"You know how to drive." Myra nods to me. I pull a down jacket over my shoulders and kneel to fasten buttons on her neon yellow sweater. She pokes willowy fingers through a button hole, tugs the button through.
"Yeah," I nod. She nods back. We nod in unison. Blink. "Do you?"
"Yeah," she mimics head still bobbing. "I do." She blinks. "But I don't." She blinks again. "I can't drive, but I can turn the fan on."
"The fan in the car?"
"Yeah." She fiddles the last button through, pulls the sweater down 'round her waist. "I have to go poopy," she adds. "I want you to flop me on the toilet."
"Flop you on the toilet?"
"Yeah," she nods again as if adjudicating a piano recital. "Don't let my head go in," she warns. I make my eyes round like hers and watch the words tumble out. "Don't let my arms go in either."
We hit the bathrooms and head out.
"That car is HEAVY," she remarks as we board the suburban. "Suckers are STICKY," she says as we depart down the driveway. "Faster, faster, faster -- drive, drive," she lilts. "Cars can hurt my fingers when I get out, " she continues. "Then I go to sleep for a long time, long time, long time and then my owie gets off, and I can take the band-aid off."
Christmas music croons and Myra joins in, "and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing." She knows most of the words. I never noticed in December. "Glory to the King," she chirps. We bump-bump over a parking lot ramp. "That's a heavy part," she evaluates.
We follow the familiar route of grocery chocolate and warm steamer. She picks vanilla.
At a small bistro table she bustles handfuls of baby peanut butter cups to her mouth. She piles them on the little plastic lid and loopty-doopty pops them in her mouth one after another.
"I'm not gettin' it on my shirt," she reassures. "I'm not puttin' my lips on my shirt." She jabs the yellow sweater, "Right here."
I flip the receipt over and scratch out the crossbars of tic-tac-toe. We take turns. She's dots. I'm exes. She makes her eyes perfect round irises, full blue marbles, when I say, "No, I can go there," and jab the corner quadrant. "You don't have a dot there so I actually can go there." Still she practically cheers when I win.
Midday ebbs; afternoon eases in. We gather the remains of chocolate, tepid steamer, rumpled receipt and lollygag to the car.
And then we're home, ascended the driveway, parked. "Myra," I say, "I have an important question for you. And I want you to REALLY think about it." I twist around in my seat, look my eyes into hers. "Myra, what do you want me to pray about for you?"
In time with conversation, hardly a pause, "Jesus," she says.
"Jesus?" I say, "What about Jesus?"
"Jesus be in my heart." She measures out the words with the sure gait of an executive officer.
Jesus be in my heart. In the small frame of an almost three year old we rough in the walls of the future.
Jesus be in my heart.
4125. "Want to open your mouth and close your eyes?" Lucy asks and them plops an orange slice in my mouth.
4126. "Jesus, I'm naughty. Please die for me and live in my heart." Myra's prayer.
4127. "If I get hurt, I'll wake up Joe," Myra predicts her glass fluttering scream.
4128. To the woman I love with all my heart. As always I give all my love to you. Craig rubber-bands his love note to chocolate bars and garden seeds.
4129. He tolls in the final hours of Valentine's Day belly-down on the hardwoods, elbow deep in the bowels of the washing machine. All that wrestling and he pins a victory: new drain pump fully operational. An avalanche of laundry awaits.
4130. Lavender athletic jersey, hobo mitts and all soft, my running clothes become my regular clothes.
4131. Sweet Rockie's surgery goes well. She awakes and blusters, "Holy smokes!" all drowsy and surreal. I memorize her two year old sweetness gathered in pillows and tucked under a soft quilt, arms crossed.
4132. We round-up with family on the farm. Roast and potatoes, salad and green beans, it's a feast.
4133. I knit the first nine inches of Joey's monkey sweater.
4134. We circle up for sign language and laugh and whittle away an afternoon.
4135. "My favorite person," Lucy lilts, "is standing there: the girl in the green coat." I smile green coat zipped up under my chin.
4136."Those are SPICY." Myra motions to a pile of orange peels. "Don't eat that," she says.
4137. The three older kids go to a local GOLF show with Craig. They return with complimentary kids' clubs. Myra assesses the clubs and turns to me. "Are we gonna go to the DOG show?"
4138. Cousins send us valentines.
4139. The kids dig last years crop of carrots. Sweet, crisp candy.
4140. A flight to the ER for sis-in-law-Rose and we get the news: It's pneumonia. 3.5 liters of fluids by IV, a load of antibiotics and she's cleared to recover at home.
4141. Friends invite us to lunch after church.
4142. I stop in a local bookshop and the owner visits with me long past closing. I take note of her kindness.
4143. Pizza night.
4144. "Yeah, let's don't pick our nose," Myra wipes her nose. "That's ICKY."
4145. Another week lands in our laps somehow seamlessly woven despite my many flaws.