Monday, September 19, 2011

Last Mile of the Way

I moved the carseats to the third row and--at the car wash--vacuumed the wilted french fries and crushed-up Fruit Loops from the second, where the carseats had been. Clementine grimaced and covered her ears, but she's eaten and played since then, and now she's singing, alternately, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Pop! Goes the Weasel."

I'm not shy about Luther's blindness, anymore, so I encourage Clementine: "Luther can't see you, Honey; sing louder so he can hear you," and I proceed to tell Luther about the girls' hair and outfits, and how Clementine's brown as a berry from our summer, lakeside.

"Does Clementine like to color?" he asks. I tell him she does, and he says, "I'm gonna give you some money, Christmastime, to buy her a coloring book and crayons."

Charleigh shrieks in protest from the third row. Grace giggles, and Luther says: "She wants to make sure we know she's back there. Does she color, too?"

"No," I tell him. "She eats crayons."

I look at Joyce in the rear-view mirror and ask: "Hey, you remember the time when Clementine was a baby and she screamed her head off on the way to the Gospel Chicken House with Mac and Iris?" Joyce nods, and I tell the others: "Iris was super agitated, and I finally pulled off the side of the road and got Clementine out of her seat: rode her in my lap the rest of the way there. We were on some back country road and really close, anyway, at that point. But thank goodness we didn't get pulled over.

"Mac was completely calm about all of it," I add. Luther nods.

"Mac told me one time that, in Russia, 'vodka' means water," Luther says, "But I don't know if it's true or not."

"The speaker, today, was interesting in his talk about mission work in Russia, huh?"

"Yeah, but I got real sleepy at the end," Luther confesses.

"Wait 'til we feed you Thanksgiving dinner," I say. "Tryptophan."

Grace sings behind us with a warble, and I think of Mrs. Which from A Wrinkle in Time. I don't know the hymn and strain to both make out the words and commit them to memory.

Soon enough, we're back, and they pile out well as they can. I've learned a lot about Luther, today, because he's graduated to front seat what with Iris's and Mac's flying to Jesus. He pauses just beside the van and thanks me for taking them, but I'm the one should be saying thanks.

Because my love for them has helped me make important decisions: which church, which vehicle. But, beyond that, it's changed me. Pried the shell of my heart open like a little nut. Made me less afraid of what's coming, with its bad eyes and bad legs, bad mind, sickness, and bodily stench.

My friends have taught me: their hearts don't shrink or shrivel or shirk with age and disease. Their hearts just keep right on growing...blossoming, even. With me, in- and alongside.

Joyce, Cade, Noah, and Abi at the Science Museum
Clementine and Joyce at the Zoo
Mac with the Titus Children
I didn't take this photo of Mac. Pretty sure Pastor David took it.
I did take the sunset pic and do some photo editing.
Clementine, Alice (Caregiver), Iris
Charleigh and Luther
Zaida, Joyce, Iris, Tabitha (My Son's Stepmom)


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Also sharing with Heather's Extraordinary Ordinary community for "Just Write"...

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