On a sunny Lord’s Day afternoon
at the time of year when irises bloom
and the bright lavender of redbuds
has barely begun to fade in the fringe of the woods,
we stood outside her window at the hospital,
and tried our best to hear her words—
sometimes clear and strong
and sometimes fading into a long murmur,
a sort of mumbling through the screen,
thoughts barely said out loud,
crowded out by the whirring drone
of the huge AC unit fifty feet away.
She said she’d lost twenty-five pounds
in the two or three weeks she’d been there.
She didn’t say but I couldn’t help but think
that she didn’t have that much weight to spare.
But even though she seemed weak,
even though the lines of nearly ninety years
have etched deeply into the soft skin of her face,
and even though she bruises now with the slightest touch
There is still something of strength,
still something of that domineering pioneer spirit,
and that plain-spoken stubbornness,
sometimes tempered with a soft chuckle.
Something more in her eyes than in her voice
speaks of choices made long ago,
a road not always chosen but always traveled,
decades of doing what had to be done,
lying down at night long after the sun,
rising again and again,
working in the relentless winds of the plains,
enduring the pains of storms and troubles,
yet always knowing that He Who Has Made Us
has always kept his word,
always supplied for each day what was needed for the day,
and will welcome her into eternal rest
if she ever decides
she doesn’t want to be in Kansas anymore.