Friday, June 9, 2017

Segment 2 - When Whippoorwills Call - Copyright 2004/2017 Doris Gaines Rapp

                                                                        CHAPTER  2

Molly grew up on a farm in Indiana, on a dusty road between the country store at Bartoni and the little town of Lynn. The family farm was the only place next to Heaven where the air smelled like freshly mown hay and the creek was as clear as sparkling, liquid crystal. Even the clear sky in the wide Heavens above her farm home seemed more blue, and the graceful, overhanging boughs more green than any other place on earth. It was as though the whole world grew fainter beyond that one epicenter. The creek bank and flowing pool were havens for Molly Crammer.
In spite of the peaceful, radiant beauty, as an only child, Molly found farm life to be very lonely. She grew up among the silky milk weeds near the tiny pond beyond the barn yard. That was one of the few places that brought her some measure of comfort from the isolation. She also spent hours in the drafty red bank-barn, playing with the cats that nested in the hay mow above.
AIf you’re going to the barn, first cover your dress with a pinafore,@ her mother would say. Mother didn’t want cat hair in the house.

The barn smelled of mellow, golden hay and the rich tanned aroma of harness leather. Molly believed that her nostrils actually flared from the sweet fragrance the minute she stepped over the foot-high wooden threshold across the barn doorsill and entered the peaceful sanctuary of the barn. The red jersey cows chewed on their cud while they eyed Molly and her family of felines. No place could be more quiet and serene than the old barn on a cold, crisp autumn morning. The breath of the animals seemed to take the chill out of the nippy air.
For human companionship, Molly would run to the far edge of the barnyard, where the fence row stood tall with golden sun flowers and velvet morning glories, far to the north of the orchard. From there she would call for Willard Stuckey to come out and talk to her. She would remain in her yard and he would stay in his. Her mother=s admonition had been, ADon’t leave the yard.@ And, she didn’t. Although far from the house, she had still been on her own family farm, still obedient to her mother=s orders. Always obedient - always close by.
Occasionally, Daddy would find some Indian arrowheads as he turned the rich soil in the back forty near the old woods. Molly liked to remember that those rich old hickory trees, maples, and oaks were standing there when her ancestors migrated into the Ohio Valley, near what is now the Indiana and Ohio line. She would pretend that she could hear the faint sound of moccasins as little twigs snapped behind her when she walked through the woods. Or, at least, her imagination allowed her to Ahear@ them.
Years ago when Anthony Wayne signed the Treaty of Greenville just a ways to the east, her ancestors had already been living in their cabin for many years.  Grandpa Crammer=s farm, a few miles away, was really the magical one, where they buried Tecumseh=s brother, Blue Jacket, in a secret grave—Awhere never a plow would turn,@ as her grandfather often told her.

When Blue Jacket died in battle, no one in the area wanted him buried on their land or in their sacred cemetery. But, Grandpa Crammer was a Christian man and wouldn’t=t allow anyone to go unburied. So, he permitted the Indian=s grave to be on his farm.
Molly liked to believe that she knew exactly where they buried Blue Jacket. She would pretend that the Indian=s unmarked grave was in Grandpa’s woods, since those acres were never touched by plough or spade. She would wander around under the green leafy canopy and tunnel through the rambling bramble thicket with its sharp thorns, looking for any sign that someone lay beneath the mossy damp carpet. Once she found a flat rock, securely embedded in the dark muck, and tried to pry it up but … no luck.
On one sunny summer afternoon, as long sheathes of light pierced the woods with golden beams like the Revelation of the Glory of God descending to the earth and bouncing back to the blue heavens, Molly chanced upon a tiny pool. A fine mist of frothy bubbles from the previous day=s rain had washed out a small rock out-cropping and gathered at its base like the baptismal basin at the Bartoni Church.
AThis must be it,@ she shrieked, half to herself and half to the great cloud of witnesses around her—her knights on tall white horses and imaginary friends who would romp and play when she was especially lonely. But again … it wasn’t=t the right spot either, although, Molly was never able to prove or disprove that particular site.

Still, the search was the goal, not the finding. Searching kept her belief in the hope that there was something waiting for her out there. Something had to be buried there. If not ….
Molly dared not imagine a day without searching. The present would be too much to bear if there were no tomorrow—if there wasn’t something “out there”—something exciting to look forward to beyond Randolph County and the same dusty road, where every pebble was named, between Lynn and Bartoni, Indiana.
Darke County, Ohio, and Randolph County, Indiana, had been home to Molly=s families, her mother=s and her father=s, since the first settlers moved into the valley. The very first pioneer baby born in Darke County was an ancestor of Daddy=s. Native Indians inhabited the land before John Quincy Adams signed the parchment that deeded over the land to her ancestors. Why would anyone want to leave? It would be like leaving her family, her ancestral home.
She remembered it all; but, that was then. Her farm home and acres of isolated playground were miles and years away. She was now smack dab in the middle of 1932. Now, she was no longer a child. She no longer played with her rambunctious cats, Sugar and Honey, in the familiar, warm barn. The farm was eighty miles away, and Willard Stuckey was even farther, not hanging over the farm fence just beyond the apple orchard and its fragrant blossoms. The sweet hay and scented petals seemed only a faint memory, not three short years past.

All of her confidants, her friends and family, seemed to have abandoned her. But, the fact was, she’d left Randolph County eagerly, on her own. Randolph County had not left her.
Now, there in Dayton, Ohio, Molly would not be able to have someone else make her decisions for her. She couldn’t sit in the large farm kitchen near the wood cook stove and lean on her mother=s strength, an old dependency that was usually reciprocal. Besides, she wasn’t asking her mother anything; she was trying to inform her mother of a decision she’d made on her own.
Sarah and Charlotte, her school friends, weren’t waiting for her in the school library where Mrs. Frahm stood vigil, peering through round black spectacles. They weren’t a short stroll down the road to the little grocery that smelled of pickles and fresh vegetables, the only social gathering place in Bartoni, Indiana. There was no one to help her compose her letters. She had to write the notes herself.
She sat on the bed in her room at Mrs. Wiggens’ boarding house on North Main Street in Dayton, Ohio, and struggled with the piece of paper that lay frustratingly fresh and unblemished in front of her. No matter how long she sat there, the paper remained pristine. What was she going to say, Molly-of-the-weekly-letter-home? What would she write on that blank paper that stared back at her with widened eyes?

Molly wasn’t the kind of young woman, like others of her day, who was trying to make the earth-changing decision of what bank to rob or whether to come clean with her Asordid past.@ A choice not to steal or bear false witness would have been an easy choice for her to make, indeed. There is little honor in choosing the obvious.
Molly=s choices were much harder to recognize, let alone make. This wasn’t a battle between good and bad. She was choosing between good and good. She was deciding between the more subtle forms of distorting-self, to play life according to the safe rules outlined by her mother in some unwritten book or to break free from Bernice Crammer=s concept of who Molly was and become the individual whom God had always intended for her to be. She couldn’t begin to be who she was until she stopped being who she was not.
She hadn’t even decided what she was going to tell Gilbert. He’d been patient for so long, regardless of his behavior toward her.
Had she led him on? She certainly had in the last several months. It mattered not if she wore his ring or hid it in her dressing table drawer—she had promised. No matter what words she mentally rehearsed, those clichés drummed loudly in her head and seemed a dissonance to her deeper, truer longing. She couldn’t get her pen to form the simplest words on the paper.
Molly wanted to make everyone happy, with no discord or clanging tones.  Especially, she didn’t want to disappoint her mother. But the silence of the page was more than she could bear.

She simply couldn’t plummet into the emotional depths of her own heart where only melancholy melodies had ventured. She had managed to keep everyone an octave apart, brushing off genuine intimacy with a laugh, a sarcastic remark, or a silent pause. How could she pour out her regret to Gilbert, when regret dwelled deep within her where sorrow, love, passion, and yes, anger shared residence? How was she going to explain to her mother what she didn’t totally understand herself? What had changed and how did it happen so quickly?
Molly agonized over the exercise like a child groans over piano scales, hating to begin but longing to be done. She picked up her black fountain pen and poised it over the page like the prelude to a grand concerto, then paused with her hands poised in mid- air as though she were beginning an important recital. She began to write in bold, staccato strokes, with forte in each line. As spontaneously as she’d started to wade through her feelings, just as quickly she stopped.
Molly closed her eyes and lay back on the bed. She had to think. In many ways, her next letter, Gilbert=s letter, would be the easy one to write. But, what of this one? Again, what would she tell her mother?
She turned her thoughts back over the pages of time and took a look at how she had gotten where she was. Words of a familiar song bubbled across her memory and sang again in her heart like a distant phantom searching for a way home but not knowing in which direction home lay.
APlaymate, come out and play with me,
And bring your dollies three,
Climb up my apple tree.
Look down my rain barrel,

Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more.@
But, Molly had no playmates as a child. Most of what she could remember, growing up on the farm, was loneliness. Only the piano in the parlor and the sheets of new music her mother brought home from the dime store provided her with a path out of the vacuum and emptiness.

As time went by, music became the only key that could unlock the symphony of emotions that waited within her. Oh, don=t misunderstand, Molly didn’t have an unhappy life for her first twenty-one years. It simply lacked color, expression, brilliance, a legato—the deeper expression of the emotions of life, a self-awareness of whose she was. And, now the letters lay like sheet music with no notes or lyrics, just manuscript paper. It was too much for today. She’d write the letters sometime next week. Tonight, she would think of Zeb.

Friday, June 2, 2017

When Whippoorwills Call - Copyright 2004 Doris Gaines Rapp

Segment one of a new serialization - Enjoy!

                                                                        1932 - Two  Letters

A steady rain peppered their faces and soaked their clothes as they walked all the way home.  The clouds blocked any opportunity for the moon or stars to light the night.  Even the street lamps seemed shrouded in a foggy haze.  It was hot.  The puddles almost sizzled in the July heat.  Molly didn=t care.  She’d spent a wonderful evening swaying to music in the company of a new man.  Her roommate Irene wasn=t as tolerant of the rain but neither of them expected the dark, emptiness of the house as they neared home.  Molly didn’t know that anything could sneak in and cloud the perfect evening.
As they approached the white frame house on North Main Street, they could see the front door was standing open. The heat usually dictated whether the house was open or closed but everyone had been out that night. So, why wasn’t it closed? They cautiously stepped through the open door just as the other boarders got home.
Molly and Irene feared for their few possessions and dashed upstairs to the room they shared. They didn’t have much so it was easy to take inventory of what they had. Molly opened the closet door first and reached up to the shelf above her clothes and pulled down a cigar box her uncle had passed on from his drugstore in Greenville. Flipping the lid open, she shuffled through some letters to the bottom of the box. The gold cross on the chain her grandmother had given her was there. She clutched it to her chest. Still, a stranger had crept though the house, rummaged through her things, and then slipped out before anyone got home.  The Depression had made criminals out of many. But, understanding didn’t make it easier. Violated, that’s how she felt, violated and it made her mad.
Molly dried off, hung up her wet clothes to dry, and changed into her coolest nightgown before she curled up in the chair by the window, hugging the hand-embroidered pillow her mother had made.  She knew she wouldn=t be able to sleep.  Too much had happened.  She shuddered again as she imagined someone right there in her room, touching her belongings. 
In spite of feeling sick with fear and defilement, the thoughts that possessed the most where of him.  Her mind raced, tumbling over and over every conversation, every little syllable Zebulon Gaynor had said earlier that night and she remembered her own responses to his warmth.
AI want to see you tomorrow.  I have to see you tomorrow, Miss Molly No-Name,@ he pleaded softly in her ear.
Zebulon Gaynor is a stranger  . . .  almost, she reminded herselfShe knew that fact should be a caution but Zeb was different from everyone else. He focused totally on her.  It seemed to Molly that he snatched every word she said in those few hours and held them next to his heart.  On and on the words and music of that night danced through her head.
AI never knew a man could be lonely, surrounded by people, Molly.  I=ve longed for someone like you most of my life . . . and I didn=t even know it,@ Zeb revealed in a quiet moment, within the cacophony of the crowded ballroom in which they had spent the evening.

Not to imply the noise was discordant.  Molly simply heard nothing but a hum, except for the mellow voice of the new man who stood beside her.
AI understand loneliness, Zeb.  I was lonely most of my childhood,@ Molly confessed.
AAnd now?@  Zeb asked.
She sensed he wanted to hear words that echoed his own feelings. AI=ve never felt more connected,” she whispered. “I feel like I belong tonight.@ Molly didn=t think first, guarding each word.  She was more comfortable with him than she ever knew she could be. Then she caught herself with the same old reserve.  AI imagine you planned comfort into the evening.@
AOh, I did,@ Zeb responded with a wise, wry smile.
Molly knew he already heard what he wanted to hear before her mental sentry flew into action. AZeb, do you have any hobbies?@ She tried to slow the pace of the conversation, to keep it relaxed and neutral.
              eb=s eyes twinkled.  AJust you,@ he teased.
AOh, so I=m just a hobby for your spare time?@
ANo . . .@ he corrected playfully, Abut you are the project I intend to become an expert on.@  Zeb=s smile broadened across his face.

Later, sitting there in her room after it all—the good and the bad—she felt her cheeks grow warm again remembering his words.  They still held the ability to touch her deeply and physically.
She didn=t want to think of Gilbert, the other man in her life. She wanted only to reminisce over Zeb.  But, Gil=s face banged around in her conscious thoughts, even as she remembered Zeb=s sweet words.  After all, she had promised herself to Gilbert while she was still a teenager.  He was her fiancé.  The word still sounded foreign to her, even after three years of engagement.  Fiancé no longer applied to Gilbert. Things had changed.  A new song had been sung.
Molly didn=t know what to do or what to say?  Gilbert had been the love of her youth, but, Zeb aroused emotions she had never experienced.  Zeb was different.  She would have to write to Gilbert.  She owed him that.  And, sometime, she would tell Zeb about Gil.
Molly also knew she should write to her mother and tell her about the evening she just had and the confusion she was experiencing. She wouldn=t tell her about the home intruder, however. Mother would worry.       Thoughts rose and rolled like the rumble of distant thunder, only to ebb away. She opened her Bible and searched for words of calm and comfort.

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10,  she read silently as she sat in Mrs. Wiggens= second floor, front bedroom and looked again at the blank paper that lay on her lap. Would she have the nerve to be who God had called her to be, not her mother=s Molly or Gilbert=s Molly?

She was the only one still awake in the boarding house that night. Would she be able to write what she had to say without sounding angry or demanding?  How could she hold back her feelings again? Still, that evening, the barricade had been unexpectedly breached by a tall, slender man in a tipped straw hat who Aplanned to know her better.@
The brilliant yellow daisy print on her bedspread seemed to mock the relatively unmarred sheet of paper before her.  Her letter shouldn=t prattle on as the daily notes she wrote when she first moved to Dayton.  Molly had been on her own since she was eighteen years old.
How was she going to tell her mother she didn’t intend to move back to Randolph County again?  How was she going to be independent when her mother held a great influence over her? Molly felt responsible for and responsible to her mother, all at the same time.  But, she no longer wanted what her mother wanted for her:  a safe, planned, calculated life. She wanted the freedom to be . . . just be.  Maybe her reaction to the intruder had helped rout out anger that had hidden deep within her.
A stubborn auburn-brown wave fell across her brow.  Her marcelled style was growing out. Gotta get a new do, she promised herself as she brushed the independent locks back into place. Her mind leaped from thought to thought and ricocheted from past to present and back again.

How was she ever going to decide between them?  Gilbert was Aa sure thing,@ and that made her feel even more guilty for the way she had treated him lately. Gilbert shouldn=t be a Asure thing@ to anyone.  He should be a Acherished thing@ . . .  to someone.
There was also that other side to Gilbert - the rougher side.  Molly kept telling herself that farm boys were more physical.  But, even that justification was an ill-fitting suit.  Daddy was gentle, even if he was stubborn and quiet.  Richard Crammer had farmed all of his life.  He was strong but not discourteous.  Gilbert was certainly not like her father. In spite of Gilbert=s faults, Molly felt she still had to decide between him and Zeb, and between what her mother wanted for her and what she wanted for herself. She could neither let go of her old life nor grab hold of a new dream.
A small smile began to warm the tension in Molly=s face as familiar song lyrics flooded her thoughts and began the process that would eventually set her free, free to be . . .   no one special in the great scheme of life.  But, incredibly unique in God=s eyes.  The lyrics sang in her heart:
Sing them over again to me, 
Wonderful words of life . . .               

It hadn=t always been this complicated. Once, life had been simpler, Molly remembered.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A New Series - Yes?

Hi Dear Readers,

I'm thinking of posting a new series. What do you think? Invite others to go on this blog; even if they don't "comment" their presence will let me know they're interested.

Enjoy the beautiful day. The Lord is Good!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

To Love or Love Not - Doris Gaines Rapp - Copyright 2017 Doris Gaines Rapp

Dr. Cherise Owens stood by her office window and surveyed the quad. It was a beautiful spring day. Violet irises bloomed in flower beds next to opening yellow and red tulips. The sweet aroma of freshly mowed grass drifted through the partially open casement. She inhaled deeply and hoped the light breeze would carry her through the busy day ahead. She would be interviewing new professors for one open position in the Sociology Department. Rats. She’d have to sit through a lunch with Department Chair candidate Dr. Jack Strand; the author of that awful book, When Adam was a Man.
“Dr. Owens,” her secretary said as she stuck her head into the University President’s office. “It’s 11:45. You wanted to walk over to the Oak Room.”
“Love the Oak Room. Dread this lunch,” Cherise moaned as she collected her keys and small cross-body purse.
“I know,” Dee Dee sympathized. “Focus on the food and less on the fool.”
“Dee Dee, you’re not calling our esteemed colleague and candidate for a faculty position, Dr. Jack Strand, a fool are you?”
“Me?” the secretary denied with her hand to her chest. “Never.”
“But, if you were,” the President smiled coyly, “I would agree.”
Cherise walked out the door and turned her chin upward, bathing her face in sunlight. It could not have been a more glorious day. Her heels clicked along the sidewalk, prompting a desire to dance, but she resisted the temptation. Strong willed, she never gave into silly immature thoughts that crossed her mind. Still, she was dancing in her head as she arrived at the University Restaurant door, side-stepping in rhythm to her internal music, and went in.
Alfred Newday, the Dean of Students, waved from a white cloth-covered table to the left. Alfred stood, pulling out the chair beside him. Cherise would sit next to a man who looked like the image on his book jacket. She was disappointed when she saw he was even more handsome than his picture. Rats. As Cherise got to the table, Jack Strand stood up.
Facing eye to eye, she came into contact with warmth that set her toes on fire. She couldn’t hide her attraction to him and more’s the pity, Dr. Strand noticed and smiled.
“You must be Jack Strand,” she said as she tried to play it lightly.
“Since no one else wanted the part, then, yes I must be he,” Strand continued to smile like a cat that just trapped the house mouse.
“A sense of humor,” she declared to the other three at the table. Besides the Dean, two professors from the Sociology Department joined them for lunch. “Humor will please the students.”
“Then . . . I’m hired?” Strand asked, still smiling, still teasing.
Assistant Professor Scrimshire looked at Strand with surprise. “Well then, if no one cares, I’d like to eat before we adjourn.”
“We’re not in that much of a hurry,” Dr. Owens announced with her hand held up to slow down the meeting.
“Would you like the usual Tuesday special?” the server asked the President.
Cherise looked up at the waitress and avoided Strand. “Yes, that’s fine. Thanks.”
Scrimshire and the other professor ordered the chicken salad plate; the Dean chose a spinach and ham quiche. Strand looked around the table and ordered BBQ pork with mashed potatoes and fresh corn.
As the waitress stepped away, Strand mused aloud, “Ah, another one who needs to control life. I’ll bet Mr. Cherise Owens has a hard time with that.”
“You have a dangerous interview style for someone applying for a job at an institution where people actually think before they speak,” Owens responded politely yet firmly.
Scrimshire glared. “Bob Owens died three years ago, from complications following his injuries at the Boston Marathon bombing. He was an accomplished runner.”
“I am so sorry,” Jack said, touching Cherise’s hand as it rested on the table. “Sometimes I forget and actually believe my reputation.”
“The young men who take your class need a strong male figure here at the university. That’s why we’re interviewing you,” Dr. Owens explained, still unable to look at Strand without exposing her attraction to him.
“Ah yes, the wussification of American men.”
“I happen to agree with you, Dr. Strand,” Dr. Owens agreed. “My husband was a real man. He was strong enough to stand in the gap between our home and the world, and gentle enough to make me feel loved every day of our marriage.”
“And, you miss that,” Jack whispered as the server brought a pot of coffee to the table. “Cherise means darling.”
Cherise didn’t respond. However, the warmth of his understanding filled her with a revived joy. “Have you never heard of sexual harassment, Dr. Strand?” she whispered back. As she poured coffee into her cup, she continued, including everyone in the conversation. “I think this committee wants to know something far more current than if Adam was a man or a wimp. Some young men know only two extremes – sissy and control freak. What do you have to add to their edification so they can hit a happy medium?”
Jack Strand sat back and grinned as the server placed a plate filled with BBQ pork and a mound of white potatoes in front of Cherise Owens. “You’re my kind of girl,” he said. “You appreciate real food.”
The sweet tangy smell of the BBQ sauce rose like a cloud over the table. When the server put Strand’s order down, Cherise smiled but chose to avert his eyes. “I guess you can make a few wise choices after all.”
“That’s fine,” the Dean added. “But, I’d still like an answer to Dr. Owens’ question.”
“What question is that?” Strand asked with a blank expression.
Cherise turned and looked Strand square in the eyes. “If you were hired as Chair of the Sociology Department, what would you teach your students, especially the young men, about being strong and yet not controlling?”
Jack Strand focused his gaze on Cherise, as if there were no others at the table. “I would teach them to be in control of themselves and not dominate others. They would learn that it’s the greatest joy to encourage others to be the very best ‘them’ they can be. They would know that control and love are mutually exclusive. One cannot control another and love them at the same time. True love is the only goal in life worth pursuing and when one finds it, it will define their life. That is the meaning of being a real man.”
Cherise groaned inside. “I fear we may have some challenging faculty meetings in the next few years . . . if we hire you, Dr. Strand.”
“But, they would be the most exciting meetings of your career,” Jack said as their eyes met.
             Rats! She whispered. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

With New Eyes - Doris Gaines Rapp - Copyright 2017 Doris Gaines Rapp

Mama received her daily letter from Grandma one summer afternoon. I had gotten to the mailbox first. I’d skipped out to the edge of the road in front of the house and opened the oversized box the minute the mailman had cleared the end of the driveway. I knew it was from her before I even looked at the envelope. Along the edge was a row of tiny holes I could feel with my fingers. More important, Grandma could feel them. Grandma had cataracts when cataracts meant blindness. Doctors were doing that kind of surgery but it wasn’t always successful. She waited through a world of darkness before her operation.
“Mama, you have a letter,” I hollered as I banged in through the screen door and plopped myself down onto the chair near the floor-model TV set with doors that closed in the center.
My mother walked in from the kitchen carrying two hand-woven pot holders I made for her. It smelled like she had put a pot roast in the oven for supper. She was probably checking on it. I loved “pull-apart meat” with potatoes and carrots cooked until the flavor permeated the vegetables and all the air around it. “Let’s see,” she exhaled slowly as she took the letter and sat down.
I could see from the sheets of stationary that Grandma had filled two pages. There were pin holes down both sides.
Here’s what she’d do. Grandma would write a sentence on the paper, put a straight pin at the end of the line, remove the pin from the beginning of the sentence she had just written, reinsert the pin at the beginning of a new line, feel for the pin at the end of the sentence and repeat until she had filled the page. Sometimes the lines ran into each other or even crossed, but no one said anything to Grandma. She hadn’t said, “I can’t do it.” She found another way to write.
“What’s she doing?” I asked.
“Oh, you know, the usual,” Mama answered as she folded over the pieces of paper. “She sits by the window on school days and listens to the laughter of neighborhood children as they walk home from school.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “But this is summer vacation. What does she do now?”
“The ball games,” Mama said and smiled. “They air every home game of the Cincinnati Reds. She doesn’t miss one of them.”
“Mama . . . she can’t see the TV.” I remember rolling my eyes and now wish I hadn’t. Because, it’s what Mama said next that really told me how Grandma could see.
“Grandma can see in her own way,” Mama told me.
There’s only one way to see, I thought but didn’t sass back.
“Your grandmother has watched every baseball game since they started televising them. She knows every player by name. Two of her favorites are a catcher, Smoky Burgess, and one of the pitchers, Joe Nuxhall. He throws and bats left handed, like Grandpa is left handed. Since your grandmother is tall, she likes it that Nuxhall is 6 foot 3.”
“Grandpa isn’t tall. He’s pretty short, like me,” I thought out loud.
“Grandma wouldn’t want you to mention that.”
“Okay,” I agreed but didn’t see why that had to be a secret. Everyone could see how tall my grandfather was.
“Will you come help me set the table?” she asked as she got up and started through the dining room where we ate company dinner.
There was a breakfast nook off the kitchen where my chalk board hung for drawing on while Mama cooked and where the kitchen table sat. I opened the tall cabinet beside the table and took out the blue and white willow dishes we used for every day.
“Okay, Mama, finish. There has to be more. Grandma cannot see the baseball players even if she doesn’t miss any of the games. So, how does she see the games?”
“Well, like I knew that you would draw a picture of a rose bud on the board before you began setting the table. I also knew you would take the plates out first, then the cups and finally the saucers. How do I know all of that? Because . . . I know you. Grandma saw all the games while she could still see. Now, she listens to the play-by-play commentary and watches in her mind . . . because she knows the players and how they play.”
“Is that like God? He can see us because he knows us?”
“I’d say so,” Mama answered as she took a loaf of bread out of the red flowered bread box and put the loaf on the counter top. “Get out a saucer for the bread, please,” she said as she rinsed out the coffee pot before filling it again. “God knows what we think and do. And, he gives us the chance to change our mind and do something or think something even better, because He’s outside of time. He knows what we did; what we do; and what we decided to do over.”
“Wow, He really has new eyes.”
“We all have a new kind of eyes,” Mama said as she put some sweet smelling coffee in the pot, “when we see things God’s way.”

I never knew until I was older, how much I learned from setting the table with Mama.