Photos of Brady

Sunday, August 31, 2003


There had been no rainfall since June. It was now the end of August. The flowers had died weeks ago. The grass was brown and crunchy when you walked on it and many trees in the big woods were beginning to turn brown and lose their leaves due to the lack of water.

Temperatures had been hovering near 100 degrees for the past nineteen days with no respite, the heat index well over that. Local ponds were drying up and the streams and rivers were getting dangerously low. Long cracks began to appear in the earth, a result of ten weeks with no rain. The birds sat with their wings out and their beaks open in an effort to cool down.

The sunset that evening was absolutely spectacular. A bright red ball sinking slowly into the horizon before disappearing from view. Darkness fell.

Sometime during the night I woke to the sound of strong winds whipping through the trees and whistling around the end of the house. Looking out the bedroom window the trees were bent over, limbs swirling and snapping off then thrown against the trailer on their way to the ground. Sharp lightening cracked in jagged streaks across the sky, followed by thunder so violent that it shook the ground and rattled the trailer windows. The rain came without warning, falling with such force the sound was deafening. Hailstones popped like gunshots on the windows and roof, and I turned on the light and ran down the hall to crank the windows down so the hail wouldn’t break the glass.

Starting back down the hallway toward my bedroom, a sharp crack of lightening lit up the sky and struck something--very close. The lights went out. Thunder shook the ground. The wind intensified, tree branches creaking and groaning under the force. Huddled back in my bed I began to pray. The storm raged on.
Toward morning the wind began to wane, the thunder and lightening had lessened in intensity and the driving rain had gentled to a steady rhythm.
Laying there listening to the rain falling I thanked God for seeing me safely through the storm. I slept.

Waking once again to silence, I quickly dressed and stepped out the front door.
After the violence of Mother Nature’s fury, nature sleeps……pre-dawn finds a heavy wet fog hanging in the trees, skimming the grass, and holding back the sunrise. An unnatural silence reigns. The storms are spent, and only the damage left in their wake give evidence to their existence. Breathing in the damp musky air, the fog settles like a mantle on my skin. The usual sounds of nature welcoming a new day are silent, and walking through the fog I am careful not to disturb the peace of this moment. Stopping, I close my eyes and lift my face to the sky, a silent prayer of gratitude in my heart for the sheer joy of being alive.

So rarely found are moments like these, and only to those who seek them………when nature sleeps.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, August 30, 2003


Joe’s Drive In was located on our end of Smalltown. Joe’s sat just barely inside the city limits, right next to the only tire shop in town, just down the road from the Midwest Walnut Mill and around the bend from the shoe factory.

Joe’s had a very brisk lunch business, offering a special each workday that included a sandwich, french fries and a drink for around a dollar and a half. This appealed to the working folk and most of the lunch trade was conducted through the sliding window at the side of the building. The dining room itself was very small with only six booths and six swivel counter stools. The walls were decorated with large glossy posters of the various ice cream specialties, sandwiches and side orders Joe’s offered. Above the soft serve ice cream machine a giant ice cream cone dangled from the ceiling and rotated in the breeze from a fan in the kitchen.

After the lunch crowd thinned out you could sit in the dining room and enjoy your ice cream. My Grandparents shared a passion for ice cream. Whenever we traveled on trips together Grandpa would look for a place to get ice cream in the afternoons. They kept ice cream at home and ate ice cream at least once a day, but many times they just enjoyed going into Joe’s and having a sundae there. Joe always greeted them by name, and made extra nice sundaes and ice cream treats for them.

Today was one such day. Grandpa had announced at lunch that he was treating us to ice cream at Joe’s that afternoon, and we had been trying to decide what we were going to order. We entered the dining room and settled in one of the booths with a view of main street. Joe called out a greeting as he made his way to the table with his order pad.

Mom and I always ordered hot fudge sundaes, Warren ordered cherry, and Grandma and Grandpa ordered banana splits. Sundaes came in aqua plastic bowls with a matching plastic spoon, and the banana splits came in a plastic boat with a long handled plastic spoon of the same color. While we sat at the formica table eating our ice cream we were laughing about the challenge that Grandpa gave my brother John years before.

My brother George and Dad were getting ready to go to Philmont Boy Scout Camp for a week, I was going to be at Camp Fire Girls Camp for the same week, so Mom and John were going to Smalltown to visit our Grandparents. As the days passed, John found it hard to find something to do by himself. One afternoon Grandpa asked John how many pull-ups he could do. Knowing John’s love for cheeseburgers, Grandpa told him that he would buy him a cheeseburger at Joe’s for every pull-up he did.

Walking out to the clothesline pole, Grandpa lifted John up to the bar. John worked at it all afternoon, but it was tough for an eight year old boy. Finally Grandpa helped him up and over the bar so he could chin himself and said, “All right John! One cheeseburger at Joe’s.” He did indeed buy John the promised cheeseburger but John did not give up. He worked at it until he was finally able to chin himself on his own power. Grandpa bought him another cheeseburger, but I am sure that the second one tasted better to John. The story is still a family favorite.

Laughing, we handed our plastic dishes and spoons to Grandma. She always took them home, washed and dried them and reused them for various purposes.
Her treasured African violet pots sat in those Joe’s Drive In bowls to catch water overflow. The plastic spoon handles were used in the garden for row markers and the banana split boats were good to hold an ear of corn or carrot and celery sticks at mealtime. Grandma and Grandpa saved everything and reused them around the house and yard.

Years later after Grandma and Grandpa died and I moved into their home, I was turning ground in Grandpa’s old garden spot and found several pieces of aqua plastic in the dirt. Smiling, I reached down and picked them up. “Hi, Grandpa,” I said. I started to put them in my pocket, but thought about how long they had been out in the garden soil. Kneeling down, I tucked them back into the dirt.

Until tomorrow,


Friday, August 29, 2003


Jennifer adapted to her casts in no time. We had all grown accustomed to the now familiar clacking of her casts, and aside from the adjustments we had to make in her care to accommodate her casts, things were relatively normal.

Six weeks passed quickly and soon we were on our way back to Springfield to see Dr. Brown. We had to leave very early to get to the Crippled Children’s Clinic by 9:00am, and during the two hour trip I began to feel uneasy. The clinic was an unknown and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We located the clinic and when we entered I was sure we had come to the wrong place. Whatever I had expected, this was not it. The clinic was overflowing with children, parents and grandparents from all walks of life. There were many kids playing with small toys or looking at books, all of the others were crying and screaming in various degrees of dissatisfaction and pain. There were no empty chairs to sit in so we stood along the wall by the reception window. Everyone must also have had a 9:00am appointment.

While we waited I scanned the room. At first glance many of the children did indeed look normal for the most part. All of them were wearing corrective shoes, braces, or casts of varying types and description. Many of them however, were anything but normal. Mothers holding limp little bodies unable to even hold up their own heads were rocking gently back and forth to calm their children. Other mothers were sitting next to high backed wheel chairs that held their children--bodies and limbs drawn and twisted, some wearing protective helmets, others strapped to their chairs. The parents of these more severely handicapped children were talking to them in hushed tones, constantly touching them to keep them calm. One of these children looked up into his mothers face and smiled. Smiling back at him she continued to pat his hand.

Hugging Jennifer to me protectively, I felt empathy for the parents in the room who were dealing with such severe handicaps, and sorrow for how difficult their day to day lives must be. Realizing how very fortunate we were that her problem would be eventually corrected and she would lead a relatively normal life, I vowed never to complain about our plight, but to thank God for our many blessings every day.

Two hours later, we were finally called in and taken to a room. Dr. Brown greeted us warmly, and in no time Jennifer was being put into her second pair of casts. This second correction was more aggressive but she only fussed a little bit when he stretched her little foot outward and held it there so the plaster could set at that angle. While Dr. Brown worked with her, he told her that he had a little baby named Jennifer too. He told us that her feet and legs would be very sore and hurt for several days, and that she would most likely be fussy.

Thinking of the broken, twisted and deformed children and the weary faces of the parents I had seen in the waiting room, I thanked Dr. Brown for taking care of Jennifer and all of the other children who came to the clinic for their care. In his quiet gentle way, he smiled and said, “I get back a whole lot more than I give.” Somehow I know that his patients and their parents would disagree.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, August 28, 2003


Drying the baby after her morning bath one day I noticed that her feet were still turned inward at an unnatural angle. I had noticed it the first time the day we were released from the hospital following her birth, but the nurse had assured me that in time they would straighten. That had been several months ago. A feeling of unease gripped me as I stepped to the bedroom door and called to Mom.

Entering our room and walking over to Jennifer’s crib she said, “What is it?”
She was aware of what the nurse had told me, and we had discussed this from time to time. “I was just noticing that Jennifer’s feet are still turned in too far. How long is it going to take for them to straighten?” I said. Looking down at the baby she said, “They may not honey. Your brother John had to wear braces and corrective shoes, remember.” Nodding, I said, “Yes I do- I had better call and get an appointment with the doctor. I am sure that she just needs some corrective shoes.”

The following day Mom and Warren took Jennifer and me in to Dr. Coffee’s office, our Smalltown doctor. After a cursory examination he called Springfield to refer us to an orthopedic specialist. Three days later we made the two hour trip to see the specialist, and with every passing mile my apprehension grew.

Dr. Brown was an orthopedic surgeon and we liked him immediately. He was very gentle with Jennifer, who seemed fascinated with his voice. The only time she whimpered was when he was bending her foot over into a more natural alignment. After a thorough examination Dr. Brown assured me that he could indeed correct Jennifer’s feet but my initial relief was dashed by the treatment plan he proposed using. Perched on the edge of the examination table he explained the lengthy procedure of correcting the foot alignment using casts on her feet and legs. This would take many months followed by corrective shoes and possibly braces for several years. He explained further that Jennifer’s bones were still fairly soft and that he wanted to begin the casting process immediately as it would be less painful for her.

Holding Jennifer’s little hand in mine, she smiled up at me, waving her little arms. I looked over to Mom and Warren, who both nodded in agreement. Directing my attention back to Dr. Brown I said, “Okay. I want her to be a normal little girl.” Nodding Dr. Brown left the room. Only then did I cry-wondering what I may have done while I was carrying the baby to have caused this birth defect. Mom and Warren had tears in their eyes as well, but Mom assured me that these things just happen sometimes. Dr. Brown would remind me of the same thing as time passed, but the initial reaction was sadness. By the time Dr. Brown and his nurse returned to the room with the casting supplies, I felt better and resolved to do whatever it would take to help my beautiful little girl. She looked so happy as Dr. Brown worked with her that my spirits lifted, too. An hour later Jennifer’s little feet and legs were covered with plaster casts from toes to just below her knees. We were to return in six weeks for another examination and new casts, and Dr. Brown set us up at the Missouri Crippled Children’s Clinic where he worked two days a week.

Carrying Jennifer to the car, we decided to eat a sandwich and return to Smalltown. It had been a trying morning for all of us. When we had left that morning for Springfield, I had told Grandma and Grandpa that we would be back with some new corrective baby shoes by early afternoon. I was sure that they would be worried by now, and as we pulled into our driveway they were walking up to the car with concerned faces. Climbing out of the car, I lifted Jennifer into my arms. The movement caused her new casts to knock together making a loud clacking sound.

“What was that?” Grandma asked.
Pulling the baby blanket away from Jennifer’s little legs to reveal her new casts, I said, “Baby shoes!”

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Summertime getaways were either to Redbank or Bidwell Point at Norfork Lake. Grandma and Grandpa had an over cab pickup truck camper, and a boat and trailer that they pulled behind it. Mom and Warren bought a pickup camper as well, so camping wasn’t the hardship it had been when we were kids. The three of us slept in the trunk of the Vauxhall with the lid raised, and it was both hot and cramped.

It took a great deal of preparation getting ready to go, but once underway these camping trips were enjoyable. The most exciting thing about going to the lake was spotting the first glimpse of the lake through the trees. I could always tell when we were getting close and at every curve in the road I just knew it would be there. About the time I gave up, there it would be, a patch of blue between a break in the trees.

Once we arrived at Redbank Grandpa would choose what he determined to be the best camping spot, and we set up camp. Grandma brought a bright oil cloth table cloth for the concrete picnic table, and our camp always had a quaint homey feel. While Grandpa unloaded the boat down at the lake, we made sandwiches for lunch. After lunch Jennifer took an afternoon nap while Mom, Warren and I would sit in the shade and visit. Grandma and Grandpa gathered their tackle and poles and set off down the hill to the boat for a fishing trip.

Late afternoon I took the old blue graniteware coffee pot and went to the pump to get fresh water. When we were kids my brothers and I fought over who got to pump the handle and always got more water on us than in the pot. Mom and I were peeling potatoes and onions for supper when Grandma and Grandpa came walking up the hill with a stringer of fish. Grandpa cleaned and filleted the fish, and it wouldn’t be long before we were eating fresh fried crappie, fried potatoes and onions, hush puppies, pork and beans, and an apple pie Grandma had brought from home.

Grandma and Grandpa have been going to the lake for many years, and we spent many summer vacations there as kids. Grandpa taught us how to ski, and enjoyed pulling anyone who wanted to ski, but they especially loved to fish. Over the years Grandma became as good a fisherman as my Grandpa. Every day we were camped they would rise before dawn and make their way down to the boat to go fishing. Fishing was serious business, and after a few trips of accompanying them my brothers and I discovered that sitting still and being quiet for hours on end so as not to scare off the fish was not much fun. Getting up before dawn and sitting in the boat was cold and damp until the sun came up, and we decided to stay at camp and wait for breakfast.

Grandma’s Redbank breakfast was legendary and a special treat indeed. Although we cooked Redbank breakfast at home sometimes, it never tasted as good as it did at the lake. Fried potatoes, fried apples, ham, bacon or sausages, and eggs smelled wonderful as it cooked. When Grandma and Grandpa got back from their morning fishing trip, she and Mom would do the cooking while Grandpa cleaned fish. When the coffee had perked and the finishing touches put on the food, Grandpa would be washed up and we sat down to a feast. As the sun rose over the lake, we could watch fish jumping and listen to the birds singing while we ate. Sitting at the table enjoying our breakfast we waved at the other fishermen walking up from the lake with their morning catch. Grandpa would call out to them and ask them about their luck, and many times they’d walk over to our camp and join us for a cup of coffee.

Norfork Lake was not crowded at that time like it is now, and our trips there were a wonderful relaxing respite from the summer heat of Smalltown. However enjoyable, it was always good to make the last turn toward home….down our country road.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, August 26, 2003


When the summer heat became too oppressive we’d head for Norfork Lake. We had been up since dawn packing and loading for the trip, and by midmorning we were headed south. Norfork lake is located just over the Missouri line in Arkansas, about one and a half hours from Smalltown.

Halfway down we’d always stop at The Big Store to buy ice for the coolers and no trip to the lake was complete without stopping there. When we were kids my brothers and I loved The Big Store. The old building was a huge structure with high ceilings and large ceiling fans that rotated lazily in the dim interior. There were no big light fixtures per se, just single light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling on a single cord, sporadically spaced throughout.

The Big Store was known for its large inventory and variety of products. Located at the junction of two highways, it served as a general store for the local country folk as well as the tourists, and was the last chance to get supplies, ice or gas before reaching the lake. They had boat motors and parts, bubble gum, candy, an old fashioned butcher counter, household items, the list is endless. Grandpa always bought his fishing bait there, as they carried the Uncle Josh's hog rind bait he favored. Mom and Grandma bought our lunch meats, last minute grocery items and block ice for the coolers.

My brothers and I loved to pick out a bottle of pop from the big old chest cooler by the front door. The sliding lid was heavy and had a tendency to stick, so we had to wait until an adult could open it. The bottles stood in several inches of ice cold water and when you opened the bottle slushy ice formed in the neck of the bottle. Just reading the many colorful bottle caps was fun, as The Big Store stocked soft drinks and soda we didn’t have in the city, so- cream soda, chocolate soldier, orange crush, strawberry soda and mountain dew made the decision very hard.

Standing there with my hand on the cooler remembering those happy times, I opened the lid and chose a bottle from the selection inside. I carried my daughter around the store marveling at how little it had changed over the years. While Mom carried the lunch fixings out to the camper Grandpa and Warren put the blocks of ice in the coolers and loaded them back into the campers.

Pulling out of the parking lot we headed down highway 101 for the lake. Settling back in the seat I took a nice long drink from my cream soda and smiled, thinking how good it was that some things in life never changed.

Until tomorrow,


Monday, August 25, 2003


Since my daughter and I came to live in Smalltown, I have pondered how the town got it’s name. The people I have asked don’t seem to know, and the only answer that makes any sense to me is that it is, well, small. The city limits sign boasts 1486 residents, which I am sure must include the dogs and cats. There is a four way flashing light at the one intersection in the middle of Main Street. All of the businesses are located on Main Street, and the Smalltown business district is three blocks long.

Having made the decision to stay and make our home here, I think it is time I put some names to the dear folk that live here on our country road. Let’s take a stroll, and I’ll introduce you to my family and neighbors.

The neighbors that live at the dead end of the road own the local welding and towing business, if you recall. Their names are Francis and Susie. Susie is a little bit of a thing and works harder than any man I know. Her husband Francis suffers from migraine headaches and his sleep is often cut short for a callout to an accident scene. Both factors have resulted in a very gruff demeanor, thus earning him the nickname Grumpy for obvious reasons.

My Mother’s name is Esther Belle. My Great Grandmother’s name was Esther Belle, and Mom was named after her. Belle also represents my Great Aunt Inabelle, who graduated from high school the day my Mom was born, and her birthday was the day after Mom was born.

Step dad’s name is Warren Howard. His Mother named him after President Warren Harding, who was in office at the time of his birth. Howard was Warren’s Father’s name.

My name is Rebecca Jo, and have been told all my life that I was named after Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and after Jo of Little Women. I have recently discovered however that Rebecca was chosen for me because when my Mother was little she adored a neighbor girl of that name. The Little Women connection is correct. My Mom admired Jo’s character and strength. I am called by my nickname Becky unless I am in trouble, then I get the benefit of my full name.

My daughter’s name is Jennifer Rebecca. It is a beautiful name, and when I saw her for the first time she looked just like a Jennifer. Rebecca is my first name. I had chosen another name for a girl, but at the time there was a Gerber baby food commercial on TV that featured a song about little Jenny Rebecca as she ate her baby food. Not caring for Jenny, I changed it to Jennifer, and it fits my beautiful girl and she wears it well.

Grandpa’s name is Francis Bonick. Grandpa is first generation Danish-American, and Bonick is short for Bonicksen which was his Mother’s maiden name.
Grandma’s name is Dorothy May. I could not discover why she was named Dorothy but her middle name is in honor of the month she was born.

The neighbors who live at the bend in the road are Bob and Jeralene. Bob is a salesman and works out of his home, and Jeralene has a day care in their home.
They have been good neighbors and friends to all of us. Bob and Jeralene have the white Alaskan named Bullet that likes to eat my Grandmother’s pancakes.

Our little community of friends and family are connected. Our lives are inter- woven with threads of love and caring, and we share the joys, sorrows and laughter of daily life with each other over a cup of coffee or over the garden gate. Life is simple here.

Now that we have met everyone and know each family a little better, I hope that you will visit often as I write stories, thoughts and reflections of my journey….down our country road.

Until tomorrow,


Sunday, August 24, 2003


Driving my car into Smalltown was a rare opportunity, so one exceptionally fine summer morning I decided to drive into town to run a few errands. Needing to pick up a prescription at the drug store but unable to find a parking space I pulled into the grocery store lot and parked there.

As I started walking across the street to the drug store I noticed an older man step off the sidewalk into the street and begin walking slowly in my direction. He was holding a sack from the drug store in his hand. When I was still several feet away from him, he suddenly fell over onto the street, unmoving.

Dropping my purse in the street I ran to him, falling to my knees beside him. “Are you hurt? Can you hear me?”, I cried. He did not respond. He lay on his left side still holding his sack. His eyes were staring sightlessly past me. Looking frantically around I screamed for help, but no one heard me. I took his hand, feeling for a pulse but found none. There was no pulse at his neck and he was not breathing.

I remember how the hot sun felt on my skin and how blue the sky was. Cars were driving up and down the main street of Smalltown going about the normal business of a seemingly ordinary day. Life going about life. Crying for the man, I wondered about his family, sad his life had ended yet mine lay ahead, that no help would come. Overcome with the enormity of what had happened I put my arm around his back as though to protect him from further harm.

I don’t know how long I knelt in the middle of the street on an exceptionally fine summer morning holding the hand of a man I did not know and would never have the opportunity to meet this side of Heaven, as he made his final journey Home.

The silence was broken by a shout from the tire shop across the road. “Hey lady, do you need help!?” Nodding my head in the affirmative he disappeared again. Shortly the coroner, Mr. Mackey, came running from the funeral home toward us. I heard the sound of sirens in the distance. People began running in our direction. My eyes were focused on Mr. Mackey as he examined the man, then he reached out and closed his eyelids.

Noticing my tears and distress he asked me if the man was a relative of mine. Shaking my head no Mr. Mackey told me that he had suffered a massive heart attack and died before he had ever reached the ground. Bending down, I released the sack from the man’s hand and laid it by his side. When the ambulance arrived I stepped back so they could load him in the ambulance and take him to the funeral home.

Everyone dispersed as quickly as they had come, and once again I found myself standing in the street halfway to the drug store. Turning around I returned to my car and began the drive home, my errands forgotten.

The events that transpired that morning were a defining moment in my life. Life is a precious gift. Make each moment count, for life is short. My prayer is simple. We will all pass from this life one day. I pray that when that time comes someone will be there with us as we make our final journey.....Home.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, August 23, 2003


Great Aunt Beulah was a character. We all loved her because even in her sixties with gray hair and prim mode of dress she was a hoot. While the other adults sat and visited among themselves she could be found playing games, swinging, or talking with my brothers and me.

Aunt Beulah was married to Grandpa’s brother Ted and they also lived in Smalltown. Several years before I moved to Smalltown Aunt Beulah and Uncle Ted moved to Gassville, Arkansas. When Uncle Ted passed away she stayed in Gassville and several months later Aunt Beulah bought a car and learned how to drive. Once she was licensed to drive we saw her a lot. It was nothing for Aunt Beulah to get up in the morning, decide to travel across the country and be in another state by supper time.

Aunt Beulah was a wonderful cook, homemaker and seamstress. She was always making crafts, dolls and canned goods to sell at a little shop near her home. When I was a little girl she brought me a little stuffed fabric doll she had made out of pink material with white polka dots. She had embroidered a face, made braided hair out of yarn and a bonnet that matched the material of the dress and body. I loved that doll and it graced my bed all of my childhood years.

When I learned how to sew Aunt Beulah gave me a pattern for that doll. I made one out of a bright red print Mom had left over from a school dress she had made for me the previous year. I finished the doll except for the hair and the bonnet, and when I packed my things to get married those dolls went into the box for the little girl I hoped to have one day.

When Aunt Beulah came to Smalltown to meet my daughter she brought a little doll for her too. Since she was too small to play with it yet, I set it in her crib so she could get acquainted with it. While Aunt Beulah was there I went through my boxes until I found my two dolls and brought them in. It made her so happy to see that I still had them after all these years. After a good washing and drying, we put them in the crib as well.

Sitting on the bed folding diapers one morning, I heard what sounded like ‘ah goo’. The baby had been watching her dolls as she loved to do. Not sure yet where the sound had come from I sat quietly watching the crib. In a few minutes she very clearly said “Ah goo”. Running to the door of the bedroom I called down the hall, “Mom! Hurry!” Mom came running through the door evidently expecting to see the house on fire. Putting my finger up to my lips to be quiet, we waited.

Standing at the crib for what seemed like hours but could have only been a few minutes, we were rewarded. “Ah goo, ah goo”, she said.
“Mom she’s talking!” I said. Grabbing the camera that always sat on the dresser I took several pictures of her while she repeated the same thing over and over. Being a new mother I didn’t know that this was the beginning of many little sounds, syllables and baby talk to come. But Mom did. She smiled and put her arm around me. “ From now on we’ll call that doll Miss Ah Goo so we will always remember this and to honor Aunt Beulah” she said.

I will never forget that magical moment when three generations of daughters forged a memory that would last a lifetime and beyond.

Until tomorrow,


Friday, August 22, 2003


Mom and I had been working all afternoon on the food for Grandpa’s birthday dinner and baking his birthday cake. We were having a glass of iced tea while we waited for the cake to cool so we could frost it, and our thoughts turned to other parties of birthdays past.

Birthdays have always been big events in our family. The birthday person was the official king or queen for a day, and got to choose the birthday dinner and cake that Mom would prepare for our family celebration at supper that evening. As kids, much thought went into this decision because it would be a whole year before you could choose again.

My older brother George was born on December 22. He wasn’t happy about his birthday being so close to Christmas, because the relatives always combined his birthday and Christmas gifts together, greatly reducing the gifts he got to open on his birthday. When the Christmas boxes arrived from around the country he always checked the box to see if they had included his birthday gift, only to find the tags on his gifts marked ‘To George Jr., Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas’. Knowing the disappointment he felt and realizing that many times George’s birthday did indeed seem to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, Mom tried to think of ways to make his birthday parties memorable.

One particular birthday still holds honors as Best Birthday Party Celebration.
We had two feet of snow on the ground and had been out of school a week on account of it, and were a week into our two week Christmas break from school. Mom had been trying to keep three little kids entertained and was about at her wits end. She had been baking George’s birthday cake and had been teasing us with a few hints about his special birthday party. Finally, in the late afternoon she told us all to go to our bedrooms and change into our swimming suits. This provided the much hoped for diversion she needed.

George loved pineapple. He wasn’t as particular about what he had for his birthday dinner as long as it included pineapple. We nicknamed him ‘pineapple head’ or ‘pineapples’ for short and it is still his family nickname. Mom was very creative when planning parties, and so it happened that on that snowy winter night we celebrated pineapple head’s birthday sitting on a quilt in the middle of our dining room floor just like a real Hawaiian luau. Feasting on pineapple upside down cake and trying to keep the family dog Oakie out of our food is a cherished family memory for all of us.

My birthday falls on March 27. Every year without fail I asked for the same dinner and the same birthday cake. Ask anyone in our family today what Becky’s favorite birthday meal is and they could tell you. I figure why mess with perfection? My birthday meal always consisted of roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade hot rolls, green beans with bacon, and chocolate fudge layer cake. I could be flexible with the vegetable or not have one at all for that matter but the rest of the meal never changed. One year Mom had a party out in the garage during one of our Camp Fire Girls meetings, but as a rule our celebrations were family affairs.

My younger brother John’s birthday is March 2. John is both the baby of the family and the family clown. He loved TV commercials and very often his birthday dinner was chosen from a commercial he had seen advertised. John also loved the Popeye cartoons. More often than not, we would have Wimpy cheeseburgers and French fries. John’s love affair with cheeseburgers continues today, and as my Uncle Louis used to say, John was most likely the reason the ‘millions sold’ sign changed so often at McDonald’s.

Getting to choose your birthday dinner gave you a great deal of power to wield over your unsuspecting siblings. At least two years I can remember John wanted Popeye spinach and fish. Another year he requested a can of Spaghetti-O’s. What John’s birthday meal may have lacked his birthday cake always made up for. John always had great birthday cakes. One year Mom made him a chocolate birthday cake in the shape of our family cat Spook, another year a white cake in the shape of his white rabbit Thumper, another year he had a train cake, she even made him a Felix the Cat cake once. We never knew what to expect.

Before we could eat the cake, the birthday candles were lit, a wish made and then the candles were blown out again. The family always sang Happy Birthday, which became louder and more creative as we grew older. After taking a picture the cake was cut with the first piece going to the honoree. The last official birthday activity was the paddle line. This activity also became louder and more creative as we grew older, so the objective was to crawl through the line as quickly as possible to avoid being killed by brothers and sister.

Grandpa’s party wouldn’t be so raucous. Everyone would dress up a little bit and we’d eat dinner and open gifts. We had made all of his favorites-cauliflower with cheese sauce, asparagus, mashed potatoes, ham and hot rolls. For dessert we had prepared a three layer cake which he favors and would top it off with ice cream which he adores.

Looking at the birthday cake with the candles burning my daughter’s eyes grew large with wonder, and as we sang Happy Birthday I realized that when we celebrated her first birthday the following summer we would be carrying on these traditions with her-passing them on to another generation.


Thursday, August 21, 2003


Our neighbors at the bend in the road asked Grandpa to build them a big brick barbeque pit, and the day it was finally completed they invited all of us to come for a cookout to christen it properly. They raise a few head of beef cattle, and wanted to grill T-Bone steaks. This was such a rare treat for all of us that we readily accepted and the date was set for the following Saturday evening. We offered to bring side dishes to help with the food and preparation.

Grandma, Mom and I spent two afternoons going through our recipe boxes deciding just what dishes to prepare. Grandma settled on scalloped potatoes and seven layer salad while Mom and I finally chose baked beans, cole slaw and deviled eggs. Grandma spent an entire afternoon the previous week teaching me how to make beautifully appointed deviled eggs and this would be my first attempt at making them all by myself. I had been so inspired by all of the good home cooking Mom and Grandma prepared that they surprised me with my very own recipe box and some recipe cards. They had each written out several of their favorite recipes to start me out, and every spare moment I could find I copied recipes out of their boxes and filed them in my own.

Right after breakfast on Saturday morning, step dad watched my daughter while Mom and I went to the kitchen to prepare the food. We grated cabbage for the cole slaw, which is one of Mom’s specialties. I cleared away the mess and she made the dressing, stirred it into the grated cabbage and set it in the refrigerator to chill. While she made her baked beans, I began the process of making the deviled eggs. By lunch time we had all of the food ready and after eating a light lunch we put the baby down for a nap, and cleaned up for the barbeque.

Since there was so much take, Grandpa and step dad loaded all of the food, lawn chairs and baby’s things in the truck and drove down to the neighbor’s. Grandma, Mom, the baby and I walked down. While the men folk admired the new barbeque we set up the food on the tables that had been set up under a nearby shade tree. Everything looked absolutely delicious, and I was very gratified and just a little bit proud to notice that someone had already eaten several of my deviled eggs.

Since all of the activity seemed to be centered around the grill, we walked over to join the men. There in all his glory was the neighbor laying the largest T-Bone steaks any of us had ever seen on the grill.
We must have looked like little kids outside the candy store window because he threw his head back and laughed. He is a big man-evidenced by the fact that he owns his own Santa Clause suit and portrays Santa every Christmas in the Smalltown Christmas parade. Anytime he opened his mouth to talk I expected him to say “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”. As he took the sizzling steaks off of the grill and made his way to the table with them, he said, “Come and get it!”.

There was a great flurry of activity as everyone grabbed a platter and began helping themselves to the food. There was chilled cucumbers and onions in vinegar, fresh roasting ears, hot corn muffins, baked beans, cole slaw, scalloped potatoes, seven layer salad, and the deviled eggs. Supper was a highly entertaining affair with Grandpa and the neighbor competing for the biggest fish story bragging rights. While the men helped themselves to second helpings the ladies and I carried the dirty dishes to the kitchen.

Our hostess had outdone herself, making her special fried fruit pies for dessert. There was apple, cherry, raisin, and peach and were still warm. Everyone groaned when she carried them out to the table but when we cleared the food later not one pie was left. We sat visiting and laughing until our sides hurt, but when darkness fell we loaded the truck, thanked our hosts and headed home.

As we walked, the moon shone brightly down….on our country road.


Wednesday, August 20, 2003


Day to day country life and caring for my three month old daughter kept me very busy and for the most part I was happy and content. Mom and Grandma must have decided it was best to keep my mind occupied and my hands busy, and under their watchful tutelage I learned the rudiments of cooking, baking, canning and needlework.

Many afternoons while the baby napped Grandma would walk down to join Mom and I and we’d do needlework projects and visit. Grandma favored embroidery and she did beautifully intricate work. Mom loved all disciplines of needlework but most often she could be found knitting sweaters or crocheting afghans for friends and family members. I had started a quilt for the baby’s crib, and was piecing quilt blocks for that. My fingers were continuously swollen and sore from needle pricks.

Finishing a block, I proudly showed it to Mom who promptly declared the stitches either too long, too uneven, too loose or too puckered. My heart sank as she picked up her scissors and began to snip the thread, rip out the offensive stitches and hand the pieces back for me to sew again. The material would be limp from my efforts before she finally nodded her head and said, “Very nice work Becky. Now aren’t you glad you did it over again?” Finally succeeding in completing a block satisfactorily I put my work away for the day, my hands stiff and cramped.

Our afternoons were never complete without a cup of tea and something sweet to eat. Both Mom and Grandma collected pretty china cups and saucers and we always got to use those beautiful delicate cups for our tea parties. Often Grandpa and step dad would come in and join us for a slice of cake but they weren’t comfortable with the china cups, favoring hot coffee in a sturdy coffee mug instead.

Adapting to a new way of life was challenging, frustrating and exhausting. Most nights I fell into bed and was asleep before my head hit the pillow, waking only to feed and change the baby through the night. There were rare occasions however when I would lay awake thinking about my life. Becoming a mother at the age of 18 was a responsibility that sat heavily on my shoulders. I didn’t want to fail. Learning how to handle and care for my daughter through all of the years that stretched ahead of me seemed overwhelming.

My thoughts always drifted to my friends in Kansas, wondering if they ever thought of me and what paths their lives had taken. My best friend wrote long letters every week about her life, who was leaving for college in the fall, who friends were dating or breaking up with, parties she had attended and people she had seen. My life was so different now that I felt disconnected from them, and reading her letters made me feel out of touch and very alone. My heart constricted, tears falling silently down my cheeks and spilling onto my pillow. Tears for the life I had left behind, the lost friendships, the mistakes and wrong choices I had made. Tears of shame for feeling so alone and unhappy when my family had been so good to me and sacrificed so much to give us a home. Tears of longing to once again be with people my own age, to laugh and have fun and dream about the future. Tears for my many failures….

The sound of my daughter waking up for her two o’clock feeding brought me back to the present. Leaning over the crib I lifted her up and cradled her head against my cheek, the smell of baby powder filling my senses. While she took her bottle we rocked and I smiled at her and told her my worries about the future. She watched me as we rocked together in the soft moonlight and wrapping her fist tightly around my finger fell soundly asleep again.

The knot around my heart eased and love filled the emptiness. Tucking her back into her crib and returning to my own bed I fell asleep, my cheek laying against the dampness of the tears on my pillow.


Tuesday, August 19, 2003


There were two strawberry farms in Smalltown. Actually they were located on the outskirts of town, Cooper’s being several miles to the north and Morton’s a mile or so to the west. When word spread that the strawberries were ripe and ready for picking Mom and Grandma planned what day to go pick ours. Putting up jam was a collaborative effort and anything we canned was always divided equally between the two households. I stayed home with the baby while everyone went to pick strawberries, and due to the heat they left early to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

People for miles around Smalltown got their strawberries from Cooper’s and Morton’s because the strawberries were so juicy and sweet. Many of the local teenagers made summer wages picking strawberries for the people who either couldn’t or didn’t want to pick their own. It was considerably cheaper to pick your own berries and you could pick the freshest ones by doing that.

Once my daughter was down for her morning nap, it was my job to wash and sterilize the pint jam jars. This was an important step in the canning process and if not done properly the jam could spoil. After washing and rinsing the jars, boiling water was poured over them, then they were drained and turned upside down to dry. By the time I had lunch on the table Grandma, Grandpa and the folks were back with several flats of luscious ripe red strawberries.

While Mom and I began rinsing the strawberries, Grandma stirred up homemade shortcake to bake for supper. The strawberries went through this rinsing process several times to rid them of little bugs and dirt. Next we cut off the stems and began mashing the berries. Mashing was very slow going as it was done by hand with a potato masher one or two cups at a time. Once the kettle was full the sugar was added while pectin was dissolved in boiling water. After the berries had been stirred and left to sit a while the pectin was added. The hot pectin mixture helped to dissolve any remaining sugar granules. Since freezer jams aren’t cooked the strawberries stay a bright clear red. The jam isn't as firm, tastes more like fresh fruit, and is wonderful on biscuits, pancakes, even ice cream. Finally the jars were filled with the jam and sealed. The jam had to sit for twenty four hours before being taken to the freezer.

Gathered around our kitchen table that evening we ate the casserole that Grandma had brought for supper, and feasted on fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert. Although we were all weary to the bone it was satisfying to know both households would have strawberry jam to eat all winter.

As I was getting ready for bed, I reflected on my first experience with making and preserving jam. Smiling I wondered what my friends in Kansas would have thought had they been there to witness the event. I had become a very different person since leaving there-hopefully a better person. Turning back the sheets I climbed into bed and closed my eyes, savoring the luxury of rest. The last thing I remember thinking before falling asleep was what a good day it had been ….on our country road.


Monday, August 18, 2003


August in Missouri is stifling. The heat is unbearable, there is no wind to stir a breeze, and the humidity is so high it hurts to draw a full breath. The rainfall stops the end of June and by August the lawns turn brown and cease to grow at all.

With no air conditioning the house was too hot to cook, so we usually had cold salads or sandwiches and iced tea for supper. One evening I was putting my daughter to bed, cranking the windows open as far as I could in hopes of coaxing in some night air. I liked to stand and pat her little back as she fell asleep each night, and as I stood at her crib doing this I noticed the evening star. After the baby had drifted off to sleep I slipped out the back door and walked to the back yard and sat down on an old tree stump.

Sitting on that old stump watching the lightening bugs flicker, dusk slowly deepened into darkness. Looking up to the inky blackness of the night sky, the stars were twinkling like bright shimmering Christmas lights. In the country there are no city lights or street lights to interfere with stargazing, or buildings to block them from view. Starting at the Evening Star I located the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, the Milky Way, and several other constellations I could not remember the names for.

Sitting under the immense panorama of the Heavens in all their glory and the softness of the night surrounding me, I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Tears slowly filled my eyes, overflowed, and slipped down my cheeks unbidden. My heart swelled with a sense of peace and rightness about being in this place at this time of my life. God had led me back to the safe haven of Smalltown in order to find myself again. Surrounded by the love of our family, my daughter and I were making a fresh start.

The back door opened and I heard Mom say,"Becky? Are you out here honey-is everything all right?" Smiling, I stood and started toward the dear figure of my Mother silhouetted in the light of the open doorway. Calling out to her, I said, "Yes. I'm right here Mom-and everything is perfect."

Until tomorrow,


Sunday, August 17, 2003


Sundays at our house were relaxed and enjoyable. The baby even slept a little later on Sunday morning and it was a wonderful gift to be able to roll over and drift back into slumber if only for an extra half hour.

Breakfast on Sunday morning was usually buttermilk pancakes, link sausages and coffee. There is nothing better than a stack of buttermilk pancakes hot off the griddle dripping with butter and topped with syrup, sorghum, honey or homemade jam. Leftover pancakes didn't go to waste as the birds always made short work of them.

Grandma and Grandpa had pancakes most mornings and Sunday was no exception. Before sitting down to eat his breakfast Grandpa would take a pancake out to a post by the garden gate and lay it on the screen wire he had attached to the top of it. He had a very special woodpecker that would make a fuss if Grandpa was late bringing out his breakfast. Grandpa would shake his head and laugh, not believing himself that his hot breakfast was cooling on the table while he fed the woodpecker. The neighbors who lived at the bend in the road had a white Alaskan named Bullet and when he saw Grandpa feeding the woodpecker he'd come trotting down the road. Bullet loved Grandma's pancakes and she always made one for him as well. When Bullet got to their porch Grandpa would open the door to hand him his pancake and he would lay on the porch eating it while Grandma and Grandpa ate their breakfast. Grandpa was first generation Danish-American and he ate his first pancake in Danish fashion. The hot pancake was spread with butter, sprinkled with sugar and rolled up so you could pick it up and eat it. Over the years Grandma adopted this practice as well. Because they loved it so much sorghum would top their remaining pancakes.

My Grandparents always ate Sunday dinner with us. Shortly before noon they would come walking down the road carrying lawn chairs, Grandma's needlework bag, and whatever dessert she had baked for dinner. On Sundays Grandpa wore a shirt and slacks instead of his work clothes, boots, and straw hat. His silver hair would be combed neatly and his shoes shined. Grandma would wear a fresh cotton dress my mother had made for her, a pair of earrings and the lipstick she saved for special occasions.

Dinner was a festive affair and everyone ate with gusto. Mom and I put a lot of planning into the menu each week, and the table was always laden with jello salad, hot rolls, meat, gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetables and a relish tray. Grandpa was a master story teller and would entertain us with tall tales which filled our kitchen with laughter and merriment while we ate.

After dinner was over, the dishes washed and the food put away we would take our lawn chairs out under the big shade tree to visit and drink iced tea. A quilt would be spread out so my daughter could play with her toys, entertaining us with her antics and babytalk. Mom, Grandma and I worked on various needlework projects while Grandpa and my stepdad visited. Before long the baby would be sound asleep on her quilt.

In the late afternoon Grandpa and stepdad would gather the rock salt, ice cream freezer and ice from the deep freezer. We froze ice in empty milk cartons, and while we prepared the ice cream mixture the men would chip ice into an enamel wash pan with ice picks. Before long the sound of Grandpa cranking the ice cream freezer would be heard. This was a lengthy process, adding more rock salt and ice as needed to freeze the mixture. When the ice cream was done Grandpa packed in down with more ice and covered it with towels so it could harden. On this particular day Grandma had baked a strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert. A generous slice was placed into bowls and carried out under the shade tree. When Grandpa declared the ice cream ready to eat, the paddle was removed and Mom scooped ice cream into each bowl on top of the pie. We would eat pie and ice cream until we were miserable, visited until dusk, and then carried everything in to the kitchen and cleaned up the mess.

Before long Grandma and Grandpa would gather their lawn chairs and head back up the road to their house. After bathing the baby and putting her to bed, the folks and I settled down to watch Bonanza on TV.

Sundays were best....on our country road.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, August 16, 2003


As I grew more accustomed to the sights and sounds of country life our days settled into a comfortable rhythm. If the baby didn't wake us the neighbor's roosters did. Shortly thereafter the cardinals began chirping in the trees as they made their way to our feeders for sunflower seeds. Waiting for the coffee to perk we'd sit at the kitchen table watching the birds at the bird feeders and the robins hunt worms on the front lawn. This was always a peaceful time-watching nature greet the sunrise, the smell of coffee perking and the ritual of making buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. By the time the biscuits were ready to come out of the oven Mom would have bacon and eggs ready. Enjoying a hot breakfast we would talk over our plans for the day, and as if on cue the Walnut Mill whistle would blow signaling the start of their work day.

Every day was wash day with a baby in the house, so washing the diapers was the first order of business. I liked to hang the diapers out on the clothesline early so that they fluttered and snapped in the breeze. After bathing the baby, making the beds, and straightening the house we'd head out to the garden to weed and hoe. Planting a garden was a necessity and much of our time was spent tending it, picking and cleaning vegetables, and preserving the harvest.

I especially enjoyed washing and snapping the green beans while Mom got the jars and canner ready for the canning process. It was always fun to guess how many quarts we would yield from the days picking. Hot jars of beans were carefully lifted out of the canner and set on towels covering the counters to cool, then reloading the canner we would start the process all over again. Midmorning we'd stop for a cup of coffee and piece of cake or some cookies while the kitchen cooled down a bit. When the canning was done, the jars of green beans all lined up on the counter to cool, and the mess cleaned up it would be time for lunch.

Afternoons were usually set aside for folding diapers, finishing laundry, and nap time for the baby. Mom and I would plan what to cook for supper and discuss recipes for baking a cake or pie for dessert. Mail was delivered by the rural route carrier everyday about 2:00pm and was a social event we all looked forward to with great anticipation. When he drove by our house to turn around at the dead end of the road, we would make our way out to the mailbox to hear the news he brought from town. After a hearty hello he would visit about the weather, a little town gossip, who was sick or who had passed away, and who might have welcomed a new baby. Mom often cut a piece of cake or bagged up some cookies for him to eat along the remainder of his route. Handing us the mail he would always comment if he had noticed that one of us had heard from a far away relative or friend, inquire about their welfare, and with a wave he'd be off to my Grandparent's box where they stood waiting.

Work for the day was done by the hottest part of the afternoon and Grandma and Grandpa would often carry their lawn chairs down to join us under a big shade tree to enjoy a welcome breeze and a cool glass of iced tea. Grandma would bring any letters she had recieved and Mom would read them aloud so we could all share the news, while my daughter rolled around on a quilt unsuccessfully attempting to put the foot of her teddy bear into her mouth. Grandpa couldn't resist picking her up for long-there was a special bond between these two and it was amazing how her little baby kisses had mellowed him.

Idly listening to Grandma and Mom discussing the recipe for Uncle Ted's salt pickles we were going to make the next day, my gaze was drawn to our country road. When I had first come to Smalltown the road had represented failure, broken dreams, and kept me away from the outside world. After a few short months my body had healed, my heart was mending and I had a sense of peace and belonging I had not experienced in a very long time. Now that road represented the freedom only love can give, and protection from the outside world. Looking back at my daughter I smiled at the four dear faces coaxing her to laugh. Mother's intuition brought Mom's eye's to mine as though sensing where my thoughts had wandered. Putting her arm around my shoulders we started toward the house. "Come on everyone! It is supper time and we have fudge cake and fresh green beans" she said.

Just another normal day on our country road...

Until tomorrow,


Friday, August 15, 2003

Sounds of Silence 

The first thing I noticed about living in Smalltown was the silence. There were only four families who lived on our country road. The town welder and tow truck driver lived at the dead end of the road with his wife and no less than twenty or so cats of various sizes, ages and descriptions. They left for work every morning about 7:30am unless called out for an accident beforehand and returned every evening about 5:30pm unless delayed for the same reason. Many times in the middle of the night we would hear the wrecker start up and leave for an accident scene. This was always an eerie sound as the nighttime accidents most often had tragic results.

Our house was second and since the folks were retired and I was taking care of my newborn daughter we rarely left the house. The chores of country living were time consuming and never ending. My Grandparents lived on the other side of us and were also retired. The only time they left their house was to grocery shop or go to the lake to fish. We all spent a great deal of time walking up and down our road either for exercise, pleasure or visiting with each other. It was not uncommon to look out to the road and see a neighbor bringing us some fresh homemade cake, cookies or canned goods from their kitchens.

The last family lived at the bend of the road on the other side of my Grandparents. It was there that we had played as children when visiting Grandma and Grandpa on summer vacations and they were good friends and neighbors to all of us. We had a very close knit little community and often enjoyed eating at each other's homes or having neighborhood potluck dinners, fish fries and barbeques.

The silence was never broken by highway traffic noise due to the buffer created by the big woods across the road and the woods that surrounded all our homes. The quiet routine of each day was only interrupted by the neighbors going to or coming home from work, the occasional lawn mower, passing trains, or the work whistle at the Walnut Mill down on the highway. The mill whistle sounded five times a day-to start work at 8:00am, morning break at 10:00am, lunch at noonday, afternoon break at 3:00pm, and going home at 5:00pm. You can set your clock by the Walnut Mill whistle, and it's unmistakeable sound and regularity are indelibly woven into the fabric of daily life here in Smalltown.

The second thing I noticed about living in Smalltown was the noise. Now I am not talking about regular noise like sirens, traffic, machines and such that one would hear in more heavily populated areas. I am referring to the country noise that I had never heard while living in the city.

Thirty one years ago we did not have air conditioning so the windows were kept open whenever possible to coax in summer breezes. The days were so quiet it seemed you could hear the grass growing, but the nights were a different story. The first few weeks after coming to live with my folks I couldn't sleep. I would just lay down and close my eyes when a strange rhythmic chirping started- quietly at first then gaining in strength volume and speed until it was seemingly deafening. I asked my Mom what on earth it was, and she told me it was cicadas, or kady dids as the country folk call them. She assured me that it wouldn't take long to get used to them and she was right. Before long it became the symphony that lulled me into peaceful slumber each night.

The kady dids were the harbingers of night, followed by the lazy croaking of the bullfrogs down at the pond in the big woods, the crickets, and the whip-o-rills. Quite often the hoot owl that lived in my Grandma's pine grove or the plaintive howling of coyotes in the distance provided harmony for the music of the night....on our country road.

Until Tomorrow,


Thursday, August 14, 2003


Those of you who have been following my journey in Smalltown know that my daughter was born in August and that we arrived here 10 days later. In honor of my daughter's twenty-fifth birthday six years ago I wrote a story for her and sent it in her birthday card. She was feeling so OLD and anxious about turning twenty five, so I just wanted to remind her how much I loved her and what a special place she has in my heart and that of our family.


Early spring daffodils sway in the breeze, their bright yellow faces turned toward Heaven as though in praise to their Creator. Just an ordinary little clump of flowers really, standing bravely against the chilly spring air yet I am reminded of the first time daffodils became special to me.

You came running toward me breathlessly as fast as toddler legs could carry you. Your eyes sparkled and your cheeks were rosy with excitement, for held tightly in your hand was a precious gift of yellow daffodils. Proudly holding them out for me you stood expectantly, dimpled little fingers clutching my heart as well as the petals. You didn't notice my tears as I bent down to accept your gift and a big hug, then we were off to find a vase to put them in. You sat at the table looking at the canning jar of crushed petals and broken stems as though they were the most beautiful flowers in the whole world. I don't think that I have ever been given a more beautiful bouquet at any time since.

Each spring the bright yellow blooms of early daffodils beckoned you, and no matter where you found them they graced our kitchen table in a humble canning jar. I tried not to notice where they came from nor did the neighbors seem to mind either your invasion of their flower gardens or you helping yourself to their spring blooms.

We have had many daffodil days, you and I.....your first day of school, dances, high school and college graduation, watching you walk down the aisle with a bouquet of gardenias on your wedding day. No matter how old we grow you will always be that beautiful little girl holding up a wilted bouquet of flowers in the bright morning sun of a spring day, and I will never greet the daffodils of spring without remembering how much I love you.

Until Tomorrow,


Wednesday, August 13, 2003


When I was a child no great thought was given to the country road I now call home except that Grandma and Grandpa lived there. Most summers our family made the six hour drive to Smalltown for a vacation, and many happy days were spent playing and exploring with the neighbor kids that lived across the way.

The road was called Poplar Drive at that time, aptly named for the many poplar trees that lined it. Constructed with the old fashioned crown method, it was covered with black top mixed with small river gravel extracted from the dry creek bed just over the hill where the black top ends and becomes gravel road.

Several years later the road was renamed Holloway Drive in honor of a prominent local family that owned much of the land on either side of it. One Christmas a rare winter tornado traveled down Holloway Drive destroying trees and damaging homes. My Grandparents' home was one of them but luckily they had just arrived in Shawnee to celebrate Christmas with our family and escaped harm. They left the next morning for Smalltown, and when their new mobile home was delivered it was set up on a new piece of land just around a bend in the road. This location offered a dead end , which resulted in less traffic and more peace and quiet.

When Grandpa became seriously ill my Mom and Stepdad retired and bought a lot just down the road from my Grandparents. Upon my arrival in Smalltown I settled in with my folks which surrounded my daughter and me with the support of family. That country road became our country road as well, and although it's name has been forsaken for several different rural route addresses and ultimately for a county road address assigned by 911, it remains relatively unchanged.

Twenty Nine years ago we lost my Grandfather, and my Grandmother several years after that. Eventually I moved into their little home with my daughter and still make my home there, surrounded by the pine trees that Grandpa planted for Grandma when they moved here forty years ago.

Mom and Stepdad still live down the road but my daughter is now married and lives on the east coast with her husband. When she comes home for visits we talk and laugh, and we often take a walk together like we used to ....down our country road.

Until Tomorrow,


Tuesday, August 12, 2003


Thirty-one and a half years ago I left my childhood home in Shawnee, Kansas to make my way in the world. This was not unsusal, as teenagers leave home every day to attend college, travel, begin a career or get married. For me it was the latter, and as is the case with many teenage marriages ours was an unmitigated disaster from the beginning. The choices I made put into motion a chain of events that changed my life and those of everyone in my family and circle of friends forever.

When I entered a hospital in Sacramento, California to deliver my first baby, complications arose which placed my life in jeopardy. I woke up five days later to find my mother and step-father at my bedside- my husband was not. As soon as I was well enough to be discharged from the hospital and could pack my things, we embarked on the long journey across the country to the little town in Missouri where my daughter and I would make our new home. God's country, my mother called it.

It took several days to make the trip, but as we turned off of the highway into Smalltown I looked back-toward everything I had known. Lifting my daughter to my shoulder I was suddenly afraid of all that lay ahead-but I was young, alive, and had a daughter to raise. Hope bloomed.

My journey begain 31 years ago this week, as we turned down a country road.....toward home.

Until Tomorrow,