Friday, July 20, 2012

The Gift of Friendship

The Runner had three first grade teachers, each unique and outstanding in her field. Quiet, gentle Mrs Ellis welcomed him into her classroom with a Clifford (the big red dog) name tag, which he was happy to wear.  He loved school (not academics) but art, gym, recess and most of all, his friends.  In early spring Mrs Ellis told me he was getting less and less of his paperwork done spending most of his time doing art work on those papers. He was getting farther and farther behind and it did not bother him at all.
Fall 1989 - First grade
We made the decision to have him repeat first grade.  Mrs. Jackson's classroom was a first and second grade blended class. Other than his ability to handle a pencil and his math skills, she said you would never know he had been to first grade before.  Every Monday morning in Mrs. Jackson's class the students were allowed to put their desk anywhere they wanted for the week.  Most of them stayed in the same groups of three or four all year but not the Runner.  He moved his desk every time and sat with a different group each week.
Fall 1990 - First grade
The first week of February 1990 was a week of turmoil in Mrs. Jackson's class.  The Runner had told them he was moving and it upset the whole classroom.  At the end of his last day before we moved the entire classroom lined up to give him a hug before he left.  When we were packing to travel each of my kyds was allowed to put whatever they wanted into a backpack to take with them on the trip. Their most treasured items went into those back packs. The address book from Mrs. Jackson's class went into the Runner's back pack along with his Lego set from Christmas and Rocky the Raccoon.

On the West coast the Runner was enrolled in Mrs. Martin's classroom. Every day Mrs. Martin's class prayed for her son John  deployed in Desert Storm.  When he came home he visited their classroom to thank them.  Mrs. Martin said the Runner never asked for anything but he asked to have his picture taken with John.
The Runner and John Martin
Because we held him back the Runner was in the same grade as his sister. Did that bother him? Not at all! He was delighted. They were in adjoining first grade classrooms. Those two classes did all their art projects, movies and field trips together. For Mother's Day they did the same project and proudly brought them home. Each was a large envelope covered in flowers with a handwritten card inside. Sister's envelope was splashed with brightly colored flowers higgledy-piggledy everywhere. Inside she wrote: "I love my mom becuz she lets me mak makrny and ches." The Runner's flowers were neatly colored and placed just so. His inscription inside in pains-taking printing read: "I love you Mother."
The Runner and Sister

I love you bunches and boys in Heaven - Pat

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Square Chair

There is a chair in the corner. A square block of a chair. It looks padded but it is not much. Sometimes it will not budge an inch when you want it too. Other times it just rolls away on its own. A foot rest bangs out when you pull the lever. It reclines all the way if you know the right combination of pushing and pulling. You can sleep in it. Helpful nurses get you a blanket and a pillow. You kick off your shoes and crunch up on your side. The pillow slides away on the plastic. You snug the blanket up as much as possible but it is still cold. Machines click and whir. Light bothers. Lights blink. Doors slam. Time for vitals. Time for meds. Of course you cannot sleep. The only reason you are in that chair is because you are keeping the night watch. Someone you love is in pain. Someone you love is broken. Your loyalty is forefront. You take the chair.

In the past three years I have kept vigil in the chair in three different hospitals. In the wee hours of Palm Sunday 2010 the Biker falls asleep at the wheel a couple miles from home. His truck straddles a stone wall at a high rate of speed crashing through brush and trees landing in a field. He has injury all down his left side. Gashes bleeding. Broken bones. Bruises. I keep vigil in the chair. Hosanna. The Lord saves.

Fast forward Spring 2011. The Writer is for scheduled double jaw surgery with chin reconstruction at Tripler Army Medical Center. "Mom, will you come?" They won't do the surgery unless someone is here." Fifteen hours and five thousand miles. Six hour surgery. Brutal recovery. Just brutal. I keep vigil in the chair.

Georgia Summer 2012. Our first granbaby. Induction begins. Mommie labors. Daddy and Amma take turns keeping vigil in the chair. Forty three hours later the lil Geogia peach is born. Perfect. Just perfect.

God has a chair. His throne sits in the center of heaven. Oh! How He loves us. When we are broken, when we are in pain, when we are being reconstructed and restored, when some new thing is being birthed in us God's loyalty is forefront. He takes the chair. He sits vigil and keeps the night watch.

I love you bunches and lil peaches - Pat

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Eyes: Gift of Life

A mother's love

A father's heart 

"Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild." Welsh Proverb
Amma's Treasure

Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future.
Gail Lumet Buckley

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Eyes: Time for Tea

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the 
hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."
Henry James

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday Eyes: Berries & Boots

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
John Greenleaf Whittier

Wild strawberries are ripening in the meadow,
and it's time to pick them (be sure to line your 
basket with leaves) and carry them home to tea.
                                                                        Gladys Taber

Monday, June 11, 2012

Glory Ride

I get up and dress for the day: black tank with red RIDE and sequins, jeans, eagle earrings and boots. One boot is good. One boot is bad: cracked and crunchy.  The Biker is revamping the saddle bags so I wash dishes while the water is hot. The Biker Mama is still the mama that washes the dishes.  

We gear up and  scoot out the back way to Route 12. Head north. Glory day. Blue sky. White cotton clouds. Sun. Trees in full summer dress. Here a bike. There a bike. A sidecar. A trike. Welcome Home Staff Srgt Aiken. A red sidecar.  Hot sun. Zip the zipper down. A red full dresser. Hit the highway hammer down. Zip the zipper up.

Quick helmet stop. Cross the United States Navy Seabees Bridge. Old Glory waving here, there and everywhere. Curtis's World Famous BBQ Ribs - the 9th Wonder of the World. Forty two years and counting. Wood fire ribs, corn, loaded potato, yams, root beer and cream soda. The good life.

Up the road. Landmark College: "a welcoming and supportive college community where faculty and students alike understand the challenges of learning differently." Small, rural campus. Shade trees and picnic tables. The Biker has a day job: covering the world with concrete. We walk the Colonnade. He shows me his work. Ramps and rails. Steps replaced. Sidewalk patched. Strips and squares. Broom finish. Exposed aggregate. Our bread and butter.

We meander down Route 5.  Tired old sugar shack leans into the ground for support. Corn, knee high to a grasshopper. Sweet Tree Farm. Yup, that's a llama. Walker Farm. Apple Hill Road. It's all the words... Quaint.  Picturesque. Rural. Rustic. Vintage Vermont. Down into Rundown Town.  Here a roundabout. There a roundabout. Everywhere a roundabout. Back across the Seabees Bridge. Live free or die New Hampshire. Off with his helmet. He passes it back. Nope, can't tuck it in the pack.. It rides my elbow. Welcome Home Srgt Miller. The sun hides. A chill on coming into Better Town.  Black Helmet. White Cross. "When the floods come and the towers fall, Just remember there is a kingdom already made for you. Seek it out." 

Follow the river. Signs of the flood high up the banks. The ferns flattened. Mud.   
4 Miles Free Food.  
YO! 2 Miles Free Food.  
Just 1 Mile The Tent.  
Stop. Eat. Rest.  
We stop. We eat. We rest. Sit on a rock in the river. The rock has a fissure three fingers wide. "Wonder how long this rock has been in the river?" The river rushes, high, wide and dirty. The roar covers every sound except the roar of the bikes. 

The boot starts to flap and lose pieces.

We rumble out, low and throaty over the roar of the river. We ride our favorite curves winding toward home. Red, white and blue. Old Glory hit the broadside of that barn.  In and out of the shadows. In and out of the warm. The trees are dark with patches of green bright light. Lilacs as tall as the telephone wires. A nice old Chevrolet. Hello! The Nelson's. Warm past the swamp. Old green truck (Chevrolet). Old Glory waves up and down the street. "Nice truck huh?" (blue and white Chevrolet). Sharing Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. "That's a nice car." (red Chevelle). "Nice Vette."

Three states. Seven hour journey. We come home. Water the tomatoes. Order new boots.

I love you bunches and boots - Pat

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Eyes

The little things in life...

"Daisies open their innocent eyes and gaze out across the field at the roses cascading over fences."   Gladys Taber

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Process of Grief

When the Runner died I read every thing I could about grief and death. Nothing I read on the grief process fit what I was going through so I wrote it as I experienced it:

The first reaction to the death of a loved one is shock. This is part of God’s protection. He insulates us from the full impact of death. We may be aware of what is happening around us yet protected from the deep reality of death. We may actually experience physical numbness.

As time goes on the reality of death begins to penetrate yet a part of us has not yet comprehended that the loved one is gone. We listen for the car in the driveway, still count out five snacks, or reach for the phone to call before we catch ourselves and the shock of their death hits us again. Our life becomes a long, dark winter’s night.

Everything hurts. It hurts to breath, it hurts to eat, it hurts to go to bed, it hurts to wake up, it hurts to think, your head hurts, your heart hurts. We are deeply wounded. The pain is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Mixed with the pain is guilt, anger, fear and a host of other feelings. We cry and cry and cry and cry ...

Life goes on but do I really care? Is there any reason to live? We have more questions than answers. We question everything we ever believed, examining our belief in God and in life itself in light of what we are experiencing. We are still struggling with anger and guilt. Life is a burden, we are tired of grieving but there is no escape. We are weary. We wake up as tired as we went to bed. We want to sleep all the time or insomnia stalks us. We are jealous of our friends who have normal lives. We feel old, beaten, trapped, hopeless, cold, and lonely. Self-pity lives with us day and night.

In time, if we allow ourselves to heal, we learn how to live again. We find a new reality in our lives that we can live with. We move beyond our daily grief, it is no longer the focal point of our lives. We’ve found acceptable answers to some of our questions. We are forever changed. The burden of our grief is still with us but we have learned to carry it. Our loved ones are still gone, we still miss them and it still hurts but we have sweet memories, our love for them remains. We find joy and light and life is good again.

Pat Aho 2001 April 5

It seems quite short when I put it on paper like this but it was a long process. Yes, it was a very long dark cold winter that started in mid-summer but at long last Spring did arrive  with all its warmth, color and new life. Yes, I still have winter moments and even days with a chill in the air but I live in the light. Glory Hallelujah!  I live in the Light.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"C'mon Bud"

Those were the last words I heard the Runner say. His dad called him "Bud" and he called his little brother "Bud". Six years is a big age difference when you are just a toddler but the little one followed along  and the older one was happy to have him.

In the year of 1990 the construction industry in New England slows to a crawl. The Biker works twenty hours a week from May to November. It is not enough.  We are in danger of losing everything we own so we pack up our five little ones and head  west  looking for greener pastures.  We move in with my folks and the Biker goes to work full time framing for my brother.

Shortly after we arrive in February we celebrate two birthdays.  The Runner chooses gummy fish to go with the eight candles on his birthday cake.  Five days later the little one blows out two candles poked into a green frosted caterpillar.

Six months later on a summer  night they are picking up the blocks for me as I finish up the Saturday cleaning by vacuuming Mama's big living room. Later the little one tells me "We made a big castle. We used all the blocks." It is after their bath, the little one is in pajamas; the Runner is wearing his  favorite "moo cow" night shirt, an over-sized white tee shirt with a Holstein cow on it.  When they finish picking up the Runner asks "Can we go now?"  I nod. He says "C'mon Bud" and out the back door they go to see what Dad is doing in the shop. It is about 9 pm, still warm and still daylight.  In the shop Dad is working on a shelf for Grandma's laundry room. They watch him measuring and cutting for a bit then gather up a few scraps of fresh cut cedar boards and wander off.  Later I find those scraps deposited under a tree and watch as they weather untouched by the hands that placed them there.

The little one comes in and is tucked into bed. He falls asleep asking for his brother.  He is the last one to see him alive.  I later ask if he saw the Runner fall out of the tree. He leads me to a tree in the front yard.  Yes, the Runner did fall out of that tree a few days earlier. The bruise on his knee noted in the autopsy report is from that fall.

Days pass and  the little one is still wondering why his brother doesn't come home. He says "Daddy should take the Blazer and go  pick him up."  I search for words to explain to a two year old about death, about heaven.  He says " I'm going to just REACH up there and get him down." He twists his little body and  his little arm reaches as high as it can go towards heaven.  He pulls it back to himself empty handed.

Five years pass and the little one grows on his way to becoming the Writer. He dictates his thoughts to me:
He was my brother.
I'm sorry that he's gone.
I know he is safe in Heaven.
I know that he is risen.
I loved playing with him.
I most liked playing with the blocks.
He was eight when he died.
I'm sorry that he is gone
but I know him well.
I love him still.
He died in 1991.
I know he loved drawing jets.
I was two when he died.
He was good at drawing jets.
He lives inside me.
He liked his bike.
He loved riding it.
When he died it was mine.
I claimed his Legos, his bike, his racetrack.
I claimed too much stuff.
When I think about him I'm still sad.
1996 July 13

I wonder about my little ones. What happens when a sibling dies? What does it do to their little hearts? What do they miss? What do they gain? Does it make them more compassionate? Does it scar their little souls?

Years pass.  Each February we search candy aisles for gummy fish. We mix batter.  We bake cupcakes.  We tint frosting blue. We scatter sprinkles.  One year we  ship them to a sailor in Hawaii, then the next year he makes his own.  This year we make them here at home and the siblings gather and make cupcakes in Georgia. They cry. We cry. They miss us and we miss them.  We miss you "Bud".

I love you "Bud".
I love you bunches and cupcakes - Pat

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Glories of an Early Spring

Picnic on the lumber pile.

Barefoot in March

Survived the winter

Promise of the Resurrection

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Getting out of Nod and back to God. (Cain #3)

I have found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  In my life I have experienced His everyday, epic, everlasting and extended grace.

I experience His grace everyday that I wake up and breathe.  He extends his grace to me everyday. His mercies are new every morning and every day is new day of grace.  I love my Glory Days - bright blue weather, bright red leaves, the sunshine gives me a bright smile.  Glory days - the common, everyday grace of God that is far from common.  It is glorious.

I believed in Jesus as a little girl but at some point in my life I got confused and turned around. I was on the threshold between the land of God and the land of  Nod facing the darkness.  I hadn’t left the presence of God but  my focus was backwards.  Like Cain I became angry and downcast.  Talk about extra grace required, I had a very volatile temper, I was moody, I had jags of crying myself to sleep nights on end.  I was afraid and did not relate well to others. I lived in a gray world. Life was an upstream struggle all the way.  I lived this like this for about 30 years. In 1991 our 2nd son, Leroy (the Runner) died in an accident in my mother’s back yard.  A few weeks later I told my brother “If someone else is taking care of my kyds I am fine but if I have them I am in a panic.”  He said “You are blaming yourself for Leroy’s death, don’t do that.” So I had added the guilt of his death to the upstream struggle I was already having.  “Don’t do that”…but I  didn‘t know how to not blame myself .  Many months later, perhaps even a  year, I was driving down the road, and had this simple  thought: That is why Jesus died for me, I am not a perfect mother and I will never be a perfect mother.  Epic Grace. In that moment His grace flowed down and covered me. I knew that Jesus died for my sins but this was so real, so close to my heart so everyday relevant to my struggle . . . amazing.  I don’t remember crying or laughing or shouting or even telling anyone at the time but it was a quiet turning point.  A little light started to shine and I started to turn away from Nod and towards God.

Are you still wandering in the land of Nod?
Lost and yearning, away from God?

Are you cast down, your back to the light?
Weary and trembling facing the night?
Turn . . .
Behold!  the grace of God.
His everyday
everlasting  grace.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cain: #2

Dishonored God with the manner of his sacrifice
Got angry and depressed
Killed his brother
Did not take responsibility for his actions
Whined about the consequences
Walked away from God

At anytime God could have just went: ZZZZZZZZZIIIIIITTTTT and sizzled him right there.  God had every right and the power to end the line of Cain before it began.  God did not zap Cain right there.  Instead He offered grace.  He placed a mark on Cain so that no one would kill him.  He allowed him to have life, to have the comfort of a wife and son and  a new vocation. Cain was evil and did nothing to gain God’s favor yet Cain found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 

That is epic grace.
Grace that is above and beyond.
Amazing grace.

To be continued.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Legend of Cain

Adam and Eve so the story runs
Had a couple of squabbling sons

Abel kept some sheep on hand,
Cain was a tiller of the land.

For them both it was the thing.
To bring the Lord an offering.

For Abel only the first born lamb would do
Cain plopped down a veggie or two.

God was pleased with Abel’s gift
But not with  Cain’s, that caused a rift.

So Cain got mad and killed his bro
When asked he answered “I don’t know”

His cursed land would nothing grow
So Cain was always on the go.

He wandered east away from God
And settled in the land of Nod.

Cain found a wife, had Enoch, a son
Named his city after  that one.

Sons had sons down the line
Lamech tho’t he was mighty fine.

Lamech took himself two wives
His three sons led busy lives.

Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-Cain
Made music and tools and roamed the plain.

“Adah/Zillah: listen to me
Wives of Lamech: Attention please!

I killed a man for hurting me,
He was just a boy you see

If Cain gets even 7x o're
Then I’ll get even 70x more!”

Cain: the legendary man from Nod
But the only real hero is  God.

To be continued.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Grace and Mercy are Sisters

Quote from:  “Captured by Grace”    David Jeremiah

"Mercy runs to forgive the Prodigal Son. 
Grace throws an extravagant party.

Mercy bandages the wounds of the man beaten by robbers. 
Grace covers the cost of his full recovery.


Mercy pays the penalty for our sin on the cross. 
Grace substitutes God’s righteousness in Christ for our wickedness.

Mercy converts Paul on the road to Damascus. 
Grace calls him to be an apostle.

Mercy saves John Newton from a life of rebellion and sin.
Grace makes him a pastor and the author of a timeless hymn.

Mercy closes the door to hell. 
Grace opens the door to heaven."

Definition of grace:


a gift
a favor

to bestow

"finding its only motive in the bounty and freeheartedness of the Giver"

absolute freedom of the kindness granted by God to man.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Color of Mercy

The color of mercy is red, white and blue

Red is the blood of Jesus that bought our freedom. His mercy flowing down. 

His blood bought our freedom and washed us white as snow.

Blue is the color of ministry, of service. We are blood bought and blood washed so we honor Him by serving, by laying down our lives for others. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


"to be cruciformed like God"
- forming or arranged like a cross -

to be cruciformed we must be open 

open to suffering
open to pain

open to love, to the unlovable

open to the sky, the wind, the rain
open to sensation
         to scents
         to see - to the light
         to sound - to the music

open to giving, forgiving and giving up

open to surrender
open to submission

open to release
open to receive

open to healing
         to abundance
         to overflowing

over and over and over. . .

until cruciform forms our very life.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Memory of Mercy

   When the Biker and I were raising our little ones we were blessed with a wonderful pediatrician.  He kept a small practice and never overloaded his schedule. If you called before nine in the morning  he would answer the phone himself and tell you to bring them right in, no waiting for an appointment at four in the afternoon when the baby had cried all night.  He did not want to know which ear was bothering but preferred to make an unbiased diagnosis.  He was not quick to prescribe medication unless it was necessary but did not hesitate to hospitalize if it was warranted.  

Ugly-Beautiful Gifts

     The Joy Dare for today is: 3 ugly-beautiful gifts (see beauty in ugly).  Joy Dare Here  My ugly-beautiful gifts are an old stool and a worn pair of Crocs. One + a pair = 3.
     The stool moved with us from Nana's house on the hill because she left it behind when she emigrated south with Grandpa.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sweet Sugaring Time

   With the changing of the season comes the lingering light. The sun warms the frozen ruts to mud and the promise of life and sweetness is in the air as the maple trees turn their faces to the sun.   Sugaring time is a flowing and filling time. It is a time of working and waiting.  Holes are drilled, taps are tapped, lines are strung and buckets are hung. The wait for cold nights and warm days to flow the sap has begun.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday: Define Mercy

punishment withheld
not having to clean up my own mess
not being made to pay my own debt
not serving my sentence
not reaping the sin I have sowed
not being paid the wages of my sin which is death
not being required to to pay for my own sin with my own blood

Monday, February 20, 2012

29 Years

    As she mops the kitchen floor she thinks of that day 29 years ago cleaning the little apartment. It was Friday. She always did her "Saturday" cleaning on Friday back then so Saturday would be  free if he had plans.  She is one day past her due date and having contractions. They are not hard or regular. She does not time them.

Friday, February 3, 2012

All About Shoes

         My husband says I have a shoe fetish.  If you read the definition of fetish, that is not true.  I like shoes. I am attracted to shoes. I look at shoes. I buy shoes.  I am fascinated by shoes.  Shoes are fun. Shoes are interesting.  And, of course, the shoes make the outfit.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


    Back in the old days of ships and sailors, traders and whalers if a captain was lacking men for his crew, he would “shanghai” an able bodied man or two.  A likely target would be found, knocked out, trussed up and put aboard ship. When the unfortunate fellow awoke seasick with a pounding headache, he was so far out to sea there was no choice but to do or die.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A beginning...

2012 January 18 - Boulder Lee Farm
Jeff wants me to write a book so he can retire.  I have no book to write as of yet so I am going to practice by blogging.  What will this blog be about? Life: random and real and of course red shoes. I have been writing, mostly poetry, since childhood.
It was my grief process (someday post). My journal is off again, on again. I write notes on Facebook. 
Until next time - I love you bunches and red shoes.  pja