Mr. W was our tough, joke-loving, retired farmer-neighbor who always had a twinkle in his eye. He passed away recently after enduring dementia for the past two years. My 16-year old son was frequently called upon by Mrs. W to help. Here is what my son wrote about Mr. W.
My Memories of Mr. W
Mr. W, a big man with a big personality, was my neighbor for most of my life. He and his wife would visit our house – just down the street – every once in a while. During those visits, they’d make us laugh and have a good time. It was always a pleasure to have them in our home. Occasionally, tiling would need fixing or the ditch needed inspection. Mr. W might drop by for a visit on his way to the field. He would sometimes bring his golf cart along.
1. The golf cart. When he would stop by with his golf cart, I would always want a ride in it. When I got a little older, I drove it for a while (badly). Mr. W’s golf cart was indeed a coveted thing. It even led to me saying to his face one time: “Can you give it to me in your will?” Indeed, a very inappropriate question. At the time though, it must have seemed only practical. What other way would I secure that golf cart in my future? It would long be a conversation starter when our neighbors were ever brought up.
2. Working with Mr. W. One thing everyone knows about Mr. W is that he was a worker. He could fix, build, or remodel just about anything. One time not too long ago, I got to help him build his deck. Of course, I didn’t know much about deck building. But it seemed as though he had built things all his life. He had a confidence in his work that was nothing short of admirable. He was a skilled carpenter, farmer and handyman all at the same time. If you needed something done, there was a good chance he could do it.
3. On the deck. It’s actually funny that I just mentioned a story about the deck. It plays into this next one. When his disease was getting real bad, I was able to come by and help out. It was never a chore, because I genuinely enjoyed it. I enjoyed being able to serve a man who had done so much for my family. Occasionally, I would come by, sit on the couch, and he wouldn’t move an inch. It was as if I weren’t there on those days. He very rarely did anything that caused a problem while I was there. Mr. W was always better in the mornings. Anyone close to him in his last year could tell you that. He would be jovial in the morning. He would comply with just about anything you’d have him do. So it was, early one day in the beauty of the summer, we went out on the deck. The sun was shining, and I’m fairly certain that he had brought out a glass of unfinished milk from breakfast. Anyways, we were just sitting there, and I had the idea to video him. I thought it would make for a great memory if anything were to happen to him. I took out my phone, started a video, and asked him to say hi. He turned his head and smiled in his own way. Kind of an amused, skeptical smile. He never did what I asked, which is fine. I’m just glad I have that video of him in good spirits, on a beautiful day, just living life.
So, goodbye Mr. W, I’ll miss you. I am glad for all the times I’ve had with you. I will treasure that video forever.
We are studying similes and we are trying to avoid the trite cliches that are “as old as the hills”, so we are making up our own. Everyone chose five abstract nouns and wrote two similes for each one. I thought these were some of the best:
He felt freedom like a feather in the open air.
Hatred melted away like a stream in the spring.
Reality is like a punch in the face.
Forgiveness is like a safety net.
The crime was as big as a bonfire.
His anger was like a house-eating wildfire.
He was as dishonest as a killdeer.
Their romance was like a budding flower — ever changing.
His anger bubbled up like a volcano.
Accepting defeat is like trying to know somebody you’ve never met.
His adventure was as fun as a ride at ValleyFair.
The moonlit snow sparkled like a thousand tiny jewels.
Jealousy is like hair loss; it might take someone else to point it out.
He was as calm as a painting.
His hatred was as hot as a burning furnace.
Music is like a therapy session.
He was as fast as a full-grown cheetah in the desert.
The lion’s power was like a legion of angry dragons.
“Reading these similes was like an eye-opening ride through an undiscovered village.” — Me
I mentioned last time that I had finished writing another health article — long by my standards– at 1800 words. These long-winded articles are all about health supplements. These are not household words like protein or gluten. Their names are abstruse and often separated by hyphens. I am a blank slate when it comes to knowing anything about L-pyroglutamatic acid or L-phenylalanine.
By the end of my 1800 words, I did learn how to spell phenylalanine — I just remembered the “lala” in the middle.
I start collecting article info by Googling: “L-pyroglutamatic acid for Dummies” then Googling “L-pyroglutamatic acid for kids.” This gives me usable, chewable information, allowing me to begin writing.
When it comes to health supplements, I am very impressionable…every article completion has so far wrapped up with my purchase of some health supplement. This time I was writing about L-proline, which is a key ingredient in collagen. Collagen is what gives our skin structure and elasticity. Several amino acids go into the production of collagen. Vitamin C also plays a huge part in the formation of collagen, so when we don’t get enough vitamin C, our body can’t make the collagen we need. Our skin suffers, our intestines are prone to aeration, and left without collagen, our blood vessels would collapse.
So fascinating how God designed our intelligent bodies — the organs, enzymes, and amino acids are so needful of what we eat but everything (temporarily) covers for us when we take in junk. These articles leave me in awe of God’s creation.
At the same time, they leave me craving things like lean protein, cabbage, berries and vitamin C. I feel like I am finally grabbing hold of such important tidbits of knowledge, such as what scurvy did to all those unfortunate sailors we learned about back in school. (Was that in history class or health class?)
Today, I’m looking forward to the Amazon package that should be in the mailbox today, holding a few jars of encapsulated, raw Vitamin C.
On a completely different note, it’s Minnesota Hockey Day and my son just left to play in a hockey tournament, in weather under 10 degrees.
I feel safer here inside with my L-pyroglutamic acid, phenylalanine and big cup of hot coffee.
Son gave me a hug goodbye; I handed him a protein bar and said, “Bye…have fun…make them be nice to you.” No, Mama,” he said with a smile.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
I received a list of thoughtful questions from a dear one.
Answering these questions might be an excellent end-of-year exercise to rouse my sluggish brain cells out of their post-Christmas sugar stupor!
(If you also would like some brain exercise, feel free to answer one of the questions ~ post your answer in the comment area below!)
If the last year could be summed up in one word, what would it be?Doors. Doors are pathways to growth, discovery and change. There were subtle but real changes in our family; new job opportunities, new friendships, and new “life tributaries” that occurred in our growing young adult children. They are blossoming into their own persons. This is hard sometimes for a mother. I must bite my tongue when older children don’t automatically mimic our parental ideals. God is molding them uniquely; they have brains, prayers and dreams of their own.
What are two or three major themes that kept occurring?Change. Reality. Release.
What did I accomplish this year that I am most proud of? Small internal victories, like:Holding my tongue at the exact right time. Deciding to wait and listen before reacting. Asking another question instead of responding emotionally. Ignoring a perceived offense rather than retaliate with a sarcastic / witty comeback. Choosing faith instead of worry. (These might seem like itsy bitsy successes hardly worthy of mentioning, and they might have only happened once or twice in all of the 365 days of 2018. But to me, they seemed to be larger accomplishments than completing an Ironman triathlon….)
What do I feel I should have been acknowledged for, but wasn’t? Hmmm….I will think about this one…or maybe I shouldn’t dig around to find something?
What disappointments or regrets did I experience this year? Spending time doing unimportant, useless, time-wasting things.
What was missing from my year as I look back?Nothing that I can think of.
What were some major life lessons I learned this year? Time passes faster than I think it can or want it to.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
An adventure is a little trip that twists unexpectedly, making life more intriguing or educational than just staying home.
It’s like heading to Hinckley because someone on Craigslist wants to buy your antique chair. Along the way, you run into tangled traffic and a surprising amount of snow. And when you are almost there, the chair customer calls and says she is not interested after all.
So, the tears and loud expressions of regret you yell aloud in an empty car make you realize that you are still pretty rough around the edges and God has more work to do on you.
Life is an adventure that is filled with mini adventures. Just when you think you are going to the store for potatoes, you run out of gas and meet an angel on County Road #1. And when you arrive home without the forgotten potatoes, you are faced with the truth you should have known all along: everyone wanted pancakes, anyway.
An adventure is a journey of corners. As you peek around each one, you may find a nest of naked, newborn field mice, or a key lime donut with chocolate sprinkles. You never know. A true adventure is usually not 100% bad or 100% good – it’s a little of both.
Unplanned, unexpected and possibly unwelcome, an adventure makes you richer because, after all the field mice and donuts, you have a true and unique story to tell.
“Adventures are never fun while you’re having them.”
Every August, I wait for a spark of inspiration to help me dive in to September’s back-to-school.
It’s amazing what tiny little event or conversation can give birth to the mysterious *muse* — brightening my dull outlook on the year ahead.
A conversation with my friend Pam recently put that spark into motion. The inspiration is there – finally.
ISLANDS: a unit study.
Unit study learning is a way to compel students to read and write about interesting topics while hiding the fact that they are actually learning.
I usually begin my year with an engaging unit study, and if we need a boost mid-year, sometimes I sneak one in around January.
So this fall we will plan to study islands, in addition to the other reading, writing, arithmetic, and history that we always do.
Reading (aloud and independently) appropriate grade-level books about islands. (I have a growing book list: The Cay, Treasure Island, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Baby Island, Island of Dr. Libris, Surprise Island,Shipwreck and Nim’s Island are some of the titles)