We fell in love to the rhythm of Country music. The cassettes and CDs we mixed for each other became the soundtrack for those years. The songs we listened to reflecting the ups and downs, the excitement and the tears. "Don't Take the Girl" was the first Country song he played me, the summer of 2001. It went on the cassette tape he made for me that began with "Good Morning Beautiful".  I played it every morning. While I was at Summit in the summer of 2002 that penpal of mine sent me a list of songs he wanted me to try to find and download to make a CD (he didn't have the internet). He ... Read More

when time spans generations

Mary and her great grandma Mary

There’s something about a visit from my grandparents that puts my life back into perspective. When they look at my young daughter, they see me at that age.  When my husband talks to my grandma, he hears me. My son, just learning to walk, is delighted to try out great grandpa’s cane.  And sitting there between his daddy and his maternal great grandpa, you can see that the family resemblance is strong on both sides. Grandma and I talk about work and little ones and she recalls the days when she was a nurse by night and came home to care for four little children during the day while ... Read More

down the aisle

July 13, 2002

Dearest, Ten years ago today, we walked down the aisle together for the first time.  I’ll never forget the way you looked at me, standing there across the stage at your sister’s wedding.  Thick as the emotions were, there was no way I could help that big smile from flooding my face as we walked out together. Later your quiet, soft-spoken grandpa grabbed our arms, put them together and said, “We think you two make a really cute couple.”  At our mild protests, he just thought a minute and said, “Well, we’ll see.” Tonight, we’re babysitting while your sister and her husband go out for ... Read More

a man like my daddy…

"Who gives this woman..." photo by John Feldschau

Dear Daddy, I never thought I’d marry a man like my daddy.  We were too much alike, you and me. Clashing more often because of our similarities than because of anything other than just me being an emotional teenage girl. But every year that passes, I see more and more resemblance between you and the boy you once told to stay away until you ran out of shotgun shells. You’re both generous and self-sacrificing.  You’re both so patient with the women you love. You’ve picked each other’s brain about projects so very often that you know the other will take your side in any discussion ... Read More

Papa’s Barn

My maternal grandfather’s birthday is today.  It seemed a fitting time to share this piece I wrote ten years ago for a college writing class.  Happy Birthday, Papa!  Thanks for your example and all the memories. I love you. Stepping lightly over the hot wire fence alongside my cousin Melissa, I recall the day not so long ago when I could duck under the wire more easily. And as I step into the mucky barnyard, dodging more than just mud puddles, I begin a journey back in time. First I stop to gaze at the barn in front of me. The rooster weathervane stands atop the tin roof with its red ... Read More

of weddings & goodbyes


Weddings make me cry. So do goodbyes. But goodbyes at weddings? They really make me cry. I made it through my own wedding day with a big smile and dry eyes. Except for that moment my childhood and forever friend, my guestbook attendant, came up to hug me right before the ceremony started. And when my little sister came out into the fellowship hall and I saw her red eyes, the first evidence I’d seen of the tears she’d shed our entire ceremony. But when it came time for the goodbyes and my big strong brother broke down as he hugged me? Then I really lost it. The antics ... Read More

thank God for little flower girls…

The sunlight streamed through the window on the first Saturday afternoon in April. My daughters and nieces were at my feet, the golden threads of their “Chinese princess dresses” glistening in the sun.  Their antics were the only thing that kept me from needing to use the Kleenex I’d wrapped around my bouquet. To my left stood my three sisters-in-love on my husband’s side.  I knew better than to look at Melanie; it was a given that she was already red-eyed as she witnessed the wedding of the little sister who’d been her own flower girl almost fourteen years earlier. I couldn’t look at ... Read More

snow on the hills

“It snowed on the hills around us last night.” I think of the words from one of his letters each time it snows on those same hills again each year.  I remember how much I longed to be with him then, to watch it snow and let him warm my hands, my heart. Today he put his cold fingers to my cheek when he came in from working the fields.  He’s trying to get it all done before it snows—not just around us, but on us. These days we watch the sun set pink on those snowy hills, set earlier and earlier each night.  And we long for the moment when we get the children to bed and it’s ... Read More


“Do you remember where you bought this CD?” he asks, in the midst of the after-dinner cleanup and pickup. No, I can’t remember where I bought it.  (We decided it must have been used off the internet, with the hold punched through the bar code.) But I remember why. It has that song on it.  One of the many that were “our song” throughout all those years of friendship and falling in love.  One of those about which we’d ask the other, “Have you heard so-and-so’s new song?”  And in thinly veiled code, we’d reveal how much we liked the song, how much the message spoke of our ... Read More