Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cry Uncle

He was considered a drunk.  And so I disdained him.  He was a user and a loser.  Get a job!  

Thank God for youth.  It gives us many things.  Chiefly the belief that we can do anything.  The future is before us.  We are filled with hope and promise.  However, time shows us how ignorant we are and it erodes the foundation of our arrogance.  We come to realize that life is a gift and it is a hard fight.  

Lambs, don't judge.  If time has taught me only one thing, it is this. Love and do not judge. Leave that to God. It is your job to love. Yes, it is a job.  Something to work at.   Never stop working at it.

And so I cry uncle. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And An Apple?

by Noah Matthews

Copyright 2009


“Get up Sylvia!  Get up right now.”  Sylvia lie limp on the vinyl floor on one side with her rounded back to her friend Rebecca.

            “Becky, I told you not to put that rug there.”  Sylvia gave the scrunched rug a weak kick with her right foot.

            “How can you complain about that now?  Come on dear.  Get up.”  Rebecca stood leaning on her walker with one hand and pushing back the same shock of gray hair that always seemed to be hanging in her face.  Sylvia struggled against the cold floor with her left arm and right hand to no avail.  “Aren’t you going to get up?”  Rebecca gave her a gentle nudge with her walker.

            “Becky, how long have we been friends?”

            “Well, its been nigh on to eighty years now.  Almost as long as we’ve been alive, but what has that….”

            “And in those eighty years, how many times have you pushed me down or tripped me?”

            “Why Sylvia!”  I never shoved you but playing as a child .”  Rebecca swatted at the rebellious hair that had slid from behind her ear and back into her face.

            “As I recall, we were pretty rowdy as children.  Not as some would say girls should be.  At least not back then.  I sure did my share of shoving and perhaps, maybe even more than my share.”

            “So?”  Rebecca scrunched her eyebrows together the way she did in anticipation of hearing something about which she was certain not to agree.

            “So, here I lie practically shoved by you to the cold floor and I can’t get up.”

            “Gentle Jesus!  Do you figure you’ve broken anything?”

            “No, Becky.  I guess…”  She trailed off, refusing to finish the thought, but instead made a hasty substitution.  “I guess I’m getting a little older is all.”  Sylvia pulled her arms up to her and folded her hands under her cheek. 

            “Ah,” scoffed Rebecca.  “Older?  Old.  And I’ve been telling you that for thirty years now and all it took was a spill to the floor?  You are old.  We’re both old.  Eighty four, Sylvia.  My, my.  Eighty four and  both still living.”

            “Eighty four, eighty four,” Sylvia mocked.  “Eight four ain’t nothing.”

            “Isn’t anything,” Rebecca corrected her.

            “Rebecca Crabtree, don’t you be correcting me now.  Was the worst thing your daddy ever did sending you off to be a school teacher.  Too hot for your britches you were when you came back to town.”

            “You always were jealous.  Just a jealous housewife who thought her life hollow while I saw the world.”  Rebecca had a way of landing on words she wanted to emphasize.  In this case ‘world’ sounded more like ‘huh-whirled.’

            “Saw the world?  There you go again.  You saw Millersburg.  A town so small you could pitch a rock from one side to the other.  That’s the world you saw. “

            “Nonetheless, I did something with my life.”  Her eyebrows relaxed in satisfaction.

Sylvia stiffened.  “And I didn’t?”  I raised seven children and stood by my husband for forty years, God rest his soul.  Now you stop taking that attitude with me, you old cow!”

            “Cow?  Well, I like that, you, you crow….”   At this they both smiled.  It was a familiar banter.  A comforting give and take of words that had been their shared security blanket for all their lives as friends.  

Sylvia let a moan, barely audible, escape her lips.  Actually she pushed it over her lips and when it did not register a response she produce a second, even louder moan.

            “Sylvia!  What is it?  I’m sorry dear.  Something is broken?”

            “No.  I was just thinking.”

            “Well, good grief stop that.  You never were much for thinking.”

            “Thinking about how times were different when we were younger.  You know, the trees seemed greener and taller somehow.  The sun warmer, the world….. well, the world….  I don’t know.  Perhaps feeling this way comes with age.  Remember old Mrs. Perchstrom who lived in that big gray house down near the river?”   There was no answer.  “Rebecca!”

            “Yes, I remember, “ she answered as she made her way to a chair in the adjoining living room.

            “Where are you?”  Sylvia twisted in a futile attempt to cast a disapproving glare at her retreating audience.

            “Well, if you are going to tell one of your stories and there isn’t anything broken, I’m going to sit myself down.  You know I can’t stand for long.  It hurts my knees.”

            “Oh!  That is all in your head.  Anyway, old Mrs. Perchstrom had a tall wooden fence that ran clean around her property to keep the kids out.  Remember that?”

            “We always thought it was to keep the kids in so she could eat them.”

            “It was to keep us out of her apple trees but it never worked. 

            “Neither did that good-for-nothing half starved dog of hers she kept alive on apple cores and kid’s bones,” Rebecca interrupted. 

Sylvia rolled her eyes and continued.  “You and I used to walk past there every day to and from school.  Remember?  Oh the skinned knees the both of us got from scaling that fence and climbing those apple trees.”

            “It wasn’t actually our fault we took those apples.  They always seemed to call to us.”

            “Sylvia, Becky.  Come get us out of these big trees.  Look how red and shiny we are.”    Sylvia laughed and closed her eyes, her mind awash with memories of those times.  “We felt like we could do anything then.  Anything.  My how time changes things, Becky.  Inside I am just as I was then – still that young girl, but outside, I’ve become old Mrs. Perchstrom.  How did it happen?

            “I don’t know, dear, but it does.  It just does.”

A comfortable silence fell between them. 

            “You know, you were the best teacher that county had ever seen.  You did a fine job.”

            “Your Tuck was a lucky man.  My how he loved you.  And seven fine children.”

            “ All gone, Becky.  What momma outlives her own children?  But, that is just what I’ve gone and done.”

Silence drifted into the kitchen and living room and once again settled over them.  The mantle clock breathed its tick, tock, tick, tock.  The burner under the water heater in the hall closet puffed and flames danced their way around the circular burner.  The house settled gently into its comfortable and familiar song of occasional creaks and groans. 

            “Sweet Lord alive!”

Rebecca straightened from her chair slump.  “What is it?  Are you in pain?”

            “I can see clean under the refrigerator from here and its awful!  The dirt!”

            “Oh Sylvia.  I’m going to call Richard and have him come over and help you up.  He’s such a nice neighbor.”

            “Help me up,” Sylvia repeated softly.  “I guess I am old.” 

            “Then we can all have a nice cup of hot tea.”

            “And an apple?”

            “Yes dear, a cup of tea and an apple.”

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Five Minutes

Five Minutes....
The sun has nearly completed its journey across the sky.  The limbs of the tress which wait in anticipation to be clothed once again in the splendor of green are now bathed in the golden glow that only evening sunlight brings.  Cold gives way to warmth; melancholy to the first tender sprouts of hope; introspection to a renewed interest in the world reborn.  
Three Minutes....
I tilled up a plot of land today to ready it for three types of potatoes. What a miracle those dirty, fleshy, odd shaped things are.  You take a single potato, cut it up such that each piece has two eyes, bury them in the earth, and you are rewarded with a dozen or more potatoes for each piece.  For me it is an almost religious experience.  Crazy?  Think about it.  It is nothing short of miraculous.  A precious gift.
One Minute....
And so I am down to one minute.  In this minute I want to express my gratitude for all that I have.  For health.  For family.  And even for the miraculous potato.  

And now my five minutes are gone..........

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


by Noah Matthews
copyright 2009


I used to look at you through squinted eyes of seething rage
I used to look at you through stinging tears of endless pain
I trailed behind and placed my feet in each one of your steps
I watched your face for approval but found only regret

You gave yourself so freely away to everyone else

I wanted you gone
Out of my life
I wanted you to love me


We have to give up on love to find it
We have to leave it all behind
Forgiveness leads to a better ending
We just have to let go…. Sometimes

I watched you when you said you found the Galilean man
In the waters you went down, I watched you come out again
And so I trailed behind, took each step keeping up with you
Before the river mud dried from your shoes you killed the truth

You gave yourself so freely away to everyone else

I wanted you gone
Out of my life
I wanted you to love me



Here I stand from the waters arisen
Will I be the man that I saw in you
Or will I rise up and learn forgiving
And just let go…. Just let go….

Chorus (x 2)