After Breakfast

Grandpa, Tabby and I had a good breakfast. Tabby and I cleared the table, then washed the dishes. While doing that, Tabby asked me:

“Would you like to play cribbage after this, Mark?”

I said, “Sure, that sounds like fun. How about you, Grandpa?” I asked, looking back to him in his chair at the table.

“No, thanks, kids. I’ve got something I’m working on in my workshop. You all have fun. Don’t worry about me,” he said. At that, Grandpa stood up and walked across the kitchen to the door to his workshop. “Thanks for doin’ the dishes,” he said, with a smile, then he entered his workshop and closed the door behind him.

Tabby and I had seen Grandpa working on a set of shelves for Tabby’s room, painted blue, her favorite color. Grandpa had told me they were for Tabby, and Tabby figured as much. “They’ll be neat when they’re finished, don’t you think so, Mark?”

“Yep, they will. Everything Grandpa makes is neat,” I said.

“Yeah, he’s a good ol’ Grandpa,” she said.

We sat down at the table, playing cards for a while. “You can deal,” I said.

“Okay, thanks,” Tabby said. She shuffled the cards, and dealt them out. We played a few hands, alternating the deal with each hand.

“What are you going to do, this afternoon?” Tabby asked.

“I’m going to read a book,” I said.

“That sounds like a good idea,“ Tabby said. “Maybe, I will, too!”

We played out the rest of our card game. Tabby won, as usual.

“You gonna’ go read your book now, Mark?” She said.

“Yep.” And I walked down the hall and then up the stairs to my bedroom. My dog, Old Hank, was already in my room, laying on the bed, with the sun shining on him through the window.

“Hey, Hank. Move over a bit.” I laid down on my bed, as Old Hank adjusted. I probably won’t last long, I thought to myself. I’m full. I reached out to grab the book, on the window sill, but didn’t even start reading, before I fell asleep.

Grandpa’s House

I was walking in the woods behind my grandpa’s house one fall day. I had been wondering where my little sister had wandered to. Any chance to get outside, and she was up for it. Instead of my sister, though, I came upon two boys sitting on the ground in a small dirt clearing. They were playing a dice game. They heard my steps, shuffling in the fallen leaves, and looked up. It was Ben and Albert, two young friends of ours.

“Hey, guys,” I said.

“Hey, Mark,” they both said together.

“Have you seen my sister anywhere?” I said.

The taller one, Albert, scratched his head. “I passed by her, sittin’ on a log by the pond, fishin’.”

“Sounds like my sister,” I said.

“Yep,” said Ben. “That Tabitha’s the only girl I know who goes fishin’,” he said, with a smile.

“By herself, anyway,” I said. “Thanks, y’all. Have fun.”

“Okay,” said Albert.

“Bye,” said Ben.

I hopped the fence back into my grandpa’s yard, crossed the back yard, went through the gate, through the front yard, turned left and walked down the street, then onto a dirt path that led to the pond. Albert lived near the pond, on the other side. Ben lived back on the other side of my grandpa’s house. Albert would have passed the pond on his way over to Ben’s house. As I came out of the woods, I looked across the pond, and there she was, sitting on a log, with a fishing pole in her hands.

“Hey, Mark,” she said, smiling, and she waved.

“Hey, Tabby. Grandpa’s got breakfast ready. Pancakes and bacon.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’m coming.” Then she reeled in her hook, still fit with a half a worm on it. “The fish aren’t bitin’ much, anyway.”

By that time, I walked around the pond and stood by Tabitha. I looked down at a bucket of water by her right tennis shoe and saw a couple of brim swimming in it. “Those two look good,” I said.

“Yeah, caught those a while ago. Nothin’ since.”

“Okay, c’mon. Get your fish.”

She reached down and picked up her bucket by the handle, and as I held out my hand, she reached out and grabbed it. “Thanks for coming to get me, Mark,” she said, smiling.

“I knew you wouldn’t have wanted to miss grandpa’s pancakes,” I said.

“Yep, you’re right,” she said.

When we both got back to grandpa’s house, grandpa was waiting for us at the door. “Breakfast is gettin’ cold, you two.”

“Sorry, grandpa,” we both said.

“Watcha got in the bucket, Tabby?” He said.

“Couple of brim, grandpa,” said Tabitha.

“Well, we’ll have to get them ready to cook for lunch!” He said, patting us on the backs towards the breakfast table. “After breakfast, that is!”

A Reflection on Juneteenth

Crimes unimaginable

Sins unfathomable

Wrongs not righted

With an apology,

A soft word,

Or the stroke of a pen.

Pain to the deepest parts

Of the heart and soul,

The very fiber of one’s being,

A wound that doesn’t heal,

But rather cuts deeper

With every smile,

Every handshake,

On every pay day,

Every trip to the grocery store,

Every night at mealtime,

When they look at their children,

When they look at ours.

Privilege continues

Despite the lip service,

Despite the promises,

Amidst the meager gifts,

The dregs of easy charity

From the tatters of a bursting purse,

The guilt trip laid on thick

To the middle class and even

The working poor.

Those that lack for food,

Clothing or shelter,

Living barely day to day,

Not knowing where one’s next

Meal will come from.

And at the church the preacher

Says try harder, pray more,

Save your dollars

So you can send your little ones

To a good college,

Make them study,

Keep them out of trouble,

Tell them you love them,

That you’re proud of them

For that report card.

What do you say

When the white kid

Calls them the n-word?

What do you say

When you don’t have a job

Because you refused

To kiss your supervisor’s butt

When he would talk to you

Like you were nothin’,

Just a cog in his machine,

A disposable, replaceable,

Optional, neglectable,

Insultable, disrespected,

Used, abused, tossed out

To the street

Like so much garbage,

Black man?

Power

Wrong meets right.

The fight is strong.

Laugh, they will.

Cry out, they must.

Shout, at the top of their lungs—

Justice must prevail.

So many innocent lives

Have been crushed by the fist

Of the oppressor!

So many suffer

Because of the greed

And the arrogance

Of the powerful.

The powerful?

Who is powerful?

What is power?

Don’t you know that

The wind has changed course

On this hot, dry day.

The wind! The water!

The earth! The animals!

The birds! The insects!

The trees! Yes, even the trees!

Look at an old oak tree,

And tell me about power!

Look at a rushing stream,

And tell me about power!

Watch a lion kill its prey,

And tell me about power!

Is a gun, power?

In the hands of a six year old, a gun is just as powerful as in the hands of a grown man!

A gun is just a tool.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it useful.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it powerful.

And when a thousand voices scream,

That’s power!

When the people speak as one,

That’s power!

Don’t be afraid.

Be excited!

Be joyful!

Be glad!

For power has come to the people,

And they will not be denied this moment.

They have prayed,

And they have worked,

And they have suffered

For this moment.

Listen to the wind blow

Through the trees!

Justice has come like a mighty rush of wind,

And anything that’s old, anything that’s weak,

Anything that’s not tied down tight,

Is gonna blow away!

Those old tricks, old ways,

Cowardly words, weak attitudes,

Straw men beware!

The wind of justice has come to blow you…

Away!

Getting Older

Growing up is a fateful journey,

Full of both joy and despair,

With yearning for a sense of completeness

And sometimes a wish for escape.

I wish I could spend more time

With my family and friends, but

Somehow life seems to get in the way.

Everything from irritable bowels to

A toilet overflowing and flooding several rooms—

From a new job as an administrative assistant

To my wife taking classes at the local community college—

It’s always something.

But as time passes,

I will grab that opportunity to touch base,

Even if just with a note or a phone call.

As I get older, and especially,

As my nieces and nephews get older,

Time seems to fly by and becomes

Much more precious.

Decisions become a challenge, sometimes,

And dates and times seem to crowd in

From every angle.

Oh, if I could only go back!

What I would do differently.

Courageous Relationships (link to video)

www.saintpaulsumc.org/sermon/new-places-for-new-people-courageous-relationships/

Click on the above link to view a sermon by Rev. Dr. Kandace Brooks in which she challenges her congregation to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to others, to ask for help or to be of help, specifically to the mentally ill, suicidal, etc.

A Boy and His Boat, Ch. 3

Jack waited for Saturday to come. It seemed like it took a long time, because Jack was so excited. He was happy that his father was willing to help him build a boat. Saturday eventually came, and, after they ate breakfast, Jack and his father headed to the store to buy supplies. Jack’s father bought wood and nails, and he also got some things that Jack had never heard of. They got all the supplies, carried it all out to the car, and headed home. When they got home, Jack’s father laid out all the supplies in their garage. Then they got to work. It was hard work, and Jack wasn’t sure why his father did some things, but he trusted his father to do it correctly. It didn’t really look like a box when it was finished, but more like a real boat. It was pointed at the front, for one thing. Jack’s father said that would make it easier to move forward, especially if it was windy. His Dad also made an oar to paddle the water and thus cause the boat to move across the water. When the boat was finished, they laid it onto Jack’s wagon and rolled it out to the lake. Jack’s father picked the small boat up and eased it into the water. Jack was so excited! A real boat!

A Boy and His Boat, Ch. 2

The little boy, whose name is Jack, went back to his house and went into the kitchen to see if his mother was there. She was, and Jack asked her, “Mommy, when will Daddy be home?” His mother smiled, answering, “Your father will be home in just a few minutes. He should be on his way home from work right now. Do you need something?” “I need help to build a boat,” Jack said. “Well, I’m sure your Daddy will help you, but you might have to wait until Saturday.” “Okay,” Jack said. “I can wait.” When his father drove his car into the driveway, Jack ran out to him. “Daddy,” he said. “Can you help me build a boat?” “Sure, Jack,” he said. “We’ll do that on Saturday. How big a boat do you want?” “Just big enough for me to sit down in,” said Jack. “Okay, son. We’ll do it, I promise.” Jack was excited! He couldn’t wait for Saturday to come. “What day is today, Daddy?” he asked. “Today is Tuesday,” his Daddy said. “You’ll have to wait four days.” “Okay, thanks, Daddy,” Jack said. “We’ll go to the hardware store together on Saturday morning to buy supplies,” said his Daddy. “Sounds great, Daddy!” Jack said. Jack would count the days until Saturday.

A Day with You

Serenely sleeping on the pillow, in the morning;

Cracking a smile while getting ready for work;

Laughing in the car on the way to work;

A kiss and a smile goodbye, and “have a good day”;

Joking around in text messages;

Tips, lists and instructions;

Picking you up after a hard day at work;

Chatting over dinner;

Discussing the world while watching the news;

Jamming to music while we do the dishes;

Playing with the pets at treat time;

Back into bed for a good night’s rest.

You Bless Me

You bless me

With a mind that understands

The ways I think and act,

The ways I try to be

A better husband,

And the ways I fall short,

When I am weak.

You bless me

In the ways you help me,

The ways you care for me,

The ways you love me.

You bless me

With your curiosity,

Your insightfulness,

Your intelligence.

You bless me

With your generosity,

Your humility,

Your persistence.

You bless me,

And I am privileged to be

Your loving husband.