"Joe-Joe, guess what." Jane tilts her head. In another era she'd have hands on her hips, but today she just sighs.
There moored at the bottleneck part of the kitchen, Joe stands tip-toe, his elbows propped on the counter. A red step stool wobbles against his weight. He clanks the butter knife back to the butter dish, blinks.
"We don't eat plain butter in this family," Jane staccatos each word. She scoops the pottery dish beyond his reach, then softens her eyes. "I know, it sounds sort of crazy," she says.
Joe, the glisten of butter around his lips, grunts disapproval.
Then, it's Monday the wide mouth of afternoon open and grinning at us.
"Alright, everyone suit up for bike rides," I say.
"Yay," the children cheer. They gather scruffy tennis shoes and helmets. I brew a cup of espresso.
"Mom," Myra jangles at my elbow, a blue helmet balanced on red cloud hair. "Jude really likes me because he like my BIKE," she beams. For all the beatitude in her voice I can picture hands clasped beneath her chin. "He maybe likes me BEST," she says.
"Oh," I say. Jude, cousin of all bluster and gusto, always finds redheaded girl in a crowd.
"I'm just so excited 'cause Jude likes me SO much," she says. I nod, her face resplendent with friendship.
They blast up and down the street, pedals spindling spools of mirth. The cousins can't come. Jack's bike almost breaks. Still, warm sun careens across our skin, fractures dullness and woe.
The night circles up at the old black table. We gobble bowls of soup, chew down bread, butter, a generous smear atop. And we unweave the day in gossamer threads of conversation.
The dishes pile in the sink, bowls balanced in uneven stacks, silverware pinched in between. Jane loads the dishwasher, the mathematical plodding of duty, the slavedriver at her elbow. Slog and schlepp, plough and drudge, she pulses the dirge of duty.
"Jane, stop," I finally say. I whip a wadded scratchie-pad from her hand, a bouquet of silverware in her other. She turns the orbit of her face to me, that same slow plodding. "These do not need to be scrubbed," I say. "Just put them in the dishwasher."
"Oh." she lilts.
"Jane, don't be slow," Craig cannons over my shoulder.
Like mortar in a stain glass window, her face fractures; a smile emerges. "O-K," she says, sighs. "I'll try not to do the dishes with my fingertips."
Fingertips. Indeed. She grasps the silverware along their full shiny backs, docks them in the gray washing basket. She whips a washrag over the counters, sidles miscellaneous jars and pans into place, and settles. Something settles across the back of the evening. Strength rises, wings unfurled, and we carry on.
That last dish clangs into place. I watch her, taller than a year ago, curls springs at her elbows, and duty a weightless banner across her shoulders.
5348. Jack and I take a hike in the woods. A date.
5349. "I really like birthdays and Christmas," Lu says, "because I get to see Uncle Jesse and Uncle Dan and Uncle Peter. I don't get to see them very much."
5350. White chicken chili and leftovers, I love it when dinner guests leave leftovers. Jack says it's his favorite soup ever.
5351. "Please stop kicking the heater," I scold Myra. "I'm not kicking it," she calls from the other room. "I'm hitting it with a hammer."
5352. Out with my mom, the car dies. Twice. Peter rescues us. Twice. Love.
5353. Rosie arrives home safe from Europe.
5354. Carolyn and Ellin arrive home safe from NYC, a good report from the doctor in hand.
5355. Pillow shams, again. The melons ones go back; cream ones come home. The whole room sings around the white shams.
5356. Lucy pukes in the night. In bed. Craig and I stay up until 3:30 washing puke laundry and watching reruns. He lets me sleep until 10:30.
5357. Jane bakes brown sugar oatmeal cookies for Craig. And me.
5358. We attend Easter service as a family. Rapture. Surrounded by our children, we worship the risen Savior. HE HAS RISEN. HE HAS RISEN INDEED.
5359. Jack challenges me to a chess match. I win. He smiles. "Wanna play another game?" he says.
5360. The girls volunteer with Craig in five of the six Easter services. At the tail end of Sunday we catch dinner with my family. Reclined around the remains of a ham dinner and carrot cheese cake, Mom pulls out the prayer requests from last year and reads them off. HE HAS RISEN INDEED. We praise him for his answers.
5361. We leave some items on the prayer list and add to it.
5362. We get the bad news that Great-Grammie fell and is settled into the hospital. "Who wants to pray for her?" I call to the back of the car. "We do," they chorus. We bring her before our Savior.
5363. Resurrection Day. Greatest Day Of All. I bow my heart in recognition of my Savior. I am lost without him. Praise be to Jesus. Amen.