Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On My Front Porch

There is an appointed time for everythingAnd there is a time for every event under heaven - - (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

On My Front Porch

By Debbie Ayers

I absolutely love my front porch! It was a sort of “side-benefit” that came with buying our new house. Although I have to admit, I wasn’t actually sure how I felt about it - - - at first . . .

It isn’t your typical front porch that starts with a pretty sidewalk, and then stairs that head up to your porch and front door. My porch actually comes off of the side yard, or from an inside door that is in the dining room. The porch wraps around from the side and then goes across the front of the house. It has the typical white banister, and grey painted wood boards for the flooring, but I still wasn‘t sure what to do with it. We had just moved into the house the very last week-end in October, and the porch was just something that I looked at - through my living room windows. Soon, it filled up with snow - as the winter set in. And I had my doubts about how safe it was - as my husband was standing on top of it - pushing snow off it in February! As spring drew near - I really wasn’t sure what we would do with the porch - as we didn’t even have rocking chairs, or even regular chairs to put out on it!

I guess I shouldn’t have worried too much about what to do with the porch. God always seems to find a way to bless us - - - when I least expect it! After moving in to our new house, we had slowly met a few of our neighbors. On the day that I watched my husband standing on our roof - shoveling snow off of it - we met Terry. She too had been working hard to clean off her porch roof. As I had watched her climbing out her upstairs window, I couldn’t help but think she was probably safer than my Ted was. She had a rope tied around her waist, and she carefully moved out onto the roof with her shovel. Ted and I watched her here and there, in between the work Ted was doing on our own roof. As the day slipped by, and twilight seemed to be setting in, a dark figure was headed toward our house - holding a shovel. As I watched them approach, I wondered which teen in the neighborhood was too late to help out. But just as the thought filled my head, I realized it was the lady from the roof down the street.

Ted and I would get to know Terry pretty well over the next few months. We visited with her that evening, sharing a glass of wine, and listening as she told us about her husband - who had passed away just a month earlier. She shared about the man who I just knew was the love of her life. She talked about her home, and how she was planning on selling it, and moving to a smaller place. That evening, we learned so much about this woman - and the life she had shared with her husband.

Over the next few months, Ted and I would stop and chat with Terry. She would come by once in a while as we trimmed up the lawn that spring - getting the gardens and yard ready for summer. Then one day Terry showed up at the door, wondering if she could ask us a question. “You don’t have rocking chairs” she commented as she pointed to our front porch. “No, hopefully we can buy some down the road” I told her. That’s when she offered us her own white rocking chairs. I wasn’t so sure what to do, but she told us she was moving in a month, and hoped we would say yes.

That’s how we ended up with two beautiful white whicker rocking chairs on our front porch. We also have a really pretty rug under them. That too came from Terry. We also added a couple of small tables, and put out plants and hanging baskets. Our summer porch was all ready!

Now this is where I have to admit that we probably use our porch a lot differently than most of the neighbors on the street, or even most people I know. During the summer, our neighbors would sit out in the late afternoons on their porches, visiting with other neighbors, reading a book, or sipping a glass of wine. I guess I just wasn’t the sip wine and read a book on the porch type of person. Instead, I waited until Ted would get home, and then the question would be: “Is it popsicle time?” At that, one of us would go get two popsicles and we would head for the front porch. There, we would eat our popsicles, rock in our beautiful chairs, and just relax with each other. Sometimes we would watch the sunset. Other times we just sat and rested - in between working in the garden. It just became a very special place for us to share, with each other, and also with family and friends. And then - - - fall set in . . .

A few weeks ago, the night temperatures started dipping close to the freezing temperatures, and we started bringing in our plants from the porch. My hanging plants had passed by, and the flowers that had bloomed close to the porch seemed pretty much done. But as Ted started bringing things in, I told him I didn’t want to bring in my rocking chairs - not yet anyways! “Why?” he asked. “The popsicles are just about gone, and it is getting darker now.” As he said it, I knew he was right. But I asked him to wait. “Jenny is coming, she needs to have a popsicle on the porch!” I told him. It made no sense, and I knew she probably wouldn’t get a chance - - - but I said it anyways.

Jen and Dan came down to visit on Friday night. They arrived around midnight, totally exhausted and needing to get some sleep. As Saturday morning dawned, everyone seemed to be still so tired. But we got up, made a big breakfast, and got ready to party! It was birthday party day for three of the grandbabies - Derek, Brenden, and Abby! So we wrapped presents, did cards, and got ready and headed to Mike’s house. There we visited with kids, and family, and had a really nice time with everyone. As we headed home, I think we all were a bit exhausted. But Ted and I had planned a cook-out for Dan and Jen, and so we started cooking when we got home. We made steaks and hand cut potato wedges with roasted veggies. The whole thing was so delicious! As we finished up at the dining room table, the kids got ready to head out. They were going to visit with Jen’s father and his wife for a little bit. After hugging the kids and sending them on their way, Ted and I cleaned up from supper, and sat down to watch some television. Before I knew it, I was dozing off.

That night I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow. Jen and Dan came in and did the same - heading to bed to finally get some rest. As Sunday morning dawned, I got up and started coffee - so happy that “my” Jenny was home for a little bit. I already knew what I was going to make her for breakfast! She loves pancakes, and I make pretty good ones from scratch. So as I sipped my coffee, watching a little bit of the morning news as I waited for everyone else to wake up, I could feel the contentment inside of me.

That morning seemed to fly by! Ted woke up first, and we shared a quick cup of coffee as I pulled the bacon from the fridge. As I got the bacon started on low heat, I pulled my recipe from my old Betty Crocker cookbook. The recipe is stained and faded, and I really don’t need it - but I always pull it out when I make my pancakes. As Jenny came downstairs yawning, she gave me a quick hug before getting some coffee. Dan had already headed out to the living room with his own cup, the newspaper sprawled all over the coffee table. The house was abuzz with life, as each of us went in and out of the kitchen - chatting with each other as breakfast was cooking.

Before I realized it, breakfast was on the table and we were praying together. We held hands and prayed for the day, and thanked the Lord for the gift of Jen and Dan here with us. As we all ate, the conversation flowed, in between bites of food. I don’t even know what we talked about, but it didn’t seem to matter. It was just nice to be in that place - - - at that moment.

With breakfast finished, Jen and Dan headed upstairs to get ready for the day. They had plans - visiting with Mike and his family, going to a corn maze with the kids, and supper out with more family. As I hugged them both and told them to have fun and be careful, a little sadness seeped in. But I waved and smiled - and knew they would be back later on . . .

. . . I tell you a mystery; . . . In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye . . .

It always amazes me how quickly time passes by. Sunday evening came before I even realized it! Ted and I had spent a little time out in our garden, getting it ready for the winter. We had pulled out the last of the tomato plants, and put mulch down to protect the beets and a few other root plants. As we came inside, I could feel the chill in my bones. Ted went over to the little door that lead out to our porch and locked it for the evening. My rocking chairs were still sitting out there, but I knew that time was slipping away - and soon they too would have to be put away for the winter. As I got ready for bed, I wondered when Jen and Dan would come “home”. I knew it really wasn’t their home - - but it was the home that I make for my family. I didn’t want to be upset, but I knew that deep down, I was already missing my daughter . . .

. . . I tell you a mystery; . . . In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye . . .

We shall all be changed . . . (1 Corinthians 15:52)

Jen and Dan came in a little after 11pm that night. We visited for a little bit, and then I headed up to bed. I was so tired, and maybe a little drained from emotions that I didn’t even want to look at. My daughter would be leaving the next day, and for sure, snow would be around before I would see her again! As I fell asleep that night, I whispered at little prayer, asking God to take care of my daughter . . .

The alarm started going off at 6:30am - but I really didn’t pay much attention to it until closer to 7. I woke up to a kitty purring near my face, and wondering how I was going to get up out of these warm covers. I pushed the cat a little, and slowly slid out from the bed. Getting my slippers and a warm shirt on, I headed downstairs to the kitchen. Two cats ran down the stairs ahead of me, hoping that breakfast would already be waiting for them! As I set out the kitty bowls and poured coffees, I knew that this was the last morning that Jenny and Dan would be here. I headed back up the stairs to see if Ted had finally woken up. Handing him his coffee, I headed into the bathroom to get ready for the day.

We all had breakfast together again. Ted all ready for work, and Jen and Dan still in their pj’s. As I kissed Ted goodbye, he seemed to sense I was a bit sad. He pulled me tight and told me everything would be OK. I waved as he drove down the road, and headed inside the house. Jen and Dan were already getting showered and dressed, having promised to go with me to visit my mom in the nursing home. I have to admit, I was glad to get a little more time with them - - - before they left.

Mom wasn’t so sure who Jenny and Dan were when she first saw them. But as they sat and visited with her, she noticed a picture up on her wall. “Jenny, Jenny!” she said - as she pointed at the picture, and then at Jen. “That’s you!” she smiled, and we all just laughed and smiled back. We visited with mom, and I was even able to have one of the nurses take a beautiful picture of us all before we left. As we headed out the door, my mom was already laughing and chatting with her neighbors at the table where she would eat her lunch.

Dan, Jen, and I headed to a local diner for lunch, and then it was time to head home. As we got here, I knew they would be needing to get ready to leave soon. I picked up a few things, and waited as Jen packed. And then Dan headed out to the truck to put some things inside of it. As he did, Jen turned and smiled at me. “Popsicle time?” she asked? As she said it, I wondered how she could possibly know. Looking over at her smiling face, I just started to laugh. We headed toward the freezer (where just that week I had put a new box of popsicles inside of it) and pulled two out and quickly headed to the porch door. Outside, we sat down in the rocking chairs and started to eat our popsicles. I looked over at my daughter and realized what a beautiful young woman she really has become. She smiled at me, and we chatted just a little bit. Dan headed over toward the porch, and laughed as he watched us rocking and eating popsicles. He was so patient, even though I knew it was time for them to leave.

And . . . Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; . . . And is not arrogant, . . .
(it) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 7)

As my daughter and her husband drove down the road this afternoon, I stood on the side of the road - waving until their truck turned the corner. I could see my daughter’s arm waving as they drove away. As I turned to go into the house, I swallowed hard and looked up at my porch. I love my porch . . . I love . . .

And . . . Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, . . . (it) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 8)


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