Friday, October 29, 2010


I never know what will trigger it.  The pain attacks me without warning at least once a week.   It’s not a pain that can be felt in my bones or in my body.  It is a pain that strikes at the center of my being.  Today the pain was prompted by a perfectly pleasant conversation with the college switchboard operator, a petite older woman named Nancy.  I was leaving some outgoing mail on her desk and we began chatting.  Nancy is one of the friendliest people on campus.  She greets everyone who walks in the front door of the administration building with a “Hello, how are you today?” and the sincerest of smiles.  And yet I walked away from our conversation struggling to hold back tears.  (The tears are coming again now, as I write this.)
Nancy was telling me about watching her four year-old grandson’s soccer games this fall, and all of the funny things he does – how he gives his dad a thumbs-up whenever he does something he thinks is good; how the entire team stops in mid-action to ogle at a small airplane as it files overhead; how her grandson’s teammate paused one time at the sideline to ask his mom when the game was going to be over because he was getting hungry, all the while eyeing the post-game snacks. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brandy Rose

Maybe it was the full-moon.  Or the fact that it was Friday.   It may have been the excitement of doing something new and unexpected.  Or it might have been the way she licked me, without abandon, at our first meeting. 

Whatever the reason, it happened.  And it seems there is no going back.

It was about two o'clock this past Friday afternoon.  I had called Joe to talk to him about our plans for the weekend.  "Heather," he said.  "There's a puppy down here.  They are trying to give her away.  Do you want to come see?"

I paused.  A nervous tingle rose up from my chest into my throat.  A puppy?

Joe and I work in adjacent buildings on the same college campus. It's less than a five-minute walk from my office to his.  Things were quiet at work, as usual for a Friday.  Plus, I still needed to ask him about our plans.

"Okay," I said with some hesitation.  "Be right down."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grazie Papa!

Thank you Papa for your visit, and for the wonderful grandfather and father you are to our family.  We love you for so many reasons....

  • You didn't (and never would) allow 1322 miles, two plane rides and a three-hour car trip, one-way, keep you from being our first visitor in Poplar Bluff.  I think we could probably move to China and expect a visit from you within our first few months.  (I guess it's a good thing they don't have college baseball in China.)
  • You can do kitchen "renovations" with a flat head screwdriver and a butter knife.
  • You make errands -- even the annoying, multiple trips to Wal-Mart and Sears -- FUN.
  • You never miss an opportunity to get a McDonald's ice cream cone.
  • You are one of the few people we know who can get a tan at a two-hour baseball game ... in October.

  • You are one of the most generous people we know.
  • You keep the family connected through the photos on your i-phone.
  • You give the best hugs, and sometimes you squeeze our cheeks, too.
  • You are good at vacuuming, moving cribs, assembling chairs and sleeping on an air mattress.
  • You are proud of us and it shows.
  • You love us at our worst.
  • You point us to Christ.
  • And you enjoy the hayrides as much as your grandsons do.

Ti vogliamo bene Papa!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn, the Medicine Months

I don't know if it's just us, but right now our kitchen counter is clogged with preventatives and remedies for the illnesses and ailments that seem to plague us this time of year --antibiotics for strep throat and sinus infection, analgesics for fever and aches and allergy medication for itchy noses and sneezes.  There's also vitamins and zinc drops, decongestants and throat lozenges, all of which our family seems to be downing on a daily basis.  I think the season of Autumn should be renamed, the "Medicine Months." 

I used to like Fall.  In fact, for as long as I can remember, Autumn has been my favorite season.  My birthday is at the end of September, and that has always been an important reason for my love of the season. Each Fall I look forward to bonfires and hiking, and rescuing my scarves and wool sweaters from their hibernations in my cedar chest. Of course, like everyone else, I also enjoy the changing leaves, the cooling temperatures, making a gooey mess carving pumpkins and afterwards, roasting the pumpkin seeds under a thick layer of seasoned salt. And after all, what's not to like about candy corns, the beginning of football season and the smell of beef stew simmering on the stove?  

But lately I have received little enjoyment from these once-anticipated Fall milestones.  This year I have been too sick to appreciate them.  My nose is too stuffy to smell the stew. My eyes are too itchy to see the beauty of the trees.  My throat is too sore to binge on sugary Halloween treats.  The hay rides make me sneeze. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Birthday Reflections

Another birthday means another year in the books.  What will I remember as I flip through the pages of my life’s 33rd chapter?   As I reflect on the last year, sometimes it is hard to sift out the stand-out moments from the everyday ordinariness of life and work. 
I have been crying, or on the verge of tears, most of this last week.  I’ve been complaining to my husband about the difficulties of having recently moved to a new place, whining about the things I don’t like about it here in Poplar Bluff and wallowing in self-pity.  Last night though, was the worst.  I fell apart. 
Joe and I were standing in the kitchen.  The dinner dishes had all been cleaned and put away.  Our two boys were quietly in their beds for the night.  The kitchen was dark but for the light over the stove.  Everything in the house was peaceful, yet inside my heart was a category-5 hurricane rapidly approaching land.