Thursday, July 26, 2012

I’ll never forget when she took me to the Benjamin Franklin store.  The imitation stained glass hummingbirds were shimmering in the sun.  It was hot out then.  I was staying with her for a week while my parents were in Germany.  We rode in her truck and sang along to Dolly Parton, me only pretending to know the words.

She bought me and my brother Count Chocula cereal.  Her husband had salted peanuts in a giant jar near his recliner.  She had a woodpecker toothpick grabber on her counter.  When you pushed his beak down, he would grab a toothpick.  When you’re six, that is really something.
Her basement was scary.  I never liked going down there but if you wanted to play with the Lincoln Logs you had to.  She had poker chips, old spools, antique keys, and an automatic card shuffler that she let me play with.  She never yelled at me for making too much noise and although I was a quiet girl, she called me her little chatterbox.

She lived on a lake where I made mud pies and every once in a while she would give me a minnow to play with.  I was careful with the minnow, rolling it the tin full of muddy water.
When I was older, she built a cabin.  I went on the roof with my dad and he let me hammer in a shingle.  There was plenty of space to wander around and an outhouse.  In the cabin she told stories, we listened to the Indian radio station, and played countless games of Scrabble.

We are both older now.  Life is not fair, but has been especially been harsh towards her.  Her body has been encumbered with the effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis for years.  Ever since I have known her, anyway.  She has carried on with more physical pain than anyone I have ever met.  She has also carried on with a stoic sense of humor and a brave front.  Her life has been full, in the face of physical limitations.
She has been fighting particularly hard these last few weeks after an ugly car accident, never wavering.  I don’t know what makes her stronger than the rest of us.  I don’t know if she has been fighting her whole life and it is her innate instinct.  I don’t know if it is her resolve.  I don’t know if it is her faith.  I don’t know if she understands something we don’t.  Maybe it’s a combination.

I know she is getting better.  I know before too long, she will get back to enjoying nature because that is her nature.

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