Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wilma, Walmart, and the Snuggling of Souls

Dear John,
We're all set for more storms tonight, which means less sleep. I was getting us to bed early. Then I saw a beautiful photo of a full moon in Pinterest, traced it back to the board it came from, and discovered a fascinating pinner with good taste in old movies. It took some time, but I got some wonderful pins from him.
It's been an odd Saturday. I went downtown to the bank and pharmacy, then to Walmart, then Prairie Market, then back to the pharmacy for office supplies that Walmart didn't have. I was headed for the Farmers' Market but didn't get there. I ran into Wilma at Tom's - they're here from Florida for a week or two. We hadn't seen each other in about two years, and she didn't know that you had died. It was much more important to talk to Wilma. Maybe I can get to the Farmers' Market after work on Tuesday.
Remember all those Topeka-wide Vacation Bible Schools that all the churches did together, and that Wilma and I worked the kitchen every year? Each church had one person in the kitchen. But the other churches had a different person every night. Somebody had to know what was going on and keep the thing organized. So Wilma and I were the snack-time designated drivers. And no matter what went haywire, we loved working together. And we loved each other. So it was fun every year. Most of the volunteers wanted to work with the children. If they'd have been high school or college kids, I'd have fought you for them. But these were little ones, so I fled for dear life to the kitchen. And those years are why I knew where every single thing was kept in Maple Grove's kitchen, and couldn't find a single thing in our own kitchen at Topeka Mennonite.
Wilma and I would come early every night and get ready, so we'd have time to leave the kitchen and go to the opening convocation. (I still have nightmares where people are singing "Hear the Pennies Dropping." Annoying song.) We always sat in the back so we could get out quickly and get back to work. And one night we saw, right there in front of us, the essence of Topeka, the icon, the quintessential expression of the town.
It was the 1st and 2nd grade class, and there were three children sitting together, whispering and playing happily, paying no attention to the program. They were obviously good friends from school. There was an Amish boy on the left, an Amish girl on the right, and in the middle was an English boy with an orange Mohawk. They were friends - none of that mattered to them.
That's a large part of what makes Topeka special. Most of the Amish and English kids go to school together through the 8th grade. They grow up knowing each other, playing together, being friends. That has a powerful effect on the relationship between the two segments of the population. It's hard to objectify the man who was your best friend in 3rd grade. For the local children, having English and Amish living here together is the most normal thing in the world. They go to each other's weddings, patronize each other's businesses, work together to plan and carry out the future of the town, and look after each other. When there's a benefit at the fire station for anybody, everybody comes out for it. Integration begins in the schools. (I think I remember hearing that somewhere before, a long time ago.)
Enough of singing the praises of Topeka. It was a treat to see Wilma, and I'm glad I got to tell her all about you. I miss seeing her around here all the time. Walmart was Walmart on Saturday - nothing pleasant about that. Prairie Market was great. I got home, had lunch, and took a two-hour involuntary nap. I felt rested after it, and got Luke and Lacey's wedding present finished. I think they'll like it and find it very useful. And I know they're not getting another one from somebody else.
I'm sorry we won't be going to the wedding together, but I know you'll be there. Nothing would keep you away from your goddaughter's wedding. These are two of your favorite young folks. So I won't see you there, but I'll feel you - I'll know that you're there. I hope they do, too.
I adore you. I miss you, but I'm glad for your presence that is so real to me. I feel like I get more time with you now than I did when you were in restaurant work and put in so many hours. There are some communication difficulties on my side, but I'm getting better at hearing you, so we'll work that out. I'm thankful to God for the great grace of letting me have an awareness of being with you and being able to communicate. It seems to be a gift that isn't always given. Please tell Him thanks for me. I can't sleep in your arms tonight, but my soul can snuggle up with your soul, and that is so much better!

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