Wednesday, December 30, 2009

His Fingerprints

My dad died three and a half years ago and my grief has ebbed and flowed as the tide. As time passes the tide stays out more often, and I'm okay with that. Last night however it came in with flood force. I was moving in to my almost done dining room. I put dad's clock up on my new mantle. It doesn't work, hasn't worked since the day he died. I opened it up to try the keys once again and accidentally opened the book of memory as well. The morning he died I was sitting with him at his house. He was agitated. He kept glancing up at the clock; muttering. So I asked, knowing the response "Dad do you need me to wind the clock?" He seemed to look me over. Please, I thought, I'm 32 I'm capable, let me help you. No go. He struggled to his feet shuffled over with his cane and wound it up. He left for the doctors a few minutes later not knowing he'd never come home. His last words to me were jest. He drove to his death and I stood there laughing. It was part of him, to always leave me with a laugh.
Memories pages fell forward a few days and I saw my brother going through dad's coin collection. The funeral was over. My brother was jubilant to get the long desired collection. I saw his excitement turn to preoccupation over the days and I asked why. He answered "I always wanted to share this with dad in life, but he never let me."
I was back in 2009 staring at the clock, staring at dad's smeared fingerprints all over the glass of it, the fingerprints I could never bear to wipe off. And suddenly I was angry. Angry that he never shared his clocks with me. Angry that he never shared his coin collection with Mike. Angry that he was selfish and left me with a clock that didn't work, a clock wound too tight. In a spatula-throwing burst of anger I grabbed the Windex and sprayed his fingerprints. I wiped them clean. Then I cried and went to find my husband.
Dave and I stood and looked out at the falling snow. I told him what I loved best about snow was that it covered everything. The dirty, the ugly, everything was tucked under it, made lovely. The verse I'd been saying over and over to the kids this week came to mind "love covers a multitude of sins." I loved my dad. My anger and dad's selfishness were buried under a deep blanket of God's forgiveness. I felt the peace of it flutter down.
We went to bed only to be waken abruptly at 1 am by a horrendous crash. Dave ran down. I laid in the dark; chilled. Dave's scared voice "Annie. Annie you need to come here." I came trembling down the stairs. Dave was holding a clock in his hands. "Annie your dad is mad at you for wiping off his fingerprints. I found his clock on the floor." Think of any expression you've ever read to describe a terrified person and I'd pretty much fit the bill. I looked closer at the clock in Dave's hand. I looked up at the mantle. I replied, "Geez Dave that's not dad's clock, that's your grandpa's clock. What've you been doing to him?!"
Dave and I went to bed laughing. That was dad's gift to always leave me with a laugh. I guess I haven't wiped his fingerprints off after all.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just a note (no pun intended)

There's been a piano in my kitchen for two weeks. I'm not complaining, just stating an interesting fact. Maybe I'll miss it when it's gone. It's blocking two doors which means I have to go the long way around to put anything away. Which means I'm getting more exercise and will probably shed a few pounds of fudge before I know it. But if I still have a piano in my kitchen I also have a new Asian teapot, all blue and white and waiting. So just for those of you who felt you couldn't go through the day without knowing whether or not the piano was still in the kitchen, it is. Live in the relief of resolved curiosity.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If we had only known.........

I am in bed at 7:46 pm for two reasons. The first being our house is freezing the second being I wrenched my back.

The floor guy looked at me today with eyes full of compassion and fear and informed me that we won't be able to be in our house for Christmas. If we had only known before we started redecorating TWO MONTHS ago that everything possible that could go wrong, would, we wouldn't have started. I am cold because we've had the heat off and all the windows open for three days because they're sanding the lead paint off the floor. Good thing I grew up in Alaska.
If we had known that overnight our house would become X-rated we would not have attempted to breed cats. I stir soup while cats mate at my feet. Cats mate under the school table while we chant presidents. Avonlea asks "Is this what you don't let me watch on TV?" My back is wrenched because I was moving a heavy chair to clean up cat spray and I twisted it. I try to think kittens.

Dave looks at me, as I moan, and asks the age old question, "What did you expect?"

I expected the house to be done cheerfully and without glitch in four weeks and I expected the cats to be discreet and rendezvous in the back of a dark closet, ONCE.

How many things in life would we never have attempted if we only knew how far from our ideals they would end up. Marriage? Children? So it's grace that keeps us optimistic. Grace that keeps the wounds clean. Grace that allows us the desire to try again. Grace that gives me a warm bed and lots of creative explanations of what the cats are doing. Just grace. Grace that allows and grace that sustains. Grace that lifts and fills and heals when life doesn't turn out the way we expected.
So we will enjoy the hospitality of our friends and we will have a Christmas we will certainly never forget. We will try to remember that Jesus did know the outcome of His coming before He came and HE CAME ANYWAY. And I'm pretty sure that in about two months I'll be talking about redecorating Rose's room and breeding the dog. Because grace is alive and active in my life.

Monday, December 14, 2009


This fall has been a hard one in various ways. Relational serpents deceive. Fallen deceived, mourn. The sin ripples spread, through family, friends. I medicate myself with decorating and tea. Only to come broke and bladder full on my knees at last. I come to the God who's comfort is free and decaffeinated. The God who never medicates, only heals. The healer of souls.

Sunday in service, Brian prayed, and one of his God pictures resonated. He prayed, reveling in the fact that God "never loses control." My mind flashed back to earlier that week when Avonlea's bad judgement on the use of her limbs intermingled with the dinner I had just pulled out of the oven and sent it sprawling with a juicy, lip-smackin splat, on the kitchen floor. I didn't say anything other than "are you okay?" but I picked up the spatula and hurled it across the kitchen. Ahhh, yes that's what I need to cling to, my God who never loses control.

And so my husband and I pray for sisters, and nieces, and friends, and circumstances that are utterly beyond our power or influence. We pray and release them fully to a completely competent Father.

The other night Grant looked at me with the love of the ages in his eyes and said "You should have been Jesus' mother." I smiled my wan smile and said "I don't think Jesus's mother would throw spatulas." Grant replied "Oh anyone could have done that!" I laughed, yes anyone could, most of us have, but God never will.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Rose with her thorns apparent

So small and naughty. I know, I know, that face is funny now but won't be at 16. Or 34....Hmmm....


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