Sunday, March 9, 2014


"Where does the stamp go?" Jack says. Barefooted after a tromp out back, he hee-haws from one foot to the other. I slide my pink slip of paper in the card-sized envelope, hand it back to him.

"Here," I say. He licks the flap, mashes it over and presses it between his fingers. Generously moistened, it blurps a little along the seam.

"Look, Lucy," he holds up the letter, creases the lip further.

"Careful, you don't have to pinch it like that," I say. He flaps the letter like a wing. Anchored farther down the table, I stir a ramekin of soup, scalding hot.

"Ok, where does the stamp go?" he says. Now holding the envelope in a feather grip, he points to the front side. He taps the top right corner, then left corner. He leans on the table end, studies the addressee.

"Just a minute," I say. He fingers the parcel. I draw a scoop from my bowl, billowy hot. Taco soup, I blow across the spoon. The broth flutters. I watch him wait, gather his enthusiasm, chisel it into an engine.

"Is it by the G or the S," he says and points to either side of the addressee.

"Uhm," I slurp the cumin-y broth, scorch my tongue. "The S," I manage and swallow scorching sop.

My stamps around the corner and down the hall, I let him wait, watch him squirm with excitement, and then corral it, harness it.

The letter. Scrawled in enormous print across the middle: my Grampa's name.

Gentle waves of heritage wash over me, something decent and good. Upright. And humor. That man laughs all the time. A retired M.D.,  still he never misses the hilarity of high class, high society. He and Gramma used to laugh until they'd cry. He still laughs every day.

"I hope Grampa likes the letter," I say. I think how long it's been since I've seen him. Long.

"Does he know Jesus?" Lucy blurts.

"His parents did," I say. Everyone slows on her pivot. My spoon rests slack at the bowl. Jane glances up from a page of math. "He says he doesn't know if there's a God," I say.

"Why?" Lucy says, her eyes round beacons. She's leaned so far over the table that she's almost laying on it, propped on her elbows.

"'Cause he's blinded." I shrug. "I've been praying for him my whole life, for as long as I can remember." The words spool out, but almost as quickly as I say them, I feel the weight of all those prayers gathered up, wound up, saved and set aside. Acknowledged. As if for a moment eye to eye with Jesus, I gush love for Grampa.

"Is he a Jew?" Lucy blurts. Her brow furrowed as if distilling the options, she pokes the question. She raises her eyebrows. Her devoted blue eyes blink at me. They all do.

The sphere of the moment, a rising balloon of hilarity, I bust. "No," I burble. "Nope," I bubble and giggle. I unravel and fracture, mirth and merriment broke open. "I'm laughing because it's a good question," I finally say, "unexpected and good. Nope. He's not a Jew."

Lunch, split open and raptured, we busy ourselves with the work of the day, a marble of joy in our pockets.


5239. "I know I would never hibernate," Lucy says, "even if I tried. Only bears do that. And maybe monkeys."

5240. We eat vinegar over garbanzos for dinner. Joey slurps and slurps to get the last sips of vinegar.

5241. I check on Myra before I head to bed. She's asleep in maroon stretch pants and pink Converse.

5242. New swim bottoms, the kind that do it all and then some.

5243. Trail mix.

5244. Chicken white chili, salad and oat bread, blueberry bars, family.

5245. Joey takes to filling measuring cups from the fridge dispenser. He lounges and sips out of them.

5246. Myra and Joe eat oatmeal together. She peals in giggles. "He's staring at me," she says.

5247. "Mom, I'm gonna sit by you," Myra says, "'cause of my owie, so then the blood doesn't spray out."

5248. A summer tank, a new stock pot, a sweater you can wrap up and tie at the waist, almond croissants, a Friday out, it's perfect.

5249. "Joey fell out of bed," Myra says, when we go looking for Joe, "so I had to have him sit on my bed for a while."

5250. "Momma," Jane says as we play Words of Love at dinner, "what I love about you: When people do something wrong, you come down really hard on them, but they end up being really glad that you did."

5251. "Daddy," she says, "what I love about you is that no matter what happens you're just really happy. You're just so optimistic."

5252. We beat it to the first wrestling tournament of the season. The whole big family meets to cheer and hurrah. Camaraderie breaks loose.

5253. "I'm like a grown-up," Myra croons to Joe, "'cause on my date Mom gave me chocolate chips."

5254. Jude turns five. A birthday party and my sweet, force-of-nature nephew blanches with joy. Me too.

5255. We come in for another Sunday landing. The rhythm of rest and work pulses us on.


  1. I always say that Daddy's the fun parent and I'm the "Hall Monitor"... somebody has to be! You are always a happy part of my Monday mornings. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You made me cry with this one. Then made me laugh out loud. Lovely writing. Truth.

  3. Oh Bethany, once those kiddos get praying for Grandpa, he's in for it! lol!

    You always make me want to have more babies :)

  4. Grandpa loved the letter. He had it displayed on the kitchen table all week and I saw him reread it several times. Today he wrote an answer. We laughed about whether Jack would be able to read his printing. 92 years and a physician's hand can make for some difficult deciphering. ;)

    Love you, Bethany.