Tuesday, April 11, 2017
stop this train.
The other night I had an urge to look through some of our old pictures. We were little kids, looking for Easter eggs in the old chicken coop that isn't there anymore. We were sitting cross-legged on the floor at Grandma and Grandpa's house playing with the Indian figurines. We were on the haywagon, blowing bubbles in the yard, sleeping in blanket forts with armies of stuffed animals, never realizing we were young and carefree because that was all we'd ever been. Those were the days before we had our drivers' licenses, before we had jobs, before we cared who the president was or what kind of car we were riding in because all we cared about were the popsicles in the freezer and how long we could play outside before our parents dragged us in to get ready to leave.
Some days it's great. We can drive wherever we want and pay our own way with cold hard cash that we earned ourselves because we're working now. We can do things we only dreamed of doing before.
But then there are days it's not so great and I'm sad because my grandparents are getting older and time is not kind. I remember when Grandma and us picked blackberries in the tall bushes down by the creek, and she would wear long-sleeved flannel shirts and gloves to keep from getting pricked on the thorns. I thought that was tough as it got, in the middle of burning August. I also remember once, there was an orange that was so rotten even my mom wouldn't eat it, and Grandma put it in her mouth and swallowed it just to show she could. She made a horrible face. I thought that was the ultimate spunk.
My Grandma, who got married at barely eighteen against her parents' wishes, and walked down the aisle all by herself because her parents wouldn't even attend. My Grandma, who helped her husband run a farm, raised four kids, made clothes, baked pies, and picked blackberries wearing stuffy hot clothes in the middle of the summer.
She still has spunk, but she doesn't bake pies or pick blackberries anymore. She doesn't do the things she used to. She doesn't have the strength. She does what she can, which isn't much. But she keeps on even when the pain won't seem to go away and there's nothing weak about that.
We were at their house Sunday afternoon, and she got up and sat with us at the table again. She helped peel apples for applesauce and Grandpa was making jokes like always and I watched them from the kitchen sink where I was washing dishes. For a little while it was the way it used to be. And like always, I didn't want it to end. I wanted to be absolutely sure not to forget it.
I don't want to forget any of it: eating ice cream out of the container on barefoot summer nights with Sadie, riding bikes on the dirt road in the pitch dark, going to dance class with all the cousins in the big diesel truck. I want to scrap my own selfishness and learn how to love better and do everything I can for all of them while I still can.
Once again there was a song that came to me when I couldn't find my own words to say what's pounding in my heart:
Once in a while, when it's good
It'll feel like it should
When they're all still around
And you're still safe and sound
And you don't miss a thing
Til you cry when you're driving away in the dark,
Stop this train,
I wanna get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
Cause now I see I'll never stop this train.
- Lindsay Ell, Stop This Train
"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understand in unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 30:28-31