Tammie looked over at me from behind the steering wheel. She asked, “So, Mom, when are you going to retire?”
Without thinking, I laughed and said, “Me? I’m not old enough to retire. That’s at least two or three years away yet.” In the silence that followed, I looked out the passenger window at the fields, ponds and houses we were passing on highway 41. As our car crested a small rise and a whole new vista opened to us, I acknowledged to myself that maybe it was time for me to start thinking about retirement. I’d be sixty five in less than a year and a half.
Throughout most of the thirty seven years that Arnie and I were married, my husband frequently said, “We’re going to work it out so that you can quit working at the hospital.” That never happened, probably because my job provided our family with health insurance. All was good, I liked what I did and I worked only four days a week.
When Arnie and I were fifty-six years old, Arnie died suddenly. After that I had no more thoughts about quitting work. Continue reading →
I followed my fellow pilgrims off the bus and joined those already standing in a circle around Juan, the owner of Mater Dei Tours. Holding a pole topped with a blue flag showing the tour company logo, he said, “Here, before you is the Church of the Nativity. This is the place where it is believed that Jesus was born.”
All of my life, I had read about Bethlehem in Israel, never guessing that I’d actually travel there some day. Yet here I was with my travel companion daughter, Tammie, far from our Wisconsin home in the United States. Walking toward the church entrance, I glanced up at the gray sky overhead. A chill winter wind blew through the courtyard and I remembered a line from the Bible, “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.” Burying my hands in my jacket pocket, I thought, “Even in the subtropics, it gets cold during winter.” Continue reading →
The house door softly clicked shut behind me. I took a deep breath of the frosty night air. An inch of fresh snow lay on the deck. Shuffling my feet in the fluffy ice crystals, I looked around and saw by the yard light that more snow was falling steadily on our already white farm yard.
Smiling, I held out my arms and tipped my head back to allow the flakes tickle my face as they landed. I felt small in a big world. Inside the house behind me were my four and eight year-old children, in the barn before me was my husband waiting for my help. Continue reading →
Snow started to fall while I was reading the latest comic book Daddy had bought for me while in town to have our oats ground into cow feed. Some latent instinct in my ten-year-old mind must have helped me feel the change in the barometer or the rise in humidity. Putting the Donald Duck comic down, I went to the window. Seeing a white curtain of ice crystals between the house and the barn made me gleefully shout, “Yee-hoo!”
A happy, content feeling enveloped me as I began to think about going out to play in the snow and about all things Christmas; gifts, cookies, candy, the tree, midnight Mass, singing carols, the crèche and vacation from school. Soon restlessness filled my mind. No longer interested in the comic book, I decided to check out the spot where Mom stored the extra Christmas candy every year. Finding it empty just made me feel more excited, knowing that the box of malted milk balls, chocolate covered nuts, caramels and at least ten other goodies along with plain nuts would magically appear there on Christmas Eve. Continue reading →
I looked up from my paper. Without making a sound, our teacher, Sister Mary Florence was walking slowly up one row and down the next. All 48 children sat still at their desks, silent as mice when the cat is about. Outside, the wind moaned subdued complaints as it swirled through the playground. The bank of windows which ran the length of our fourth grade classroom creaked as the wind push against them. The radiators below, whispered, ‘click, click, click’ as warm water from the school’s boiler room flowed through the pipes. Continue reading →