search your heart. Ask God to search your heart: Psalm 139.23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Look up Psalm 51. King David wrote it, and he knew sin in his heart. He also knew Who to give it to.

March On Tag

Purple Rose and Dollfaced Writer came up with these monthly tags, and dear Stuart tagged me! Thanks, Stuart! Please check out Stuart’s post and the rest of his writings (it’s worth it).

MarchOnTag

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you to participate.
2. Link back to the original post.
3. Use the original featured image.
4. Talk about what this month’s theme means to you.
5. Answer the questions.
6. Nominate one or more people to participate.
7. Enjoy the rest of your month!

The theme of Marching On brings to mind the hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

Lyrics: Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924;  Music: Arthur S. Sullivan, 1842-1900

  1. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
    With the cross of Jesus going on before.
    Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
    Forward into battle see His banners go!

    • Refrain:
      Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
      With the cross of Jesus going on before.
  2. At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
    On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
    Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
    Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
  3. Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
    Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
    We are not divided, all one body we,
    One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
  4. Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
    But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
    Gates of hell can never ’gainst that church prevail;
    We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
  5. Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
    Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
    Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
    This through countless ages men and angels sing.

Here are the questions for this month’s tag:

  1. Are you or is anyone in your family Irish?

Yup. My grandma’s family (dad’s side) emigrated from Ireland, plus my mother’s side has Irish, too.  When I had color in my hair, it had red hues. My dad had very red hair. Also, my dad used to teach at Notre Dame, and we have been “Fighting Irish” all my life.

  1. Do you wear green for St. Patrick’s Day?

Yes. Especially when I was still teaching, I wore outfits / colors for most of the holidays.

  1. Do you decorate for St. Patrick’s Day?

No.

  1. If you spotted a leprechaun, followed him, saw a rainbow and a pot of gold…what would the gold be to you? Actual gold? Or something else?

I think I’ve already found the “pot o’ gold” – the Bible.

  1. What shade of green is your favorite? Provide an image if possible.

MarchOnTag2

I wear this color a lot, in various hues.

  1. What do you like best about the month of March? What do you like the least?

Although March is a tough month weather-wise, I like the promise of spring it brings.

  1. What’s the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to you?

I can’t say much of anything about luck, as I don’t believe in it. God blesses, we obey, we receive His blessings…

For this month I am tagging…

Anyone who is Irish, or is not Irish; or who likes Irish, or doesn’t like Irish

It’s Tomorrow, and the Sun Came Out

We’ve been having some wild weather here in South Dakota.

February brought record cold temperatures and above average snowfall. March 3rd we set new temperature records for coldest temp and coldest high temp; and it continued to snow. All that cold means the snow is piling up, and not melting.

20190302_075656

Last weekend we got hit with a winter storm across the state, and forecasters were throwing out broad hints that a whopper was coming. Tuesday brought milder weather, and cities across the state started preparing for “the big one” – clearing storm drains and culverts and so forth. At our house, we (by that, I mean my husband) shoveled snow away from the house, and cleared window wells and gutters of ice build-up. Even so, Tuesday night we discovered water leaking onto a basement floor. (We were thankful that the floor was bare concrete, and not carpet-covered, as are most of the other rooms in the basement.)

{A bit of background: SD is divided by the Missouri River, and one’s location is known as “West River” or “East River.” Each side has its own climate.}

The whopper hit us Wednesday and Thursday.

West River, all the way to Pierre (our capital, in the middle of the state) got snow both days, between one and two feet, with drifts up over 15 feet. They’re still digging out today (Friday).

We live East River. It rained all day (high of 36 degrees) on Wednesday: 2.38” onto frozen ground. We dug pathways through the snow in our yard, trying to make drainage channels out to the street from various locations around our house. Our dryer ran all day, between our wet clothing and the towels we were switching out from the basement floor. My husband put a submersible pump outside our house, where water was pooling (same spot where, below, water was coming into the basement). Around 4 p.m., we looked again to the back yard, where large ponds were developing around trees in our neighbor’s yards and around our garden shed. But now our garden shed was about floating away. We moved the submersible pump to the garden shed area, and strung hose out to the street (and extension cord from the house). The sump pump in the house kicked in for the first time since December. My husband stayed in the living room all night, getting up every couple of hours to check the pumps and the basement towels.

It continued raining all night, and in the wee hours of Thursday it changed to freezing rain, and then snow. Our low temp was 30, high was 36. The wind kicked up: 40 – 60 mph. We had a bona fide blizzard: 4.2” of heavy, wet snow, with wild drifting. The snow stopped in the afternoon, but the wind stayed. We went out to re-dig our drainage channels as best we could, dealing with slush and ice.

The sun came out just before sunset.

ItsTomorrowAndTheSunCameOut

Today is sunny and chilly; the wind is dying down. We went to the hardware store and got another submersible pump. Everyone is saying this is a once-in-a-lifetime storm, but we’re thinking, with the way the weather and our planet have been acting, things are only going to get worse. We’re planning ahead for the next weather show-down.

Our washer and dryer are still running overtime. But we are awestruck and grateful. We’ve been watching the news of surrounding areas. There is major flooding going on, streets under water, basements flooded with 4- and 5-feet of water, bridges and dams washed out, whole huge areas under freezing water, people stranded and in need of help.

God help us, and have mercy on us.

2 Chronicles 7.14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

ItsTomorrow2 {Snow does funny stuff 😁}

Healthy Immune System Remedies

In this looooong winter season, sniffles, sore throats, coughs, and achy bodies are running rampant. Rather than going to the store or the doctor for help, I prefer natural treatments. Prevention and maintenance are my key focus.

To keep my immune system in good working order, I regularly do the following:

  • Take large doses of Vitamin C. Good, nutritious food is the best source of Vitamin C. But, you can buy any cheap vitamins you get your hands on. By “large doses,” I mean (for myself) 12,000 – 15,000 mg per day. I buy supplements in 1,000 mg per tablet, and take 4 of them first thing in the morning, and again last thing at night. I pop a few more throughout the day. If I feel anything coming on, I take up to 10,000 more in a day. Vitamin C is not toxic, you can’t take enough to harm you. If your body doesn’t need that much, it will dispense of it through your elimination system. (Hint: You will see references to “bowel tolerance” in reading about it, meaning that, if you take too much, your stools will start getting loose. Just cut back a bit until your bowels are more normal. This is a great reference standard for kids.)
  • Use essential oils. I diffuse essential oils throughout the house; I also make remedies for inhalers, creams, serums, sanitizing sprays, and salves using various blends. If you visit such sites hosted by these, you will find many recipes using essential oils for a wide range of uses, such as salves, serums, shampoos, remedies, and emotional health blends: Dr. Eric Zelinski, Dr. Josh Axe, Wardee Harmon at Traditional Cooking School, and Chris at Joybilee Farm. Please follow guidelines for using essential oils, and test each one for any reactions before going full-on. Here is a short list of essential oils that have research-backed effectiveness:
    • Antivirals: Basil, bergamot, cassia, cinnamon bark, clove, cumin, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, helichrysum, myrrh, oregano, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, tea tree, thyme
    • Antibacterials: Basil, bergamot, cassia, cedarwood, cinnamon bark, citronella, clove, dill, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, rosemary, spikenard, tea tree
    • Antifungal: Cassia, cinnamon bark, citronella, clary sage, eucalyptus, fir, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, rosewood, sage, spikenard, thyme
  • Rebounding: A quick search on the Internet for “rebounding” results in several good sources of information on the health benefits to the lymph system, which supports the immune system. I have a mini trampoline (20 minutes in the evenings), a treadmill (20 minutes mornings), and a bouncy exercise ball (10 or 20 minutes on days I don’t feel like doing the tramp or treadmill). If you don’t already, start paying attention to your lymph nodes. The ones I feel the most are under my arms and into my chest, sometimes the ones in my neck. Do an Internet search for a graphic of the lymph system to find where they are. When I’m coming down with something, my lymph nodes start to ache a bit. This is a good time to rebound. After I rebound, I can feel a difference in my nodes. Also, I regularly massage essential oils (diluted with jojoba or other oil) into my skin on areas where my lymph nodes are. (Note: for fastest absorption into the body, rub remedies into your abdomen area.)
  • Eat nutritious foods. Procure as much fresh, real food as possible: these are the foods that need little or no labeling, because they are what they are: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, fish, poultry. I have read enough to know that organic and non-GMO are important. Make as much of your food from scratch as possible, so you know that you have the best of ingredients. If you do purchase other products, read the ingredients carefully, and choose the least-processed foods available. (Note: Sugar is not nutritious, neither is processed wheat flour.)
  • Drink plenty of pure water. Here is another “beware:” tap water ain’t so good for you. I don’t promote bottled water, either (the contents nor the plastic waste). If you know someone with a good well, see if you can arrange to get your drinking and cooking water there. Use a good filter for your tap water.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Once you start eating well, you will be surprised at how much better you sleep. Exercise also helps with sleep. Exercising in the early evening, a few hours before bedtime, is a good way to release stress and generate some dopamine. Sleep is important to the immune system because it is during this time that the body restores, eliminates toxins, maintains and repairs cells, and carries out several essential tasks related to your health.
  • Nurture healthy relationships. Give thought to your family, friend, and associate circles. Nurture close relationships with those who can join in a healthy dynamic.
  • Give your life, your health, your relationships to God. He will take care of you. As you look to Him, call upon Him, depend on Him, He will provide for you in His exceptional, loving way.

Elderberry is a great way to boost your immune system. Following is a recipe for elderberry gummies from a trusted source, Wardee Harmon at Traditional Cooking School. I have seen other recipes for elderberry syrup that include grated ginger, cinnamon sticks, and even garlic cloves boiled with the berries. To make this a syrup, and not gummies, do not add the gelatin.

Here is Wardee’s recipe, taken directly from her site https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/immune-boosting-homemade-elderberry-gummies-only-4-ingredients/ :

Immune-Boosting Homemade Elderberry Gummies

HealthyImmuneSystemRemedies

Who else will do almost anything to naturally boost your kids’ immune systems during flu season?! After learning how to make elderberry syrup and tinctures for their immune-boosting benefits, I started making homemade elderberry gummies too, and now my kids snack on them throughout the fall and winter to stay healthy. Learn how to make this easy DIY supplement for kids and adults today!

Course Household & Health, Snack

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 50 minutes

Setting Time 3 hours

Total Time 1 hour

Author Annie Bernauer

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the elderberries and water in a saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and allow the fruit to simmer in the water for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Mash the elderberries to help release the juices into the water.
  4. After 45 minutes, strain the elderberries from the juice with a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.
  5. Bundle up the elderberries in the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the elderberry juice.
  6. Return the elderberry juice to the saucepan on the stove over low heat. Do not boil the elderberry juice.
  7. Whisk in the honey.
  8. Slowly pour in the gelatin while briskly whisking the juice so the gelatin doesn’t clump.
  9. Whisk until the gelatin dissolves.
  10. Remove the saucepan from heat and pour the liquid into silicone molds or a glass baking dish. If using a silicone mold, place the mold on a cookie sheet before filling it with the elderberry mixture. Speaking from experience, if you pick up a flimsy silicone mold without the tray underneath, it will spill and make a big mess!
  11. Refrigerate for several hours or until set.
  12. Elderberry gummies should last up to 1 week in the refrigerator, although at our house they never last that long!

Recipe Notes

*Elderberries are bitter in their natural state so this recipe has raw honey added as a natural sweetener. *This recipe is just the right amount to fill one of my silicone molds. The recipe can be doubled to make a larger batch.

Take No Thought

TakeNoThought

Matthew 6.31-33 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

At our house, we like to do some planning and thinking ahead. For example, we connected with a local rancher, and we purchase 200-250 pounds of (processed and packaged) beef at a time. Even though we have a large expenditure at the time, this saves us a lot of money in the long run because the price per pound is so much cheaper. We plan ahead for upcoming winter storms, making sure our larder is sufficient, our heating system is cleaned and in proper working order, and that we have the resources we might need, such as shovels, snow blower, ice melt, and outdoor clothing.

Do these plans thwart God’s command to give no thought for the morrow? I think not. Let me explain.

The Greek translations tell us not to be anxious, saying (insert worried tone and wringing of hands) what shall we eat or drink or wear.

How many times does God tell us to fear not? We are not to be anxious about God’s provisions, because He will provide. It is our part, our responsibility, to obey.

How to obey?

As we go about our daily lives, we are to pay attention to God’s Word, promptings of His Spirit, and encouragement of other believers (aka, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness). If, as we ponder God and His provision, we feel prompted to buy this or that, to put by, then we obey. This is one way God takes care of us: He prompts us to procure, or He gifts us through others.

So: as we are not to be anxious about the morrow, so we are not to be frivolous. God calls us to be good stewards of those things He provides. “Give no thought” does not translate to “fagett-aboud-it.” We are to be grateful for and conscientious about God’s gifts. Take heed, take care.

How do you take heed and take care? Do you garden and can your harvest? Do you knit, crochet, sew or quilt? Do you work with wood or other medium? Do you cook and bake? Do you check your house regularly to make sure all systems are maintained well?

Through a Son’s Eyes

ThroughASonsEyes

{fiction… from a son’s perspective}

I loved my mother.  She loved me, too.  I always knew that, and it was a very comforting thought.

Mom was my only parent, and it built in us a special relationship.  We were very close, just mother and son.  I remember she always woke me up by rubbing my back, even when I was in high school.  It was nice, those five or ten minutes every morning together, while she introduced me to the new day.

Every night she sat on my bed and read the Bible to me, or a story.  Then we would talk quietly for a while, recapping the day.  Many deep, secret things were exchanged in those times between wake and sleep.

Mom was a teacher for the hearing impaired.  She used sign language with her students, and taught it to me, too.  She told me I used my first sign, “pillow,” when I was about six months old.

But our special sign was one I made up when I was about three.  Mom was so proud of that.  It was first an “I love you” sign: hand outstretched, palm facing out, with the thumb, forefinger, and little finger extended; ring and middle fingers bent down to the palm.  I elaborated on it.  I did the “I love you” sign, then put up my other two fingers as well:  “I love you – a lot.”

We used our special sign many times: every school morning through the babysitter’s window; through my bedroom doorway, the last thing I saw at night; parting to go to our separate Sunday school classes; leaving in my old van when I was off to college; striking out on my own at the beginning of my career, two states away.

Because Mom was a teacher of the hearing impaired, it struck her as the ultimate irony when, in the course of kindergarten screening, I was found to have a hearing loss myself.  It wasn’t a very bad loss, but it turned out to be degenerative.  Slowly, gradually, I lost all of my hearing.

It was okay at first because I could still hear.  I could still play with my friends.  Soon, however, many friends tired of always having to repeat things to me, or of always having to make sure they were facing me as they talked.  They weren’t interested in that kind of thing.  I always had a small group of friends I could go around with, though, who were understanding and patient, and we had many a good time; but, I wasn’t the same as the others.

School was difficult for me, but I had sign interpreters for most of my classes.  I was able to stay out of special education because I had been hearing before, and I already knew the English language and vocabulary.  Besides, I had Mom at home.  She knew about all that stuff, and made sure I did, too.

Through the years Mom helped me bridge the gap between hearing and deaf.  She had known me when I was hearing.  As I became deaf we could still communicate easily because of her signing.  We could still exchange bedtime secrets.  In the dark, Mom and I would sign into each other’s hands.  She could still yell at me for being late, or forgetting to take out the garbage.  She taught me about the meadowlarks that nested in the field near our house, about the constellations in the night sky, and about girls and respect.

After I’d moved away and started my job I joined a church that had a sign language interpreter.  I made both hearing and deaf friends there.  At the time, though my hearing was gone, I still felt like a hearing person.  I don’t remember entering the “deaf world,” but I do recall the morning I suddenly realized I was there.

As time went on I spent more time with my deaf friends.  I found it easier to communicate with them, and we seemed to have more in common.  There was one particular deaf young lady who interested me.

Linda and I were married on a beautiful spring day.  Mom came, and cried.  We signed our “I love you – a lot” through the car window as Linda and I drove away.

Mom and I still kept in touch through e-mails, letters and texting.  “The meadowlarks are here,” she’d type.  “They’ve become fat and lazy without you here to chase them around.”

“I’ll bring Linda and the kids,” I’d type back, taking the hint.  “That should stir ’em up.”

We’d go to Mom’s for relaxing visits.  We’d have endless conversations on the back porch, on the living room sofa, around the kitchen table with our coffee.  Linda would join in, fitting easily into our “windmilling” as we signed.

Of course, daily pressures of job demands and family responsibilities often kept us out of touch with Mom.  Time stretched longer and longer between visits, texts, and e-mails as we attended to our own priorities.

Those priorities suddenly rearranged one day with a text from a neighbor of Mom’s.  A short message, really: “Your mother had a stroke.  Come home quickly.  She needs you.”

I made arrangements and flew, alone, to be with her.

Worry and concern and tears came first, in the uncertainty of whether she would even live.  As she began her recovery, those fears were replaced with warm hugs and lingering touches.  I would stroke her hair as we sat quietly together.

Because of her condition, we had decided to put Mom in a nursing home near us, praying the rehab wing would be only short-term, and that she would be able to recover most of her faculties.  Before we placed her there, Linda and I took a tour of the home.  I was pleased with the clean, friendly atmosphere, the spacious bedrooms, the well-groomed grounds.  The downstairs floor was equipped with rooms for therapy, including a craft workshop for those whose upper body mobility was limited (like Mom’s), but who were helped by making small articles of clay, cloth, etc.  There was also a separate kitchen used for therapy, to re-teach many of the basic routines the patients no longer took for granted.

Mom had lost most of the use of her hands.  Her right hand was limp, and her left hand stumbled awkwardly.  She couldn’t sign, she couldn’t write or type, and her speech was affected.  Mom did eventually start learning to talk again, but her speech was so slurred that it was impossible for me to lip-read.  Anguish shone deep in her eyes when I came to visit.  With her stroke, our means of communication had been wiped out.  Sometimes a nurse would come in to help us communicate.  She would repeat what Mom had said for me to lip-read, or write notes.

But it wasn’t the free, easy communication that had flowed between us all my life.  I resented it.  Visits became awkward, conversation stilted.  I went to see her less and less often.

I stopped after work to see Mom one day, and Nurse Julie greeted me.  She handed me a note.  “Your mother has been working very hard on a surprise for you.  I won’t tell you what it is.  It might seem like a little thing, but I want you to know it has cost her many hours of frustration and tears.  It means a lot to her.”

Julie looked at me intently.  I smiled, thanked her, and started toward Mom’s room.  “That’s nice,” I thought, remembering the craft room downstairs.  “She probably made a pot holder or something.  It’s good she’s using her hands a little.”

I opened the door to her room with a grin and walked in.  She was in her wheelchair.  As I stood facing her, Mom’s fingers began to move.  I knew immediately what the surprise was going to be.  I stood transfixed, watching though tear-blurred eyes the outstretched hand.  Thumb, forefinger, and little finger slowly, painfully extended.  Finally the last two middle fingers slowly stretched out.  “I love you – a lot.”

I sank to my knees and put my head in her lap, my arms around her waist.  Mom put her hand on my head and, with the irregular rhythm of a stroke victim, moved her hand down and began rubbing my back.

Author’s Note: I originally wrote this piece about 30 years ago. It is a true account all the way up to, “in the course of kindergarten screening, I was found to have a hearing loss myself.” I was a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing, I was a single mother, my son signed his first word, “pillow,” at six months, I read to him at night and rubbed his back to wake him in the mornings, and he came up with the “I love you – a lot” sign. He was found to have a hearing impairment during his kindergarten screening. At the time, 30 years ago, I did the writer’s thing of “what if…” and this fictional piece was the outcome. (My son’s hearing was not permanently affected, and he is now 36, with normal hearing. We still use our special sign with each other.)                                 – KW