Nieces Kathie and
Julie, with great-nephew Max, stopped by our house on their way home
from a quick get-away. I was thrilled to see them. It was the first
time Kathie and Max had been here.
Julie said this
trip was modeled after the Mystery Trips SIL Beth used to plan for
her grandchildren. Beth would tell the parents how to pack for their
children, but none of them knew where the children were going. I
remember seeing a photo from one of those trips where Max, Sam, and
Kate wore matching tee-shirts with the theme of the trip.
The three drove on
the Blue Ridge Parkway, took a hike in the mountains, went to a
concert in Chattanooga, spent the night there, had lunch in
Knoxville, came here, and headed home in the rain. Maybe it was more
of a whirlwind than a flight.
I have believed the frost warning? Yes. It was two degrees above
freezing when I walked and one degree above when I ate breakfast. I
assumed we had not reached the magic number, even though the pasture
was suspiciously white. An hour or so later there was water dripping
off the deck railing. I went out to touch it to see if frost had
formed there. With direct sun on it, there was only water. My eyes
slid over several inches. Golly Pete! There was ice on the
The solar pump was not working, and I thought it was broken, clogged by ice. I gently pulled it out, where it left a hole in the ice. Ice made a circular frame for a green and brown leaf under it. The ice was at least ¼ inch thick, more than enough to make a skating pond for the birds. The fountain did work, and I put it back so the birds could see there was running water for them.
For a year we knew
John T’s days on earth were numbered. It was after he and his son
Max climbed Mr. Kilimanjaro last year that he was diagnosed with
stage four cancer.
I began to think
about how people are revealed to us. As a baby is christened, we
wonder what hopes and dreams for the child are hidden in the hearts
of the family. The infant grows up, and if s/he gets married, we
learn a lot from the toasts, roasts, and good wishes of the peers
during that celebration. The family draws near at the end of life,
and we hear a summary of accomplishments, both tangible and
intangible. The intangibles bring in the future – how s/he
influences following generations.
A week and a half
after John T’s death, John, grandson David and I drove to Charlotte.
We picked up grandson Nathaniel and went to church with him. A year
ago Nathaniel visited churches within walking distance of the
downtown campus and settled on St. Peter’s. When it was time for
prayers of the church, we were surprised that the pastor prayed for
the family of John T. Wow! John told Nathaniel that it was kind of
him to have requested prayer for him.
said Nathaniel. “We prayed for the family last week, too.”
We were invited to
have lunch with the family at the church before the service for John.
A very gracious couple were overseeing it. The man saw Nathaniel
walk in and said, “You’re the chef, right?” I didn’t know the
man, but he obviously knew our grandson. The woman invited us to
help ourselves at the buffet as she tossed a huge salad. I found out
later that these lovely people were John’s parents. On the day of
their son’s funeral, they served lunch to the extended family and
close friends. How humbling! I wish I could have done something for
them. For one, I would have told Suzanne that our daughter Lise had
idolized her from the moment she met her many years ago. I’ll join
Lise in admiring both Suzanne and Randy.
permission to use anyone else’s photo, I took only one shot of us
with niece Julie. (Julie is John T’s sister-in-law. My brother and
Beth are the parents-in-law.)
In church, I took
a picture of the flowers, flag, medals, and boots. On the wall is a
projected photo of John with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background.
As expected, we
felt we knew him much better after listening to John’s family and
pastor. He was an adventurer from an early age. Wherever he went,
he became a leader, though his purpose was to serve others. He was
an Eagle Scout. All present and former scouts were invited to stand
and repeat the scout oath. Veterans stood and were recognized with
applause. Two of his friends, currently in the military, were there
in their impressive dress uniforms. Pastor Rick talked of John’s
outreach to everyone he met. The last year of his life was a good
one, filled with joy and peace. The staff at the oncologist’s office
asked each other, “Who is he that he exudes such joy and
Pastor Rick said
he regularly visited John in his roles of pastor and good friend.
“He wanted to know how I was doing and if there were anything he
could do for me. That’s the way he dealt with everyone. He was
always willing to share the source of his strength and his assurance
of an everlasting life after death.”
We were invited to
go out in the parking lot for the releasing of balloons (approved and
biodegradable). Students from the Christian school, where John
taught science, picked up balloons on the way out. Those who
couldn’t get in the sanctuary had watched the service in the
fellowship hall. I knew the sanctuary was totally full, but people
kept streaming out. There were hundreds of people there and
countless others watching the streaming video from home. The hushed
crowd listened to the haunting playing of Taps and then released the
balloons. Dark clouds overhead hurled a drenching rain at us. I
felt that had John been in the crowd in person, he would have laughed
and helped people run for cover.
his discovery about the prayer for John at St. Peter’s. After the
celebration of life service, he saw a couple he recognized. He is
guessing they were involved in the school where John and niece Kathie
taught, either as teachers or parents of a student. There could have
been many Charlotte churches upholding us in prayer that day.
When warm weather
came this year, I intended to have watermelon several times. I knew
David loved it. The first melon we had was too large, but we managed
to squeeze it into the refrigerator. It lasted a bit too long for my
liking. Several weeks ago I looked for small watermelons and found
none. The supermarket didn’t have any at all, and the local produce
stand had only big ones. This week Ingles, our favorite supermarket,
advertised personal melons. Perfect!
David had a long
day at work. After he came home, he ate the main course, and I
listed his choices of fruit to have. At the mention of melon, his
eyes lit up. As I pulled it from the refrigerator, he said he could
eat the whole thing. I cut it in half, and he sliced that half in
about 18 pieces. That turned out to be plenty.
When he had eaten
the red part, he reassembled the outer shell on the plate. Yes, we
do silly things just for the fun of it.
He and I often
take things too far. He wanted to see if he could pick up the pieces
and flip them over, and I took the video. Unfortunately, the file
was too big, so I saved five frames from the video to show you.
I think we can
consider summer closed for business now. It’s time for squash and
I was on the deck, pouring water into the birdbath, when a hummingbird swooped down to the feeder behind me. Standing very still, I waited for a few moments and slowly swiveled so that I could see her. She seemed to be watching me as she continued to sip the sugar water. When she was through, she zoomed to the right side of my face, about five inches from my glasses. She hovered there for a second, jerked herself inch by inch to my left, continued to the back of my head, and streaked off around the house. I wondered if that could be the same little bird that sometimes hovers outside my sliding door, watching me at the computer.
It’s almost time
for the hummingbirds to fly south, but I know the ones here are our
regulars. Two of them fight all the time, going through a
choreographed dance to chase each other away. They retreat to their
favorite hiding places to wait for the next ambush. After they
leave, we’ll keep the feeders up for a couple of weeks for birds
Meanwhile, I feel
other birds are already on the move. A flock of titmice and
chickadees came for a drink before I refilled the birdbath. A
chickadee leaned way over and fell in the water. He stood there,
daring the others to laugh, and shook his wings as if he intended to
take a bath all along. I’ll bet he’s the one who never asks for
directions on the southern journey. As I watch for birds leaving our
area, I wonder who is waiting for them in South America. Have people
looked at migration calendars, or do they know to expect the
feathered friends we share?
Be careful, birds,
and have a safe trip. I’ll look for you again in April.
David and I took a quick drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, because we
both love the views. The definition of quick gets slower as you
ride. We got out at the first overlook because mist was flowing
across the gap. We walked the length of the parking area, and I took
one photo after the mist cleared.
we walked back to our car, a couple spoke to us. We all agreed the
view was spectacular. They asked where we came from, and we found
out they were from Atlanta. They were most interested in good views
and seeing waterfalls.
overlooks later, we saw that couple again. I walked over to them and
pointed out my favorite tree, the mountain ash. The berries were a
bright red. The tree might grow elsewhere, but I have seen it only
at higher elevations.
young man spoke to us, wondering if the weather would be good for an
hour. I knew the forecast included rain, and we could see dark
clouds approaching. He said his friend asked him to call from that
overlook. The friend was going to propose there and was driving up
with his girlfriend and a photographer. David and I had our doubts
about the weather, but the young man decided to tell his friend to
come. How I wish we could have fast-forwarded the time to see what
happened! The young man was driving on to Asheville and wouldn’t be
on the spot at proposal time. It’s probably a good thing he was
leaving, because I don’t think the scenery would perform as promised.
As we drove home, we saw one brilliant streak of lightning, followed
by a heavy downpour that lasted only a few minutes.
David occasionally texts me when he is on a break at work. We chat
for a few minutes about something silly if there is no real news. I
have the advantage of speed, since I can type on the computer or
dictate to the phone. He has to touch his screen to reply. That’s
why he often has one-word answers. This conversation started with
fact, but it didn’t stay there.
wrote, “I rescued a little tan frog from the waterfall pool today.
He could not get out of the water, so I scooped him up in a bucket
and let him out on dry land.”
My name is Suki, my human is a writer, and this is about my world. The world according to Suki The Cat. My humans smell funny, look weird, and I can't understand a thing they say, but they feed me, so hey, what are you gonna do?