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Let’s stretch out Mother’s Day one more day, shall we? Here is a poem my mother wrote for her mother, and she gave me permission to post it here.

My Mother’s Hands
By Rebecca of Vista Glen Farm [copyright 2010 Rebecca Benner Tindall]

Thelma Benner (my Grammy), a young Pennsylvania farmgirl

My mother’s hands have
Guided a tractor across a stubbly cornfield

Shoveled manure in a smelly cow stall

Scattered cracked corn in a chicken house
Hoed stubborn weeds in an asparagus bed
Turned hard Pennsylvania clay soil to plant a flower bed
Gripped a pump handle to fill a bucket with water
Plucked a chicken and seared off the pin feathers with a candle

My mother’s hands have
Washed the grimy little hands and faces of daughters who made mud pies
Turned the crank of a wringer washer
Rinsed, washed and folded thousands of diapers
Hung little dresses, undershirts and socks in a row on the wash line
Sewed detailed clothes for all sizes of doll babies
Cut the fabric, designed and stitched matching Easter outfits for her little ladies
Scraped, washed, rinsed, and dried stacks of Thanksgiving dishes

My mother’s hands have
Canned the sweetest peaches in the world
Opened a jar of mouth-watering canned cherries
Chopped vegetables for a fresh batch of Pennsylvania Dutch piccalilli
Rolled out crust for a tasty apple pie
Poured a cold glass of milk for a little girl from an old mayonnaise jar

Thelma with daughters Debby and Becki

My mother’s hands have
Rocked a lapful of little girls
Felt the hot forehead of a daughter with rheumatic fever
Changed the cloth diapers of four baby daughters
Tested the milk for a night-time bottle
Held the big Bible story book for bedtime reading
Washed out with soap the mouth of a naughty little girl
Poured bubble bath into a big white tub for squealing little ladies
Tucked in the covers around her little daughter’s leg braces

Sam, Thelma and their daughters

My mother’s hands have
Packed a lunch box with a bologna sandwich and an apple
Filled a thermos with farm-fresh milk
Lined up Sunday School papers on the refrigerator
Written checks for school photos
Signed permission slips for field trips sent home by the teacher
Checked the math on little girls’ homework assignments
Filled a jar with water for fresh-picked dandelions

My mother’s hands have
Dribbled a basketball
Strummed the strings of a Hawaiian guitar

Clicked away on the keys of a manual typewriter
Done the bookkeeping for a basket manufacturer
Lifted a patient in a nursing home
Wiped the noses of her nursery school class

Thelma and Sam 25th annviersary

My mother’s hands have
Held the test results that pronounced the sentence of cancer
Spent all her savings on medicine hoping to prolong the life of her daughters’ daddy
Adjusted the covers of her dying middle-aged husband
Torn up old sheets to make bandages for his oozing sores
Tenderly held her husband when she kissed him goodbye
Held the death certificate of her lover and friend
Laid a flower on his casket
Wiped away tears of sorrow and loneliness

My mother’s hands have
Gripped her Bible late at night under a dim lamp
Clasped together in prayer asking God for money to pay the utilities
Opened old jars of canned peaches to feed hungry children
Accepted a bag of potatoes from a friend
Poured a glass of water for a deacon visiting his assigned widow

Great-granddaughter, son-in-law, Grammy, grandson (behind her - really, not great-grandson, but my cousin!) 2008

My mother’s hands have
Blessed four daughters
Cradled four granddaughters, six grandsons and one great-nephew
Touched the faces of eight great-granddaughters and five great-grandsons (so far)!

I love you, Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010
From your Blue-Eyed Girl, Rebecca Jane.

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My husband Nathan, our two children, and I are in the midst of a 19-day road trip, spending this week on Lake Michigan and heading on to Pennsylvania next week. We stopped at a motel after our first day of driving, and Nathan had a memorable interaction about which he spent the next morning writing on the laptop in the car.

I have been encouraging him to start a blog, but he said I could post this piece he wrote on my blog. So here it is. If you want to hear more from him, send him an e-mail (nathan@cabinoflove.com) and add your voice to mine in begging for a Nathan Bloom blog!

Here it is:

Last night, I was traveling with my family en route to our vacation destination in Michigan. We were driving through Iowa, the sun had set, and the kids were asleep, so Julia and I decided to put on some “easy miles” before stopping for the night.

Just after 11pm, we opted to call it a night and pulled into a Days Inn. As I walked into the hotel lobby, I noticed an elderly couple laboriously exiting a minivan. The receptionist was busy checking in another guest, and the three of us stood wearily in the lobby, waiting silently. The woman stood rigidly by the corner of the front desk, while the man wandered back into the empty lounge. As I waited, the thought occurred to me that it would be a courteous gesture to defer my ‘next-in-line’ status to this couple. Though my wife and children were waiting in the car, I made up my mind that when my turn came, I would let it pass to my elders.

The sleepy atmosphere was suddenly rent by a shockingly loud episode of flatulence coming from the lounge. My resolve wavered a little. After finishing checking in the guests ahead of us, the receptionist called out: “who’s next?” The woman at the corner of the desk glanced back. “Go ahead,” I offered. She immediately placed her enormous purse on the desk and commenced the check-in process.

The short, stoop-shouldered man ambled back from the lounge, and looked up at me. “Whererya from” he queried

“Minnesota”, I replied.

“Whereabouts?”

“Owatonna”

“Oh yeah. . . up on 169” he said.

“No, it’s on I35”

“Oh yeah” he returned vaguely. “I’m from Algona”

“Where are you headed?” I re-orientated the conversation.

“Chicago”, he sturdily responded. “We are going to a booksellers convention.” “A Christian bookseller’s convention,” he quickly clarified.

The woman quickly turned away from the desk and corrected somewhat severely: “It is a Craft Fair this time.” She included some more apparently important details which I didn’t comprehend, and I didn’t ask, not wanting to prolong the correction. She turned back to the receptionist.

“We belong to the Evangelical Free church,” the man volunteered unexpectedly, “What church do you belong to?”

I faltered, unprepared to answer: “The church I attend is not affiliated. . .uh, non-denominational, I guess. . . The church I grew up in was Baptist General Conference, though,” I added, trying to give him something meaningful within his presumed construct.

“Ah Yes,” he replied. “The fighting baptists.” I smiled, understanding his reference to the particularly schismatic history of baptist churches in the USA. “There was a big split in one of the baptist churches in Algona,” he added.

“Yeah,” I responded with detached amusement, “Jesus said: ‘One command I give you- Love one another’, but it seems like that is always the first thing to go out the window!”

The woman suddenly turned back around, and with the austere gaze of a fundamentalist Sunday School teacher, demanded: “But what was his other commandment?”

I fumbled, trying not to be intimidated, mentally re-scanning my words, and Jesus’ words, desperately trying to remember what the second of the one commandment was.

With trepidation, I held my ground: “He said one command.”

“Ye must be born again” She said sharply. “That is the greatest commandment. You can love all you want, but it won’t do you any good!” She continued her stern gaze, and I held my tongue.

She turned back, finished her check-in, and the two left to go to their rooms (I now understand why they had gotten two.)

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