The weeks of summer have flown by. How do I know? Most notably because of the weighing of the largest pumpkin at the Alaska State Fair. Yet, as fast as the days flew by, four words punctuated each day: Love, Strength, Patience and Understanding.
While much of the lower 48 basked in temperatures far too high for their liking, we here in Alaska had what we call a ‘mild’ summer. Oh, sure, we had a couple of HOT days (72 degrees!) but we mainly stayed in the lower 60’s with afternoon convection clouds over the mountains that produced gallons of rain. Not so great for growing gigantic pumpkins or beautiful ‘Best in Class’ floral arrangements. The 1,200+ pound pumpkin that won this year hadn’t even turned orange yet!
Bill has been pulling up pounds of purple and red potatoes, (30 plants/hills down, 150 to go!) processing them into tater tots, French fries or hash browns. He has been making a variety of herb blends with three kinds of dried beet greens, kohlrabi leaves, celery leaves, dill, and various varieties of carrot tops, spinach, sage, and thyme. He’s even concocted a dried rhubarb treat that is a confectioner’s delight! (And the entire neighborhood kids, too!) You can take the farm boy moving away from the farm he grew up on, but you can’t take the ‘farm’ out of that boy, now turned man!
I love that Bill planted the garden rows wide enough so he can “play” on his 4 wheeler. His tiller and mower attach to the back of his 4x4. Up and down the rows he tills the garden. Then he switches attachments to mow the perimeter of the hay field, edges of the garden and the green grass glade on the way to the river. Bubba Grump, our Brindled English Mastiff/Ridgeback mix dog rides with him. Yes…..RIDES on the 4x4!
As my heart swells with joy watching him, I also find tears trickling down my cheeks on occasion. I feel a ‘pang’ in my heart knowing that those days of joining him on those treks are gone. I’ve even been known to whine that I don’t feel a part of our “team” anymore, since he has to cut/stack the wood, do the garden and lawn, the food processing PLUS meals – all things I used to do with him, but now physically (and for safety reasons!) am unable. He reminds me that we are still a team – I get to label the jars, and I did plant the seeds in April in the greenhouse until they were big enough to be planted outside the first part of June. Ok, Ok. But small potatoes in my heart!
As the tears trickle, I realize Bill is demonstrating love for me and others, so we will have provisions during the long winter months. From canning, to vacuum-packaging, to splitting cords of wood, his tangible gifts of love prevail.
Bill is demonstrating his strength by picking up more than his own fair share of work – and never complains, even after working 60+ hour weeks. His strength is shown by not whining, reminding me for every challenge, in every difficulty we travail or danger we have faced, not just the last 6 months, but 42 years, we can be sure of His unwavering strength.
As the long hours of sunlight begin to wane, and the pace for finishing up construction jobs before the snow flies or the ground freezes, Bill’s patience seems endless, never tiring. I swear if he ever did a DNA test, it would show he’s related to the Energizer Bunny……he just keeps on going.
As the fireweed turns bright red, I think we have both done our best to grapple with the hand we’ve been dealt this year. Understanding doesn’t come as easily. Maybe, just maybe, we aren’t supposed to understand what it all means for now.
We feel like we are in a rock quarry or pit of sorts. We feel like dynamite has torn and blasted our very heart. Pickaxes have broken and split parts of my body this summer, leaving it in pieces. There are days that I lay in bed, dozing hour upon hour, feeling disfigured with left-over incision scars, weary of being pounded upon day after day, and hour after hour hooked up to IV machines 3x/week. I feel broken and battered.
As I continue my best to grapple, I realize that rocks are not rocks without a purpose. Some rocks may be left for riverbed, where fresh water will cascade and pound them as they shimmer in the bright sunlight. Some rocks may be used to make new roads – some to places never seen before. Other rocks may be picked up and chiseled with sharper instruments, to make them more functional. (Hmmm. Like my summer of surgery and rehab?!)
The Master craftsman will reveal the purpose once the chiseling is completed. Some rocks may be left big and strong, while others may be broken and sifted until it is its proper shape and use are realized.
I know I am still very much in my ‘quarry’. I am not complete by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. There are still rugged cliffs in my quarry. Fire, water, storms and more I’m sure will follow in the days ahead. Lessons I learn will continue to make me into who I am to be and become.
Until then, how grateful I am, to walk alongside One who loves me, just the way I am. How blessed I am for His patience and understanding, and whose strength will never fail.
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.