My Cousin JenJen

My Cousin JenJen

Dear JenJen, I still remember sitting there beside your mom, in a back pew of the church. She was wearing her raspberry red maternity dress with matching red heels. And there, in the middle of church, I got to feel you move when your mom put my hand on her tummy. When you were on the way, we didn’t have any other cousins living close by. You were not only my first girl cousin on my dad's side of the family, you were the first cousin to live in our small town. And you were born just eight days before my own September birthday. I still remember the delight of visiting you in the hospital ... Read More

Dear Grama

a tribute to my grandmother

Dear Grama, It was from you I inherited my love of the written word. Some of my earliest memories of you are watching you at your typewriter. I was fascinated to watch the letters appear on the paper, and even more intrigued at the way the correction tape could erase them when I distracted you too much. You could use a typewriter for anything, and you did. I loved to flip through your multiple sets of carefully typed and color coded Rolodex cards. One set for family and friends, one set for businesses. Our birthdates were on our cards as well as our phone numbers. I never ceased to be ... Read More

Dear Papa

Dear Papa (a tribute)

Dear Papa, I knew something was wrong that morning. I woke up at your house and you weren’t sitting there at your table by the fire. You were always there. Every morning and every evening. At night you were making notes on your veterinary clients of the day. At daybreak you were taking notes on God’s Word. But this morning, you weren’t there. I’d never awakened before you, so that couldn’t be it. It was light, and you were always at your table before the sun rose. It turned out you’d been up all night with the flu. But that week has always stuck out in my memory as representative of how ... Read More

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa...

Dear Grandpa, There are two smells that are forever intertwined with my memories of you: fiberglass and butterscotch. You never have liked chocolate, a fact which Grandma and I were always unable to understand. But you loved your Butterscotch cookies and candies. And you were my most faithful “Cookies Express” customer, paying for dozens of Butterscotch cookies I made to order just for you (to the great advantage of my piggy bank but not that of my parents’ pantry, I’m afraid!). But it was the strong scent of fiberglass that surrounded you all day long, as you created fiberglass ... Read More

Dear Grandma

Dear Grandma...

Dear Grandma, Every spring a few weeks before your birthday, your wooded lawn starts filling with little blossoms we've always called "spring beauties". When we were children, we'd gather the blooms with wild abandon. You'd help us wrap their delicate stems in a moistened paper towel covered with saran wrap to keep them fresh as we took them home to our mothers. And you’d tell us how my daddy always looked carefully each spring, trying to be the very first one to find a spring beauty to present to you. Once the spring beauties were done, it was time to go mushroom hunting. You’d take us ... Read More

to my firstborn

Ru (photo by Rebekah Leona)

Dear Ruth Ann, You are my eldest, my artist, the one who keeps me on task but forgets to stay on task. You have your daddy's laid-back personality combined with the typical traits of an oldest, but oh you have your mother's penchant for getting so lost in your art that you forget everything else. For me, it's writing, for you, it's drawing -- and writing, sometimes your ABCs, sometimes in "Spanish" as you describe your cursive-like, unintelligible scribbling. You know your ASL alphabet as well, and if you're ever in doubt as to how to write a letter, I have only to sign it and you ... Read More

My Mary Kate

photo by Rebekah Leona

Dear Mary Kate, There's no way to put into words the giggle in your voice, the lilt in the way you pronounce words. A photo can capture the sprinkling of tiny freckles across your button nose, but it would take a non-stop video camera to record everything that makes you Mary Kate. You are developing your own little personality and -- not surprisingly to your curly-haired mamma -- it perfectly matches your bouncy, corkscrew curly hair. You are our resident actor, making everything from eating breakfast to taking a potty break a performance meant to entertain. If you once got a rise out of ... Read More

imaginary world

Dear Ruth, You visit an imaginary world each night in your dreams. One where Aslan is both King and Friend, where Caspian is your knight in shining armor, and where there is everything you could wish. "In my Narnia there is a door into Radiator Springs," you explain," and a door into Betsy and Tacy's land." Caspian himself is frequently the subject of your near-constant artwork. And you're always there, in a lovely princess dress, right beside him. Despite your declarations that you go to Narnia at night, your imaginary world seems to intermingle with your real world more often than ... Read More

To the God Who Knows

To the God Who Knows {on Mother's Day}

Dear Father, You know this weekend is the one our calendars call Mother's Day. And you know the mixed emotions it brings to the heart of every woman old enough to be a mother. You know the feelings of inadequacy that inevitably come to my mother heart every Sunday morning, only magnified on Mother's Day by squirmy children whose actions aren't exactly rising up and calling me blessed, even if their prompted words and scribbled cards are. You are adequate in my weakness. You know that new momma delight in receiving a first Mother's Day card. You know the tiny toes and pink lips we ... Read More

the big little farmer

Bull, Tractor, and Trailer

Dear Son, You're two years old and getting so big as you remind us so often. Everything is big to you. You want it big and you want more of it. Big tractors, big bulls, more hay bales. It's a big world for our little farmer. You might play with toy baby bulls, but if we ever mistakenly refer to you as our baby, you are quick to remind us "no baby!" But for not being a baby, you certainly are attached to what you sleep with at night. From the moment you were weaned, your milk cup became your security. We didn't dare dream of putting you to bed without it. Mommy would find you fast asleep ... Read More