"Betsy's frowning at me so I frowned at her," Joe calls. From the table, he shovels eggs into his mouth and furrows his brow at Bess.
"Why?" I say. I chop sweet potatoes like the slow click of a metronome.
"'Cause she frowned at ME," he says.
"Aren't you supposed to me older and more mature?" I say.
"I mean, yeah I am OLDER." He shovels in another bite mirth replacing frown.
"Oh, we're going to go down a hill." Myra squeals. "This is the funnest thing E-VER."
"Yeah," Joe says. A loping hill at our front, we sail to Jack's wrestling match, top speed.
"See those stripes on the road?" Myra narrates. "Daddy says PEOPLE actually come and paint those."
"Oh," he says awe following the crest of her voice. We arrive just in time to congratulate Jack. A win.
"Mom," Jack taps my shoulder. Home again, he points at Joe. Toast generous with jelly, Joe spreads a swath with the center of a butter knife, hand awkward and novice. I widen my eyes; he flash-glances up.
"No. More," I mouth to him. He slacks the knife back in the jelly jar.
"Um," he looks at me. "I'll put that back," he says, and in one motion, plucks a sloppy berry off the toast. He plops it in the jar. It catches the knife handle and rolls slow-mo down the blade face. He makes a second swipe, lobs the berry center rim. He licks finger and thumb. "There," he says.
"Oh," I say. I mentally note the recalcitrant strawberry in the KIDS' jelly. "O-kay," I say. He grins ripe with obedience. I nod, trace it's silhouette there on the knife blade.
"Myra CAN'T change her mind," Joe says. Ever-present commentator, he clunks my elbow as I type.
"Yeah?" I say.
"Yeah, you CAN''T change your mind," he says.
"Oh," I say. "You mean like lie?"
"Yeah," now shimmied up the back of my chair, he leans his head on my shoulder. "The Bible says Your yes shall be YES, and your no shall be NO," he says.
"That's true," I say. He sits on one of the desk's pullout boards then dismounts with the ease the Tin Man. He clatters off, his YES and NO still there with me.
Pillars of faith begin to form. Maturity and mirth, obedience and truth, he gathers them up one at a time, memorizes them until they are so close, so familiar, they are air.
5740. Jack wrestles silver at a tournament. A pin and a technical loss included, he leaves with the sheen of something older imbedded in his face.
5741. Betsy turns one. A year with this child, and our family is complex and lovely so as we never could have imagined.
5742. A friend from college drops me a line. We catch up, exchange writing. Wonderful memories surface. Our lives interweave in separate but pleasant ways.
5743. Cabbage for sauerkraut, olive oil, a new Bible, the Lord brings nourishing staples.
5744. I near the knitting end [finally] of Myra's green tunic, just the linen stitch border at the hem.
5745. Jane goes on a date with Gramma.
5746. Asiago cheese bread.
5747. Lucy and I go to her eye appointment together. I find the eye exercises they have her do, targeted and rigorous. We laugh over Lucy's dogged determination. Unexpected conversations come up with the people there. Our lives overlap.
5748. I continue to discipline myself to sleep more, pray more, and read more. Small increments, surgical adjustments, discipline carves her good work across our lives.