Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Springtime

I knew Pop would do well. He has been incredibly healthy until only recently. Two years ago, when my brother and I helped our parents move, Pop was outworking Bud and me. We had to tell him to stop so we could rest, and Pop is 23 and 30 years older than we are, respectively. He lost a little strength over the last year, becoming unsteady and slightly forgetful. But now, with three arteries bypassed, he has a new lease on life. The hardest thing will be to keep him down long enough to heal properly.

Tim and I came before the surgery. Each hour we drove south the tender signs of earliest springtime became more apparent. Down here in Alabama it's weeks ahead of Missouri and getting greener by the day. Bradfords are almost finished blooming, redbuds are taking their place, and just a few dogwoods are starting to unfurl.

I am one of the luckiest persons in the world. I have two parents who are still parenting me in my late 50's, loving and caring, a blast to be with. This is the first time I've had to be the caretaker for both of them. I don't mind. Just returning a tiny portion to them that they've blessed me with all my life. They are more uncomfortable with the transition than I am. It's not easy to be cared for by someone you have always taken care of.

Proverbs 4:18 says, The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, growing ever brighter until the first light of day.

That's what I want for my parents as they climb these last hills: sunrise becoming brighter and more certain as they reach the top. God grant us grace to grow older, to become better and better until we become like you. Bright and shining on the mountain top.

We'll drive north in a few days, watching the redbuds and dogwoods growing more sparse each hour we drive. We won't be too sorry to go knowing that springtime in Missouri will follow in a few weeks. Much harder will be leaving my parents behind, not knowing when we will return. But at least we have another springtime.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I change my perspective a couple of times a year. I move to the other end of the sofa in the late Fall so that the floor lamp will be over my shoulder when I read my Bible and meditate. I look out into the red maple tree beyond the window that is behind the sofa. When the Spring mornings are brighter, I move back to the left side of the sofa, place my coffee on the window sill and gaze out across a much wider vista beyond the yard and the street and above the neighborhood.

One day this week I noticed a jet trail that arced over the entire expanse of sky. I saw it drift in the upper level winds beyond the tops of the elderly elm tree across the road. As high as it was, it must have been moving at a high rate of speed. I've never seen one do that before. My perspective has changed.

A couple of years ago I purposely planted a male and female pepper berry plant at the base of the arbor that spans the front walkway. I wanted the two plants to pollinate and send out fiery orange berries among the white roses. When I told my sister in law, Sally, about it, she told me that those plants have been outlawed in Maine, where she lives, because they are invasive pests. Suddenly I no longer thought of these plants as desirable. I'm dreading the day when they begin sending pernicious underground shoots into the rest of my garden. My perspective has changed.

I am in constant battle against invasive plants. Milkweed is one of my foes. I go on almost daily forays into the garden to yank it out by the roots before it entangles and strangles everything in its path. All it takes is one pod to shower the yard with thousands of seeds that will perpetuate the battle into another year. I take these raids very seriously.

I lost the battle over at least one vine. I didn't notice it until this week when I changed positions on the sofa. I spied three pods in the arbor among the rose and pepper berry vines. The pods were cracked open, exposing the downy seeds to the wind. Frustration mounting, I envisioned milkweed all over the yard again.

The next day I established myself on the sofa and looked out the window and watched more contrails zipping across the sky. My eyes drifted down to the rose arbor where a black-capped chickadee was busily plucking seeds out of a milkweed pod. I reckoned she was taking them to line her nest. Suddenly I didn't mind the milkweed pods so much anymore. My perspective has changed again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Little Things

Sometimes it's the little things that make a huge difference.

My mother spotted this in a catalog the other day and had it shipped to me. It's called "Tea for Me" and it's a personal size teapot with strainer, cup and saucer. She said it just reminded her and Dad of me. No special occasion, just because....

My parents are in their mid-eighties. Dad is a cancer-survivor awaiting multiple by-pass surgery in a week or so. Mom has leukemia and Crohn's Disease. I don't know what's more precious to me: that they were thinking of me or that Mom took the time to follow through the ordering process. You can be sure I'll never use it without thinking of their love and generosity.

I'm thinking about the perfect little bouquet of roses my daughter gave me for Valentines Day. I placed it in the front hallway so that I would pass by a dozen times each day. It was just a multi-colored bunch of roses from the grocery store, but it was absolutely lovely and lasted and lasted, maturing and opening as the weeks passed. The flowers finally expired, but I haven't had the heart to toss them out.

Tim hugged me this morning and said, "Guess what I'm going to do for you? Something you want that I want to give you!" And he scratched my back, good and long, until I didn't even have a smidge of an itch.

Little things make a huge difference.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Time Machine

How many dump trucks does it take to hold a trillion dollar bills?

The government is handing out trillions of tax payer dollars without any rules or restrictions, definitions or accountability. "Here, my children," says Washington,"go spend this money for the benefit of others." Sounds all very well and fine, almost Christian in concept. But there are some huge flaws in human nature that make this a flawed enterprise. People do not spend wisely that which they haven't earned. It's like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk. It's not "mine" so I might as well spend it on something frivolous. Take the civilian contractors in Iraq, for one example. The people that were given contracts to rebuild the infrastructure of that country were given money without bids. They made fortunes gouging the United States, spending without restraint, answerable to nobody. So, as we pull out of Iraq to save billions of tax payer dollars, we are now pouring it out on other equally unrestrained spending projects.

Already we have seen abuses, such as the bank in Chicago that threw a huge celebratory party with the incentive money. When chastised for their lavish spending of tax payer money, their response was, "We didn't ask for it." They might as well have said, "It's not OUR money." Whose money is it, anyway? It is lent to us by our good friends, the Chinese, to whom we are already so indebted. If our country doesn't become "New China," our great great great grandchildren will still be paying for this government generosity.

I think government assistance is more to the point. Since the terrible depression of the last century, our country has increasingly taken the roll of benefactor to millions of people. It has created a permanent underclass dependent on the government for their existence. No time limits, no age limits, no constraints. Just multi-generational subsistent, sub-existence.

Something for nothing has become a siren call to more than just welfare recipients. Now we are poised to see the government take over our banks, our mortgages, our health care and more. We have become like the doe-eyed "Elois" in the movie, The Time Machine. Every time an air raid siren would blare, they would drop whatever they were doing and walk mindlessly into the mountain. That which had once been a response to a call to safety had evolved into a mindless conditioned response manipulated by the Morlocks, the evil mutant race that led them like cattle to their doom.

70% of our country think the huge financial "stimulus package" is a good idea. I think we are being led, like Elois, to the doom of our country. America, as she has been, will be no more. What she will be, no one can know.