{ Tribute to Mr. W }

Mr. W was our tough, joke-loving, retired farmer-neighbor who always had a twinkle in his eye. He passed away recently after enduring dementia for the past two years. My 16-year old son was frequently called upon by Mrs. W to help. Here is what my son wrote about Mr. W.

My Memories of Mr. W

Mr. W, a big man with a big personality, was my neighbor for most of my life. He and his wife would visit our house – just down the street – every once in a while. During those visits, they’d make us laugh and have a good time. It was always a pleasure to have them in our home. Occasionally, tiling would need fixing or the ditch needed inspection. Mr. W might drop by for a visit on his way to the field. He would sometimes bring his golf cart along. 

1. The golf cart. When he would stop by with his golf cart, I would always want a ride in it. When I got a little older, I drove it for a while (badly). Mr. W’s golf cart was indeed a coveted thing. It even led to me saying to his face one time: “Can you give it to me in your will?” Indeed, a very inappropriate question. At the time though, it must have seemed only practical. What other way would I secure that golf cart in my future? It would long be a conversation starter when our neighbors were ever brought up.

2. Working with Mr. W. One thing everyone knows about Mr. W is that he was a worker. He could fix, build, or remodel just about anything. One time not too long ago, I got to help him build his deck. Of course, I didn’t know much about deck building. But it seemed as though he had built things all his life. He had a confidence in his work that was nothing short of admirable. He was a skilled carpenter, farmer and handyman all at the same time. If you needed something done, there was a good chance he could do it. 

3.  On the deck. It’s actually funny that I just mentioned a story about the deck. It plays into this next one. When his disease was getting real bad, I was able to come by and help out. It was never a chore, because I genuinely enjoyed it. I enjoyed being able to serve a man who had done so much for my family. Occasionally, I would come by, sit on the couch, and he wouldn’t move an inch. It was as if I weren’t there on those days. He very rarely did anything that caused a problem while I was there. Mr. W was always better in the mornings. Anyone close to him in his last year could tell you that. He would be jovial in the morning. He would comply with just about anything you’d have him do. So it was, early one day in the beauty of the summer, we went out on the deck. The sun was shining, and I’m fairly certain that he had brought out a glass of unfinished milk from breakfast. Anyways, we were just sitting there, and I had the idea to video him. I thought it would make for a great memory if anything were to happen to him. I took out my phone, started a video, and asked him to say hi. He turned his head and smiled in his own way. Kind of an amused, skeptical smile. He never did what I asked, which is fine. I’m just glad I have that video of him in good spirits, on a beautiful day, just living life. 

So, goodbye Mr. W, I’ll miss you. I am glad for all the times I’ve had with you. I will treasure that video forever.

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Photo by Gozha Net on Unsplash

{ Fall 2018 In Pictures }

It’s difficult to condense a season into a few photos.  And, to look at these, you might think everything looks ever-fragrant and all-smiles at our house. A more thorough post would include snaps of dirty laundry & dusty corners and a soundbite of a squabble or two.  This is just a brief, pictorial record of an imperfect family, living day to day by God’s grace.  We have to ask forgiveness when we step on each other’s toes and get selfish or lazy about loving one another. Anyway, here are a few random pieces of fall 2018. You have to catch this fast-moving life while you can.

 

 

 

 

 

{ This Week in Pictures }

 

Bowls cover breakfast eggs, lovingly scrambled by a repentant Mama. (She had barked at her little boy when he asked her three times if she remembered her promise to make him an egg in the morning.)

Ms. Road Construction looked so fetching in her hat and trousers that I had to snap a photo.  What else was there to do for ten minutes while we waited in line?

My dear daughter is celebrating her 23rd birthday tomorrow. “Where has the time gone?”

We invited some dear little people to play with us last week while their Mama went out to lunch.  Back when I had my babies, I didn’t have such an awkward time getting up & down off the floor. Back then, I didn’t have to grab my reading glasses to see what the puzzle looks like. I have missed these little happy little folks who give you the opportunity to get down on the floor and make animal noises.

 

{ Golden Birthday }

On my golden birthday, I wore a blue gingham dress and a bobbed haircut.

The doorbell rang.

Molly, Monica, and the two neighborhood Leslies arrived at my tenth birthday party.

Penny Brownell came too.  I think my mom invited her because everyone else in the neighborhood was coming. Penny talked loud and called her dad “George.”  She was new in the neighborhood and she was popular.  And, she was one of those girls who “took your friends away.”

(Little girls are often threatened by other little girls who “take their friends away” by being cuter, funnier or having better toys.)

My mom hooked up a modest, homemade piñata to the small maple tree in the backyard for later.

I sat on the red velvet-covered piano bench to open my presents.  Inside, I felt shy and self-conscious and I still don’t like opening gifts while a group is watching.

I don’t remember what anyone gave me, except Penny Brownell. She gave me an exquisitely tiny paint set.  The tubed acrylic paints and smooth brushes were housed in a petite plastic case that snapped shut.

Penny told me, “I gave you paints because that’s what you always give everyone for their birthdays.”

I was still thinking about her comment as we all piled into the van. I heard my mom say something like, “We’re going to a chocolate factory,” which sounded exciting.

We were really heading out to see the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

 

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The film was good, but a vague feeling of disappointment followed me back home where the piñata was waiting, along with Mom’s creative rainbow Willy Wonka cake and the paint set.

I blew out ten candles and ate rainbow cake with my guests.

We gallivanted out to the back yard, where a smiling Penny Brownell hit the piñata so hard it cried candy all over the limp August grass.

Word Prompt:  cake

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{ Chicken Pox Christmas }

Fourteen years ago, we were starting to get ready for Christmas…and then six of my children got the chicken pox.

We have photos of everyone reclining on sofas, trying not to scratch.

We didn’t go shopping, didn’t play outside and didn’t visit friends.

Instead, we listened to audiobooks, like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Treasures of the Snow.

That was a quiet and special December. I was present with my children, listening to the stories, offering liquids and resting while they napped.

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Maybe that’s the quiet, restful spirit I was yearning for when I broke out The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on Monday. I listened with my two youngest — and of course, cried at the end of this hilarious, touching story.

Now we’re listening to Treasures of the Snow – another one of those stories that adults can learn from, too.

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Armed with cranberries, we made a cheerful chicken pox snowman that year.

First Photo credit: Josh Boot

{ A Tribute to My Dad }

My dad liked to visit the hardware store, build fires and barbecue steaks.  He labeled things thoroughly with our names, made lots of lists, and didn’t like cats until we got one.

I will always remember the way his face lit up when he laughed, how he was gracious to everyone, and that he gave away many, many smiles.

My dad liked to work with wood, and he made beautiful keepsakes for us that reflected his love of creating.

He gladly labored to raise a crop of tomatoes, or patiently sand a wooden table.

He took no less care with his children.

I don’t ever remember that he spoke an unkind word to me, or lost his temper.  I always sensed from him something of what my Heavenly Father’s love is like:  kind and patient,  faithful and unconditional.

When my pilgrimage on this earth is over, I will eagerly look for my dad in the Celestial City of heaven, where I wonder if he will be talking over project ideas with the King.

Today was my dad’s birthday.  He passed away in 1996 when he was 61 years old.

I wrote this back then (to be read by someone else) at his funeral.  I resisted the temptation just now to fix and edit it — it was written from the heart.  And, it’s all true.

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Thomas J. Falstad  — November 7, 1935 – November 14, 1996