The Fishing Pole

When I was a little girl, Reverend Robert Lindner held summer Vacation Bible School at our little country church around the corner from our big yellow house. The week before the event, he drove the dusty roads with a megaphone speaker atop his car, announcing the upcoming Bible School, inviting the children as they played in their yards, and creating excitement amongst our farm community!

(more…)

I hear the Master whisper . . .

I drive past it nearly every day, on my way somewhere. Today, though, I pull over and park my car in the lot, now overlaid with weeds. I look at the church – an unkempt building that has been empty for many years now – and I listen. No music flows through its closed windows.  No children laugh or play on the rotted teeter-totter in its side yard. No pastor preaches from its pulpit. Instead, I hear the sounds of the country – the birds, the leaves kissing the breeze, a tractor in the distance,

(more…)

When you pray . . .

I was pleased that little granddaughter Kaylee was sound asleep. She had seen me cry enough throughout this last year, each time, hugging me, “Are you missing Grandpa and Grandma ?” she would ask.

“Yes, honey,” I’d answer, thankful to receive and return the hug, but forcing the smile. Her tenderness brought me back. Her smile  gave me focus. And with it came new  strength.

But this night, as I left her sleeping, I could feel the tears welling up. These tears –  tears from missing someone so desperately, knowing you’ll never see her again in your life time – don’t well up in the eyes. They build in a pressure beginning at both sides of the top of your neck, spreading behind your ears, instantly to the sides of the bridge of your nose, then flooding your eyes and overflowing down your face.

“Nana, will you sing to me?” Kaylee had asked, just a few minutes earlier.

It had become our nightly ritual. Kneeling beside her bed, rubbing her back or stroking her cheek as her mommy had, singing her to sleep. My repertoire usually consisted of “Go Tell Aunt Tabby,” “Bye-Baby Bunting,” and my made up song for Kaylee:

Sweet dreams, my Kaylee Joy; 

Sweet dreams to you.

Dream about butterflies,

Dream about baby dolls,

Dream about teddy bears too.

And each night, after several made up verses, my soft singing turned to quiet humming; and eventually diminished, as I left the room and walked down the hall. She was contented and asleep.

But this night, as I knelt by her bed and had sung several verses of Kaylee’s made up song, I quietly hummed two notes – the fifth and the third notes of a  chord – and those two tones immediately took me back  in  time.  . .1951 AD Newborn Kathy copy

. . .  to my mother’s arms.

She was holding me. I felt the warmth of her arms. I looked into her face. I could see my chubby little arm reaching up to her soft cheek. She was humming the song to me – the same two tones. I was tiny – perhaps a few months – perhaps a year. In all my memories, I’ve never had one of such a young age. I felt so small. I remembered being a baby! It was so peaceful but oh so brief! Nearly as soon as the memory had come, it was gone! I was back in the present! Back in reality!

As I left Kaylee’s room that night, the other tones, the melody of the song, came to mind, and the words came a bit later. This time, I wasn’t taken back in time but I sat in the dimly-lit living room, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to picture and hear my mother singing – the  little chorus I hadn’t heard in years:
Music Notes

When you pray, will you pray for me
For I need His love and His care
When you pray, will you pray for me
   Will you whisper my name in your prayer.

At the close of the day, when I kneel to pray
I will remember you
You need help every day, this is why I pray
And I will remember you.

When I pray, I will pray for you
For you need His love and His care
When I pray, I will pray for you
I will whisper your name in my prayer.

1954 B Christmas Margie and Kathy (6) copyTonight, Mama, when I pray, I will whisper your name in my prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, for my Mama, who held me and sang to me and prayed for me. And thank you, Jesus, for the wonderful memory .

Click here to listen to the Gaithers sing “When You Pray.” It’s not as sweet as my Mama’s voice, but you’ll get the idea! 🙂

If Only in My Memories . . .

Walking through the house one Michigan summer morning, I heard the “honk” of a car. I didn’t know if it was on the TV or from a car going by. But it brought back some memories. Perhaps you can relate. 
 

(more…)

Together Forever

Margie lived in a small, white farmhouse,  two miles from the little country church in Butler Township. On Sundays, she, along with her brothers and sisters, sauntered the dry gravel roads to church. The parade of children was led by their stern and proper matriarch, Grandma Locke, who lived with the family, as was the custom with many in the first half of the 20th century.

Wayne, on the other hand, was one of an even larger batch of children. He lived twenty miles away in Ovid Township, in a yet smaller white farmhouse. And on Sunday mornings, in contrast to Margie,  Wayne, alone, walked the dry gravel roads (or wet in the rains, or icy in the winter)  to meet up with a traveling pastor, who faithfully drove from Ovid township on Sunday mornings and evenings to preach at Dayburg Baptist Church in Butler township.

IMG_0189 1In and around that quaint little building and its grassy churchyard, Margie and her brothers and sisters met young Wayne. The Locke family took to Wayne, which led to him spending long Sunday afternoons with them at their country home. Later in the day, after the Sunday evening service, Wayne would ride with the pastor back to Ovid Township and walk the short mile home.

IMG_2293Wayne’s friendship developed with the Locke family, and later,  with Margie. One summer afternoon, the young couple crossed the creek, and ambled through the woods between the church and the cemetery on the hill. In this woods, Wayne carved their initials, connected by an arrow, into the trunk of a young tree:

W N + M L ↔

 

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Days passed. Months passed. The young tree reached for the sun above. Occasionally the skies were gray, but the sun always shone again. The tree kept reaching.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

By the time Wayne graduated from Coldwater High School, the United States had entered World War II. He signed up and served overseas for three years. Oh how he missed the little country church and his sweet Margie! Meanwhile, Margie worked in a factory, keeping busy to help the war effort and her family.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

The tree was still growing, and as it grew, the imbedded letters widened – the arrow tightened the connection between the pair of initials.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

The years dragged. The young couple corresponded, and their letters spoke of love and of marriage.

1946 AZ June 23In 1946, Wayne came home, and he and Margie were married at the little country church – just a few hundred yards from that carved tree in the woods.

Yellow House in the FallSoon, they bought a farm near that woods behind the church where they had one day wandered. The creek bordered the farm on the south. The beautiful yellow farmhouse sat on the hill, midway to the northern property line. It was a house Margie had admired since she walked the dusty roads as a child, many years before, and now her dream had come true.

They served the Lord together in the little country church and raised their family in the yellow farmhouse –  both just a few hundred yards from that carved tree in the woods.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

The sun often shone in the woods between the church and the cemetery on the hill, but occasionally skies became overcast and gloomy. Oppressive rains darkened the carved letters in the tree. The storms raged. But the sun always came out again and dried the bark of the tree. Then the carved letters laughed and sang in the light of the Son. The tree flourished and praised its Maker. The tree aged but stood strong and solid. The years passed . . .

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

. . . nearly sixty-six years! Then the eyes of Wayne’s old body closed for the last time – never to open again. His soul went up, high above the tree, through the sunlight of the early March morning and into the presence of his Maker; and a month later, on an April day, Margie lay, yearning to follow her beloved Wayne. She raised her aged,  purpled forearms toward the heavens, reaching toward the Son – and then she followed him.

The grave - May 2013Their old bodies are buried together in the cemetery on the hill – just a few hundred yards from that carved tree in the woods!

A tombstone bears their names and the dates of their births and deaths. Between their names, two words are carved in the gray granite: Together Forever. 

When a stranger meanders throughout the cemetery and pauses to read those words, he probably smiles and thinks, “How sweet! The old couple is forever buried together here in this little country cemetery.” But when those of us who knew Wayne and Margie read those words, we laugh and sing in light of the Son, knowing that the young couple is Together Forever in heaven!

IMG_2292If you stand high on the cemetery hill and look over the dark green tops of the trees in  the woods below, you’ll see an empty space where the carved tree once stood – empty because the tree died, too. But if you look deeper, down through the green, onto the floor of the woods, you’ll find saplings and seedlings, sown from the seeds of the old tree. They’re growing and reaching up toward the sky and the sun. They welcome the spring rains but are frightened of the fierce storms of late summer and winter. They grow taller and stronger in each season, and they praise their Maker as they see the Son after each storm.

And when you stand on that hill, if you are very still, and if a soft breeze is coming from the church yard below, ruffling the tops of the trees throughout the woods, you’re apt to hear a duo of voices whispering, Together Forever. And when you do, you’ll find yourself laughing and singing in the light of the Son.

A House Where She Belongs

Daddy passed away first and Mama followed him just one month later. I’ve written about it before, and I’m sure I’ll write about it again. But today, I write about something they left behind

(more…)

The Fishing Pole

When I was a little girl, Reverend Robert Lindner held summer Vacation Bible School at our little country church around the corner from our big yellow house. The week before the event, he drove the dusty roads with a megaphone speaker atop his car, announcing the upcoming Bible School, inviting the children as they played in their yards, and creating excitement amongst our farm community!

(more…)

Treasures from the Woodshed

Daddy and Mama bought the big yellow house when I was 13 months old. Surrounded by red barns, white board fences, chicken coops, and corn cribs, the house sat on 80 acres of fields, pastures, and woods, bordering a creek. They paid $10,000 for it. Grandpa Nutt said they’d never live to see it paid! But my Grandpa was wrong.

(more…)

Letters from War

Marion L. Nutt

May 18, 1920 – April 28, 1943

I never knew my Uncle Marion, yet my throat tightens, and tears roll down my face whenever I look at pictures of him, read his letters from war, or place a flower on his grave.

Perhaps it is because he reminds me of my father. They shared such a resemblance. Or perhaps it is because sometimes I try to place myself in my Grandma’s shoes – having five sons in the war at the same time

(more…)

The Library in My Woodland

My parents bought their 80-acre Butler Township Farm in 1952 from Elizabeth Ramsdell. Her husband, Ray Ramsdell had passed the year before, and Elizabeth did not want to keep up the farm herself. After selling the farm on land contract to my parents, she moved to a huge home on Washington Street with her sister, another widow or perhaps an unmarried woman. I simply remember them as “elderly” and looking back, I find they were younger than I am now!
 
I remember going with my mother every month to make the farm payment to Mrs. Ramsdell. The Washington Street house was a typical late 19th century, Victorian home. While Mother had tea with the ladies in the parlor, I was allowed to close the 10 foot pocket doors on two sides of the grand foyer and let my imagination run wild on each step of the massive open stairway and landings to the huge, probably unused, upstairs. Closed doorways throughout the wide hallways held stories I could only imagine, hopefully saved for another day. For about an hour a month, I visited airplanes and railroad cars, hospitals and hotels, and mansions and palaces. 

(more…)