|My broken green vase, recycled in a backyard garden.|
We scooped up our Irish oatmeal: cinnamon, pecans, brown sugar, and milk blended with cooked rolled and steel cut oats. If we hadn’t run out of dried black currants, my husband would’ve thrown them in, too. He’s perfected what he calls “curing” oatmeal.
Third month into his retirement, our spoons chinked in this profoundly quiet house. The refrigerator and furnace rested as whirlwinds of ice crystals played at the kitchen sliding door. The snow had washed the sky blue as the Virgin’s robe.
It seemed the definite set of circumstances to cause the atmospheric phenomenon of a sundog. So I ran to the window and shielded my eyes toward the eastern sky. The morning must’ve been far spent for the sun’s double rainbow.
An ache to hug my daughters’ necks—to hear them call “Mom!”—passed through me.
As life goes, our nest grew quieter with each departure of our three girls. I learned the rhythm and voice of our household appliances, the furnace and its boom when it cooled.
“You’re lucky this thing didn’t burn your house down,” the heating and cooling technician said two years ago.
We replaced that fire hazard with a more energy efficient model. Alas, the new furnace lacks personality, but the new hot water system hisses with its sister, the softener. And I won’t part with our vintage clothes dryer. Old Faithful complains a few seconds when we start her up, but she keeps on ticking. It’s that or the Scrap Metal Recycler.
Then came the moment I wait all winter to witness. Snow signals whirling up from barren treetops—Nature’s telegraph. Behold the beauty of the Lord.
I recalled such an exceptional winter morning with my mother. She also loved Irish oatmeal, although she didn’t name it so. Her last winter with us, we sipped tea and watched the wind blow powdery flakes up and over the landscape.
“Mom, look at those trees sending up smoke signals!”
“I can’t see that far, Iris.”
Macular degeneration had claimed sight in one eye, and Alzheimer’s her sense of smell and taste. We could no longer talk recipes and family stories. In that season of sitting still, we held onto our tea mugs for dear life.
When we climbed the stairs at night for bed, I followed behind. She’d grip the railing and say, “Iris, don’t ever get old.”
“I’ll do my best, Mom.” Then I’d tuck her in.
“I’m so thankful for my five babies,” she’d say.
“And we’re thankful for you, Mom.”
My mother passed the following June before my middle daughter was married in July. As then, the Wheel of Life turns within and without us, each season sending up its signal: Sit. Watch. Listen to those you love.
Dear Reader, I’m holding my teacup, reading signals of what is to come. Letting go what I must. Holding close the miraculous moments given me. Sundogs. Snow smoke. The scent of my daughters’ skin.
I rest in the promise of eternal life.