As a kid we relished the days my dad would stay home from work. It was a vacation day to us unless he was sick, but even then there were treats to be had like being able to watch a movie because the house would have to stay quiet for him to get his rest. When I was younger I never quite saw the irony between a mom getting sick and a dad getting sick…women and men handle things much different. I used to think it was just my mom…now I realize its every mom!!! I also don’t think she looked at papa’s ‘vacation’ days or canceled school days with near the excitement of us kids. I can say that now…now that I have experienced a day full of plans that get dashed to the ground at 6:00 in the morning when Matt would say he wasn’t going into work because he just needed a day at home. All of a sudden everything I had planned for the day would either get canceled or put on hold so that I could be home and the boys could be around their dad…maybe I handled it wrong…I am not sure, but in those moments it felt right for the kids and was met with some resentment from me. Not always, not in the beginning or when the boys were babies…but the last few years I didn’t like the days he chose to stay home. Now…now I wish I had enjoyed them a little more and not resented him so much for them. Maybe in a way he felt my resentment and it helped build a wall.
Anyway…somewhere in the early years of 1990’s, I think I was 12 or 13, Missouri was hit pretty hard with some hard weather. The house my parents bought all those years ago was in pretty rough shape. The original part of the home dates back to pre-civil war with an addition across the front added at the turn of the century…the sidewalk dated 1905, but they were never positive if that was put in when the addition went on or not. It’s a large farmhouse, drafty windows…because most of them are still the original windows…not the best insulation and rock walls covered in plaster/Sheetrock. Well now a great deal of that has changed but its been a slow, slow process. We never had our own rooms growing up, there was anywhere to 2-6 people in a bedroom during different stages and ages of people growing. This came in pretty handy in those winter months when the rooms would get so cold there would be ice on the inside of the windows. Of course they made really fun sketch pads…drawing in the ice with our finger nails. There was always a couple weeks in the winter however that we all had to move downstairs, close off the hallway to the upstairs and live in the living-room/over-sized kitchen and dining room/and also the one bathroom the house had. My parents could still use their room and usually had a baby or toddler in there with them, the rest of us would pile into the living-room and stay nice and cozy, covered with 5-6 blankets and all tucked in. Sometimes it would even get cold enough we would have to bring the newborns goats into the house so they wouldn’t freeze…this really only happened if the mother was lost in childbirth. To say I had an unusual childhood would be an understatement. This one particular year we had already had snow and then an ice storm hit. I don’t remember the accumulation but I remember papa being home from school…A LOT! But oh boy did we have fun!! my parents were really good about going sledding with us kids, showing us how to build snowmen, making pictures in the snow with us by walking and perfecting the snow angel was a talent taught only by my mother. She was pregnant a lot in the winter though so my dad was the one who would take us out the most. At 12 I didn’t really need my dad to take me outside to go sledding…but the event became 10’x more exciting when he did. We would be out there for hours….literally hours. I can remember this ice storm though…we all thought it would be fun to go sledding, so we get ready, go outside and crawl over to the hill…the crawling should have been our first clue that maybe the ice was thick enough we couldn’t even break through it, but no…it just seemed like even more of an adventure. So off we went…flying down the hill at speeds so fast you couldn’t stop if you wanted too. Eventually we hit the ditch and then turned around to do it again…we were thrill seekers…the whole lot of us. There was a a problem though…we couldn’t get up the hill. We tried for what seemed like forever…we..and by we I mean my sister Micah who would have been about 10-11, my brother Chet who would have been 8-9 and Jasper..6-7. It was a nightmare…we would get a few steps in and then slide backwards. Thankfully my dad, who I think was watching out the window, came out with a rope and pulled us to the top of the hill. I am pretty sure that was the shortest visit to the outdoors we ever had. That day of ice kept going though and lasted a long time…I don’t ever remember losing power but we couldn’t get out our drive or up the road. My dad, mom and one of the kids made the hike to the end of the gravel road we lived on and someone met them with food…I think at this point we had been house bound for at least a week. It took them every bit of 2 hours to go the half a mile to the end of our road and about an hour to get back. I am sure my mom was going crazy when my dad finally went back to work but oh the memories that were made.
Looking outside today reminded me of that day so long ago…it feels like a lifetime in some regards…the ice is so picturesque on the trees with the shimmer of silver when the light hits it just right but the thing is when a wind comes along or something is thrown at the branches not only does the ice shatter, more often than not the tree or branches break. It reminded me of how my heart can maybe look to others or even feel to me. Maybe it looks beautiful, picturesque, guarded, protected in its ice almost…I don’t want to break or shatter though with what life is throwing at me right now. I don’t want my heart to be covered in ice, cold but protected, I pray that Matt can feel the warmth I am trying to give…albeit not much but there is a faint hint of warmth there. I am trying, I am trying to hold onto to something that doesn’t seem fixable, that doesn’t seem possible, I don’t know if that is the right thing or the wrong thing to do…I don’t even think there is a clear answer, but I do know I don’t want my heart to ‘look’ beautiful covered with ice and shimmering when just the right light hits it…I want it to BE beautiful. Full of warmth, love, forgiveness, patience and understanding.