‘Twas the beginning of December, and all through the towns….

December 4, 2011

Rachel and I were driving around….And we had the PERFECT pre-Christmas day!

Rachel had her 90th birthday earlier this year and she’s been in great health – loves to do her 2 mile walk around her neighborhood each morning, and is a bundle of energy from 4:30 AM till she turns in at night. (Her 6 cups of coffee each morning could contribute to that). At least, that’s what Rachel did until 7 weeks ago when she woke up with an excruciating pain in her leg. It was finally diagnosed as lumbar stenosis (I think that’s correct), but the bottom line is that something is pressing against a nerve and the pain is constant and severe. Rachel isn’t a complainer and she keeps on going, but this pain has taken the stuffings out of her. She can’t walk easily (so the daily exercise had to stop suddenly–doctor’s orders), and she feels like a prisoner in her house. She’s been bored out of her brains and she told me that she cries at night as she prays and doesn’t know how she will stand it if her promised 3-shot regimen of pain med’s don’t do the trick. And this has been going on for 7 weeks.

Now she’s always ready to roll if I’m going to go to Dover, and I’ve been eager to go so that we could have an outing together and she could get out of that house. So today was the day. I called her, she was ready in minutes, and off we went. She sat in the car while I did my quick errands at 3 or 4 stops, but when we got to Byler’s, she got out, too. She loves Byler’s – (they have everything) – she loves to look (rarely buys anything), but today she wanted to replace a burner cover that she’d burned by accident on her range top. (They didn’t have it). No problem. After we left Byler’s, we ate at our usual place – Bob Evans – and then we were headed home…..Until we saw the billboard advertising Ronnie’s in Smyrna. I said, “Rachel, let’s go there, too!” So we motored on up the road until we saw about a million Christmas lights out front and inside of the store. Rachel said, “I haven’t been here for probably 15 years. They’ve really changed this place.” That was an understatement: today it is a wonderland…. theme trees one after the other in rows and rows, each with unusual lights (shaped in snowflakes and M&M’s and candy canes and on and on) and a plethora of ornaments unique to each theme. (We admired the owls with the real feathers more than any other, but we had to touch and stare and check out the prices, especially of the biggest ones, marveling at how much they were!) We were the two kids in a candy shop ooh’ing and ah’ing with our mouths hanging open at practically every tree. I don’t know how long we were there, but it was a while. We didn’t go until we had examined each one! And THEN we went to Willeys and looked at the trees there! We had the glow of those trees filling us both up, and were smiling from the inside out.

We laughed and talked and shared stories like school girls….I asked Rachel how she had met her husband. (He died during a freak accident 33 years ago when he was at work for the State Roads). Rachel had gone to Betterton with her brother and his wife. And Jim had gone there, too. Betterton Beach was in it’s heyday then, so it was the popular place to go to see and to be seen. And Rachel was seen all right. Jim eyed her and expressed his interest right away. Rachel’s brother said, “I brought you here and you’re going to go home with me.” But Jim got her number, called her and they were married a year later. When I asked Rachel if she knew right away that she wanted to marry him, she said yes and that it was the same for Jim. They were both 19. She laughed and said, “He didn’t have a penny.”

She told me that when Jim would go to work on days when he knew he’d have to work late, he’d tell her to lock the door – he’d take his key – and then after work when he got back home, so as not to scare her to death by just appearing in their bedroom when she was asleep and startling her, he would just knock 2 times on the window outside to give her notice. She could then go to sleep in safety, and wake, comforted by his knocks. She’d said to me, “Do you know about the knocks?…I’ll tell you about them.” And she said next that in these past 7 weeks, when she’d been crying in her bed and praying and thinking that maybe God hadn’t answered her prayers, she said that something had happened – twice – and she said, “And you’ll think I’m crazy, but it’s the gospel truth. When I was crying and wondering what I was going to do, all of a sudden, there were 2 knocks. I stopped stone cold and didn’t sleep a wink the rest of the night. It happened one more time in the same way: 2 knocks. That was all, just those 2 times, but Jim knew that I needed him and so God did that.” And that was the end of her story. It’s also the end of mine. Sometimes there’s just nothing else to say. But I think you can see why it was a perfect pre-Christmas day.

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