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Return

To

ERIEAU

 

 

               By Ethel Hiday Wicksey

                                     

A hard copy can be bought at Gospel Text

or phone me at IMAGINATIONink 519 360 9711

 


 

ISBN number 978-0-9809182-4-3

Copyright © Ethel (Hiday) Wicksey


Chatham Ontario

Canada

1st printing, July 2010

2nd printing, August 2010

 

ethel_wicksey@live.ca


http://ethelswritings.yolasite.com

 

 

Introduction

The novel, Return to Erieau, is about dealing with hurts from your past and forgiving yourself and others. It has a mystery woven throughout it.

The characters and names are from my imagination. The Village of Erieau and some of the surrounding stores and places mentioned in the book are real. The story of Mollie is fictionalized truth. Mollie did send Hitler two of her books. She was called to the Canadian Customs office in Erieau to be questioned. The one book of maps from Hitler was used for the war effort. I would like to thank her daughter Mary Remington for telling me her mother’s story.

My first novel, The Scarlet Cord, Rahab’s Story, was self-published, in December 2008. I will continue working on my next novel called, The Biggest Cover Up. It should be ready next year. You can read the information about both books in the back of this book.

I would like to thank My Sister, Barbara Kernohan, who encouraged me also Edith Sattler from Brewster Washington who did the final edit.

I would also like to thank Patricia Weaver Blonde from IMAGINATIONink Chatham, who edited the first draft of the book for me. Jane and Sandra Hiday, my two daughters spent hours reading the book with me. They found several mistakes and gave me good suggestions. They brought me meals and mugs of hot chocolate, so that I would not starve while I sat in front of my computer.

I would also like to thank Dave at the Instant Print Shoppe, Chatham, Ontario, for printing the book for me.

August 8, 2010

Thank You

Ethel


               This book is dedicated to my Daughters

               Jane and Sandra Hiday

               and

               My Mother, Winnie Tulloch

 

The ‘Bible of Mortier’, is a rare first edition Dutch Family Bible, printed in 1700. It is unusual, because it is made up of two individually bound books.

All the devotions in the book Return to Erieau are written by me, Ethel Hiday Wicksey and are from a collection of my writings.

I personally paraphrased most of the scriptures in the book. I took them from the American King James Bible and The American Standard Bible.

All scriptures used by permission from American King James and American Standard.

“I am hereby putting the American King James version of the Bible into the public domain on November 8, 1999.

Michael Peter (Stone) Engelbrite American Standard Version which is in the public domain and can be quoted and used without restriction.”


 

 

Prologue

Saturday, July 20, 1992

Stella’s Gift

Oliver and his brother-in-law Randal continued working under the shade of a sycamore tree while they assembled a special gift for Oliver’s wife, Stella.

Randal asks, “Do I put this part here, Oliver?”

“Yes,” he says, as he continues working. Oliver reaches into the box and finds it empty. “I am out of nuts and bolts.”

“I’ll get some more for you.” Randal goes over to his truck and returns with a box.

“I can’t believe it has been seven years since Stella’s father walked her down the aisle of our church, Oliver. I stood beside you as your best man when ‘Stella Songsworth’ said ‘Yes’ and became ‘Stella Peabody’.”

“The years have gone by quickly,” Oliver says, as he picks up a panel of wood. He grabs another bolt and smiles as he watches Randal work, “I have always loved the way ‘Stella Songsworth’ sounds. My name, ‘Peabody’ is not sweet or musical like ‘Songsworth’.”

“I had the same feeling when I met Stella’s older sister, ‘Marvel Songsworth’. She had to change her name to, ‘Marvel Wilbur’ when we married.”

The two friends laugh quietly as they continue to put Stella’s gift together.

Oliver remarks, “It is such a beautiful summer day, Randal. I love living by Lake Erie.”

“It is a lovely place to live. I enjoy coming to your place by the lake.” Randal stops what he is doing and notices what is happening around him. The leaves of the trees filter the hot sun’s rays. A gentle, cooling breeze blows from the lake. Puffy white clouds float in the clear blue sky. A woodpecker pecks at a nearby tree looking for grubs. A small bird chases a gray squirrel with a red bushy tail across the lawn. A family is trying to fly a kite on the sandy beach. “Yes, you are blessed to live in Erieau near the beach, Oliver.”

“Randal, I am getting hungry, what about you? Stella made us some sandwiches, and I think there is a special dessert.”

“I am always hungry Oliver.” The men go into the house and clean up, then fill their plates with food. Oliver carries the coffeepot out to the patio. They sit in some comfortable lawn chairs while they eat lunch.

Randal asks, “When did you know that Stella was the woman you wanted to spend the rest of your life with, Oliver?”

“It was in the autumn of 1983. I remember the day, as if it were yesterday. I had finished setting out the supplies I needed to teach the night school class, and returned to my desk to read the names of the students. My eyes stopped when it saw, ‘Stella Songsworth’. I recall thinking, ‘The name has such a musical note to it’.” Oliver laughs at his own pun.

“I wondered what she would be like. My question was soon answered when I heard a sweet voice ask me if this was where the antique wood refinishing class would be.

“I told her yes and caught my breath as I looked into the eyes of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was dressed in blue jeans and wore an old faded red work shirt, with her sleeves rolled up. Her long brown hair was pulled back loosely at the nape of her neck. I noticed a dimple on her left cheek when she smiled. My heart skipped a beat.”

Oliver takes a sip of coffee. “I told her that my name was Oliver Peabody. She smiled and said she was Stella Songsworth. I showed Stella where the back door was and told her I would wait and help her unload her antique.”

Stella pulled up in this old battered green station wagon. A Queen Ann winged vanity, that looked like it had been neglected for years, was in the back of it.

“I asked her, where she bought the vanity?

“She told me, that she had bought it at a farm auction.”

Oliver has a big smile on his face as he continues to reminisce about his past. He says, “The room began to fill with other students. I had to return to my desk, so that I could start the evening session.”

Randal takes a sip of his coffee, then tells Oliver, “Stella came home all excited that night, and it wasn’t about her winged vanity.”

“I know what you mean; I couldn’t get her name out of my mind, ‘Stella Songsworth’. I made sure I arrived at school early on Thursday.”

“Stella came early also. She offered to help me set up for the class. We talked about how exciting it was looking for treasures at farm auctions and the interesting antiques and collectibles that we had discovered.”

The men eat their sandwiches and relax. Oliver continues to share his memories. “A few weeks later, I asked Stella, if she wanted to come with me and look for treasures at a farm auction.” Oliver chuckles, “Stella didn’t know at that time that she was my treasure, and I had already found her.”

Randal smiles as he says. “I think she did. Your feelings must have been mutual. All Stella talked about was Oliver, her night school instructor. She would have an early supper on Tuesday and Thursday night because she didn’t want to be late for her antique wood refinishing class.”

Oliver refills his empty coffee mug and bites into a butter tart… “I remember the day I met you, Randal. Your wife Marvel invited me to come for lunch after church. You gave me a tour of your farm. We returned to the house, and Stella played the piano for us whilst we sang.”

Randal tells Oliver, “I always looked forward to spending Sunday afternoons with my family and friends. We had a good time. There is something special about it.”

“I have the same feeling, Randal. God answered my prayers when He sent me Stella and your family. Shortly after Stella and I met, I knew she was the woman I wanted to marry.”

Randal smiles while he thinks about a special day in his past. “I had the same feelings the day I met Stella’s sister, Marvel.”

Oliver continues, “It took a lot of time, but I finally worked up enough courage to phone Stella’s father in England. I know my palms were sweaty as I held the phone before asking him if I could marry his daughter, Stella.”

“I remember that day? I don’t know what you would have done if Stella’s father had said no. Your face turned pale after he told you over the phone that he wouldn’t say ‘yes’ before he talked with me. He wanted my opinion of you first. You were nervous when I picked up the phone.”

Oliver smiles, “I was worried. I left the room and started to panic. What if her father said, no, I wondered what my life would be like without Stella. I paced the floor for ten minutes while I waited for his answer.”

“I heard you outside my office. Stella’s father told me with concern in his voice that he only wanted what was best for his daughter, Stella.”

“I heard laughter coming from your office. The door slowly opened and you had a smile on your face. You told me that Stella’s Father said, ‘yes’, and then you gave me a big bear hug. You were as excited as I was when you said, ‘welcome to our family Oliver’.”

“You didn’t know this at the time, but I told Stella’s Father that you were the best. I always liked you, and I have been fortunate to have you as a brother-in-law.”

“Thank you, Randal. I feel the same way about you.”

The two friends continue to eat their lunch as they think about how blessed they are.

“I remember how I used to rush over to see Stella after work every night. I also enjoyed helping you with your chores. I ended up eating most of my meals at your house, Randal.”

“You’re right about eating most of your meals at my house. You did pack the food away.” Randal is laughing when he says, “Our food bill was cut in half the day after you married Stella.”

Oliver teases, “I didn’t realize that you were happy that Stella and I were getting married because you wanted to save money on your food bill. Your wife, Marvel, and her sister Stella are fantastic cooks.”

Pointing to his stomach, Randal says, “I know, and I have the belly to prove it.” They both laugh together at their memories.

“It was a special day when you became my brother-in-law. I never had a brother, and if I had, I would want him to be just like you. I have always respected you, Oliver.”

“Thank you, Randal. We both have the best wives. They are so thoughtful and caring.”

“I know. They are like the wives described in Proverbs. Let me see, how does that verse go? “Who can find a wife with a strong character? She is worth far more than jewels.’”

“That describes our wives.” Looking at his watch, Oliver says, “We need to get back to work, or Stella will be home before we are finished.”

The men return to the pile of wood. Randal holds two sections together while Oliver puts a bolt through the holes.

They both laugh as they share more stories. They pick up another piece of wood. The sun gets hotter. The men continue to put the bolts through the drilled holes and add a washer before tightening the nut down with a wrench.

They finish tightening the last few nuts and make sure that all the joints are working right.

“We are finished Oliver.”

“Thanks for helping me, Randal. It would have been harder to keep Stella’s gift a secret without you.”

“I enjoyed every minute of it. I will help put your tools away before I go home.” He picks up the toolbox and heads for the workshop. Oliver follows behind him with the rest of the tools.

When Randal enters the woodworking shop, he puts the toolbox on a workbench and looks around at the well-organized shelves. Several unfinished projects sit on a sawhorse in the middle of the floor. “What are you working on now, Oliver?”

“I have just finished a deluxe oak computer workstation with two drawers. Follow me and I will show it to you.”

Oliver takes him outside to the paint room. “Please remove your shoes so you will not track in any dirt. I built this well ventilated building for when we paint or stain. There is no dust or sawdust floating in the air. I have a good filtration system to remove it. When I am finished with my piece, the finish is extra smooth. It has made a big difference in the quality of my work.”

Randal rubs his hand over the wood finish. “You’re right; the surface is as smooth as glass.” Looking around the room, he sees several other projects ready to be painted.

Oliver glances at his workroom and smiles. “Randal, I love being a woodworker and making custom-built cabinets, tables, and bookcases out of real wood. Artificial wood can never replace the luster you get when you polish a piece of furniture made with real oak, cherry, pine, or maple.”

“You are skilled at what you do, Oliver.”

“Thank you. Stella has been a real help. I make most of the furniture by hand. Stella cleans, repairs, and refinishes the antiques. Thanks for encouraging us to open the woodworking shop, Randal. We have found it convenient to live in the attached house.”

“It was Marvel’s idea. I should get home. You know how wives are. She wants me to cut the grass before I take her to the concert at the Cherryfest tonight.”

“Say hi to her for me.”

“I will. Hope to see you at church tomorrow.”

I’ll be there. The two friends say goodbye. Randal pulls his truck out of the driveway and heads back to Blenheim.

Oliver returns to the patio. He reaches out and runs his hand over the gift Randal had helped him put together for his wife. “I know Stella will love it.”

He sits on Stella’s gift. He has a big smile on his face as he says, “Seven years ago today Stella Songsworth became Stella Peabody, my wife. I am truly blessed.”

He is drowsy and starts to dose off. The alarm on his watch startles him. “I had better hurry. Stella promised me that she would be home by 2:30, and it is already 2:00.”


 

Surprise

Oliver has a quick shower. He puts on his white shorts along with a blue polo top, and then looks into the mirror at his muscular body. He whistles as he combs his light brown hair. He walks down the hall to his living room thinking to himself, “I wonder what Stella’s reaction will be when she sees her gift?”

He sits in his recliner and eagerly watches for the return of his wife. Stella would soon be home from the Cherryfest in Blenheim. She had been at the church booth helping her sister Marvel sell cherry pies.

Stella is always punctual and will be pulling into the driveway at any moment. At 2:25, Stella gets out of her van and runs through her front entranceway into the arms of her husband.

“Happy Anniversary, Stella,” Oliver says as he gathers his wife into his arms. He smiles as he says, “Sweetheart, you are even more beautiful than the day I met you.”

“Thank you Oliver. You are so kind and loving. I prayed for God to help me find a godly husband, and he brought us together. God has truly blessed me.”

Oliver holds Stella in his arms on the couch as he whispers words of endearment.

A short time later, Stella gets up from being held in her husband arms and walks into the kitchen. While pouring them both a cold drink, she says, “I almost forgot, Oliver. The cooler that Marvel told me to give you is still in the back of the van.” She made me promise not to look inside.

“I hope you didn’t sneak a peek,” Oliver teases. “I will look after the cooler,” He has a mischievous grin as he says. “Why don’t you change into something more comfortable? I can’t wait to show you the surprise Randal and I built for you?”

“That’s a good idea, I will.” Stella says. She walks to the bedroom. Surprise, I wonder what it is. Could it be a fa…no… it is too big, where would they have hidden it?

After a refreshing shower, Stella dresses in her new pink shorts with a matching flowered top then slips her feet into some comfortable, white sandals. When she is finished brushing her light brown hair, she glances down at her body. “I am so happy! God is good. Oliver will be surprised at the anniversary gift I have for him?” She picks up a tissue and wipes away a few tears.

When Stella returns to the living room, she sees Oliver standing by the back door. His eyes are sparkling. The big grin on Oliver’s face is the same kind that Marvel and I had after we got away with stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. “What are you up to now, Oliver?” She is excited… she laughs, Wait until I tell Oliver my secret.

Oliver’s heart skips a beat as he sees the love in his wife’s eyes. Her laughter reveals a dimple on her left cheek. “I will show you, but first I need to blindfold you. Do you trust me?”

“Yes, you know I will always trust you, Oliver.”

Removing a big, blue cowboy scarf from his back pocket, he walks over to his wife and covers her eyes with it. “Do not peek.”

He gently holds her hand as he guides her through the back doorway. “Watch your step on the walkway.”

“How can I watch my step, Oliver,” she laughs. “I am blindfolded.”

“Sorry, poor choice of words.”

Stella feels the familiar texture of tiny pebbles under her feet as she walks on the path behind the house. She has no fear. She trusts her husband.

“Be careful, Stella,” He leads her over to the patio.

“Step up, and then sit down on the seat. I will help steady you.”

Stella sits down on what feels like a wobbly bench. Her husband counts, “One, two, three,” then removes the blindfold from her eyes.

Stella’s mouth opens wide.

Oliver stands back and watches his wife’s reaction. He is enjoying every trace of emotion. Yes, it was worth all the hours of work just to see the joy on Stella’s face.

She is speechless… I am sitting on my very own, face-to-face glider swing. Oliver has built it for me…Stella gets up and runs over to Oliver with tears of joy running down her face. “Wow, Oliver. The swing is beautiful.”

Oliver takes the blue cowboy scarf out of his pocket. He wipes Stella’s tears away as he holds her in his arms.

“Oh, Oliver, I have always dreamt of having a face-to-face glider swing. Now we have our own special place, where we can sit and relax in the evenings.”

“Come with me, Stella, let’s try it!”

After they are seated, Oliver starts to move the glider swing back and forth.

“This is a wonderful surprise, Oliver. You have done a beautiful job. How did you keep it a secret? I am in and out of our workshop all the time.”

“It was hard, Stella. After I cut and sanded the individual pieces of wood, (if you look at your swing you will see how many pieces there are), I hid them in a plastic container under the workbench. That is why I put the bells on the doors. I was afraid that you would walk in while I was working. That would have spoiled your surprise.

“When all the pieces were finished, I took the containers over to Randal’s, and we put some of the sections of the swing together in his workshop. Randal helped me move everything to our backyard so we could assemble your special swing.”

Stella relaxes. She leans her head on her husband’s shoulder, while they swing together. God, you have given me the kindest and most loving husband.

The afternoon goes by slowly, as they sit and watch the large white fishing boats return to the marina. Several sailboats gently glide across the water. The motorboats make huge waves, as colorful, jet boats weave back and forth behind them bouncing in their wake.

The birds sing a melody in the trees as the gray squirrel with the red bushy tail chases a black squirrel through the branches above them. A hummingbird hovers in the air as it drinks the nectar from a flower. The children laugh as they jump into the waves made by the speeding boats.

Stella sits in wonder; someday our children will run and play on the beach. I have all I need: a loving husband, a beautiful home, and now… “This is the best gift, Oliver. I have an anniversary surprise for you.” Stella leans over and whispers her secret into Oliver’s ear. “I went to the doctor yesterday, and I am going to have a baby in December.”

Oliver jumps to his feet, looses his footing, and falls backwards onto the swinging bench with a large thump.

“A baby, you are going to have a baby… We are going to have a baby…” He is so excited. If Stella had not restrained him, he would have gotten up and ran down to the beach and shouted Stella is going to have a baby. He takes Stella into his arms and holds her tight, for what seemed like forever. They sit together discussing possible names for their first child.

“The shadows are getting longer, Oliver. What time is it?”

“It is 5:00.”

“I can’t believe that it is dinner time already, Oliver. Where has the afternoon gone?”

Oliver stops the swing. “You can continue swinging while I bring out our special supper.”

“Do you need my help?”

“No, Stella, it is all ready for us to eat.”

Oliver whistles as he walks into the kitchen. He returns with the cooler filled with the food that Stella’s sister Marvel had prepared. He sets it on a small patio table and shows Stella how the brake on the glider swing works. “We can sit and eat our lunch without the swing moving. I cut holes to make glass holders in each arm, so we would have a place to put our drinks. I have made a little removable table.”

Oliver finishes setting up the table, and then he spreads it with a miniature red and blue flowered tablecloth.

“What a beautiful tablecloth, Oliver. It is just the right size for the table. Who made it?”

“You will have to thank your mother when you phone her. I told her about the swing and the little table. She asked me for the measurements. She sent two tablecloths from England for your birthday. The package arrived last week.”

Oliver fills two large glasses with fresh squeezed lemonade and puts them into the glass holders. He reaches into the cooler and removes two plates of food. “I asked Marvel to make us a romantic supper.”

Stella smiles as Oliver says the prayer and not only thanks God for the food but for Stella his beautiful wife and for the baby they will be having.

They sit quietly as they eat the picnic of homemade dinner rolls, sliced fresh ham, lettuce salad, deviled eggs, and beet salad along with an assortment of pickles.

After they are finished eating, Oliver takes the dirty dishes away. He opens the cooler and removes two slices of homemade cherry pie topped with fresh, whipped cream.

“Thank you Oliver.” When her dessert plate is empty, Stella puts down her fork and says, “This has been a picnic fit for a princess.”

“Yes, it has Stella, and you are my princess. Remember the day you kissed me and turned me, a lonely frog, into your prince.”

“How can I forget? Ribbet… ribbet…ribbet…” They both laugh at their private joke.

Stella helps Oliver take the empty food containers back to the kitchen.

Oliver phones his parents in Windsor and tells them the good news, “Stella will be having a baby in December.”

They are overwhelmed with joy. This will be their first grandchild.

Oliver puts his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone and talks to Stella, “Mom and Dad are so excited. They want us to go to church with them in Windsor tomorrow, so we can celebrate.”

“I have no other plans, Oliver. Tell them we will come.”

After saying goodbye to his mother, Oliver asks, “Did you tell your parents yet, Stella?”

“No, I wanted to tell you first. I will phone them now. Let me see, it is 7:00 and with a five-hour time change it will be 12:00. I think I will wait until tomorrow. Dad will be sleeping by now. I should phone my sister and let her know we won’t be at church tomorrow.”

Oliver goes over to the game cupboard and removes a box of dominoes. When Stella is through talking to her sister, he asks, “Do you want a game of dominoes, Stella?”

“Yes, I look forward to beating you again. I will get us a couple of cold drinks.”

They go out to the patio. “It is a long time, since we relaxed and played a game, Oliver.”

“I know, Stella. Our lives have become hectic lately. I plan on spending more evenings out here sitting on the swing with you. The table I built has a ledge around it, to keep the game pieces from falling to the ground. It is just the right size to play board games on.”

Stella relaxes as she sits across the table from Oliver. They laugh and talk as they move the dominoes onto the board. After six games Stella says, “I win.”

Stan shakes his head. “Three wins for you and three wins for me. I challenge you to a tie-breaking game.”

The game is close. Oliver places his last piece on the board and chuckles, “You lose, so you have to put the game away.”

After Oliver puts the game away, he holds Stella close to his heart. “Life is good.” A meteor shower lights up the evening sky. They sit and watch as several falling stars shoot across in front of them.

Oliver swats at several annoying mosquitoes. “I do believe that the mosquitoes in Erieau are getting bigger. I will build you a protective sunroom around the swing next month, so we won’t be eaten by mosquitoes anymore.”


 

 

No, Not Oliver

Oliver has a hard time getting to sleep that night… Oliver Peabody, you are going to be a father… He has visions of his child catching their first fish… He holds his wife tenderly in his arms as thoughts race through his mind. Will the baby growing within Stella have brown hair? Will I be a good father? Will my child listen as I talk about the love I have for Jesus…?

He gently places his hand on his wife. “God, you are so good. Stella and I have prayed for years for a child.” He continues to toss and turn as he tries to fall asleep. A baby, I am going to be a father, Stella is going to be a mother…Finally Oliver falls into a restful sleep.

The Erieau emergency fire alarm rings at 2:00 in the morning. Oliver jumps out of bed and reaches for the phone. After he hangs up, he tells his wife, “Someone has seen smoke coming from a cottage down the road.”

He pulls Stella into his arms for a quick hug and feels her body tremble. It always does when there is a fire call. “I will be home as soon as I can. I love you.” He talks to his unborn child. “Take care of your mother for me. I love you,” and then he runs out of the house.

Stella stands in the doorway as Oliver a member of the volunteer fire department runs down the road to the fire hall. Within minutes, she hears the sirens and sees the flashing red lights. The siren stops just down the street.

Her eyes begin to tear as she gets a whiff of smoke. Soon the smoke is so thick that she has to close her door. Please, God, keep Oliver and the other firefighters safe. Be with the family and help them all get out of the house unharmed.

There is no use going back to bed. Stella is not able to relax when Oliver is at a fire. She picks up a comforter and wraps herself in it. Time goes by slowly. She sits in her favorite chair in front of the window anxiously waiting for Oliver to return.

A car pulls into the driveway. There is a knock at the door. Stella looks at the clock on the mantel. It is 4:00 in the morning. She has a bad feeling come over her. Is it the knock at the door that every firefighter’s wife dreads? Is Oliver hurt or even worse? Stella’s hand shakes, as she opens the door.

Ben, the Erieau Fire Chief asks, “Can we come in, Stella?”

Randal, Marvel, and Isabel are standing behind Ben.

Oh no, not Oliver! Not my husband!

Ben reaches out his hand to steady Stella, “We are so sorry. There was an accident and Oliver died in the fire.”

The room starts to spin. Stella is about to collapse to the floor when Ben takes her trembling body in his arms and carries her to the couch. She has fainted.

Isabel runs to the kitchen and returns with a cool wet towel and a glass of water.

Marvel reaches for the wet towel and tenderly wipes her sister’s brow. “I love you, Stella.”

Isabel goes to the kitchen and makes a jug of iced tea. What is Stella going to do without Oliver? They have been soul mates. Now Stella is a widow! She told me this morning that she was going to have a baby in December. Her tears continue to flow as she carries a tray of iced tea back to the living room.

Isabel sets the tray on the coffee table. Her hands are shaking when she offers Ben a glass.

“Thanks Isabel.” Ben’s mouth is dry. Sweat, ashes, and tears mingle on his cheeks. His neighbour and best friend, Oliver Peabody, is dead. He takes a gulp of the cold iced tea. He needs time to pull his thoughts together.

Stella’s heart beats out of control as she tries to sit up. Marvel picks up the glass of water and holds it for Stella.

Ben looks over and sees that Stella is sitting up. She is looking at him. He has to glance away. His heart is heavy. He looks at Stella once more as he speaks, “By the time we arrived at the large family cottage, flames were coming out of the front windows and through a hole in the roof. A neighbour’s swift actions saved the family. Without his waking them up, they would have perished in the burning cottage.”

Ben continues, and with a lump in his throat says, “We saw a young boy run back into the fire calling for his dog. Oliver and I ran into the house to rescue him. A burning rafter fell from the ceiling, pinning Oliver to the floor. I pulled the badly burned boy to safety. Before we could return to rescue Oliver, the ceiling collapsed and the room burst into flame.”

Randal puts his arm around Ben’s shoulder to support him. Ben takes another swallow of the tea to clear his throat. Isabel hands him a wet cloth to wipe his face of the sweat and tears. “I will be able to give you more information later. They need me back at the fire scene to help the men secure the area. The coroner is on his way, and the fire marshal will start his investigation when he arrives.” With tears running down his face, Ben comes over and gives Stella a hug. “I am sorry, Stella. Your husband Oliver was my best friend.”

Randal walks with Ben to the door. “I am here if you need me.” They go outside and Randal prays with Ben asking God to give them strength in the days ahead.

It is the start of a long day, the longest day of Stella’s life. Oliver, her beloved husband, is dead.

Marvel and her husband Randal go into Stella’s kitchen. They have to start the heartbreaking job of phoning Oliver’s mother and father. “Is this Allan Peabody? This is Stella’s sister Marvel. I am sorry about phoning you so early. There was an accident while Oliver was fighting a fire. Your son is dead.”

Allan says, “No, not Oliver. It can’t be! We just talked to him a few hours ago. How is Stella? How is her baby? We will be there as soon as we can.”

“I will prepare Stella’s guest room for you.”

Randal holds Marvel as she weeps. It will take time to let the overwhelming sorrow sink in. She dries her tears and says, “It will be even harder to phone Mom and Dad in England.” He puts his supporting arm around her as she dials her parent’s number. Her father answers the phone.

“It is Marvel, I have some bad news. Oliver was killed in a fire a few hours ago.” She fills him in on some of the details.

Her father pauses and talks to his wife… “Your mother and I will catch the first flight to Toronto. I will rent a car.”

“You know where the key is hidden. I love you Dad.”

Stella’s friends, Kim and Brenda, arrive. They weep together over the loss of a special man, a husband, and a friend.

 

 

 

Amelia Jean Wilber

Tuesday July 8, 2008

 

The Family Bible

Amelia, Stella’s niece holds a burgundy silk glass rose in her hand. She removes the rose bud from the center and takes a deep breath, smelling the potpourri that fills the center of the glass.

She runs her finger tenderly over the back of the little sparrow sitting on a rock at the bottom of the wine glass. She puts the rose back on the table and picks up the accompanying card.

Before she starts to read the card, she remembers the words her friend Pearl told her the day of her Aunt Stella’s funeral. ‘My friend from my Wednesday morning Bible study made this rose and wrote this poem for you’.

Amelia’s tears fall on the card as she reads the familiar words.

 

Jesus Shed a Tear

Dear Amelia,

Jesus shed a tear and felt your pain when your Aunt Stella died. He was there, to take her up in His arms. As He held her near His heart, He healed her.

Jesus looked down to earth and saw your pain. He bathed your Aunt in His tears. He dried the tears from off her head with His royal robes. He picked up a robe, more beautiful than you can ever imagine and clothed your Aunt Stella in it. Right now, Stella is up in heaven. Jesus is praying for you and your loved ones as you grieve the loss of your special friend.

My prayer is that when you see the little sparrow on the silk glass rose, it will remind you that not even a sparrow can fall to the earth without God’s knowledge. He knew how many hairs were on the head of your Aunt Stella before she died. Just like when a little sparrow falls from heaven, God is aware of the death of your precious Aunt.

I pray that Your Heavenly Father will comfort you and your family in your time of grief.

The night my grandson died, God gave me a vision of Jesus handing this little baby to his Grandfather up in heaven. What a beautiful picture!

Elaine

Amelia wipes a few tears from her eyes then places the writing beside the rose. She looks around her new room. It is hard to believe that Aunt Stella has been dead for three months.

The last time I went to a funeral with Stella, she stated,

‘What’s so wrong with dying?’

One foot is still with earthly affliction, while the other foot is stepping into everlasting glory with God and Jesus.

Amelia sits in her comfortable chair in her bedroom. Freddy the Freeloader, her newly inherited cat, snuggles up beside her. His familiar purr calms her broken heart. “I know you pine for Stella, Fred.”

Amelia shares her emotions with Fred: it was as if he could understand her. “I have not been as steadfast as Stella was with my Bible reading, but I am working on it. Amelia picks up her dog-eared Bible. When she is through reading, she looks at the scriptures that she has highlighted, then opens her journal and writes them in her own words.

Matthew 6:25-26. Therefore, I say to you, be not anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink Amelia; or for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, or gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they?

She opens her journal and writes, Tuesday July 8, 2008.

This is an important prayer, so I will write it out.

Dear, Heavenly Father,

Thank You for being with me these past few months as I made difficult decisions. I want to continue to follow you today and use wisdom with all the choices I make.

I have hassled over whether to sell Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom and return to my job at the newspaper, or give my notice and return to Erieau. I have prayed about it and have decided that I will keep Stella’s open and run it.

I will start working at the High School in September. Help me to understand what it is you want me to do as I read the Bible. Help me use the gifts you have blessed me with to bless others…

The doorbell interrupts Amelia’s prayer. She looks at the clock and cannot believe her eyes. It is 10:00, already.

Her friend Hanna, from Blenheim, is standing at the door. “Come in, Hanna. What brings you to Erieau?”

“I decided to go for a drive this morning. I promised you when I was talking with you after church on Sunday, that I would come to visit you this week, so here I am. It is good to see you.”

“Thanks for coming, Hanna. I thought about you yesterday and meant to phone you. Come in and see what I was talking about at church on Sunday.”

Hanna walks into Amelia’s house and looks around at the changes. She says, “I love what you have done to your living room. It has such a warm and inviting feel. You sure have an artistic eye. I like the way all the different styles of furniture blend with each other. It must have been a lot of work.”

“It was a labor of love, Hanna. My family came and helped me move all my belongings next door to the antique store. I lived over there for three weeks while we remodeled. Mom and my Aunt Isabel came to help me paint the walls and sew the drapes. My uncle and father put in the new carpets. Come in and see all the other renovations we made.”

They walk down the hall.

“Is this a new bathroom, Amelia?”

“Yes, Stella didn’t have a shower, so I asked my father and brothers to put in the shower and while they were at it. They gutted out the old bathroom and modernized it for me.”

The two friends walk through the rooms discussing the many changes.

Hanna enters the bedroom, “What is the colour of the paint you used for the walls, Amelia? It is so relaxing.”

“It is called raindrop. It is light and refreshing with a tinge of blue. My Aunt Isabel made the soft floral bedspread and matching drapes.”

Hanna walks over and examines the antique, double wedding ring quilt that is hanging over a quilt rack. “This Quilt is beautiful, Amelia. Every stitch is hand sewn. Do you know who made it?”

“Yes, the quilt was made by my great grandmother in England. Her mother gave it to Stella for a wedding gift. Stella had it restored by a lady in Forest Ontario who restores antique quilts.”

Pointing at a picture on the wall above the bed Hanna asks, “Did you paint this, Amelia?”

“Yes, I painted the oil painting of the swan family for Stella. I took the picture a few years ago at McGeachy Pond. Stella always liked the photograph, so I painted it on canvas to surprise her.”

Hanna sees a large Bible on the small oval table. “Where did you get the old family Bible from, Amelia?”

“It belonged to my Aunt Stella.”

“Can you tell me about its history?”

“Yes, I remember Stella telling me it is a rare copy of a 1700, first edition ‘Bible of Mortier’. She told me she bought the unusual, two-book Dutch Family Bible at an auction the year after her husband’s death.”

“Do you mind if I take a look at it?”

Amelia opens a drawer in her dresser and takes out some gloves.

“I would like to show it to you, Hanna, but first put these white gloves on to protect the Bible.”

“When I was a young girl Stella would let me turn to a new picture every morning. I had to be careful because the delicate parchment was fragile.

“If I listen carefully, I can almost hear Stella whisper, ‘Always be cautious, Amelia. Put on your white gloves before you touch an antique book. The oils on your fingertips will ruin the paper, and never ever drink or eat food near this Bible’. Come closer so you can see the drawings and paintings in the Bible, Hanna.”

Amelia opens the Bible and shows Hanna the black and white painting of a serpent poking his head out of a tree full of fruit. He is talking with a woman whose long hair hides her nakedness. I have examined the pictures in this Bible so often that I think I have memorized every brush stroke.”

“Look at the picture, Amelia. It has so much detail.”

“I know, Hanna. The painting tells a complete Bible story. Stella would tell me the story about the pictures from the Bible in her own words. She spent hours answering all the questions I asked about the people in the paintings.”

“The words under each picture are printed in Dutch and French, Amelia. The Bible is written in Dutch.”

“I know, Stella told me, ‘I cannot read the words from these Bibles to you, Amelia, but the beautiful pictures are worth the price I paid for them’.”

Amelia closes the cover of the first Bible, moves it across the table, and reaches for the second book. She holds it in her hands, running her fingertips lovingly over the fine workmanship of the leather binding. She gently flips through the pages.

“My love of art started as a little girl because of the drawings in these Bibles, Hanna.”

Amelia keeps flipping the pages and finds what she is looking for. “This is my favorite picture. Jesus is holding a little girl along with several other children in his arms. I used to close my eyes and imagine that I was the little girl in the picture. Sometimes I could almost feel the arms of Jesus holding me.”

“Just the thought of Jesus holding me gives me goose bumps, Amelia.”

“Try it Hanna, study the picture for a while, and remember back to when you were a little girl. Now close your eyes.”

The friends shut their eyes. Their hearts are filled and they can almost hear the whisper of Jesus lovingly telling them, ‘I love you, Amelia’. ‘I love you, Hanna’.

Amelia gets up and returns with a box of tissues, and they wipe away their tears. Hanna holds Amelia in her arms as they share about their love of Jesus.

“I want to find the family who owned this Bible before my aunt bought it, Hanna.”

Amelia reaches over, picks up the first Bible again, and turns to the page with the family records of births, deaths, and marriages. She says, “These envelopes are filled with important documents.”

“How will you find the owner?”

“I will take the family Bible with me the next time I visit my friend Emily. Fortunately, her parents are from Holland and can read Dutch. I have been praying and asking God to help me.”

“Let me know if you find the owner of the family Bible, Amelia. I love a good mystery.”

“I will, Hanna.”

Hanna gets up from the chair and stands near the headboard of the bed. “Amelia, what kind of bed is this? I like it.”

Amelia comes over and rubs her hand tenderly across the familiar bed frame. “It is an American Mahogany Chippendale bed. My aunt knew I loved Chippendale furniture.”

“It is beautiful, Amelia. I love the smooth feel of the wood.”

“I remember the day I bought it. One day, ‘out of the blue’, I received a call from Stella. She told me, ‘I am at an auction and have found an American Mahogany Chippendale bed set. It has no physical damage. It will need a lot of work because it is covered with several layers of wax and grime. The owner told me that it had been stored in a dusty attic for years. Do you want me to buy it for you?’ I told Stella, “Buy it.”

Hanna says, “You have done a fantastic job restoring it back to the way it must have looked, before it became neglected in the attic.” Hanna rubs her hand across the smooth finish. “I have an old end table at home that is in bad shape. What did you do to make your bedroom set look like new?”

“I started with Murphy Soap and carefully washed each piece, to remove the years of grime; then I took some Orange Oil along with fine steel wool and rubbed all the surfaces until the layers of surplus wax were removed. I buffed each piece by hand with Orange Oil until it was just like new. It took me most of the summer and a lot of hard work to restore it.

“Hanna, I plan to teach a class on antique wood furniture repair in the fall. If I do, you can bring your piece to the store, and I will show you how to refinish it.”

“I would like that. Let me know when you start your class.”

“Come over and see what I did to my office.” They enter the Antique Store and climb the stairs.

“Stella always kept her paperwork piled on a table in a dark corner office with no windows. She would never buy a computer to help her. I like to have natural light and a well-organized place to work.” Amelia opens the door to her new office.

“I like your office, Amelia. It has a lovely view of the lake.”

“I chose this corner room because of the two large picture windows and sky light. It will give me all the light I need when I paint.”

They sit and look out the windows at the spectacular sights around them.

“I remember the day you turned twelve, Amelia. It was a bright Sunday afternoon in June. Let me see…we were born in 1982. I can’t believe it was 14 years ago. Time has gone by so fast. Your mother and Aunt Stella had a surprise birthday party for you after church. We hid in the storage room over there and when you walked up the stairs, we ran out shouting, ‘Surprise, Happy Birthday, Amelia’!”

Reaching into her purse, Hanna pulls out some pictures. “I found these old photos in a box the other day. Check it out. I took a picture of you as you were coming up the stairs for your party. Look at your face!” The two of them laugh. It had been a long time since they laughed together like that.

“It was an exciting day, Hanna. All my girlfriends surprised me. We ate fancy tea sandwiches and sipped mint tea from fine, bone china teacups.”

They continue to look through the rest of the photos.

“Here is a picture of when we all piled into your aunt’s old green station wagon and drove to Toronto for two days.”

“Remember the old broken camera, Amelia. You spent the whole trip, taking pictures out of the back window. The people in the cars behind us would smile and wave as you clicked the shutter.”

Amelia reaches into the box that is beside the desk and pulls out an old battered camera along with a notebook. She hands the camera to her friend, “Is this the camera you are talking about?”

“Yes, I can’t believe you kept it all these years.”

“I did a term paper using this camera. I was taking a summer semester, on newspaper journalism at York University in Toronto.”

“I took the camera with me to an amusement park north of Toronto. I tried several times, without success, to start up a conversation with the people standing beside me while we waited in line for a ride. It was frustrating.”

“I asked someone if they would take my picture. When they finished taking my picture, I asked if they wanted me to take their picture. I only used the fake camera once. After that, I found it was more fun to take real pictures with my digital camera. The people became more talkative and even started to pose for group pictures. The full report is in this notebook.”

Amelia turns to her favorite picture and shows it to her friend. There is a group of people waiting in a long line up smiling at the camera. “I gave them all my business cards with my e-mail address on it. They still send me pictures.”

“That’s an amazing story. I see you received, ‘Excellent’ for your term paper.”

A picture falls out of Hanna’s hand, and Amelia picks it up. Looking at it, she says, “This is from the time we went to the midway while we were in Toronto. Tell me this is not my picture. I didn’t look too well after the roller coaster ride, did I, Hanna?”

“No, you didn’t. I remember how you had to lie down for a while… your face was a bit green, and you told all of us that you would never go on another roller coaster ride as long as you lived.”

“And I haven’t, Hanna. I found the slower rides were a lot more enjoyable.”

“We went on a lot of adventures with Stella. Look at this picture. It is all of us with her on the ferry as we traveled across to Toronto Island.”

“I really do miss her, Hanna.”

“Your friends were all envious of you, Amelia. We all wished that your Aunt Stella was our aunt.”

“I didn’t mind sharing her with all my friends, Hanna.”

“She was a remarkable person, I felt so blessed to have her in my life, Amelia.”

“I will always remember that birthday party. After all my friends left for home, my mother told me, ‘Stella would like you to help her in the antique store, three days a week, during the summer holidays. Would you like to help her’?

“I jumped up and down all excited, threw my arms around both Stella and my mother, and said, yes.”

“You always had a beautiful tan, Amelia. You were in the sun so much in the summer that your hair would turn a golden blond.”

“I know. I spent every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning helping Stella with the dusting and putting items in their rightful place. After lunch, she would encourage me to go swimming on the sandy beach or sailing with my summer sisters. She took me to church on Sunday morning, and I would go home with my family.

“Aunt Stella told me that I was old enough to call her Stella, so I did. I was so blessed. Whenever there was an estate auction in the area, Stella would close her store for the day, and we would head out to bid on what my aunt called, ‘treasures from the past’.”

“I remember going with you once, Amelia”

“As I recall, you bought an old German doll, Hanna”

“I still have her.”

Amelia continues, “One day while I was at an auction with Stella, I started to look through a dirty old box of magazines and discovered several antique cookbooks buried at the bottom. I put the old magazines back on top, wrote number 87 on my auction card, and waited for the box to be put on the auction block. To my surprise, I was able to buy the entire box for 25 cents.

“Stella shook her head at me and asked, ‘What do you want with those old magazines, Amelia’?

“I told her ‘Wait until we get home, and I will show you.’ When I opened the box and removed the magazines, my aunt was excited at my find. The sketches in the oldest book were priceless. It showed illustrations of how a maid should dress for serving breakfast in the morning and what she was to wear when she was serving a formal dinner. It had drawings of how to set your table for breakfast, lunch, high tea, and supper. The book contained a list and drawings of all the equipment you needed to have in a well-stocked kitchen in 1911.”

“I would love to see them sometime, Amelia.”

“They are still at the apartment. Ask about them the next time you come. I find cookbooks are a good way to learn about the history of our parents and grandparents, Hanna. They tell us how the food was prepared before electricity. They didn’t have TV dinners or instant anything when our grandmothers cooked. They had to prepare all their food from scratch.”

“I never thought about how hard life was for our grandparents, Amelia.”

“It was, Hanna. I know your grandmother is still living, so go talk to her about how she put the food on the table when she was first married.”

“I will.

I’ve had several opportunities to bid on ‘treasures from the past’ at farm auctions while traveling across Canada, Hanna.” Pointing to a brooch on her blouse, Amelia says, “This antique cameo dates back to 1840. I bought it at a farm auction near Vancouver, BC.”

“I love it, Amelia. Is it made with real ivory?”

“Yes, I am careful when I buy antique ivory. It is against the law to export ivory today.”

“Your aunt was always kind to me, Amelia. She allowed you to invite me to stay with you in the summer. Can you tell me why she never had any children of her own?”

“Stella told me that she had a miscarriage the month after her husband died. This was going to be their first child.”

“That must have been hard on her.”

“It was. She never got over it. I saw her sitting on her special glider swing several times after I moved in with her. She was holding a pair of baby booties along with her husband Oliver’s blue sweater. She had a tape player sitting beside her, and it would be playing the most beautiful music. Tears would be running down her cheeks. I would walk away and say a quiet prayer for her.”

“That is sad, Amelia. When did Stella open the Antique store and tearoom?”

“Stella opened it the year after her husband Oliver died. Stella told me that she had worked in an antique shop before she met Oliver. She learned how to bake in the cafeteria kitchen while she was going to college. When she married Oliver, she helped him restore and refinish antique furniture.

“Her family came and helped Stella turn Oliver’s woodworking shop into an antique store. They built a loft for her tearoom. My father and uncle installed several shelves to display the antiques and collectibles. I still refinish furniture in the well-ventilated shed out back. The fumes are too dangerous to work without proper ventilation.”

The clock on the mantel chimes the hour. “It is noon already? Hanna, do you have time to stay for lunch?”

“Yes, I have no other plans. Jerome is at a pastor’s conference for a few days. The children are at my parents’ summer home at Rondeau Park.”

“That is good.”

The women return to Amelia’s kitchen and make some sandwiches. Amelia carries them out to the patio while Hanna follows her with two glasses of cold iced tea and a plate of cookies. Amelia puts the lock on the glider swing and sets up the little table with the special tablecloth. The women sit in the swing as they eat their lunch.

When they are through eating, Hanna gets up to leave. “I am sorry, but I have to go. Mom is expecting me. I enjoyed my visit with you, Amelia. By the way, will you be attending the Young Adult scavenger hunt and barbecue on Saturday afternoon?”

“Yes, I am. What about you?”

“I have to be there, remember, it is at my parents’ summer home,” Hanna says with a chuckle. “I hope you will bring some of your famous deviled eggs.”

“I plan to. I am so glad you came to see me, Hanna, Give your family a hug for me.”

“I will.”

After Amelia waves goodbye to Hanna, she returns to her living room feeling alone. Sitting in the overstuffed chair by the window, Freddy the cat snuggles up to her.

She remembers back to when Mr. Bibs, Stella’s lawyer came to see her. He removed some official papers from a manila envelope and read Stella’s last will and testament.

‘…I leave twenty thousand dollars to my nephew, Bernie Charles Wilbur.

‘...I leave twenty thousand dollars to my nephew Curtis Randal Wilbur.

‘…The rest of my estate, including my business, Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom, along with the adjoining house and property, I leave to my niece, Amelia Jean Wilbur… I ask that she take care of my companion and friend, Freddy the cat.’

“Mr. Bibs told me, ‘Amelia, you are the sole beneficiary of Stella’s life insurance. It will take several weeks to finish the paperwork on the contents of Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom. We have hired an antique appraiser through a company that we trust to do the inventory in the antique store.’

“He handed me a large check and told me, ‘I will give you the rest of the money when the estate is settled…'"

I need to get ready; the Appraiser will be here soon. Amelia walks down the hall to her bathroom to freshen up. She looks at her reflection in the mirror and notices that her brown eyes are puffy with dark shadows underneath them. She takes a cold wet cloth and holds it to her eyes, hopeful that it will remove the evidence of fresh tears.

She brushes her short curly brown hair that highlights her oval face, and then applies a light dusting of makeup and some creamy pink lipstick to brighten her spirits. “Not bad, what do you think, Freddy?”

Freddy yawns. “You’re no help.” Amelia cracks a smile revealing the dimple in her left cheek.

The doorbell startles her. She takes one last look in the mirror, pushes a strand of hair off her face, and goes down the hall to open the door.


 

 

The Antique Appraiser

A tall handsome young man, with blue eyes and sandy blond hair stands in front of her. “I am here to see Amelia Jean Wilbur.”

“My name is Amelia.”

“Hello, my name is Stan Vander Woerd.” Removing a card and some identification from his pocket, he hands them to her. “I am with Vander Woerd and Reindert Antiques, out of London. Your lawyer has hired our firm to take an inventory of Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom for her estate.”

“I have been expecting you. I have a desk set up for you next door in my office, Mr. Vander Woerd.”

“Call me Stan. What would you like me to call you?”

“Amelia is okay.”

Stan follows Amelia into her house and through another door into the antique store. He takes a quick glance as he passes by several antique china cabinets filled with an assortment of fine china and collectibles. Vintage quilts hang from the walls giving the store a homey touch. She takes him up to the loft.

Stan stops and looks around the small tearoom with four tables sitting by the windows. “You don’t see many antique stores with tearooms.”

“It was my mother’s idea. My Aunt Stella baked in the cafeteria all through college. My mother suggested that she open a tearoom, so that people could sit and relax over a cup of tea after they finished looking over the antiques in the store.”

“It is a fantastic idea,” Stan says as he follows Amelia into her office.

She points at a small, antique walnut Chippendale Writing Desk. It is sitting in front of a picture window. “You can use this office while you are here, Stan.”

“Thank you. You have a breathtaking view of Lake Erie. Memories come flooding back. He thinks back to when he was a young boy. Chills go up and down his spine. He breaks out in a cold sweat and rubs his arms. Stan struggles not to show the emotions he is feeling and says, “Your office will do nicely for the work I have to do in the next two weeks, Amelia.”

“Stan, why don’t you drive up to the outside steps and bring what you need up to the office, and then join me in the tearoom for a mug of coffee.”

“Thanks. I am thirsty.”

“Good, I will perk some fresh coffee.”

Stan walks out to his truck and returns with his briefcase and several boxes. He covers the desk, with a piece of felt, to prevent his equipment from scratching it. He sets up his laptop, and plugs it into the cable to see if it works. The reception is slow. He places several books on the desk.

Stan wipes a tear from the corner of his eye, as he places a photo of his family and little brother Kirk on the desk. “Dear God, please help me.” Why did I take this assignment? Returning to Erieau is harder than I thought it would be…

Amelia interrupts his thoughts, “Coffee is ready.”

Stan follows her into the tearoom and sits at a table with a view of the lake. “These muffins were made by my mother. I thought you might like a snack.”

“I am a bit hungry.” Stan reaches for the mug of coffee. He stirs some cream and a spoon of sugar into the mug before taking a bite of the muffin. “What kind of muffin are they?”

“They are morning glory muffins. My Aunt Stella found the recipe in the Day Tripper. We make them with shredded sweetened coconut, raisins, grated apple, crushed pineapple, grated carrots, and chopped pecans. We sell quite a few each week.”

Stan has a big grin on his face as he takes another bite. “These are delicious I can see why you sell them. Is your family from around here, Amelia?”

“Yes, they live with my twin brothers on a farm near Blenheim about a thirty minute drive north of here.”

“You grew up on a farm?”

“Yes, my brothers are taking courses in agriculture, at the Ridgetown Campus. They help my father run the farm.”

The mugs are refilled and emptied several times while they learn more about each other. Stan rises to his feet, “I must be off so I can register at the place where I am staying. I will be back later. By the way, do you know of a restaurant in town where they serve good food?”

“Why not join me for supper, Stan? I have a large pot of my Aunt Isabel’s lamb stew in the refrigerator. She never learned how to cook in small quantities, and I am sure there is enough to feed a harvest crew. Please come back for supper and help me eat it.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to impose.”

“Yes, I am sure. I will not be able to eat all the stew before it spoils, and Fred is a fussy eater. He does not like stew.”

“I’ll be back for some of your aunt’s stew, but before I go, I need to know how to find the Sun Rise Bed and Breakfast.”

“It is two blocks away, on the other side of the road overlooking Rondeau Bay. Go to the end of the street and hang a left, then make an immediate right. It is impossible to miss it. Look for the big sign with the sun on it.”

 

Stan drives up the road. Erieau had once been his summer home, and it was just about the same as it was when he left. The boats are still nestled against the docks bobbing up and down with the waves. He looks over at the gravel piles and notices a new, small fenced-in building near the shade trees where he used to fish.

I caught a lot of sheep head, perch, crappie, and bass with my father while fishing under the protection of those shade trees. We spent many a lazy summer afternoon waiting for a fish to bite. I remember when the dogfish took my minnow. I thought I had caught a whale. It took all my strength to land it.

Enough of that, the memories from my past must be locked away at all cost... I have a lot of work ahead of me...

He sees the sign with the large sun in the middle and pulls up in front of the Sunrise Bed and Breakfast, and knocks on the front door.

An older woman with a big smile on her face comes to the door and says, “Welcome, my name is Brenda. You must be Stan. I have been expecting you. We have an upstairs room with a beautiful view for you.”

Stan follows her up two flights of stairs to the attic. “This is an amazing room, Brenda. You must have the best view in the area.” Stan walks over to one of the four picture windows and looks out over Rondeau Bay. This room is terrific.

“Yes, it is an interesting room, Stan. The people who built the house were artists. They added the four dormers so they would have more light and would be able to see in all directions. You can view the sunrise in the morning and the sunset in the evening. If you look out the south window, you will be able to see the sailboats on Lake Erie. Is there anything else I can get for you, Stan?”

“No Brenda, I have everything I need.”

“Good… if you do think of something, just ask. We serve breakfast between seven and nine. For your convenience, your room comes with a coffeepot, a microwave, and a small refrigerator. We have an activity room downstairs where you can visit with the other guests. If you let me know the night before, I can pack you a lunch. I hope you enjoy your stay here in Erieau.”

“I know I will, Brenda.”

“This is a copy of The Day Tripper and a map of Chatham-Kent. I took time to mark some interesting places for you to visit, Stan.”

“I will not be able to do much sightseeing as this is a business trip.”

“That is too bad. Chatham-Kent has a rich heritage with many interesting places to see. If you do find you have some free time, I would recommend you try to visit the RM Classic Car Exhibit north of here. I’ll see you later, Stan.”

After Brenda leaves, Stan unpacks his suitcase and puts it in the closet. He looks around the large room, sits in a comfortable chair by an open window, and lets the refreshing breeze from the lake blow over him. He opens his cell phone and dials his sister.

She answers, “Stan, is that you?”

“Yes, Nettie, I am staying at The Sunrise Bed and Breakfast. I am finding it harder than I thought it would be to return to Erieau.”

“Stan, I am praying that you can find the answers you are searching for.”

“I will keep praying as well. I have to go. The young woman whose estate I am appraising is expecting me for supper.”

With laughter in her voice, his twin says, “Interesting!”

“Stop your matchmaking. She said she has a boyfriend, and his name is Fred.”

“Too bad, you need to settle down and start a family.”

“Remember what I told you earlier, Nettie, God is in control. Give my love to your family for me.”

“I will. Tim and I plan to be in Erieau for the weekend. We are not spying on you, Stan. Uncle Dedrick invited us to go fishing on his boat. You could ask the lady you are working for and her boyfriend if they would like to go fishing with us on Monday. Phone me later and let me know?”

“I don’t even know her yet. I’ll let you know in a few days.”

“I will let you know later in the week. We are staying at Uncle Dedrick’s cottage for the weekend. I think you remember where it is.”

“I can see it from the window where I am staying.”

“Remember, you are welcome to visit us any time.”

“I know. I love you, sis.”

Stan clips the phone back on his belt and looks in the fridge. He is disappointed that the well-stocked refrigerator does not contain any root beer. He grabs a cola and heads downstairs.

 

 

 

Freddy, the Freeloader

Amelia enters her house and sees her cat sulking beside his empty dish. “No wonder you’re upset, Fred.”

After he is finished eating his special cat food, she shoos him out the door. “Sorry, Fred, you are always in my way and a danger to have in the kitchen while I am working. I still have the scar on my leg from when I tripped over you last month and spilled a whole bowl of hot soup. What a mess! Stop sulking, Freddie. I will let you in later.

Amelia fills a pot with lamb stew and puts it on the stove to heat. She sets two place settings on a small antique table in the dining room, then gets a dish of her mother’s blue ribbon icicle pickles along with a plate of fresh vegetables and puts them on the table.

While she waits for Stan, she sits and reads the words from Psalm 119. Thoughts keep going through her mind, so she turns to a fresh page in her small journal and writes,

My soul weeps because of the death of my Aunt Stella. Help me to find strength and comfort as I read from my Bible. I have chosen to be faithful and am trying to follow Your commandments. Help me to show more compassion towards the people I meet each day…

Amelia hears Stan’s truck pull into the driveway. She walks over and opens the door with a newfound peace growing within her.

“Come in, Stan.”

Turning to Amelia with a confused look on his face, Stan asks, “Where is Fred?”

“Fred is out. He will be home later.”

Stan follows her into to the living room, “Can I help you with anything, Amelia?”

“No, I will only be a few minutes. I will call you when lunch is ready.” Amelia takes the book she has in her hand and places it on a stack of books before returning to the kitchen. Several books slip off the pile and fall to the floor with a large thump.

Stan picks up the books. As he places them back on the pile, he notices that one is a Bible. He holds it gently and reverently in his hands. He fans through the well-worn pages noticing that there are many handwritten notes. As he continues to look through the pages, he comes to a bookmark in Psalm 119, his favorite Psalm. He closes the Bible and puts it on top of the other books. Amelia is a Christian.

Amelia comes back into the living room with a plate of homemade bread in her hands. “Supper is ready Stan.”

He follows her to the table.

Amelia asks, “Do you mind if I pray?”

Stan answers, “I always pray before meals, Amelia”

Amelia prays, and then they start to eat.

After the first bite Stan says, “This stew is delicious.”

Amelia agrees with him, “My aunt is a good cook.”

When they are finished eating, Amelia asks, “Do you have room for dessert?”

With a big smile on his face, Stan says, “I always have room for dessert.”

Amelia takes the dirty dishes to the kitchen and returns with two plates of strawberry shortcake topped with vanilla ice cream. She sets one in front of Stan.

“Thanks for the fresh strawberries, Amelia. I couldn’t help but noticing as I picked up your Bible from the floor that your bookmark was in Psalm 119.”

“I was reading Psalm 119 while I waited for you to return. It contains some of my favorite Bible verses.”

“Did you know that Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible? It has 176 verses.”

“No I didn’t, Stan

They sit and discuss Psalm 119 while they finish eating their dessert.

When they are through talking, Stan helps Amelia carry the empty dishes back to the kitchen. He washes the table while she puts the dishes and pot in the dishwasher.

When they are through cleaning the kitchen, he says, “Thank you for supper, Amelia. It was an excellent meal. Do you have time to show me around the store? I will start the inventory first thing in the morning.”

“Yes, Stan, I have lots of time.”

Amelia unlocks the adjoining door to Stella’s Antiques, and they walk up the stairs to her office.

“How do you do an appraisal?”

“I will show you,” Stan lifts the lid on his briefcase and pulls out several packages of tags and stickers. “I have different coloured tags, one for each of the categories. We only use special stickers which will not leave any residue or do any damage when we remove them.”

“I know what you mean. We bought an antique oil painting once, and they had put a price sticker on the front of the frame. When Stella tried to remove it, the gold leaf paint came off on the back of the sticker. It was lucky that Stella knew how to restore the frame.”

“You’re right, Amelia. The wrong kind of stickers can do a lot of damage. After I put a numbered tag on an article, I take a photo. Then I enter the inventory number into my computer or speak the information into this small, voice-activated digital recorder.” Stan removes a recorder no bigger than a cell phone from his pocket.

“I use one all the time, Stan. It is especially useful when I am taking pictures or writing a story for the newspaper. I can talk into it while I am driving my van.”

Stan puts the recorder back in his shirt pocket and says. “It is handy when I am examining something large like a china cabinet.”

When they are through talking in the office, Amelia shows Stan around the store.

“You have an interesting collection of antiques in your store.” Stan stops at a small chair and looks it over. “I have never seen a chair like this before. What kind of chair is this, Amelia?”

“This is an English Chippendale style mahogany child’s corner chair, Stan. My grandparents live in London, England, and shop for my Aunt Stella. They sent some of these interesting antiques to her.”

Looking around at the rooms filled with unusual British Antiques, Stan says, “Doing an inventory here will be interesting.”

“I love to spend time exploring the rooms filled with my Aunt Stella’s collections of unusual antiques. Every piece is unique and different.”

When they are through exploring the rooms, Amelia says. “I have to drive to Blenheim in the morning to buy some groceries. Is there anything you need?”

“Yes, could you pick me up a case of root beer? They didn’t have any in my room.”

“I will do that for you. Before I forget, I have a key to the side door for you. I look forward to seeing you in the morning.”

“Thanks for all your help, Amelia.”

Stan watches as Amelia goes through the doorway and hears her lock the door behind her. Amelia seems like a pleasant woman. I wonder what her boyfriend Fred is like.

He returns to the office and puts everything in order. Then he locks the outside door and heads for his truck.

He stops at Eau Buoy’s Variety and buys some dew worms. When he gets to the dock, he parks his truck near the big, old tree at the gravel pit. The sky is beginning to turn a bright red in the west as the sun sets.

Memories from his past continue to plague him. Walking over to some boys sitting on the edge of the dock he asks, “Having any luck?”

“Only two perch and lots of gobies,” The smallest boy gets up and shows Stan their bucket with two dead perch, floating belly up in the water. “We feed the sunfish and gobies to the chocolate mink.”

“I used to feed fish to the mink when I was your age. Do the feral cats still live in the old sheds around the docks?”

“Yes, we feed them some fish. The seagulls love to swoop down and eat the small fish we throw away.”

“I hope your luck changes,” Stan tells the boys as he walks back to his truck. He puts his fishing rod together then ties a silver spinner to the end of the line and baits the hook with a wiggling, dew worm. When he reaches the edge of the dock, he casts the line out into the depths of the channel. When the spinner hits the water, there is a big explosion as a large fish takes the bait. Stan forgets about his past as he plays the fish.

The boys reel in their fishing lines and drop their rods on the ground. They start jumping up and down with excitement as they watch the drama play out before them.

A man comes over with a large extension net, “I can help you land the fish, if you want.”

“Thanks, I didn’t bring my net.” Just as the man is about to net the huge fish, it jumps out of the water with one last splash trying to throw the hook. Stan continues to wind his reel. Finally, the fish is spent and Stan brings it close to the edge of the pier once more. The man reaches down in the water with his extension net and scoops up the bass.

“Thanks’ for your help,” Stan says, as he removes the trophy small-mouth bass from the net.

The boys are excited and ask Stan. “How much does it weigh? How long is it?”

“I don’t know.”

A small crowd gathers around Stan admiring the fish.

Turning to the boys, Stan says, “I have no place to cook the bass. Do you want to take it home?”

The smaller boy looks from his small ice cream bucket to the big fish and asks, “Do you think it will fit in our little bucket?”

“I think so, let’s give it a try.” Stan laughs as he picks up the humungous fish and puts it into the small bucket. He tells the boys, “The two perch look like minnows in comparison to the bass.”

The fish is so big that its tail hangs out of the bucket.

The boys are excited as they jump on their bikes and pedal as fast as they can down the road. They stop all the people they see so that they can show off the trophy bass.

Stan wipes his hand on a wet cloth. He smiles as he remembers the day a man gave him a trophy bass to take home to his family. He casts his line with another wiggling, dew worm into the cold, dark, deep water. He takes a breath filling his lungs with the refreshing air blowing from the lake. This is what I miss; I need to spend more time fishing.

More people arrive and start to set up their rods to fish for crappy. Some of them have floats that light up in the water. It is starting to get dark. They seem to know each other and share several fishing stories. There is something special about listening to them talk. It brings back memories of the evenings he spent fishing for crappy with his father. His mother always let him sleep in the next morning.

The mosquitoes come out in droves and start to bite. Stan reluctantly puts his fishing equipment into his truck and heads back to the bed and breakfast. I need to bring some gear from home, so I can try fishing for crappy again. And, I must remember to pack my extension net.

Stan parks his truck, gets his suitcases, and walks to the door. Brenda stops him before he can climb the stairs, “Come into the activity room, and meet the other guests.”

Stan sits and talks for a while and tells them about the large bass he caught.

Brenda tells him, “We saw your fish. The boys you gave the fish to are my grandsons.”

One of the guests asks, “What are you doing in Erieau, Stan?”

“I am an antique appraiser. I am working at Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom.”

Brenda tells him, “Stella was my best friend. It was a real loss to our community when she died.”

After chatting for a while, Stan excuses himself. “I look forward to seeing you at breakfast. I must be off. I have some work to do before morning.”


 


 

The Summer Sisters

Shortly after Stan leaves, the phone rings. Amelia wonders who it could be. She recognizes the voice of her summer sister, Sharon.

“Amelia, is that you? It is good to hear your voice. It has been too long. We arrived at our cottage this afternoon. Can you meet me at Molly and O J’s at six for a late supper? I want to get together with you and catch up on the news.”

“I have had my supper Sharon, but I would like to join you for a coffee.”

While Amelia has a quick shower, she thinks back to all the fun she had with her girlfriends in Erieau. It will be good to see them again. I have not seen them since Stella’s funeral.

Amelia dresses in her white Capri’s and a pink cotton blouse. She slips her feet into her summer sandals. Locking the door behind her, she starts to walk the short distance to O J’s. The street is busy with the usual summer crowds standing around in small groups chatting.

A family sits on a bench in front of the ice cream shop. The ice cream from the cone of a young girl falls off and lands on the ground. Without missing, a beat the girl picks the cold ice cream up with her hands and shoves it back onto the cone. Next, she proceeds to wipe her hand dripping with strawberry ice cream all over her brother’s white tea shirt. The reaction of her brother is a whole, new story. The mother removes the dirty cone from her reluctant daughter’s hands and with a promise of buying her a new one, tosses it over to the edge of hedge.

A cat jumps out of the hedge and starts to lick the melting ice cream off the ground. A bit of dirt never hurt him.

Shaking her head, Amelia thinks to herself, Freddie the Freeloader is up to his old tricks again.

After she enters O J’s, she hears bits of conversation. The conversations have not changed over the years-- just the people are different.

A man with a green fishing hat is bragging about all the salmon and lake trout he had caught that day. “It is too bad that the limit is only five salmon or lake trout. I had to release more than that.”

Amelia thinks my friend who has a boat will only let me keep one. He always says, ‘we need to save some for tomorrow’.

The other man shakes his head and tells his friend, “I always stop and give some of my legal catch to the anglers fishing from the pier. They are always thankful. I have a boat and can catch plenty of fish. They only catch a few meager perch and the old bass.”

The man with the green hat replies, “That’s a good idea. I never thought about it.”

Several older women sit around a large table talking about what they did for the day. Amelia listens to their conversation.

The woman with the bright red hair shows off her new, yellow pantsuit with matching clogs and hat. “I took Bessie to the Glass House Nursery in Chatham today. They have a rack of clogs and matching hats in all the colours of the rainbow.”

The plump woman with dark black hair removes a box of fudge from her extra large purse. “They make homemade fudge at the Glass House Nursery in Chatham. This one is orange pineapple. I like the taste of the pina colada the best.”

She reaches for a knife, cuts up some fudge, and then puts it on her saucer. She shoves a large piece of pina colada fudge into her mouth before offering some to her friends.

One of the women says, “Thank you, Bessie,” as she takes a small piece of fudge.

All the women comment on the delicious flavour.

The lady with the red hair holds out her hand. “Look at this ring I bought.” She removes the ring from her finger and passes it around the table. The women all comment on the light blue stone in the ring as they try it on their fingers. “You need to spend some time looking around their store. They have beautiful sounding wind chimes and interesting figurines for the garden. I will be going there again on Monday if anyone wants to come with me.”

Amelia smiles as she walks through the room. Her friend Sharon greets her with a hug. “Aileen and Lois are in the back where it is quieter.”

The four women had spent most of their summers together since they were little girls. They called their group ‘The Summer Sisters’. They learned to sail on Rondeau Bay and swam most afternoons in Lake Erie. They welcome her and start talking all at once.

Sharon interrupts them, “One at a time, remember we are no longer little children.” The ice is broken and they all start to laugh.

Amelia tells her friends in a teasing way, “Sharon has always been our school teacher.”

“Someone has to take charge.” Sharon laughs at the joke along with her friends. “Remember I am the oldest summer sister.”

“Only by four months,” Aileen says, “and I have heard that you are a good teacher.”

“I try to be. I love teaching.”

The server comes over and pours some coffee then returns to take their orders. “Nothing for me please,” Amelia says before taking a sip of her coffee.

After their server takes their orders, Sharon says, “I phoned all the summer sisters and asked them to come tonight. Helena told me that her niece would not be arriving in Erieau until Saturday. I left a message on several answering machines reminding them about the barbecue at my place next Wednesday.”

The women start to share stories about Stella.

Lois says, “Stella was like an aunt to me. If I had a problem, I could depend on her to listen to me. When we were through talking, she always told me, ‘If your problem is big enough to talk about, then it is big enough to take to your Heavenly Father in prayer’. She would stop whatever she was doing, hold my hands, and encourage me to take my need to God in prayer.”

Sharon agrees. “Stella never gave me much advice. After I was through talking with her and praying, I knew what to do. She had a special way of having me answer my own questions.”

The tears flow freely as Amelia’s friends share their memories of Stella.

Lois responds, “We spent many a rainy afternoon at Stella’s Tearoom having tea parties when we were younger.”

Amelia tells her friends, “On the first Thursday of the month, I polished some of the silver. Stella would work in the kitchen making fancy tea sandwiches and little petit fours. I put the china teacups and plates on the buffet. At two o’clock sharp, Stella sent me out to the sidewalk to bring in the, ‘We Are Open’ sign.”

Sharon reminds her, “I helped you shine the silver.”

“I always appreciated your help Sharon. Cleaning silver is a messy, tedious job. The mornings always went faster when I had some of my friends helping me.”

Amelia takes a sip of coffee, “The members and guests of the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild would arrive at 2:00 twice a month for their meeting. Stella always invited anyone who was interested in the history of Erieau to come.”

“We chatted as we ate the fancy goodies and sipped a cup of tea. Some of the members brought in unusual antiques for us to look at. They would tell us what it was and explain how it was used.”

Aileen interrupts, “I remember going to several meetings with my mother. One afternoon, a man visited. He told us that he had come to Erieau with his father when he was a boy. His father was the engineer of the coal train. He gave us several photos that his father had taken of the men loading the train cars with coal. They were getting it ready to deliver the coal to all the towns and villages in the area.”

Amelia says, “It is hard to believe that a train traveled down the center of Erieau on what we now call the boulevard.”

The friends show off the recently taken photos of their children and husbands. Amelia feels left out. I have been a bridesmaid in most of my summer sisters’ weddings but never a bride. Maybe some day!

It is late when the women leave.

A strong wind blows off the lake. Amelia stops and listens to the familiar sounds of waves crashing against the shore before walking the short distance to her house.

Freddy is waiting for her at the door. He brushes his fur across her leg and welcomes her home. “I don’t think you need any cat treats tonight Fred,” Amelia teases, “I saw you licking up the ice cream cone.”

Fred follows her into the kitchen and begins to meow. “Okay, but only one.” She gives Fred a treat, measures out a scoop of coffee into the pot, sets the timer for 7:00, then heads for her bedroom.

After getting comfortable in her chair, she picks up her evening devotion and reads:

 

WALK IN FAITH

Personal thoughts from Joshua 3:13 by Karen.

The Jordan River was in flood stage and overflowing its banks. Joshua gave some instructions to the four priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant. “You are to step into the raging flooded river.” In obedience, they did what Joshua asked them to do. They took a step into the fast flowing waters coming down from the north and the water stopped. They crossed over the dry riverbed in front of them.

I often wonder if I would have had enough faith to obey God and cross a raging flooded river. What were the four priests thinking when Joshua told them, ‘You are to step into the raging flooded river?

There are several stories in the Bible that tell us about people whom God asked to take a chance and walk in faith: Abraham, Moses, Gideon, and even Joshua.

Remember that God is there to hold your hand as you walk outside your comfort zone. Take the first step and the rushing thoughts that are preventing you from crossing the road will stop, and you will see the dry ground stretched out in front of you. The second step will be easier because you will be walking on dry ground.

Amelia puts the reading down and writes her personal thought in her journal while she ponders the beautiful words she has just read.

“God, a lot has happened today. Please give me the courage to share my faith and love of Your Son Jesus with all the people I meet. I am tired tonight and need to get some sleep. I will talk with You again in the morning…”

 

 

 

The Gift of Friendship

The robins sing as they search for worms in the dew-wet grass. The sunlight shining through the window causes sunbeams to dance around the light blue walls of Amelia’s bedroom.

She rolls over in her comfortable bed to catch forty more winks, but Freddy her cat jumps on her as if to say, ‘Wake up, you sleepy head, it is a new day, and I want my breakfast’. Amelia learned as a young girl that if she wanted any peace and quiet in the morning, she had to feed Freddy his breakfast. He never stopped pestering her until his tummy was full.

As is her morning routine, Amelia enters her kitchen and gives Freddy a scoop of food and some water before returning to her bedroom with a fresh brewed mug of coffee. She repositions her body among the cushions on her chair, trying to find the most comfortable position before praying.

“God, I praise Your Holy Name. You have listened to my prayers and reassured me while I made difficult decisions these past few months…”

She relaxes while sipping her coffee. It is going to be a beautiful day. Some fluffy white clouds float across the sky. Fishing boats bob up and down in the water. The sailboats glide across the lake.

Amelia picks up her journal and reads what she had written about her aunt a few weeks before.

 My Aunt Stella

Whenever, I walk through the antique store, memories of my Aunt Stella and all the times we spent together come flooding back. Each delicate piece of bone china and porcelain figurine that I pick up, reminds me of what Stella taught me.

She told me, ‘All the articles in the store have a story behind them. Whenever you buy something, remember to number it. Ask the seller if they can share what the article is, and how it was used. Always write this information with the item’s number, in your ledger, for future reference’.

I was dusting a porcelain figurine of an artist the summer that I turned sixteen. She was wearing a beautiful blue floor length dress and held a paintbrush in her hand. This was the kind of dress that you see the women wearing in a Victorian movie. I decided I would save my money and buy her. I was extra careful in the way I dusted the figurines from the shelves after I saw the price tag dangling from her arm.

I had just finished placing her back into the china cabinet when this woman about Stella’s age came into the store. She asked, “Is Stella Here?”

I told her, “I will get her.” Stella had an intercom, so I called her at the house.

When Stella arrived, she gave her friend a hug and asked, “Renee, what brings you to Erieau?”

“I need your help, Stella.” Renee unfastened the clasp on a small carryall and put a Royal Doulton box with a picture of a figure skater on the counter. She removed several other valuable treasures and reverently placed them on the counter beside the prized skater. “Stella, I want to put these articles on consignment.”

I heard Stella say with concern in her voice, “No Renee, not your prized figure skater. Are you sure, Renee? This skater is the figurine you won at the regional, figure skating championships. I remember how precious she is to you because I was there cheering you on. You practiced for years to achieve your goals.”

“I know, Stella, but I need to buy food for my family. I will not start my new job as a teacher until September, and I have run out of money.”

Stella called me over, and introduced me. “Renee, I would like you to meet my niece, Amelia. Amelia, this is Mrs. Huffer.”

“Amelia, could you make a pot of tea and a snack for us?”

“Yes,” I replied, as Stella took her friend gently by the arm and led her to the office in the corner where they could talk and not be disturbed. Stella held her friend in her arms as they wept together.

Renee told Stella her story. “My husband walked out on us, two months ago, leaving me with three children. He emptied our bank accounts, sold our house, and moved back to Germany. I have no money or any way of collecting child support.”

I tried not to listen. Tears started to form in my eyes, so I took a handful of tissue out of the box and put them into my pocket. I knew I would need them before the morning was over.

Stella told her friend, “I will lend you money for the figure skater. Pay me back when you start working. You can put the rest on consignment.”

I saw Stella writing in her ledger when I carried the tea tray over to the table.

As I turned to leave the room, my aunt spoke to me, “Wait, Amelia, will you go to the house and get my checkbook for me?”

I went to the house and returned with the checkbook. Stella filled the check in and handed it to Mrs. Huffer. After seeing Mrs. Huffer’s reaction, I knew that the check was for more than the figurine was worth. As usual, Stella blessed her friend so she could buy the much-needed food for her children.

 

When I arrived at school the following September, the students were whispering about our new teacher. I walked into the room after the first bell to see Stella’s friend, Mrs. Huffer, standing at the desk to welcome us.

Tears were running down both of our cheeks, as we greeted each other. After school, Mrs. Huffer took me aside and told me, “Amelia, what your aunt did this past summer helped bless my family. You have such a godly Aunt. I sent her a letter thanking her, but notes are never enough.”

 

At Christmas that year, Stella gave me a box to take to school to give to my teacher.

After Mrs. Huffer, unwrapped the paper surrounding the box, she pulled out the Royal Doulton figure skater. Stella had included two notes. Mrs. Huffer read the two notes to me. The first note stated, ‘Paid in full’.

The second one said:

Dear Renee

I know how hard you worked to earn this figurine, so I am returning the skater to you. In payment, pass a gesture of love on to someone else you meet that is in need.

Love, your friend, and sister in the Lord

Stella Peabody


Mrs. Huffer told me, with tears running down her face that she had not finished paying off the money that she owed my Aunt Stella for the figure skater.

I learned more about real love from Aunt Stella that day.

By Amelia Jean Wilber

July 2, 2008

Amelia closes her journal and prays, “God, You are so good. You gave me an aunt like Stella. Help me to use discernment as I make choices about what it is you want me to do. I need help in knowing how to run the store in the same manner Stella did.”

Amelia’s tears are flowing as she spends time alone with her Heavenly Father.

She turns the pages of her Bible and reads Psalm 139:23-24. Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts;  And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

She opens her journal and writes her thoughts.

July 9, 2008

I always feel much better after praying and reading my scriptures in the morning. God, search my heart in all I do, think and say. My day is much more peaceful and productive when I make the effort to be with You. Please give me the desire to be in Your presence every day.

Amelia has a lighter heart as she prepares her breakfast that morning. When she has finished the dishes, she goes to her office and checks her daily planner. She picks up a letter.

July 3, 2008

The Erieau Historical Collectors Guild will be having their meeting

in the back room at Molly and O J’s Restaurant on Wednesday, July 9th, at 1:00.

Guests and visitors are welcome.

Ben Rose

That is today. I need to get my work finished so I can go. Maybe Stan will be interested in coming with me for lunch.

Amelia drives into Blenheim. Her radio is tuned to 89.3, the new Chatham Christian radio station. She sings along with the familiar songs. The town is different from when I left to go to university. It has two spacious grocery stores on the edge of town to shop in.

“I will shop in the store with the most specials.” She grabs her cloth grocery bags and gets a shopping cart. The coolness of the air conditioner causes her to shiver when it hits her bare arms. I will have to remember to bring a sweater the next time I shop. She is putting a case of root beer into her cart when she feels a tap on her shoulder.

“Is that you, Amelia?”

Amelia recognizes the voice of her High School teacher and turns around with a big smile. “Yes it is, Mrs. Huffer. It is so good to see you.”

“I am not Mrs. Huffer anymore Amelia. Bruce Wizen and I were married last July. Call me Renee.”

“Congratulations on your marriage Mrs… I mean Renee. Do you have time for a coffee?”

“Yes I have no plans. Meet me at the new donut shop when you are through shopping. We have a lot of catching up to do. I haven’t seen you for, let me see, it must be four years.”


Twenty minutes later, Amelia and Renee are sitting across from each other.

“I can’t believe that you married Mr. Wizen, my old math teacher. I thought he was a confirmed bachelor!”

“Yes, we all thought he was, Amelia. That is, until I had a flat tire, two years ago, and my car ended upside down in a full drainage ditch.”

“Were you hurt, Renee?”

“Not as bad as I could have been, thanks to Bruce. He saved my life. The car was filling with freezing water. I was trapped and hanging upside down. I thought I was going to drown when the water started to cover my head.”

“That must have been scary.”

“It was, Amelia. I tried to undo the seat belt and open my window, but I was unable to get free from the watery grave. I cried out to God for help before I passed out.

“Lucky for me, Bruce saw the skid marks. He used his cell phone and dialed 911 then jumped into the icy, slushy, water and broke the windshield with a big rock. He was able to cut the seat belt with his pocket knife and tried to pull me out of the submerged car.”

Amelia says as she sits on the edge of her seat listening to every word, “You were lucky Bruce saw the skid marks.”

“Yes, I was, Amelia. Some other drivers stopped to help Bruce, and they rescued me from the car. They told me later that I had no pulse and was unconscious, so Bruce started CPR on me.

“When I woke up, Bruce was holding me in his arms. The ambulance arrived and took me to the hospital.”

“I am glad Bruce came along in time, Renee.”

“It was an answer to prayer. He came and visited me in the hospital for a week. We started having coffee here at what Bruce and I called ‘Mr. T’ after I was well enough to go back to teaching. W realized we loved each other, and one thing led to another. We decided to get married. It has been a marvelous year.”

“Did you know Stella died in the spring, Renee?”

“No, Amelia, not Stella. She was my best friend. I saw her last summer. I am so sorry to hear about it. How long was Stella sick?”

“Her doctor told us that Stella had been sick for two years. Stella told no one that she had heart problems. She had a massive heart attack and died in her sleep. I phoned you, Renee, but your number was disconnected. I also sent you a letter.”

“I sold the house last summer before the wedding and moved in with my daughter. The letter must have missed us. Bruce and I took a year’s sabbatical after the wedding. We went to Africa, and spent ten months teaching at an orphanage in Kenya. We just arrived home last week after a cruising tour around Australia and New Zealand.”

“Do you have any pictures with you, Renee?”

“Yes, I do,” Renee takes a small photo album from her purse and hands it to Amelia.

Amelia opens the album, “The two of you do make a good looking couple… Mr. and Mrs. Wizen. Is that a picture of Stella? She never told me anything about standing up for you, at your wedding.”

“She was my maid of honour. I thought you knew.”

“No, I didn’t get home much. Stella wasn’t one for phoning. When I did phone, she always was in a hurry. The subject of your wedding never came up.”

“What is going to happen to Stella’s place now, Amelia?”

“Stella left it to me.”

“That is good. You were always a big help to Stella. She told me how proud she was of you, Amelia.

“It was a sad day when she lost Oliver. I was at her side when she had the miscarriage. A light went out of her eyes that day. First, she lost Oliver, and then she lost her baby girl. I noticed that some of her joy returned after you moved in to help her. You were like the daughter she never had.”

“Thank you, Renee. I always loved working for Stella.”

“What are you going to do with the store, Amelia?”

“I have been wrestling it over in my mind. I have decided to keep the business. My cousin told me that she is willing to move to Erieau and help run the store.”

“That is good to know. Bruce and I have bought a new house at Lake Morning Star. You know how much I love antiques. We have been talking about shopping for an antique dining room set. I am also looking for a hall mirror with a shelf.”

“Stop by after we are open on July 25th, and I might be able to help you. Are you and Bruce still teaching high school at the same place, Renee?”

“Yes, I teach history, and Bruce is still the Math teacher.”

“That is good to hear, Renee. They have hired me to teach some classes in Journalism, English, and Art in September. I will be working with the two of you. It will be strange working alongside you, Renee. You were my teacher in high school.”

“That was a few years ago. It will be interesting having one of my students teaching with me. The teachers will be getting together for a luncheon at my place at the end of August. The school will let you know the day and time.”

“I will be there.” Amelia looks at her watch, “I need to go. I have a lot of work to do before lunch.”

They exchange phone numbers and promise to keep in touch.

As Amelia drives home, she thinks about all the decisions she has made in the past month. The radio is playing Christian music.

Maybe it will not be as hard to move back to Erieau as I thought. I always wanted to be a teacher. Just think; I will be working alongside Mrs... I mean Renee. It will take a bit of getting used to.

It was because of her that I decided to become a schoolteacher. There were no jobs when I graduated from teacher’s college, so I took the job as a photojournalist at the newspaper. I had to pay off my school loans somehow…

Her cell phone rings.

“Hi, Amelia, it is Beth.”

“I am driving Beth. Let me pull off to the side of the road, and we can talk.”

Amelia pulls into a parking lot, turns off her van, and then picks up her phone. “How are you, Beth?”

“I am fine, Amelia.”

“That’s good.”

“I hope you don’t mind if my sister and I pack all your belongings for you. I know how busy you have been.”

“That will be a big help, Beth. I will let you know when my father and brothers plan to pick them up.”

They talk for a while before Amelia says, “I am running late, Beth. I will phone you later in the week.”

Amelia hangs up the phone and starts the van. She hums along with the Christian music coming from her radio all the way to Erieau. I wonder if Pearl is at her boat.

She drives by the marina on her way home and sees, Pearl’s car. Good, I will stop in and visit her later.


 

Erieau Historical Collectors Guild

Stan returns to Stella’s Antiques, climbs the outside stairs, and opens the door. He enters the office and organizes the desk the way he likes it. He pulls out a ledger, along with different brightly coloured tags from his briefcase.

He puts the portable, voice-activated tape recorder into his pocket and turns it on. He opens a zippered compartment and removes a ballpoint pen with an extra fine point and a pencil then starts the tedious job of taking the inventory of Stella’s Antiques.

He walks around the store looking at the exquisite collection. He draws a detailed chart of the two floors and numbers the rooms. I will start working in room number one. It is on the second floor in the Northwest corner.

Stan walks over to a large antique table and attaches a numbered tag to it. He speaks as he wipes his hand tenderly across the tabletop. The light turns on in his tape recorder “Number one, this is a Thomas Brooks Walnut Victorian marble-topped table.” What remarkable craftsmanship. I love the feel of the smooth-aged wood and cool marble. “The top of the table is in perfect condition without any chips in the marble.” He takes several photos then moves on to another table.

Stan continues to work and finds himself standing in front of a special table. “Number 12, this is a rare English Victorian Inlaid Burlwood fold top Game Table.” He turns the table sideways, opens it, and then he rubs his hand over the green felt top. “The top is in perfect condition. The person who replaced the felt knew what they were doing. The few scratches on the edge of the table and legs will not lessen its value.”

It is after 10:00 when Stan hears the front door open. He turns off the recorder walks over to the banister, and asks, “Do you need me to help you carry in your groceries, Amelia?”

“No Stan, I have already put them away. Your pop is in my van.”

“I will get it. Is it okay to put some of it in the refrigerator?”

“Yes Stan, make yourself at home. If I am not here, help yourself to some food.”

“Thanks, I will do that.” Stan goes to her van and returns with his case of pop. A big, gray tabby cat meows as he enters the door and rubs up against his leg. Stan sets the pop on the counter, reaches down, and rubs the cat under its chin. “What is your cat’s name?”

“His name is Freddy, the Freeloader, Fred for short.”

“I thought Fred was your boyfriend.”

“My boyfriend, what made you think Fred was my boyfriend, Stan?”

“You told me that Fred wouldn’t eat lamb stew.”

“Freddy is a fussy eater. He only eats a special blend of cat food that I buy at a pet shop in Chatham.”

Stan is at a loss for words. Freddy saves the day by letting out a big ‘Meow’.

They both start to talk at once, and Stan insists, “You go first.”

“The Erieau Historical Collectors Guild is having their lunch meeting at 1:00. You can come with me if you are interested?”

“I would like to go with you, Amelia. Who is the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild?”

“They are a local group of men and women who collect artifacts and antiques from around the area. We call ourselves The Guild for short. You will meet Ben, the founder, at lunch today.”

“I look forward to meeting Ben. In the meantime, I had better keep working on the inventory of your antiques if I want to earn my keep.” He picks up a spoon and takes a pretend picture of Amelia and says, “Smile, you are on ‘Candid Camera’,” then makes a clicking sound with his tongue.

Stan and Amelia both start laughing.

“Come and get me at 12:30, Amelia. I have a tendency to forget about time when I am working.”

“I have to set my alarm when I work since I am the same way especially when I am writing a book. My laptop computer is waiting for me. See you later, Stan.”

“Enjoy working on your book, Amelia.”

Stan sets the case of pop on a storage shelf and puts several cans in the fridge. What an interesting woman! I am glad to know that Fred is her cat and not her boyfriend. I think I am going to enjoy working in Erieau.

Removing a tall glass from the shelf above the sink, Stan fills it with ice and slowly pours the root beer into the glass so it won’t foam over. He takes a sip, picks up a napkin and a saucer, and returns with the pop to where he is working. He puts the pop on the saucer so it will not harm the finish of the furniture.

Stan turns on the recorder then picks up his camera and starts working in earnest. I will never get finished if I keep going at this rate.

Freddy follows Amelia into her house and goes to sleep on his cat bed in her living room. She chuckles to herself, “Stan thought you were my boyfriend, Freddy. Wait until I tell mother.” He seems like a nice young man. He looks familiar. He reminds me of someone. I look forward to spending some time getting to know him in the next few weeks.

Amelia turns on her computer. She has writer’s block. The clock on the desk ticks away as she stares at the blank screen on her computer. She is still thinking about the plot of her story when the alarm startles her. She looks at her watch, good. I have time to freshen up.

Amelia goes to her bedroom and puts on her cream coloured capris and a pink casual shirt. She reaches into her jewel box and pulls out her mother of pearl tea-drop necklace along with matching earrings.

She puts on some fresh makeup and runs the brush through her hair. “I am not going to ask you what you think, Freddy, because you just yawn when I need your opinion.” Freddy rolls over on his side, yawns, and falls back to sleep. She shakes her head, “See what I mean.”

Stan is taking a picture of a steamship when Amelia enters the antique store, “It is lunch time, Stan.”

“Good, I am getting hungry.” He turns off his recorder. “Can you tell me about this picture before we go?”

“Yes, Stan. it is a photograph of the Alexander Leslie, the steamer that brought coal to the docks of The Lake Erie Coal Company in Erieau for 36 years. The photographer took the picture on Wednesday, April 15, 1964. It was the last time the Alexander Leslie docked in Erieau.”

“That’s interesting, Amelia.”

“Yes it is. After the workers finished unloading the steamer’s last load of coal, the Alexander Leslie’s whistle sounded its final goodbye. The spectators gathered in reverence at the pier as they bid goodbye to the great ship. It backed out into the turning channel and headed out into Lake Erie, never to return.

“The plaque at the bottom of the picture read…”

 

This is a Photograph of

The Alexander Leslie

Donated By the King Coal Company

To The Erieau Historical Collectors Guild

In Remembrance of

36 Years of Service

To Erieau and the Surrounding Area

From 1926 To 1964

 

“That was long before we were born, Amelia.”

“Yes it is, Stan. Several dignitaries were guests on the hundreds of boats that made up the convoy that escorted the Alexander Leslie as it traveled on its final voyage pass the pier at the lighthouse. People came from miles around to see the departure.

“You had to get to Erieau early if you wanted a choice spot on the pier. The men and boys stood with their hats removed in reverence as The Alexander Leslie slowly crept by them never to be seen in Erieau again.”

Stan says, “That must have been a sad day for the people in Erieau.”

“It was Stan. Coal was a big industry to Erieau. The coal in this display case is the last piece of coal removed from the great ship at the dock in Erieau.”

“Do you know what happened to the ship, Amelia?”

“Yes, the owners cleaned the ship up and turned it into a grain carrier the following year. They sold the ship for scrap metal in 1969. The salvage company had their workers use torches to cut it up. A refinery melted the metal down into steel. Parts of the Alexander Leslie might be in an old 1970 Buick, your refrigerator, or even this metal shelf.”

“That is a fascinating story. Are there any books written about the Alexander Leslie and the history of Erieau?”

“Yes, Stan. You can look up more history about this area, at the Erieau Deposit in the former Erieau Village Town Hall beside the Fire Hall. Several of my friends volunteer at the Deposit lending out library materials to Erieau residents. Just a minute, I have a card with their hours on it.” Amelia goes to her office and returns with a card.

“Thank You. This will help with the research on the book I am writing, Amelia.”

“You can find more about Mollie at Molly and O J’s today, Stan. Look at the pictures on the wall when we go there for lunch. When you have time, read some of Mollie’s own stories that she wrote. They have put them into a book, and you are welcome to sit and read them while visiting the restaurant. Talk to the owner, Molly and O J’s son, and ask him about Erieau.”

“I will do that when I have time. What other articles belong to the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild?”

“I will show you later. We are going to be late.”

Amelia locks the door then they walk down the road to Molly and O J’s.

They enter the restaurant. Stan looks around and sees an assortment of collectibles. To the right of the entrance on a table is a book. He picks it up and sees that it is a book with some of Mollie’s writings. Most of the walls have pictures of clowns. Before he can comment on them, Amelia motions for him to follow her down the hall into a private back room.

He looks at the wall to the left in the hallway and notices some more of Mollie’s writings along with several photographs. I will have to come back and spend more time here. Amelia introduces Stan to her friends. “Stan, I want you to meet Ben and Kim. Stan is an antique appraiser from London, who is helping me with Stella’s estate.”

Ben and Kim shake Stan’s hand.

Amelia continues. “Stan would like to look over the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild’s ledgers. Would the two of you come to the store so you can identify what belongs to The Guild for him?”

Ben says, “My wife Kim, and I will bring the ledgers over after lunch tomorrow.”

Ben and Stan start up a conversation.

Amelia slips away with Kim to visit with her friends. They comment on how much they will miss Stella. Amelia grabs a tissue out of her pocket and wipes away a few tears.

Ben sits beside Stan after everyone arrives.  Amelia and Kim sit across the table from them.

The server comes over and asks them, “Can I take your order?”

They order the perch lunch special with a salad. Some of the other people order the broasted chicken.

Ben says a prayer over the food.

The server returns with plates of fresh crisp salad and several breadbaskets filled with sliced warm artisan bread. Amelia passes the basket to Stan, “Try some of this homemade bread.”

Stan picks up a warm slice of bread, spreads it with butter, and bites into it. “This is good, Amelia!”

Ben talks about the artifacts that he has discovered in the area over the years. He asks Stan, “What are you interested in?”

“I collect rare books.”

They continue to talk about the books until the server sets a plate of hot sizzling perch in front of them.

Stan takes a bite of the crisp perch. He comments, “Amelia, this is the best perch I have ever tasted. It has a crusty outer crust, and the fish is so fresh that you would almost think that you had just caught it.”

When the plates of food are empty, the server returns and clears the table. She asks if anyone wants some dessert.

Amelia and Stan order blueberry pie topped with ice cream. There is a smile on Stan’s face as he takes his first bite. “The pie is as good as the fish. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone. The food is exceptional.”

Everyone at the table agrees with him. The server returns, removes their empty dessert plates, and tops off their coffee.

Ben calls the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild meeting to order. He starts by presenting Amelia with a plaque. “We had this plaque made to honour Stella, one of our charter members. We will miss our good friend.”

 

Stella Peabody

Charter Member of the

Erieau Historical Collectors Guild

In memory of Stella, our friend

We who loved her will miss her

1947-2008

 

Amelia thanks them and says, “I will hang it on the wall of her tearoom. You have all been a big help to me.”

Turning to Stan she says, “This is Stan Vander Woerd. He is appraising my Aunt Stella’s estate.”

Stan gets to his feet, “Thank you, Amelia. I work for Vander Woerd and Reindert Antiques, out of London. We sell antiques and appraise estates. If anyone needs some appraising done while I am in the area, please give my office a call.” He places a few business cards on the table in front of him. “It is getting late, and I have a lot of work to do.”

After Stan leaves, the people start talking about Stella and the different things she did for the community.

Brenda shares, “Stella always had the kettle filled with water and could have a pot of tea and some fancy biscuits on the table before you could get your coat off. I never knew how she did it.”

Amelia pipes up. “You know Stella and her gadgets.” She laughs, “She bought this special teakettle when we were at the Toronto Exhibition years ago. To be on the safe side, she bought three. The electric teakettle had a special hot setting so all you had to do was hit the switch, and the water in the kettle would be boiling in minutes.”

The men and women in the room all chuckle. Most of them had been puzzled about the instant hot tea, and now they knew Stella’s secret.

Kim gets up and gives a tribute to Stella. “Stella was my friend. It was not so much the tea, the biscuits, or muffins that she served us. It as it was her friendship… the genuine love she showed to all the customers who crossed the threshold of her Tea Room and Antique Store. That is what kept her customers coming back.

“People would come for miles around just to sit and have a cup of tea with her. Stella recognized them and called everyone by name. The people knew that whatever they shared with Stella in confidence would never be repeated to anyone.

“Stella never listened to gossip. On many occasions, she would gently remind a friend that what they were saying was none of their business and change the subject. The bookshelves in the tearoom were filled with several photo albums containing pictures from her many friends. They were all special people to her, and she considered them her family. All of us will miss our friend, Stella Peabody.”

When Kim is finished speaking, Ben looks at his watch. “It is getting late. We will have our next meeting at The Erieau Deposit on July 23rd, 2008 at 2:00.

 

 

 

The Tornado

After the meeting is over, Amelia goes over to her kitchen, and fills a large grocery bag with food and walks down to the marina to see her friend Pearl. Pearl and Amelia had been neighbours. She lived about a half mile down the road from her parent’s farm. They had spent many hours playing together after school and on weekends. The two of them were inseparable.

Amelia walks closer to the docks. Good, Pearl’s car is still there, and I need to talk with her.

Pearl gets up from her lounge chair under the shade of the boat canopy when Amelia steps out onto the boat dock. Pogo, her hounddog, stands beside her, wagging his tail. “It is good to see you, Amelia. Let me help you.”

“Thanks.” Amelia hands Pearl the two heavy bags and steps over the railing into the boat. Pogo, the dog, makes a big fuss over her.

Amelia pulls a dog toy out of her bag. I bought this for you Pogo. It is so good to see you.” She tosses the toy around the boat a few times.

“Pogo hasn’t changed Pearl. This bag is a care package from my kitchen. Mom and my Aunt Isabel have been keeping me in food, and you know how they love to spoil me.” She gives Pearl a warm hug. “You need to put some of the food away in your fridge so it doesn’t spoil.”

“Thank you Amelia, come sit under the canopy out of the hot sun. Do you want something cold to drink?”

“Yes, Pearl, I would like some iced tea if you have any.”

“I just made some, I will be right back.” She goes over to the fridge, returns with a tall glass of iced tea, and hands it to Amelia, “I will put the care package away.” Pearl picks up the heavy bag and takes it into the cabin of the boat.

Amelia picks up the glass and draws a happy face on the condensation with her finger. She smiles. The happy face brings back so many good memories. Little drops of water run down the side of the glass and drip onto her napkin. Amelia feels at home being in her friend’s boat.

After Pearl finishes putting the food away, she returns with a plate of butter tarts. “I can’t wait to take a bite of a tart, Amelia. Pearl bites into one, “Just the way I remember.”

We used to sneak into my basement and eat them from the freezer while they were still frozen.

“They taste good to me, fresh or frozen, Amelia.”

“Have you heard from your brother?”

“Mark was shipped to Afghanistan last month. It has been a worry for all of us.”

“I will keep him in my prayers. Sitting in the boat brings back some interesting memories, Pearl. I remember helping your family build the houseboat. I still think it is the strangest looking houseboat in the world.”

“It is, Amelia. Tourists still stop and stare at the unusual boat. I have taken several families’ pictures in front of the boat. It is a real conversation piece. A boating magazine was in last fall and did an interview with my family. They presented us with a trophy.” Pearl gets up then returns with the trophy and hands it to Amelia. Amelia reads the words on the plaque at the bottom of the trophy.

 

‘Fishful Thinking’

Weirdest House Boat

In North America


“They sent us several copies of the magazine last week. I have an extra one for you.”

Amelia exchanges the trophy for the magazine and opens it to where the bookmark is. She starts to read the article. ‘A Blenheim Ontario family builds a seaworthy houseboat from an old camping trailer and a set of used airplane pontoons.’

The magazine contains a photograph of Pearl holding up the trophy. Beside her is her family standing in the houseboat. Thank you. I can’t wait to read the article when I get home. I know that my family will enjoy it.”

“I remember the summer that we started building the boat, Amelia. You would come over whenever you were finished with your chores for the day to help me.”

“My mother told me she never saw someone weed a garden as fast as I did, Pearl. I would rush about all morning so that I could get on my bike and ride to your house.”

“We spent hours sanding the pontoons. When we were through, we painted them with bright green paint. At the end of the day, my mother told us, ‘I think you girls have more paint on you than on the pontoons. If you were any greener, I would mistake you both for a frog.’ Our legs and arms were covered with a bright green paint, and she had to use turpentine to remove it.”

“I still don’t like the smell of turpentine, Pearl.”

“I know what you mean. It is strong. It was one of my best summers, Amelia. We were having fun and we were happy as we worked together. Your twin brothers, Bernie and Curtis, came to help us whenever they had the time. They were young and mostly got in the way.”

“I recall the day your mother put us in charge of the food, Pearl. We ran into your house all excited and returned with plates full of sandwiches along with a tall pitcher of fresh- squeezed lemonade. I saw a jar of what I thought was sugar on the shelf and without reading the label, I measured out two cups. I soon found out about my mistake. It was salt instead of sugar. The pitcher of iced tea was poured out onto the grass. There was so much salt that it killed the grass. My brothers still tease me about it.”

“It was an exciting summer, Amelia. Your mother finally gave in and let you spend the whole week helping us. My father and brothers began by taking our old camping trailer apart. They removed the wheels, and then lined the body to make it watertight. Father built a ladder, so we could climb to the top of the trailer. Then he built a diving board and a railing around the new roof.”

Amelia replies, “Your mother told me that your father built the railing so we could sun ourselves without her worrying about us falling overboard. We spent a lot of summers up on the roof, Pearl.”

“Yes, we did. The men built a platform to hold the trailer. It was wide enough so that we could walk around on it. My father attached it to the bright green airplane pontoons. My older brother Mark took a used outboard motor apart and rebuilt it.”

Amelia takes a sip of her iced tea. “I remember the day your family had a contest to name the boat. You won with the name, ‘Fishful Thinking’. I was surprised when your family gave me the honour of painting the name in big bold letters on both sides of the houseboat.”

With laughter bubbling up from within, Pearl says, “We had to choose you because you were the best artist in the group. You still are.” The friends laugh together at the memories from that summer.

Pearl continues, “The big day finally came when, ‘Fishful Thinking’ was finished. I remember sitting proudly beside my father on the tractor as he drove the houseboat down the road for the first time. As we traveled through Blenheim, (I think my father took a long detour through Blenheim on purpose) the people stopped and stood with strange looks on their faces. Several of them jumped into their vehicles and tagged along behind us, all the way to Erieau. By the time we got to McGeachy Pond, I counted twenty cars behind us. They wanted to get a better look at this funny contraption, traveling down the highway on four wheels.

“It was funny then and still is.”

“I know. My father pulled up to the boat launch in Erieau. The crowds that gathered around us were pointing and laughing. A few older, wiser men mocked my father saying, ‘It will never float! Go park it at the trailer park down the road where it belongs’. The men at the marina helped my father with the launch of ‘Fishful Thinking’, and it did not sink, it floated.”

Amelia laughs at the memory, “Fishful Thinking has certainly proven to be seaworthy. She survived a tornado.” She reaches into her bag. “When, I was sorting some of Stella’s belongings, I found this old photo album. It has a few newspaper clippings of Erieau after the Tornado hit. I have some photos of ‘Fishful Thinking’ before and after the storm.”

Pearl and Amelia spend some time looking through the photo album.

“It still gives me goose bumps when I remember the day the tornado came through Erieau, Amelia. The two of us were sitting as we are right now, with a cold pop in our hand, when Pogo started to howl. He jumped off my lap and hid under the table in the cabin. I told him to stop howling, but he would not stop. I know he is a hound dog, but Pogo never made a noise while we were on the boat. His behavior that day was most unusual.”

“You’re right, Pearl. I never heard Pogo howl the way he did that day. The fire alarm sounded an emergency storm warning. The sky to the west was black. We heard a loud noise that sounded like a freight train rushing toward us.”

“I climbed up the ladder to find out where the noise was coming from. I froze! A funnel cloud was coming down the main street toward us. It started to rain sideways. We were soon all drenched, by the torrential rain. There was no time to run for the car. I remember shouting at you above the noise, but it was useless, so I grabbed your arm and pulled you into the cabin of the houseboat.”

“Do you remember hiding under the table with Pogo, Amelia? He would not stop howling, but the noise from the tornado was louder than Pogo’s howl.”

“Yes, Pearl. Pogo was howling, and we were not able to hear him in his distress. The storm was so loud that we couldn’t hear our own words even when we shouted.”

Pearl trembles at the memory. “It still causes me to shake when I think about it. We held on to the legs of the table for dear life. Lucky my father had bolted the table to the floor. The boat started to rock back and forth. The cabin was filling with water. Everything was flying around. It felt like the boat was going to sink.”

Pearl, “I thought the tornado was going to take us away like the house in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ I grabbed on to Pogo’s collar with one hand to prevent him from slipping out from under the table. Before we could pray the words ‘GOD HELP US’, the tornado was above us sucking and pulling at us. My ear drums felt like they were being pulled out of my head because of the suction.”

“It was over in an instant, Amelia. The tornado had gone right over us. We were fortunate that it did not touch down in the marina. For a minute or so, I thought we were goners.”

“You’re right, Pearl. Erieau and the marina were badly damaged, but we were not hurt. The strong suction from the tornado took everything on the deck away, including the canopy. My friend told me about two of her neighbour’s houses at Erie Beach being demolished when some tall old trees fell on them.”

“I remember the two of us running to find out if Stella was safe. We found her mingling with her friends down by the row of trees that had shaded the center of town for over a hundred years. The tornado had knocked them over in an instant, like a row of dominoes. Humungous tree branches clogged the road. The fire department and other volunteers were busy using their chainsaws to make a path for the emergency vehicles. We joined the crowds of people as they stood around telling about how thankful they were to be alive.”

Pearl replies, “The row of tall stately trees had been one of Erieau’s treasures for a century. Those trees were older than everyone who stood there that day. The trees had witnessed the building and removal of the railroad tracks that had once carried people and loads of coal down the center of town.”

Amelia sighs, “The biggest miracle is that no one was seriously injured or killed. Our Heavenly Father surely spared the people of Erieau that day.”

The friends spend the afternoon sitting and talking about incidents from their past and the plans they have for their future.

Pearl takes another butter tart. “Are you going to the young adult picnic on Saturday, Amelia?”

“Yes, I will be there.”

“I am responsible for the food. Can you bring some of your delicious deviled eggs?”

“Yes, Pearl. I will ask mom to bring me a few dozen eggs tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”

“I might bring someone with me, Pearl.”

“Who is it?”

“I can’t say. You will meet him if he comes. I have not asked him yet.”

“Him?”

“Yes him!” Changing the subject, Amelia says, “I have some interesting books to lend you.” She takes several books out of her bag and hands them to Pearl.

“Thank you, Amelia. I was going to buy this one. I have some books for you in the car.”

Amelia grabs her bag, and they walk out to Pearl’s car. Pearl picks up a handful of books and carries them over to the picnic table. “I really enjoyed reading this one. It is about a woman who spent her life in Africa as a missionary.”

Amelia looks at the titles and authors and picks out a few books. “Pearl, when do you leave for your mission trip to Ecuador?”

“Our group will be leaving in December.”

“How long are you going for?”

“We will be gone for two weeks.”

“I always wanted to go on a mission trip. Maybe I will be able to go on one next year.”

“You could come with us in December.”

“I don’t think I have time to go with you this year Pearl; maybe another time.”

“What plans do you have for the summer, Amelia?”

“Right now, I am in the middle of taking care of Stella’s estate. I had better get back to the store. Do you have a cell phone where I can reach you?”

“I bought one last month. I found it was a real nuisance to be without a phone. My friends would come by to visit me at the boat, and they would leave a note saying they missed me. Dad is still of the old school, ‘no phones while you are at the boat’. Whenever he is around, I put the cell phone ringer on vibrate. This saves a lot of hard feelings between us.” Pearl writes her cell number on a piece of paper.

“Thank you. I am looking forward to seeing you Saturday.” It was good for the friends to be together. Amelia looks at her watch. “I need to go. I have a lot of work to do.”

 

It is after five when Amelia gets back to the store. Stan has left for the day, and she sees a note on her desk.

      Amelia,

      Sorry I missed you. I will see you after breakfast tomorrow.

      I have gone fishing.

      Stan.

Amelia puts the note in her pocket and goes through the door into her living quarters. She looks around the kitchen. Fred is sulking by his empty bowl, so she feeds him. She pulls out the leftover stew from the refrigerator and puts it in the microwave to heat. She walks down the hall to her bedroom and changes into something more comfortable before returning to the kitchen.

Instead of eating at the table, she takes her plate of leftovers with a glass of apple juice to her living room. When she is comfortable, she reaches for the channel changer, and clicks a few buttons. The TV screen comes alive. The news is half over,…ongoing salmonella outbreak in the United States is now the worst food outbreak they have had in years. The Centers for Disease Control reported that at least 1,000 people have become sick in recent weeks.

Officials announced that raw jalapeno peppers apparently caused some of the illness. They are concerned about certain types of tomatoes.

High winds and rising temperatures continue to stoke the wild fires in Northern California forcing more evacuations…

Amelia is saddened about the news and turns off the television. Most of the news I see on TV nowadays is depressing. She washes the dishes before going outside.

Amelia removes her sandals and goes for a long walk along the sandy beach. She wades out into the water and feels the minnows nibble at her toes. I miss my walks along the beach. She bends down and picks up several pieces of coloured glass to add to her collection.

The mosquitoes start biting her, so she runs to the enclosed sunroom. While she swings, she thinks back to the summer that her grandparents were visiting from England. My grandfather shook his head one night, after he was eaten alive by mosquitoes. He stated, ‘Who would think a small insect like a mosquito could be such a pest and spoil such a beautiful evening?’ My father helped him build the enclosed sunroom for Stella the next day.

I need to relax and not worry about what is happening all around me. The swing creaks as it glides back and forth.

I must get the oilcan and fix the squeak.

Amelia goes over to the workshop and returns with a can of special wood oil. Fred follows her into the sunroom and sits on the swing. Amelia sprays all the joints and soon the swing is silent once more.

She is able to unwind and relax. The worries of the past few months leave. A peaceful feeling comes over her.

Amelia picks up a book her friend Emily had given her the year before and thumbs through the pages. She stops at an interesting writing.

 

Let the Honey of the Holy Spirit

Drip from Your Lips

Let the Honey of the Holy Spirit drip from your lips.

These words keep going through my mind. I heard them at church on Sunday. Such simple down to earth words. They have the impact of a swarm of bees.


“HONEY”

Yes, honey. What do we think of when we hear the word honey?

Sweet nectar, produced by bees! A word of endearment shared between sweethearts. Honey and peanut butter sandwiches! Hot honey and lemon juice…made by your loving mother to help soothe your sore throat. Men delivering truckloads of beehives to an apple farmer so that the blossoms will be pollinated. Without honeybee’s, there is no fruit. Because of who we are, we will all have different memories of honey and the insect that makes it.

“BEES”

When I think of bees, I think of hard work. Before a bee can make a drop of honey, scout bees have to fly and search for flowers. When they find the right flower, they fly back to the hive and do a dance. All the worker bees have to pay close attention to every step, every wiggle of the stinger end and even listen to the sounds of their wings. With this information, the worker bees will be able to fly to the exact flower the scout bee has just left.

We, as Christians, need to listen to our pastors and spiritual leaders the same way as a worker bee listens to the scout bee. Our pastors spend hours each week praying and studying their Bible.

They come to us like scouting bees and share where they have found the sweet nectar in God’s word. With the new information that we are taught, we will be able to go into God’s word, the Bible, and gather more nectar. Our pastor wants us to gather up the information we read in God’s word and share it with our family and friends. In a few short months, the truths that have been shared by us in loving kindness cause sweet, sweet fruit to grow on our family tree. Our tree begins to produce good fruit.

Emily

This writing reminds me of Psalm 119:103. How sweet are Your words to my taste, oh God! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! “The more I read my Bible, the more I understand.” Amelia sits and ponders the words she has just read. The writing about honey and bees gives me so much to think about. I will photocopy it and put it in my purse. I need to read it several more times. I think I will write in my journal.

Amelia thinks back over her week before writing.

July 9, 2008

God, I need Your help. I want to be kinder and be a living witness for Jesus today. A lot of people are hurting in the world. I am safe here in Erieau. Please help them put the fires out in California and find where the salmonella outbreak originated, so they can stop it from spreading.

Mom complained that the negative reports on the news are slowing the sale of their greenhouse tomatoes and peppers. God, please help my father and my brothers find a solution for this new situation.

I have accepted the job at the local school teaching English, art, and journalism. This will give me the summers and weekends off. Jocelyn is going to help me run the store when I am at work.

I want to do whatever you want me to do. You have helped me with my decisions and are guiding my footsteps…

Amelia is startled when she wakes up. Where am I? Her journal and pencil have fallen to the floor. Then she remembers. I am still sitting on the swing. She rubs her neck to try to remove the kink. She picks up her pencil and journal and returns to her house. After feeding Freddie, she goes to bed.

 


A Visit with Isabel and Jocelyn

The ringing from her bedside phone wakes Amelia from a deep sleep, the kind of sleep that pulls your head back on the pillow and will not let you go. She reaches for the phone, “Hello.”

“Is that you, Amelia?”

With a sleepy voice she replies, “Yes, Mother.”

“You sound like you just woke up.”

“I did.” Amelia yawns.

“That is most unlike you, Amelia. You never sleep in. Are you okay?”

“Yes, Mother. I must have been tired. What time is it?”

“9:00.”

“Nine o’clock!” Amelia looks at her clock radio to make sure she heard her mother correctly and jumps out of bed. “It can’t be nine, already. Freddy didn’t wake me, and he always wants to be fed by eight.”

“Are you going to your Aunt Isabel today for lunch? Jocelyn is home for the weekend.”

“Yes, I plan on being there by 12:00.”

“That’s good.”

“Mother, I am able to relax now that I have made my decisions about what I am going to do about Stella’s Antique and Tearoom. I will talk over my new plans with you later. I am getting excited.”

“I am happy that you made your decision, Amelia. Your friends and family have been praying for you. I know it has been a difficult choice for you to make.”

“Thank you for your prayers, Mother. You were right when you told me that God would guide me if I trusted in Him. I know that keeping Stella’s open is what I should do for now. When I pray about it, I have peace.”

“God is always there waiting to help us, Amelia. We need to take small steps forward and hold on to His hand. He will lead us in the right direction just as your father did the time you were lost in the snowstorm.”

“I remember that day. I was on my way home from Pearl’s when this freak storm started. Within minutes, I was lost. I could not see my hand in front of me. I sent my dog Toffee to get help. I could not walk anymore and fell down. The snow started to drift over me. I knew God was with me. I felt a warm presence surrounding me as the cold snow started to cover me.”

“I was worried about you, Amelia. It was starting to snow, and it was getting dark. I phoned Pearl’s mother to tell her that you should stay the night.

“She told me, ‘Amelia had left with her dog Toffee and should have arrived home already’.

“Just then, there was a commotion at the door. Your dog Toffee had come home without you. She kept barking at the door. Your father got a rope, and tied it through Toffee’s, collar. He picked up a warm blanket then followed her out into the raging blizzard.

“Toffee took him to you, Amelia. You were about half of a mile down the road buried in a snowdrift. Your father took off his coat and wrapped you in it along with the blanket. You were unconscious. He removed his gloves and put them on your hands. He tied the rope around his wrist, so he could follow Toffee through the blinding snowstorm without getting lost. Finally, he picked you up and brought you home into the warmth and safety of my arms.

“Your father was crying. He didn’t stop to take care of himself until he tucked you into bed with a hot water bottle. Only then would your father let me attend to his frost bitten face and hands. Your Heavenly Father has this kind of love for you, Amelia. God’s love is even more than we can comprehend. He does listen to us when we ask Him for help.”

“I know that God has been listening to my prayers, Mother.”

“What are you going to do about your job at the newspaper and your apartment?”

“I talked with my boss, Mr. Hanks, last week, and he understands. I will write my final column for the newspaper next Wednesday, and then I will be finished.. Thank goodness for computers and e-mail.”

“They are handy. I don’t know what I would do without my computer. Because of computers and e-mail, we were able to keep in touch with each other after you moved to British Columbia a few years ago.

“I started the web page when I took the course at St. Clair College. I needed to learn how to do it if I were going to teach about computers at school. I received so much positive feedback that I have kept up the web page.”

“It was a real help to me while I was living out west, Mother. Whenever I felt homesick, I would click on wilburfarms.net and read your article called ‘Marvel’s Moments on the Farm’, by none other than Marvel Wilbur herself.’ I have saved all the articles you wrote. I even used some of your ideas for my newspaper column.”

“I enjoyed doing it. When will you be moving your stuff out of the apartment? I know your brothers and father will help you move.”

“They can go anytime. Beth, the girl who shares the apartment with me, said her sister starts college in September and wants to move into my room. They have packed up all my belongings for me.”

“That’s good news. God wants you to trust Him and consider all the options, then walk forward in faith, and make your decision. After doing all you could, you found that the doors around you opened. It will be so good having you live closer. I have missed you. The men in my home have outnumbered me, three to one, ever since you moved out,” Her mother laughs.

“I miss you also, Mom. Fortunately, we live close now and are able to visit back and forth. Could you bring me three dozen eggs and some vegetables when you come?”

“You want three dozen eggs, Amelia!” Her mother asks to make sure she heard correctly.

“Yes, Mother. The summer sisters are having a family barbecue next week, and I need some eggs for the Young Adult’s barbecue on Saturday. They all want me to bring my special deviled eggs to their potluck dinners.”

“That reminds me, did I ever tell you about the potluck lunch your grandmother went to during the Depression?”

“No, Mother.”

“Money was scarce and the hens laid extra eggs in the hen house that year. To cut down on expenses, the women all brought large plates filled with deviled eggs. Your grandmother told me, ‘We ate deviled eggs for our salad, for our main course, and for dessert.’ Someone took a picture of the table filled with ten plates of deviled eggs. One woman wrote a story and sent it along with the photo to a farming magazine.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“No, Amelia, my mother said, ‘it was lucky that someone thought to bring some punch. Deviled eggs are hard to drink.’ I will bring the magazine clipping and show it to you. Is there anything else you need?”

“Yes. I need two T-bone steaks, two chicken breasts, and two pounds of ground beef.”

“What am I your local grocery store?” her mother teases. “I will pack you a care package. You will need to bring two coolers to hold it all. I picked some peas, beans, and spinach. I even stole a few potatoes this morning. Your father brought a side of beef home from the abattoir in Ridgetown, yesterday. Fortunately, I haven’t frozen all the steaks, yet.”

“Thanks, Mom, you are better than a grocery store. The taste of store-bought meat is not the same. Your meat is grain fed without chemicals, and the flavor is so much better. I will see you later. I love you, Mother.” Fred jumps on her lap with a look that could kill a mouse. “I need to go and feed Freddy.”

Amelia rubs Freddy under his chin. “What happened to my alarm clock this morning? I am late because you didn’t wake me up.” She checks him over and finds nothing wrong, so she goes to the kitchen. “I forgot to set the timer on the coffee pot.” She turns it on and scoops a dish of food for Freddy.

After filling her cup with coffee, she returns to her bedroom with a banana and a muffin along with her coffee. She sets them on the table beside her before she gets comfortable in her easy chair. She sits back and relaxes as she prays for all the needs around her.

Thursday July 10, 2008

Dear God, You have been so good to me. You helped me while I made difficult choices in the past few months. It will be hard for me to give up my job at the newspaper.

You helped Beth find someone to take my place at the apartment. Words are not enough to tell you how much I love my family...”

When Amelia is finished praying, she thinks of the words from one of her favourite Psalms. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

I remember an exercise we did at church camp. The instructor told us, ‘Shut your eyes and say the above Psalm, then drop a word off each time.’ let me see, how did it go?

She opens her Bible to Psalm 46:10 and finds a handy note with these words written on it.

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be

After Amelia is finished meditating and praying, she looks out her window and sees two robins pulling worms out of the grass. God is sure blessing me today. This reminds me of a poem my friend Emily sent me. She goes over to her desk and finds it in her file under Robin.

 

The Robin

Learn to listen to God as the Robin listens for his breakfast.

When you take time to pray today, remember to listen for the whisper of God.

The Robin gets up early when the dew is still wet on the ground, just as the sun is budding over the horizon.

He walks silently over the dew-wet grass listening for the sound of worms crawling just beneath the surface.

His life depends on it!

What hearing!

How quiet he must be to hear a worm!

Can we take a lesson on listening to God from the robin?

Our life depends on it!

A robin’s hearing has to be sharp to hear the silent slithering of a worm just below his feet.

Have you heard a worm?

Have you heard God’s voice?

God speaks to us each day.

We need to rise with the sun before we are distracted and listen for God’s voice.

It comes ever so quietly like a worm crawling just below our feet.

Be still and listen, not for worms, but for God’s voice whispering,

“Come to Me.

I am here.

I love you.

Let us pray.”

By Emily


Two robins tilt their heads back and forth, as they search for worms in the lawn to feed their hungry family. You would almost think they were listening. I will never look at a robin again without thinking about this poem. I need to thank Emily for sending it to me when I see her.

She glances at her watch. It is 10:30. Where has all the time gone? I need to hurry. She gets up from her chair, and has a shower. She goes back to her room and opens the closet. What will I wear? She selects a light blue shift. She goes to her computer and checks her e-mail. Her boss, Mr. Hanks, wants her to phone him on Tuesday, as he will be away from his desk until then.

It is a beautiful sunny day. Shortly before 11:30, she grabs her coolers and camera and heads for Cedar Springs.

Amelia turns left at the intersection by McGeachy Pond and pulls off to the side of the road to watch the graceful swans as they swim near the bulrushes. They are protecting their babies.

An enormous turtle suns himself on an old rotten log. It seems like he does not have a care in the world. Amelia takes several pictures of the swans and turtle. Some day, I might want to do a painting of them. I wish I could sit here all day, but my mother is expecting me. Reluctantly, she wanders back to her van and heads down the road.

As she drives through Erie Beach, she notices cars and campers at the church campgrounds. I wonder what is going on. As she rounds the corner, she notices a farmer spraying the fields with the smelly fertilizer that comes from Toronto. Her nose has picked up the scent of the disgusting smells, her eyes water, and she turns up her nose. “Yuck,” she says aloud as she winds up her windows to keep out the awful stench.

When Amelia pulls into the long, winding country driveway near Cedar Springs, she sees her family sitting in the screened-in gazebo on the front lawn. They all get up to greet her, “It is good to see you, Amelia”

Amelia gives them a hug. After some chitchat, Isabel says, “We need to prepare lunch.” Isabel and her mother go to the kitchen.

Amelia sits beside Jocelyn and says, “You can move your belongings into your old bedroom any time you want. Here is a set of keys for you. I am looking forward to working with you. We will be able to go to estate auctions as Stella used to do and buy replacements for the store. Our mothers will help us do some of the baking.”

“It will not be the same living there without Stella. I still have a hard time believing Stella is dead. She was always so bright and cheerful.”

“I know, Jocelyn. I am adjusting to her not being around. The hardest part is when I go out to Stella’s Antiques and pick up some of her treasures. That is when the tears flow…”

“I know what you mean, Amelia.

“I am redoing your old bedroom, Jocelyn. Mother and I painted the room light chiffon pink last week. I know it is one of your favorite colours. Do you have some store flyers? We can pick out some new drapes and a bedspread with wallpaper trim to match.”

“That will be fun. I love looking through store flyers.” Jocelyn retrieves several flyers from the blue recycling bin. The girls take them into the dining room and spread them out on the table.

Jocelyn points to a page. “I like this ultra-soft, white chenille bedspread that is covered in red roses. It has matching curtains and wallpaper trim.”

“It is beautiful. I have business in Chatham tomorrow morning. I will phone and see if they still have it in stock.” Amelia picks up the phone and calls the department store. She smiles and says, “They have some left. They will put it on hold for me and I will pick it up in the morning.”

Isabel comes into the room and announces, “Lunch is ready.”

They sit around the table, and Isabel prays. “Heavenly Father, we thank you for all our blessings. Help us as we plan to reopen Stella’s in a few weeks…”

They enjoy eating the cold fried chicken along with potato salad, sliced tomatoes, and fresh garden greens topped with some homemade salad dressing.

After they are finished, Amelia says, “Thanks for coming and helping me run Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom, Jocelyn. I know Stella has trained you well.”

Turning to her mother and Isabel, she says, “I know you both helped Stella with the baking in the past. You are the only two women that I would trust to take Stella’s place in the kitchen. I know her customers will not be disappointed with your baking.

“Look at me.” Amelia begins to laugh. “I have gained weight since I returned to Erieau. Eating your care packages has increased the size of my waistline.”

Everyone starts to laugh. Amelia has always had a struggle with her weight.

Jocelyn says, “You look good to me, Amelia. I wish I could have a few of your pounds.” Jocelyn is as skinny as a beanpole and has always been as skinny as a beanpole. They all start to relax.

Jocelyn and Isabel grab some empty dishes and take them to the kitchen. They return with dessert. Isabel serves them a generous portion of pie, and Jocelyn tops it with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.

Amelia takes a bite and asks, “What kind of pie is this, Isabel? It is the best I have ever tasted.”

“It is black cherry, raspberry pie, Amelia. It was one of your great grandmother’s recipes. She brought it over from England in 1895. I found it in her cookbook the other day, so I thought I would try it. I have photocopied all her recipes for you.”

Isabel goes into her office and returns with three binders of recipes. “You might want us to use some of these for your tearoom, Amelia.”

“Thanks.” Amelia reads over the handwritten cherry pie recipe.

 

Black Cherry and Raspberry Pie

One cup of sugar

Two tablespoons of flour

Two cups of red or black raspberries

Two cups of black cherries

One teaspoon of lemon juice

Pastry for a two-crust pie

Combine the sugar, and flour, with a pinch of salt. Mix in the fruits and lemon juice. Let the fruit mixture stand for 20 minutes. Spoon into a pastry lined pie plate and dot with butter. Arrange top crust. Bake 50 minutes in a hot oven.

“Thanks, Isabel. I will try making it some day.” Amelia takes another bite of pie. “It doesn’t have as many raspberry seeds, but it still has the tart raspberry flavor.”

“It is good,” Jocelyn says.

Amelia tells them, “When I lived in the apartment, my roommate went to the store and bought pie shells already rolled out and filled them with canned pie filling. She didn’t know what she was talking about when she called her pies homemade.”

Isabel smiles as she thinks about her childhood. “It is not like the olden days. I can remember helping my mother bake twenty pies and ten loaves of bread every day during the wheat harvest. We had to feed the harvesters. Some of the men would fill their plates with half a chicken, top it with mashed potatoes and gravy along with fresh garden vegetables, and then come back for seconds.

“We could never fill your father up. I kept telling my mother, ‘Randal must have a hollow leg. He can eat a whole pie in one sitting’. Mother would say, ‘Leave him alone. He is just a growing boy’.”

Marvel laughs and says, “He will still try to eat a whole pie if I don’t stop him.”

They all laugh.

Isabel continues, “We never ran out of food, but we had to do the dishes before we set the bread to rise. Not only did we have to cook the food and clean up, we had to feed the chickens, slop the pigs, and milk the cows. When we were finished with our chores, we went to bed so that we could get up early in the morning and start all over. Life was not easy for my mother.

“It is much easier now. The men pack a lunch and drive home and eat with their families after a hard day’s work.”

Marvel replies. “Yes, Isabel. It is a lot of work running a farm. I lived in the city until I married your brother. He took over the family farm after your father died. Now, instead of baking pies and bread, I have hours of paperwork to do for the government. Thank goodness for computers.”

Amelia gets to her feet, “Thanks for the lunch, Isabel. Jocelyn and I will clean up the kitchen while you chat with Mother.” Jocelyn helps carry the dirty dishes to the kitchen. While they are cleaning up, they continue to talk.

Amelia smiles as she says. “I am looking forward to having you move in with me, Jocelyn.”

“I learned so much while I was working for your Aunt Stella. I love antiques.”

“I know Jocelyn. Stella was a good teacher. She never settled for second best. She always encouraged me to try harder and would tell me, ‘If a job is worth doing, it should be done right’.”

“She was the same with me, Amelia.”

When everything is put away, they walk out to Amelia’s van. Her mother exchanges the coolers and Isabel sends her home with another container of cookies.

“Thank you. I have enough food to feed everyone in Erieau,” Amelia teases, as she shuts her van door and heads for home.

It is two o’clock when Amelia pulls into her driveway. She has had an enjoyable morning. She always feels better after an uplifting visit with her family. Her Aunt Isabel’s laughter is contagious.

Jocelyn, her cousin who is two years younger than she, is like the little sister she never had. Amelia taught Jocelyn to swim, and the two of them had many adventures together.

Her mother, true to her word, had filled the coolers and grocery bags with what she asked for and more was thrown in for good measure. As Amelia looks at all the food, she is thankful for her loving family.

I should get the chicken marinating for supper before I go over to the tearoom. She removes a chicken breast from the package and puts it into a Zip Lock bag.

She goes to the fridge and pours 2 tbsp. of Catalina Dressing and ¼ cup of cranberry sauce into the bag. She reaches into her crisper and removes an onion and a yellow pepper. She chops up 2 tbsp. of each and adds it to the bag with the chicken, along with two sliced up pineapple rings. Taking out her garlic press, she crushes a clove of garlic into the bag. She seals the bag and squishes it around in her hand, then puts it on a plate in the refrigerator.

“It will taste good over rice.” She chops up a small salad and puts it in the fridge.

She finishes putting all the supplies where they belong and goes to her room to freshen up.

 

 

 

Books from Germany

Amelia picks up two plastic containers with an assortment of fancy cookies. Then she heads over to the Stella’s Tearoom.

She starts filling a plate with the cookies. Her friend, Brenda who owns the Sunshine Bed and Breakfast walks over. “I have been helping Ben and Kim. You don’t mind if I take a cookie. They look so good.”

“Take all you want, Brenda. Thanks for coming to help us.”

Brenda takes a bite out of a thumbprint cookie. “Wow, they are delicious, Amelia. Who made these scrumptious tasting cookies for us?”

“You can thank my Aunt Isabel and my Mother Marvel for sending these containers of cookies. Did I tell you, they are going to do most of the baking for the tearoom?”

“No, you didn’t, Amelia. That will save you a lot of time. I am so happy that you are staying. Erieau wouldn’t be the same without Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom.”

“My cousin Jocelyn will help me run the place. You know her, Brenda. She helped Stella after I moved away.”

“Yes, isn’t she the young girl with the blond hair that used to be your shadow.”

“Yes, that’s Jocelyn.”

“She was a dependable worker. Let me take over making the tea and coffee for you, Amelia. You must have other work that you need to do.”

“Thank you, Brenda. I have so much to do.” Amelia pulls out a notebook from her briefcase and starts to look at her work list. Vacuum, dust, and clean the windows-- will I ever get finished in time?

Amelia puts down the list and looks around the tearoom. It is well organized. Stella has a separate place to put her supplies. I am glad that Stella bought an under-the-counter commercial dishwasher. She had it installed to meet the Ontario health codes.

Amelia watches as Brenda fills a coffee percolator with cold water, grinds some coffee beans, and puts them into the top of the coffeepot. Stella was fussy. She would only serve perked, coffee made with fresh ground coffee beans in her tearoom.

Soon the comforting sound of a coffeepot perking and the teakettle whistling fills the room. Brenda gets the teapot and measures some loose tea into a mesh stainless steel tea infuser. She rinses the teapot with boiling hot water, dumps it out, and then pours the rest of the hot boiling water over the tea infuser into the teapot. She picks up a knitted, tea cozy from the shelf and puts it over the teapot to keep it hot.

Stella always cooked and made tea the way her mother from England had taught her. Amelia thinks about the year she turned sixteen. I flew with my mother to visit my grandmother in England. I stayed there for a month. I spent every afternoon in the kitchen helping her prepare High Tea.

She draws in a deep breath. Oh my, the coffee smells good!

When Brenda is finished, she announces, “Some delicious homemade cookies along with a pot of tea and coffee are ready.”

Ben lifts his head from the showcase he is working on and smiles as he says. “I thought I smelled coffee. I will be right up.”

Stan pours a mug of coffee, fills a plate with cookies, and walks over to the corner table where Amelia is sitting. “Do you mind if I join you, Amelia?”

“Take a seat, Stan. How are you doing?”

“Kim has finished scanning all the ledgers for me. She has done an excellent job and saved me hours of work.”

“Kim always insisted on keeping accurate ledgers, Stan. She dated and numbered all the artifacts lent, given as a donation, or purchased by the Guild. She always took a photo of the person who gave the gift for her records.”

“Her precise work has been a big help to me, Amelia. I have found the stories the people have been telling interesting. I might use some of them in the book I am writing.”

“What are you writing about, Stan?”

“The book is called, Treasures in the Attic.”

Amelia tells him, “I have several interesting treasures that I have found in attics. I will show them to you after I move.”

“You are moving?” Stan asks inquisitively.

“Yes, I gave my notice at the newspaper last month and will be moving my belongings to Erieau in a few days. I start teaching school in September. My cousin Jocelyn is coming to run the store for me.”

Kim’s excited voice interrupts their conversation, “Look at what I found in this box of old photographs, Amelia!” She shows her a photo of a woman holding a package. “Do you know who this is?”

Amelia smiles as she looks at the photo. “It is a picture of Mollie! I remember the day she gave the picture to us.”

Amelia walks over, reaches into the box, and pulls out a large notebook, “Good, some of the stories that Mollie wrote are still in the box. This is my favorite. Do you want to read it for us, Kim?”

“Yes, I will. Kim looks at the title, “The Package.”

Amelia tells everyone, “fill up your cups and help yourself to more cookies. Kim is going to read us an interesting story, so gather round.”

Kim begins reading. “This is a story written by Mollie.”

 

The Package

The war in Europe had been raging for two years. I received a phone call telling me that I was to report to Canada Customs in Erieau that afternoon. They had an important package for me.

As my husband and I walked down to the docks where the Customs Office was, I thought, who would be sending me a package. I don’t remember ordering anything.

When I arrived at the Customs office, they told my husband to wait in the waiting room while the custom’s officer took me to a back room. It was as if I was in a small jail cell. The windows had bars on them, and an armed guard stood at the door.

A man in a dark suit with a green striped tie and red suspenders was waiting behind a desk.

He shouted as if he were used to giving orders. “Sit down. What is your name?”

“I am Mollie Vidler.”

“Who do you know in Germany?”

I told him, “I don’t know anyone in Germany.”

He looked as if he did not believe me. He continued to question me. “Where were you born?”

“I was born in England. I have my birth certificate.”

“We will check it out later. What is your father and mother’s nationality? What country were they born in?”

“I told him. My parents were both British citizens, born in England. By this time, I was getting uneasy.

“Have you ever been to Germany?”

“Yes” I told him, “I was in Germany during the First World War.”

The words were no sooner out of my mouth when the man in the dark suit with the green striped tie and red suspenders asked, “What were you doing there?”

I told him, “I helped the British Army. I took care of injured soldiers in the back of an ambulance during the war.” This is bad--what is this all about? what have I done wrong?

The final question shocked me. “Are you a personal friend of Adolf Hitler?”

I started to panic. Canada had been at war with Germany for over a year, and Adolf Hitler was the German leader.

“I…do not know Adolf Hitler.” My hands were getting clammy.

They continued to question me. The interrogator with the green-striped tie and red suspenders sitting in front of me looked me in the eye. I remember that he had dark, eerie brown-black, eyes. “Mollie, you lie,” he whispered, “You do know Adolf Hitler?”

I jumped off my seat and told him in a loud voice. “I told you I have never met Adolf Hitler, and I have never lied in my life.” I was livid, how dare this man call me a liar. By this time, the sweat was pouring off my face, and I was shaking uncontrollably. He went on and on as if he did not hear or want to believe the answers I gave to the previous questions.

“What connections do you have with Germany, and I want the truth. This is serious?”

“I have no connections with Germany.” When I started to reach into my purse to get some identification, the guard standing by the interrogator grabbed my purse and dumped it out on the table. He searched through the contents in front of him and put everything into a large red box. He took out a black pen and wrote, Mollie Vidler, on the box.

He yelled at me, “Don’t do that again, Mollie. Keep your hands on the table. Only do what you are told.”

After they had gone over the same questions several more times the man with the green-striped tie and red suspenders exclaimed in a gruff authoritative voice, “This is enough!” He took the red box with my purse and identification papers and left the room.

I sat there not knowing if they would keep me or let me go home. I got scared sitting at the table with the guard at the door. I did not move a muscle. Were they going to arrest me for something I did not do?

The man with the green-striped tie and red suspenders finally returned. He had a smile on his face as if nothing had happened.

“Mollie, you are who you say you are. We checked out all your papers, and they are in order. I phoned your friend, the Army General whose letter was in your purse, and he vouched for you.”

The man, with the green-striped tie and red suspenders smiled as he gave me the red box with the contents of my purse. The customs agent had me sign for another package they had opened. “You can take your package and this letter from Adolf Hitler home with you, but I am still curious, Mollie. Why would Adolf Hitler be sending you a package of books?”

I told the man, with the green-striped tie and red suspenders, “I don’t know.”

I shoved the contents of the red box back into my purse as fast as I could, picked up the package, and ran out to where my husband had been waiting for several hours. He took me in his arms to calm me down. He carried the package because I was so shaky.

I could hardly wait to get home to open it. As soon as I was inside the door, I set it on the table. I reached in and pulled out the letter. Fortunately, it had been translated into English.

Mollie

I am sending you these books to thank you for the two books of poems you sent to me a few years ago. I am sorry that it took me so long to reply. I have been busy…

Yours sincerely,

Adolf Hitler

 

I opened the package. It contained three books. Two of the books were the Mein Kampf written by Adolf Hitler in 1925. One was in German and the other was written in English. Adolf Hitler had signed both copies.

The package also contained a scrapbook filled with detailed maps of the waterways, harbours, cities, and canals all over Germany.

I did some research about the Mein Kampf after the war. I found out that when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, he sold millions of copies of his book. Germans considered it proper to own a copy of the Mein Kampf. People used it for gifts and gave them to newlyweds, high school graduates, etc. Few Germans ever read the book. Most of the copies of that book collected dust on a shelf.

It has been stated that if the war departments of the world had read the book from cover to cover, they would have had a better understanding of this evil person Hitler and his intentions. Maybe they would have stopped him before the Second World War ever started. We will never know.

I was reading the newspaper from Toronto the following week. In big bold print, there was a notice.

 

The War Department

We want anyone who has maps of Germany or any other information to contact the War Department. Any information, you can find is vital to the government and will help us with the war effort. We will arrange to have it picked up, and we will return it to you after we make a copy.

I phoned my friend, the Army General, and told him my story about the books. He arranged to have them picked up and taken to the War Department.

The General wrote after the war was over and told me that the information on the detailed maps I sent were used to help the pilots know where to drop their bombs. They used the accurate drawings of the beaches and harbours to help with the invasion on D-Day.

The War Department sent me a personal letter thanking me for my help, when they returned the books to me after the war ended. “Who would think that a kind deed, like sending two books of poems to the leader of Germany, in the late thirties, would help win a war?

Mollie

 

The story stirs up much talk in the room. Some of the people come over and examine the pictures and the book written by Mollie.

The women start to clean up the kitchen.

Stan looks at his watch. It is 4:30. I must leave.

Stan faxes a copy of the work he has done that day to his office and backs up a copy on his portable SanDisk just in case something happens to his computer. Then he puts it in his pocket.

He stores his belongings in a large box and puts it on a shelf in the back room. He takes his briefcase and camera out to the truck, hides them in a specially-made compartment hidden under the back seat, and locks it. The hidden compartment looks like part of the original truck.

The year before someone broke into his truck and stole all his equipment. He was in a hurry and had not made a backup of his day’s work. He had to redo it. Six hours of wasted work had taught him a valuable lesson.

Amelia comes over to his truck and speaks with him, “Are you finished for the day, Stan?”

“Yes, I have to hurry. It is an hour’s drive to my parents’ home in Mount Brydges. Mother is expecting me for supper. She has some cousins from Holland visiting.”

Amelia knows he is in a hurry, but she doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to invite Stan. She says, “Our Young Adult Group from church is having a barbecue on Saturday afternoon. Would you like to come with me?”

“I haven’t anything else planned. Yes, I would like to come.” I am pleased Amelia has asked me. “I need to be in London Friday morning to finish some work in my office. I will be returning to Erieau, Saturday morning.”

“That’s good. Do you have a bike, Stan?”

“Yes.”

“Please bring it on Saturday. We will be going for a bike ride around Rondeau Park before supper.”

“I will make a note.” He takes out his daily planner and writes himself a reminder. “Do you have a bike rack, or do you want me to drive my truck?”

“It will be easier if you drive your truck.”

“Good, what time should I pick you up?”

“Around one o’clock will be soon enough.”

“Amelia, my uncle has invited me to go fishing on his boat, Monday. Would you like to join us?”

“Yes, I love to fish. It is one of my favorite pastimes along with writing.”

After looking at his watch Stan says, “We can talk more about the fishing trip on Saturday. I am running late.”

“Have a safe trip, Stan.”

“Thanks.”

Stan starts the truck and drives down the road.

Amelia goes into her kitchen. I feel as if I have met Stan before. I have seen that smile somewhere. He seems like a kind young man, and he is a Christian. I think I would like to get to know more about him.

Freddy comes over and starts rubbing his shiny, soft fur along her leg. “Okay Fred, I will feed you.” She puts a scoop of his special food in his dish and fills the other one with water.

Amelia pours a glass of iced tea. She takes the chicken out of the fridge and empties the contents into a small ovenproof dish. She puts it into the oven at 350 degrees, and sets the timer for 30 minutes. She pours some rice into her rice steamer then sets the table.

She wanders into the living room and picks up a book her friend Pearl lent her. She sits spellbound while she reads the adventures this missionary family has had while living in Bolivia. When the oven timer goes off, she puts a bookmark in the book. Someday I will go on a mission trip just like the family in the book. I can’t believe that they send children to live in prison with their mothers in Bolivia.

Amelia reluctantly puts the book down and goes to the kitchen to remove the chicken. She fills her plate. After taking her first bite, she says, “This chicken is delicious, Freddy. I will have to phone Jan and thank her for the recipe. I know I changed it by adding onions, peppers, garlic, and pineapple.”

When she is finished eating, she washes the dishes and returns to her comfortable couch and clicks on the remote. The television comes to life with the seven o’clock news…a military medic is our latest Canadian soldier to die. He was killed in an explosion on July 6th while on foot patrol near Kandahar city.

The fires are still raging out of control in California and there is no letup in sight.

There is no word, yet, on where the ongoing salmonella outbreak originated. It is now the worst food outbreak in years. The Center for Disease Control reported today that some people are still getting sick. Raw jalapeno peppers have apparently caused some of the illnesses. Officials announced yesterday that they are concerned about certain types of tomatoes.

Gas prices are at an all-time high, and it is interfering with the tourist industry. More and more people are staying home instead of traveling very far for their holidays.

The costs of groceries, has skyrocketed. Milk and bread prices are going up every day. The price of flour continues to rise.

The weather for tomorrow calls for sun with a few clouds…

Amelia turns the television off and picks up her book of devotions. It has been a long day, and I am tired.

She reads from Zephaniah, 3:17. “I will personalize this verse.”

Let God Love You. The Lord my God is in my midst. He is my victorious warrior and will save me. God rejoices over me with shouts of joy. I will rest in God’s love.

“God, this has been an interesting week with many surprises. I have learned so much...”

When she is through praying, Amelia picks up Freddy, “Let’s go out and sit on the swing and watch for the first start.” She opens the door and carries her special friend to the enclosed sun porch. She sits him on the swing with her. “I want to tell you about my day, Freddy. Stan is such an interesting young man...”

 

 

 

God’s Whisper

Amelia sits in her favorite chair in her bedroom, and remembers back to the ‘Journal, Through Your Bible Conference’, that she attended the year before. Phyllis, the guest speaker taught us several different methods on journaling. Phyllis shared, ‘When you are reading your Bible, slow down. Ponder the words in your heart. Personalize the scriptures. Write them in your journal. Add your own name wherever possible’.

I spent the weekend reading and meditating on God’s Word. The scriptures came alive. They had more meaning. Phyllis told us, ‘Apply what you learn while reading your Bible. The words you read should change how you live your lives. Share the love you have for Jesus with your friends and others. Ask God what He wants you to do each day’.

“God, what are you trying to tell me today?” She opens her devotion and reads.

 

Memories

It was good to see all my friends and family at my seventy-fifth birthday party last month.

My arthritis is acting up again. I need to go to the store, but I am so sore. I only have $40.00 left until my pension check comes in. Let me see--it will cost $4.00 for the bus ride and $1.50 for the milk. I need eggs at $2.35 a dozen. I forgot to buy margarine last Wednesday. It will cost me $1.25. A jar of jam would be nice, but it costs $2.85 a jar. I guess all I really need is a quart of milk. It seems my milk sours before I can finish the quart. It was not that way when Sam was alive. The bus will be here in ten minutes. Oh well, I can always have dry toast and tea again for breakfast.

Maybe someone will come to see me today. It is so lonely. I just want to feel a hug. Yes, I know You love me God, but a hug means so much. To look into someone’s eyes, and see love…to feel their arms around me…to actually feel real love.

Yes, I need to feel loved. Oh well! Maybe a cup of tea will help. Now, where was I in my Bible? My Bible brings me so much comfort.

Isaiah 55:1 paraphrased: Come everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters. And, if you have no money, come, buy and eat; come and buy wine and milk without money and without price.

“I can do without the wine, God, but a bowl of hot oats with milk would taste good, right now.

“I know, God! But, can’t a person wish!

“Is that the phone? Just a minute! Coming!

“Hello! Yes, this is. Yes, I will be home today.

“I do need a quart of milk and some margarine. You made homemade jam. Yes, I would like to try it. Raspberry! That is my favorite. Thank you, Jill. I will be waiting for you. Bye!”

“Thank you, God! You provide all my needs and even some of my wants. Just think--raspberry jam.”

When you get old and are seventy-five, and you do not have enough food to keep you alive, remember the scripture: Come to Me, all those who are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.

By Martha

Your Prayers

Your prayers are heard by Your father above.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help from your sisters and brothers at your church.

They care. They need to know when you are in need. This way they can become God’s hands to reach out with blessings of love, hope, and charity.

 

Amelia takes a sip of her coffee before she picks up her well-used journal and writes July 11, 2008, at the top of a crisp new page.

My thoughts for today

“God, the words I read in the Bible this morning encouraged me. You have blessed me with kind friends and family. They came and blessed me in my time of need.

I have made some difficult decisions lately that will change my life. I always want to do what is right. Help me live my life so that I will remember to put You first. Help me to try to be like Jill in the story and look around to help the people I see that have a need. Help me to…”

When Amelia is finished praying, she goes into her kitchen.

She opens the door of her well-stocked pantry and thinks of Mrs. Gomer. Her husband died the year before, and she is all-alone.

I know what I will do. I will make a care package for Mrs. Gomer and drop it off on my way into town.

She picks up the phone and dials her number.

“Mrs. Gomer. It is Amelia. Are you going to be home today?”

“You are. That’s good. I will be driving by your place around 9:15. I have something for you.”

“Yes, I have time to have a cup of tea with you.”

“See you later.”

I hope Emily will be home. I want to visit her while I am in Chatham buying Fred his special cat food.

She dials her friend’s number.

A voice answers, “Hello.”

“Is this Emily?”

“Yes.”

“This is Amelia. How are you feeling?”

“Better now.”

“That’s marvelous news, Emily. I have been praying for you.”

“Thank you. I appreciate all the prayers.”

“I will be shopping in Chatham this morning. Freddy is out of cat food.”

“Are you still pampering that fat cat?”

“Yes, Emily. We all love Freddy the Freeloader. Will you be home today?”

“Yes, I will.”

“Good, I will come and visit you.”

“Come for lunch.”

“Only if I can bring it. My family gave me a care package yesterday. My fridge is overflowing with food.”

“Don’t go to any trouble.”

“I won’t. Most of the food is already prepared.”

“I am looking forward to visiting with you, Amelia.”

Amelia hangs up the phone, says a silent prayer for her friend, and returns to her bedroom. She carefully wraps the old family Bible in some tissue paper and packs it in a protective box.

Amelia feels happy when she returns to the kitchen. She turns on her CD player and hums along with the familiar words while she refills her coffee mug and makes breakfast. She smiles as she watches two farm-fresh eggs sizzle in the frying pan. My life is good.

Freddy rubs his fur against her leg. “What do you want, Freddy?” She opens the door and shoos him out. “Stay away from the ice cream shop, Fred.” Freddy can be dangerous in the kitchen. I have tripped over him on several occasions.

While Amelia eats her breakfast, she glances out the window. The white, fluffy clouds look like cotton balls as they float across the sky. The boats race out onto the lake so the competitors can find the perfect fishing spot. It is a fantastic day to finish the two-week fishing derby. Amelia had helped served hamburgers a few weeks before when it started.

Amelia thinks about the day ahead as she puts her breakfast dishes in the dishwasher. She starts to fill two coolers. Let me see-a jar of blueberry jam for Mrs. Gomer…

A breeze blows in the open windows of Amelia’s van, as she drives past the majestic trees lining the boulevard in Erieau. You couldn’t ask for a nicer summer morning!

Her CD plays soft music as she drives by McGeachy Pond. The swans are hiding in the tall, marsh grass at the far edge of the pond. She looks toward Chatham and notices that the smokestack is spewing dirty clouds of smoke into the sky.

I will have to phone and see if they will give me a tour of the plant. It would be an interesting article to write… I forgot; I am not a reporter anymore… O, but I could have my class write about it when I start teaching in September.

Amelia pulls into a familiar driveway and stops the van. She lifts out a heavy cooler. Mrs. Gomer opens the door. With a catch in her voice, she says, “It is so good to see you, Amelia.”

They hug each other. Memories come flooding back of Mrs. Gomer standing at the door greeting her kindergarten students for Sunday school. Amelia carries the cooler into the kitchen and sits it on a stool. “My mother and Aunt Isabel have been overfeeding me again,” she laughs.

Amelia sits at the table and examines a dainty, floral teacup. A knitted, tea cozy covers a fancy teapot. She watches as her friend puts the food away. Her shelves are empty.

Mrs. Gomer opens the container of muffins that were in the cooler and puts two on a plate. She sits across from Amelia and  pours her a hot cup of tea with shaking hands. “Sorry I have no milk. It went sour yesterday.”

That is no problem. Amelia spoons a teaspoon of sugar and some powdered creamer into her tea.

With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Gomer says, “I had to give up driving because of my health. I have sold the house and will be moving to a small apartment in Chatham in September.” She looks around the room. With sadness in her voice she says, “I will have to sell everything.”

“I am sorry to hear that. Can I help you in any way?”

“Yes, I heard from your mother that you are opening Stella’s Antiques and Tea Room at the end of the month. I have a lifetime of memories to get rid of. Peter and I were missionaries for 20 years and traveled to so many countries.” Pointing around the room, she says, “We brought home all these different treasures. They were gifts from our friends.”

Amelia looks around the room and smiles at all the interesting items and says, “Why don’t you have your family make up a list and put the price of what you want on it, and I will look it over the next time I see you.”

“That is a good idea, Amelia. My daughter Colleen is coming home for two weeks.”

The two friends sit and chat for a while. Amelia looks at her watch and says, “I need to go. I have some shopping to do in Chatham.”

They hug each other. Amelia promises to visit again.

Amelia gets in her van and drives to the store. She walks around before going to the bedroom area. The clerk is friendly and finds the package for her. Amelia pays for it and takes it out to her van. She drives across town to a small plaza.

When she gets out of her van, the air is heavy with an unpleasant stench of sour, roasted corn. A southwest wind is blowing the billowing smoke from the large chimneys across the river towards her. Yuck, I would not like to smell that all the time. She looks around at all the apartments. It must be hard for the people around here to go for a walk with this disgusting odor in the air. She has to hold her breath while she walks to the pet shop. She pays for two bags of special cat food and a new toy mouse for Freddy.

She drives over to the department store and picks out several, new summer outfits. Mother will love this lavender pantsuit. She adds it to her shopping cart. The shoe department has several specials, so she picks out a new pair of sandals and running shoes. When she is walking by the jewelry department, she sees a beautiful gold brooch with a white dove. Emily will love this. Her cart is full when she is finished shopping.

This is Amelia’s first time shopping for herself since she inherited some money from her Aunt Stella. Amelia has never been a compulsive shopper because she had to pay off her student loans. She learned how to be thrifty and sewed most of her own clothes.

After Amelia is finished shopping, she returns to her van. It is shortly after 11:30. I am finished early. Emily is not expecting me until 12:00.

Amelia gets in her van, locks her door, and puts her seat back so she can rest. I am so blessed. It is hard for me to believe. The money from Stella’s life insurance came in last week, and I will never have to worry about money again. I wrote a check and paid off all my student loans.

“God, help me to use wisdom on how I spend the inheritance Stella has left me. Help me to stay in Your will in all I do and say.” I had such a wonderful visit with Mrs. Gomer. I wonder how many other women are in need of a visit.

She sits in her van and studies the people coming and going from the department store. Her years spent as a reporter at the newspaper had taught Amelia how to observe people.

A young woman parks her car in a handicap parking spot. She opens the trunk and pulls out a walker. Amelia notices the concern on the young woman’s face as she helps a frail, older woman get out of the car.

The older woman’s knuckles turn white as she grips the handle of the walker. She walks too fast and starts to trip over a stone. The younger woman reaches out her hand, steadies the older woman and says with love in her voice, “You can do it, Mother. Slow down. You do not have to hurry. I will walk beside you.”

A young mother parks in the spot across from Amelia. She walks over to where the carts are stored and returns with a big shopping cart. She reaches into the van and puts a baby and then a toddler into the cart. With one hand on the cart so it will not run away with her children, she grabs her purse and a diaper bag. The mother looks tired as she pushes the shopping cart toward the store. The baby begins to cry.

“Who are these people, God? What are they feeling? We walk pass so many people during the day, but we do not even take the time to smile at them. Do you want us to be so busy, God? Slow me down, Lord, and let me look into the eyes of the people around me and see their needs.”

As Amelia drives down Blandon Road, she thinks about Emily. The doctors removed a cancer cyst from her left breast in June. All her family and friends had been praying that Emily would not need chemo or radiation treatments.

Amelia sees Emily sitting on the veranda as she pulls into the driveway. Emily is looking good.

Emily has a big smile on her face as she runs over and gathers Amelia in her arms. “I am so happy that you could come. I have missed you, Amelia.”

“I missed you also, Emily. How are you feeling?”

“Much better now. Thanks to all my friends’ prayers. I went to the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre last week to see the Oncologist. She had good news for me. I am cancer free. I will not need any radiation or chemotherapy.”

“Thank you, God,” Amelia says. “I am so happy that God answered our prayers.”

“I will be able to go on the cruise to Alaska with my parents next week, Amelia. They booked the trip last fall and planned to reschedule it if I needed radiation or chemo. God is so good. He has answered our prayers.”

“Yes, He is, Emily.”

“Do you want to see my flowers, Amelia?”

“Yes, you have always had a green thumb, Emily. Let me get my camera first.” Amelia reaches into her trunk, removes her expensive digital camera from its case, and picks out the lens she uses for taking pictures of flowers.

Amelia and Emily wander around the flowerbeds filled with a rainbow of colour. Amelia is excited as she looks at the variety of flowers and sees the birds and insects flying all around her. All her school training as a photojournalist comes back as she adjusts the complicated dials on her camera lens. She snaps a close up of a honeybee that is drinking nectar from a snow-white pansy and several pictures of butterflies as they flutter around the butterfly bush.

Amelia walks across the yard to the fence and points at some small, white and pink flowers in the shape of a heart. “I love your bleeding hearts. Do you think they will grow in Erieau, Emily?”

“I think so. Do you want to give it a try? I can dig up some roots for you.”

“Yes, please do. I love bleeding hearts, and they will be a lovely addition to my garden.” Amelia takes several pictures of them and stands back while Emily digs up some roots for her.

They continue to walk around the house. Amelia snaps several pictures of a humming bird as it drinks the nectar from a blue delphinium.

Amelia stops Emily when they reach the front yard. “This is a beautiful pink rose. What is its name?”

“I don’t remember. My family calls it ‘our friendship rose’. I have some cuttings started, if you want one. Why don’t you take one to your mother and Aunt Isabel?”

“Thanks, Emily. How do you start roses?”

“Come with me, and I will show you how.” Emily clips two roses and hands them to Amelia, “Hold these roses for me while I get some supplies from the shed.” Emily returns with potting soil, a jar of root start, and a watering can. Amelia follows her to the side of the house where there is a hedge. She sees a row of upside down gallon jars beneath the hedge with plants growing under them.

Emily removes the jars that cover the plants and digs up the baby rose bushes. She wraps a piece of burlap around the delicate root system and puts them in the container with the other plants she had dug for Amelia.

“Amelia, why don’t you put your camera away? I will show you how to start a rose.”

Amelia puts her camera into its protective case.

Emily tells her, “Watch what I do. You need to take these fresh cuttings of roses and remove all the petals from them by cupping the blossoms in your hand and gently pulling them away from the stem. Try not to damage the rose hip.”

Amelia follows what Emily is doing and soon has a handful of petals in her hand. In fun, she tosses the rose petals into the air. A gentle breeze blows them away the same way it does with the white fluff of a dandelion when you blow on it.

Emily starts to laugh as she tosses her rose petals in the air. “I see you still like having fun, Amelia. You need to pull off all the leaves except the top two sets.”

When they are finished, Emily hands Amelia a small spade and says, “You need to dig a hole and fill it with good soil. Next, make a hole in the center of it for the rose.”

The women take turns digging.

Emily holds out the jar of root start, “Dip the cut end into this special root starter and put the rose in the hole covering half the stem with potting soil.”

Emily waters the plant well and washes the gallon jars. “You need to put this glass, gallon jar over the rose stem. Make sure there is about three inches of space left at the top of the jar, so the rose has room to grow. This creates a terrarium.”

Amelia puts the jar over her rose cutting, “It is so simple.”

“It is, Amelia. I always plant extras just in case some die. Remember that the rose must not have direct sunlight, for it to work properly. I usually let the rose winter for one year under the hedge. When it has several new leaf sets, it is time to transplant it to your garden.” Emily hands Amelia a plant identifier, “Always write the name and colour of the rose on it so that you will know what colour it is.”

Amelia writes ‘pink friendship rose’ with the special waterproof pen and inserts the stick in the ground. When she is finished, she feels good inside. It has been a long time since her hands were dirty with soil. “I will try starting some roses the next time I visit my mother.”

Amelia bends over to pick up her camera case and something hops out from under the large foliage of a hosta plant causing her to jump.

Emily bends down and gently picks up an ugly, brown toad that has warts. “Amelia, may I have the honour of introducing you to Homer. Homer is the great, great, great, grandson of, ‘Rollover, the Toad’ that lived here when we were little girls. He is quite handsome. What do you think? Maybe if you give him a kiss like the one you gave to his great, great, great, grandfather, ‘Rollover’, he might turn into a handsome prince, sweep you off your feet, and carry you away to his castle.”

“Are you still watching cartoons, Emily?” Amelia grins at the thought.

“Why not, they bring back a lot of fun filled memories?”

“Hold ‘Homer’ up, Emily, and give him a kiss. Maybe I will be able to catch him turning into your prince as I snap a picture.” Amelia takes several pictures and smiles. “Sorry, Emily, ‘Homer’ is an imposter just like ‘Rollover’ was.”

They both laugh with merriment, as they remember all the toads and frogs they kissed, while they played in the backyard as princesses waiting for their knight in shining armour to come and take them to his castle.

“You still haven’t lost your sense of humor, Emily. Maybe next time, your wish will come true.”

“It already has, Amelia. Dennis has asked me to marry him. We have planned our wedding for December 20th, and I want you to be one of my bridesmaids.”

“Getting married?” Amelia grabs her friend’s hand and examines the engagement ring. “You are getting married to Dennis. Who is Dennis?”

“Let me put the gardening tools away, and  I will tell you all about Dennis.”

“I will get the cooler with our lunch from the van.” Amelia puts her camera in the trunk and returns to the house with her well-stocked cooler. This is one of the benefits of being a farmer’s daughter. I always have extra food to share with my friends.

Amelia takes the cooler to the kitchen while Emily puts the plants inside the front door and covers them with several wet paper towels. Emily returns her garden tools to the work shed.

The two friends wash up and relax in the family room.

Emily pulls a picture off the mantel by the fireplace and shows it to Amelia. “I think you know Dennis.”

“D.J. No one ever called D.J. Dennis.”

“I do. D.J. is a childish name for a doctor.”

“So you and D.J., I mean Dennis are getting married? It will be hard, for me to call him Dennis. Dennis will always be D.J. to me.”

The two friends sit and chat. Emily says. “Two years ago, I was working as a nurse at a children’s cancer camp. I was surprised to find Dennis volunteering there as well. We started dating, and now, I am going to marry my knight in shining armour.”

The clock on the mantel strikes 1:00. Emily says, “It is lunchtime.”

“I will help you set the table.”

“I can’t wait to see what is in your cooler, Amelia. What surprises have you brought from your kitchen?”

“Wait and see.” Amelia laughs as she follows Emily to the kitchen.

Amelia takes out a plate of sandwiches filled with chopped, ham salad. She pulls out a relish tray with some grape tomatoes and green peppers along with carrots and celery sticks. She puts them on the table along with a dish of Stella’s special, freezer, cucumber pickles.

The two friends enjoy a delicious lunch.

When they are finished eating and the dishes are done, Emily says, “Amelia, this was a feast. We always enjoy ourselves when we are together.”

“Yes, we do. When will your mother be home?”

“Mother won’t be home until 6:00 as she volunteers at Bibles for Missions on Fridays.”

“I need to ask for her help? I have something I want to show you.” Amelia goes out to her van and returns with a box.

She carefully removes the Bible from the protective tissues. “My aunt bought this antique Bible set several years ago. Do you read Dutch, Emily?”

“I can make out a few words. You will have to ask my mother to help you.”

Amelia talks about the family Bible. “I will leave it with you. I want to find the family to whom the Bible belonged , so I can return it to them.”

Amelia hands Emily some white gloves. After putting them on, Emily opens the Bible to where the family history is recorded. “These look like important documents, Amelia.” She opens a manila envelope and pulls out a bundle of papers. Holding the first one up she says, “This is a family tree I cannot read it, and this one is a will. The bundle contains marriage and birth records, and I can make out the word death on this one. If you leave it with me, I will ask Mother if she can write the information in English for you.”

“Thanks, it is all Dutch to me.” Amelia laughs at her own pun.

“Mom and I will visit you after we return from our trip”

“I hope the weather is good, and you see a grizzly bear.”

Amelia reaches into her pocket “I saw this dove and thought of you, so I bought it for you. I know how much you love brooches. You can call it an engagement gift.”

“Thank you, Amelia. I will think of you when I wear it. I have a new book of my writings for you.” Emily reaches over to a shelf and hands Amelia her book.

“Thank you, Emily. I’m always blessed when I read your writings.”

“It has been a lot easier for me after I took your advice and started to journal my thoughts, Amelia. Writing, especially when I was uncertain about my future, has helped me draw closer to God.”

They continue to chat and catch up on lost time. They talk about the wedding. It had been years since they had been able to sit and visit together.

“I lost your e-mail address, Amelia. I was not able to send you the poem I wrote the morning before my first surgery. Let me see,” Emily reaches over, opens her laptop, and waits for the screen to appear. “I will print out a copy for you.”

“Thanks, I would like one.”

Emily types in a few instructions, and soon her printer springs to life and starts to print words onto a blank piece of paper.

Amelia gives Emily a business card with her new e-mail address. “Now we can stay connected. I will get the paper. Do you want me to read it now or take it home with me?”

“Please read it now. It always renews my strength when I hear it.”

Amelia begins to read.

 

The Whisper of God

I wrote this the morning before my surgery.

I am fortunate to have my bedroom window face the rising sun. When I am awakened early in the morning by the whisper of God, I can watch as the dark of night turns into the light of day.

So often, in our busy life, we feel the heaviness of darkness all around us. It could be the sickness or death of a loved one. It could be a child who has wandered off the path like the prodigal into a wayward lifestyle.

Tomorrow, at this time, I will be in a hospital bed not able to see the sunrise. I, like you, do not know how many more sunrises I have left.

The good news is that I have an inner peace that has never left me. Sure, like any human, I have had some fear, but I keep hearing this inner whisper say, Fear not, I am with you and will never leave you or forsake you.

Yes, the God I love, and the God that loves you, has come to me and let me know on many occasions that He is as close as a whisper.

Have you ever whispered a secret to a friend? Your lips just about touch their ear. Sometimes, you feel their cheek, as your eyelash brushes across it.

That is how close God is to me when He wakes me in the morning and says, “I have something special for you to write today, Emily. Get up and turn on your computer. Feel what my heart is saying to you.”

Sometimes it is a beautiful poem. Sometimes it is words of encouragement. Sometimes, He wants me to sit back and enjoy the sunrise with Him. Each time I am awakened by the whisper of God it becomes a whole new, exciting adventure.

Oh, how blessed I am to be loved by such a wondrous, Heavenly Father. Next time you feel a gentle nudging, and the sun has not yet risen in the sky, whisper, ‘Yes, God, I Am Listening’. Get up and share a sunrise with God. Hear Him whisper in your ear.

“I Love You.”

By Emily

 

“It is beautiful Emily.” The two friends hold each other and weep. Heaven is opened and God’s Holy Spirit, His Comforter, fills them with an inner peace.

Emily wipes away her tears.

The clock on the mantel chimes four times. Amelia puts the precious piece of paper into the book of poems that Emily gave her. “I can’t believe it is 4:00 already, Emily. It is time for me to go.”

“We need to take time and pray before you leave, Amelia.”

The friends pray together and give each other a hug.

 

Amelia heads back to Erieau. Her heart is filled with love for her friend. Who would think that D.J. and Emily would ever fall in love and get married? D.J. was always a pest and teased Emily every chance he could find. We never know!

“God, be with Emily and Dennis as they plan their wedding. Bless Emily as she continues to heal and witnesses her faith. I am a better person for having Emily as my friend.”

Amelia reaches over and turns on the radio. The song ‘Light of the World’ is playing. She sings the chorus “Here I am to worship…” as she drives down the highway.

Amelia plants the roses and cuttings in her flowerbed. After the task is finished, she spends the evening getting the bedroom ready for her cousin, Jocelyn.

I love red rose on the wallpaper trim that Jocelyn chose for the walls. She hangs the new curtains and smoothes out the wrinkles on the matching ultra-soft, white chenille bedspread that is covered with red roses.

The room looks fresh and inviting. She makes room for Jocelyn’s new vanity by moving the dresser. When she is finished, she has a smile on her face. It looks wonderful.

After a late supper, Amelia goes out to sit on the swing. Freddy joins her. “It is so peaceful watching the boats go by.” She starts to doze. Amelia is rudely awakened when Freddy lets out a big meow.

“It is only a hoot owl, Freddy,” she scolds. “I think it is time for bed.”

She goes into the house and sets the timer on her coffeepot for the morning before reading her evening devotion. 1.John 4:4

Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

It is not what you do for Go, and the people around you, but what you do with God. How much time do you spend getting to know Him? God says in the Bible, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

We get to know God more by spending time alone with Him.

Remember to spend more time alone with God and Jesus and ask The Holy Spirit to guide and direct your life.

Amelia’s heart is filled with the love she has for Jesus. “Father God, I pray that You will help me to get to know your Son, Jesus, better. I want to be a godly woman in all I do and say. Help me to choose wisely. Lord, I want to be a good schoolteacher. Help me to prepare for the days ahead…”

 

 

 

Saturday Morning

Amelia feeds Freddy, pours a coffee, and returns to her bedroom. July 12, 2008.

She remembers a scripture she had paraphrased a few weeks before and turns back a few pages and reads,

Jeremiah 29:12-13 Amelia, you should call on Me, and pray to Me. I will listen to you. And you should seek Me, and you will find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

“Thank You, God, for Your words of encouragement. I have been praying and seeking You…”

Amelia spends time alone with her Heavenly Father each day. It gives her added strength and peace since she has learned to rest on His promises.

When she is finished, she goes to the kitchen and puts two dozen eggs on to boil. Then she whips up a batch of zucchini muffins along with her prize-winning butter tarts for the boat trip on Monday. She sings along with some of her favorite Christian songs as she peels the eggs.

When the kitchen is clean, she walks over to her desk and checks her daily planner. She crosses out muffins, butter tarts, and deviled eggs. The next entry on the list is yard work.

She walks out to her backyard. As she takes a deep breath of fresh air, she smells the scent of flowers from her flowerbeds. A gentle wind is blowing from Lake Erie. The wild canaries sing a soft melody as the bees’ buzz in and out of the flowers. It is good to be able to work, in my backyard once more. I will have to pick up the small branches and the large limbs that have fallen before I can cut the grass. She walks over to her shed and removes the garden rake and lawn mower.

When Amelia is finished cutting the lawn, she checks her newly transplanted flowers. The rose and bleeding hearts are doing well. She sprays the flowers with a mist of water and tells the weeds, “You are lucky! You have a few more days to live, before I pull you out by the roots and throw you into the compost.”

No sooner are the words out of her mouth than a large limb falls from the tree above and lands at her feet.

“That was close... Looking up into the trees, she notices several other dangerous branches. My father always called loose hanging branches ‘Widow Makers’. I will get the trees trimmed as soon as possible. Some more branches look like they could break off. If they do, they could hurt someone.

She looks around the yard with satisfaction. The robins are happily pulling worms out of the freshly, cut grass. A woodpecker pecks for grubs on an old rotten limb.

She hears the laughter of children. A man watches as three children run and play on the beach and two sandpipers’ race across the sand. It is a perfect day for a swim. The gentle waves washing up onto the beach beckon her.

It is only 11:00. I still have time for a quick dip in the lake. She goes to her bedroom and puts on her favorite blue and yellow swimsuit, runs out to the sandy beach, and jumps into the cool, refreshing water.

 

Twenty minutes later, Amelia showers off the clinging sand and returns to her bedroom... What should I wear? She opens her closet and chooses her new blue shorts with a salmon- coloured, sleeveless blouse. Lastly, she puts on some white socks and her new running shoes.

She phones and arranges for the tree trimmer to come the following Thursday. After Amelia eats a light lunch, she puts the deviled eggs into the cooler and relaxes in her big chair by the window. She is tired from all the activity of the morning and falls into a restful sleep.

Amelia jumps with a start. The ringing of the doorbell wakes her from an unusual dream. Stan is at the door with a big smile on his face looking cool and relaxed.

“Sorry I am early, but Mr. Bibs, your lawyer, wants me to show you something at Stella’s Antiques before we go. Do you think we have enough time?”

“Yes, Stan, I always allow extra time.”

Stan follows her over to Stella’s Antiques. “I had a conference with Mr. Bibs and your father who is the executor of Stella’s estate. We talked about the appraising that I have already finished. They are uneasy about the way the store shares the space at Stella’s Antiques with the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild.”

“I have been concerned as well,” Amelia says, as she looks around at the hundreds of articles on the shelves. “It has been hard for me to tell what belongs to Stella’s Antiques and what belongs to the Guild. I try to keep all their articles together in the back room, but customers with good intentions have a way of moving things around the building.”

She walks over and takes an antique meat grinder from the shelf. Pointing to a tag tied with a string, she says, “If this tag falls off this meat grinder, I have no way of knowing to whom it belongs.” She turns the tag over, “See, it has a white tag with gold trim and the number 1872 along with initials EHCG on the back of it. This belongs in the back room.”

“I know what you mean, Amelia. I found some of their items mixed in with yours. I have put them in a box for you. Your lawyer has sent a letter with me and told me that there could be legal issues in the future if you continue doing your business the way Stella did.” He hands the letter to Amelia.

“I will go and load your bike along with the cooler into the truck while you read it.” He follows Amelia and closes the door behind her. Stan picks up the cooler and takes it out to the back seat of the truck. He loads the light blue bike into the back of his truck and ties it down to prevent it from moving.

Amelia sits on her couch and reads her letter.

Friday July 11, 2008

Dear Amelia,

Your father, who is the executor of Stella’s estate, and I suggest that you build a separate addition onto the side of your building for the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild. If you decide to do this, I will write up the paperwork. You can charge them a rental fee to help pay for the cost. They will need to have their own insurance.

Your father told us that Stella had the blueprints drawn up and the building permits approved for the new addition before she died. Ben had been working alongside Stella and your father with these plans.

You can look over the blueprints when you see your father. If you require any further help or have any questions, please phone my office and I will get back to you.

Yours truly

J. M. Bibs LL.B

I will talk it over with Dad tomorrow when I see him. It all makes sense. I know Stella talked about adding an addition long before I left for college. It will make my life easier. Yes, I will do it. Amelia has a big smile on her face when she throws her backpack onto Stan’s back seat.

Amelia gives Stan a root beer and puts a bottle of iced tea into the cup holder for herself before climbing into the truck.

“Mr. Bibs is right. I will talk with my father tomorrow and find out when he is available to help me build the addition.”

“That is a wise decision, Amelia. It will make running Stella’s Antiques easier for you.”

“Thank you for all your ideas, Stan. You have been a big help.” Looking at her watch, Amelia says, “We will be late if we don’t leave now. It is such a beautiful day for a picnic.”

Looking at Amelia, he smiles and says, “Yes, it is.”

Stan starts the truck and begins to drive out of town. When they reach the edge of town, Stan points to several fields and ask, “What do they grow in that dark, black soil?”

“They grow some of the best sweet onions in Ontario. When you have some extra time, you should stop at the vegetable stand and talk to them. They will tell you about the other crops they grow.”

“I will.”

“Stan, have you ever been to Rondeau Park before?”

“Not that I can remember, what can you tell me about the park?”

“Rondeau is a beautiful, peaceful place to explore. We will be having our barbecue at my friend Hanna’s parents’ summer home.”

Amelia continues to talk about the park as Stan drives down the road, “There are miles of trails that wind their way through the Carolinian forest. We might see some wild life including squirrels, chipmunks and the odd raccoon. Be ready because a harmless snake might slither across your path. Various kinds of warblers flutter about in the trees.”

“I love going for nature walks, Amelia.”

“That’s good. Once, I saw a possum up in a tree. They are not natural to this area but came from the southern United States in the undercarriages of transport trucks. The deer are plentiful but usually do not come out until dusk. You might even see a red fox.”

“I am glad I brought my camera, Amelia. I always wanted to take a picture of a wild buck. Maybe today will be my lucky day.”

“You never know, Stan. You might see one later tonight.”

“I hope we do, Amelia.”

Stan pays the entrance fee at the park gate. They drive down the main road, and Amelia says, “This is our road. Turn left and make a right when you get to the end.”

Stan follows her instructions.

“Good, Stan. You can park under those shade trees over there.”

A blue truck pulls up beside them, and two young men start unloading a picnic basket and two bikes. They come over, and the one with blond hair says with a grin on his face, “Hi sis, who is your friend?”

“This is Stan. Stan, these two pests are my twin brothers. The one with blond hair is Bernie, and the one with red hair is Curtis.”

Stan tells them, “I have a twin sister. Her name is…” Before he can say her name, several young people rush over stopping him in mid sentence.

They all give Amelia a hug. “Amelia, where have you been? How are you doing? It is good to see you again. How long has it been?”

“Six years. I am living in Erieau now and am going to open my Aunt Stella’s business. This is Stan, and he is working at the store for a few weeks.”

Jerome and Hanna walk over. Amelia introduces them, “Stan, this is our young adult pastor, Jerome and his wife Hanna.”

They shake hands and then Jerome tells them, “Come over to the table, so we can get started.”

 

 

 

The Scavenger Hunt

“Welcome. I am Jerome and this is my wife Hanna. We will have more time to get to know you during the Scavenger Hunt. Grab your hats and put on your sunscreen. I hope you brought your cameras and binoculars.

“Let me know if it would be hard for you to go on a long bike ride.”

Three people raise their hands.

“You will leave now with my wife Hanna and be team number one. Put your bikes on the bike rack on this van. You will start your scavenger hunt at the Visitor Centre. Hanna will explain the rules to you on the way.”

Team number one puts their bikes on the rack and starts out.

“We are going on a photograph treasure hunt. Who has a digital camera with you?”

Most of the group raises their hands.

“Good, Amelia, you will be the leader of team number two with Curtis, Bernie, and Stan.”

Jerome breaks the group up into five teams and hands each team member a map and instructions. He tells them, “You need to follow your map closely as each map will take your team in a different direction. Your team will meet back here at 5:00.

“If you see a skunk, and it is still alive, stay away. If you get too close and the skunk sprays you, your team must go home. Do not come to the barbecue. I repeat DO NOT COME TO THE BARBECUE. You are automatically disqualified.”

They all laugh.

Jerome tells them, “The object of the scavenger hunt is to take a picture of everything you see on your list. Remember this is a provincial park, so take nothing but pictures. Put a check mark beside it. There is a prize for the winning team.

Amelia and her brothers know all the trails in the park like the back of their hands. She grabs her camera and binoculars and puts them over her shoulder.

“I will give you time to read over your list. When I blow my whistle, you can start the scavenger hunt.”

Bernie reads from the list.

Scavenger Hunt List Team Two

 

Ball

Deer

Dog

Shell

Frog

Turtle

Goose

Skunk

Snake

Warbler

Possum

Bird of prey

Woodpecker

Blue heron

 

Sand pail

Road kill

White sandal

Live raccoon

Bird feather

Gum wrapper

Wildflower

Spider web

Live fish

Bird’s nest

(Question mark

Butterfly)

Something unusual

Your choice

 

 

The whistle blows and Bernie asks, “Are you ready to ride?”

“Yes,” Amelia says as she puts her copy of the list in her pocket and does up the clasp on her bike helmet.

Stan and Bernie take the lead. Stan stops them at the first road kill. Amelia holds her nose while Stan takes a picture of a badly decomposed raccoon. They mount their bikes and ride on. A truck passes them, and a dog barks. Amelia takes a good picture of the dog standing in the back of the truck.

They follow the map’s instructions and reach a sandy beach where some teenagers are playing beach volleyball. Amelia snaps a picture of the white ball as it flies over the net. They park and lock their bikes before walking along the beach.

Bernie leaves the group and walks slowly ahead of them. He runs back all excited waving something in his hand. “I have found a seagull feather and a small round shell.”

Stan points to a boy playing in the sand with a red and white pail. Amelia takes several pictures. Curtis grabs his sister by the arm. “Amelia, there is a little girl wearing white flip flop sandals sitting on the beach over there.”

Amelia follows Curtis down the beach to where a family is sitting. She speaks to the girl’s parents and gets permission to take a photograph. Amelia has just finished taking the picture when Stan calls her, “Follow me. Some children are fishing off the dock.”

They see a little boy pulling a small, round sunfish out of the clear, blue water. He tries to pick up the flopping fish, but a sharp fin pokes his hand causing him to drop it quickly.

“Good for you, Bob,” the boy’s father says as he removes the hook from the flopping fish.

Amelia asks Bob’s Father, “Can I take a picture of Bob holding the fish? It is for our scavenger hunt.”

Bob’s father agrees.

Bob stands proudly beside his father. He has a big smile on his face. You would have thought Bob was holding a large lake trout instead of a four-inch sunfish. It did not matter to Bob. It was his first fish.

Amelia asks, “Do you have an e-mail address?”

Bob’s father hands her his business card.

Amelia tucks the father’s card into her camera case after writing Bob’s first fish on it. “Bob, I will e-mail you a copy of this picture when I get home.”

Bernie calls them over. “We had better get a move on if we want to finish by 5:00. I am looking forward to the great food.”

They return to their bikes and follow the bike trail that leads through the Carolinian forest. The trees provide shade and shelter for the wildlife. They hear the birds singing and the humming of katydids in the trees all around them.

Bernie stops and says, “We need to take time and look around.”

They hear the tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker. Stan spots it and points, “It is on that old, rotten tree snag that stands alone.”

Amelia uses her zoom lens and takes a good picture of it. She pulls out her list and crosses off woodpecker then reads it over to see what they still need.

Curtis taps Amelia on the shoulder and points, “I see a spider’s web over there.” He pulls out a pack of gum and asks her if she wants a stick.

“No, Curtis, but will you drop the wrapper on the ground, so I can take a picture of it.” She takes a picture of the wrapper, a bird’s nest, the spider’s web, and jumps when a snake slithers across the path in front of her. She snaps a quick picture of the garter snake and then gets out of its way. “I do not like snakes. Let’s get out of here.”

After Curtis picks up the wrapper, Bernie tells them, “We need to go slower now. It is hard to spot a deer or a possum during the day.”

They get on their bikes and ride single file looking on both sides of the winding path.

Curtis stops and motions for them to join him. He puts his finger to his lips then puts his hands to his head and pretends he is a buck. He points into the shrubs to where a buck with a full rack of antlers has taken cover. It is hiding behind a big overgrown bush about fifteen feet from where they are standing.

Amelia and Stan have their cameras ready when the startled buck jumps in the air and runs off. They are both able to snap several action pictures.

Curtis is excited as he looks over her shoulder. “The pictures you took are great, sis.”

Amelia tells him, “Maybe I will make an oil painting of the beautiful buck for you.”

They walk their bikes along the path, and Amelia stops and takes a picture of a wildflower that is poking its head out of the ferns. She hears a bird singing in the trees and looks through her binoculars. She sees a warbler that is perched on a branch about ten feet from her. She gets a good shot of it with her zoom lens.

Ten minutes later, they lock up their bikes and walk along the wooden platform that goes through the marsh. They see a turtle sunning itself on a rock. Stan catches a frog, “Anyone wants a kiss?” he teases.

“Not today,” Amelia says, “but I do want a picture of you holding the frog.”

Stan laughs, as he holds the frog out. “Maybe, if I kiss the frog it might turn into a beautiful princess. What do you think, Amelia?” He looks into Amelia’s dark brown eyes and sees a blush beginning to start just above her dimple. When he lets the frog go, a big bass breaks the surface of the water making a quick snack of the poor frog.

“Did you see that, Stan? I had my camera ready and took a picture of the bass as it jumped out of the water in front of me. Look, my camera lens is wet.” Amelia removes a soft cloth from her case and wipes the lens. She looks at the back of her camera. “I took a picture of the bass as it jumped out of the water to catch the frog.” Her brothers and Stan come over to see the awesome picture.

Stan snaps a photo of a flock of geese as they land on the pond not far from them.

“Look at that,” Curtis says, as he points up into the sky.

Several turkey buzzards are flying in a circle above them. Amelia focuses her camera lens so she can get a better picture.

A few minutes later Bernie points, “Look over there by that fallen tree. I think it is a blue heron?”

“Yes, it is Bernie.” Stan says as he snaps several pictures.

Amelia pipes up, “That cloud over by the tall tree looks like a big bear.”

“We can use it for something unusual,” Bernie says as he checks something unusual off the list.

They leave the marsh and follow the path to the Visitor Center. They speak to a group of tourists with bright, yellow T-shirts. The words, ‘WE ARE FROM DOWN UNDER’, are written in big, bold black letters on the back. They stop to chat and find out that the group is visiting from New Zealand.

Stan asks, “Do you mind if we take a picture of your backs.”

The group leader says, “Only if you send a copy to us.”

They all pose with their backs to the camera. After the picture is taken, they all turn around and smile as more pictures are snapped. Stan exchanges e-mail addresses with the leader. “I promise to send you the pictures.”

Stan looks over the list, “We can use the picture of the group from New Zealand for your choice.”

Curtis looks at his watch, “It is 4:30 already, and it will take us 20 minutes to ride back to the cottage. Let me see. He reads from his list. We haven’t found a live raccoon, a possum, or a question mark butterfly.”

Stan asks, “What is a Question Mark Butterfly? It sounds like they are trying to pull our leg.”

“No, Stan,” Bernie turns the paper over. It has a description of the Question Mark Butterfly. It is an orange butterfly with black spots. When its wings are closed, you can see a small white question mark underneath. Some people call it the Angel Wing Butterfly.”

It is nearly five when they arrive at the vehicles. Stan leans his bike against a tree and runs over to a plant. He says, “Come quick.” He starts to snap pictures. He looks at the screen on the camera and enlarges it to make it bigger. “LOOK, you can see the white question mark on the butterfly’s wing.”

Bernie tells him, “Good job, Stan. It looks like we found almost everything on our list. The scavenger hunt is officially over as it just turned five.”

Amelia reads the list in her hand.

 

Scavenger Hunt List Team Two

Ball

Deer

Dog

Shell

Frog

Turtle

Goose

Skunk

Snake

Warbler

Possum

Bird of prey

Woodpecker

Blue heron

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

*

*

 

*

*

*

Sand pail

Road kill

White sandal

Live raccoon

Bird feather

Gum wrapper

Wildflower

Spider web

Live fish

Bird’s nest

(Question mark

Butterfly)

Something unusual

Your choice

*

*

*

 

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

*

*

*

 

 

Stan and Amelia’s brothers load the bikes into the back of the trucks while Amelia goes into the house to help.

Hanna’s parents have been taking care of several children, so their parents could go on the scavenger hunt.

Hanna’s mother gives Amelia a hug. “Everything is ready.”

“Thank you, Barb.” She walks outside. Several people are playing horseshoes under a giant shade tree. Someone has set up the beach volleyball net.

Amelia joins Stan for a game of ‘Toss the Washer’. To play ‘Toss the Washer’, the person stands on the wooden platform and tries to toss a big washer through a small hole. She loses the first game. Amelia laughs as she says, “I am tempted to get a wood drill and make the holes bigger,” she teases. “I have only won a few games of ‘Toss the Washer’ in my life.”

Stan laughs with her. “I will give you some lessons if you want? I was the champion at my church three years in a row.”

Amelia tells him, “That’s not fair. I might want to take you up on the lessons. I would love to beat my brothers.”

Stan says with a grin, “We can start now, Amelia.”

She is saved from an embarrassing situation by the ringing of the dinner bell. “It is time to line up for supper.” Jerome says a prayer. The men insist that the women go first.

Amelia fills her plate with an assortment of picnic foods and smothers her hamburger with all the toppings on the table. She finds a place in the shade and saves a spot for Stan. Hanna and Jerome join her.

Now, how am I going to eat this hamburger without having half of it end-up on the front of my new blouse? Amelia picks up her knife and cuts the humungous burger in half. This is better. She bends over and takes her first bite, and a big splash of mustard hits the table. Amelia immediately grabs for an extra napkin and tucks it into her blouse to protect it from more splashes.

When they are finishing eating and everything is put away, Jerome announces the winners of the scavenger hunt. “The first prize trophy goes to team number two.” He hands each of them the neatest gift. Someone had taken a pinecone and put pine needles in it turning it into a porcupine. They added eyes and mounted it on a piece of driftwood. Come in and see the pictures taken during the scavenger hunt.

They spend the rest of the evening in front of the wide screen television commenting on the pictures taken that day. They all agree that the pictures Stan and Amelia took of the buck as it leaped through the air were the best.

It is dark when Stan and Amelia head back to Erieau. Stan has to swerve the truck to miss hitting a possum. When they arrive at Amelia’s home, Stan helps unload her bike and cooler.

Amelia holds the trophy porcupine in her hand, “I will keep it to remember this day. See you in the morning, Stan.” She watches as he drives down the road.

Amelia walks over to her knick-knack shelf, moves a few collectibles, and gives the porcupine a place of honour. “I will name you Prickles. Prickles, this has been the most fun day that I have had in years. I had a marvelous time with Stan and my friends. It is as if I have known him for years. The way he laughs and swings his arms reminds me of someone I know.”

Amelia feeds Freddy, then goes to the kitchen and pours herself an iced tea and takes it to her bedroom. She cozies up in her chair and reads from her devotional.

 

The Strong Cord

It is written in the Bible that a cord of three cannot be broken.

When you think about all the people in your life that have prayed for you, loved you, given you some encouraging words, and stood beside you in your time of need, you will find that your life is made with a strong cord of many strands.

Sure, we all feel the hurts as we go through the dark valleys, and sometimes we feel there is no hope. Go to a friend, talk about your concerns, and ask for prayer.

We also become one of many strands in our friends’ cords as we hold our friends up in prayer.

Let us continue to support our friends who are in need by loving and praying for them. Try to write, phone, or e-mail the people who have blessed you and say thanks. Say a few encouraging words. This will help to make everyone’s cord stronger.

A knock at the door is even better. Just a hug with the words I love you shared over a cup of tea might make all the difference in their life.

Ecclesiastes 4:12- If one prevails against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Karen

Amelia starts to nod off. It was a long bike ride, and her muscles are starting to protest. She runs a hot bath and relaxes in the warm fragrant bubbles. She begins to think about all the events that have had happened in the past few months and the words from the reading that she just read. Nothing will be the same again.

She gets into bed and begins to pray. “Thank You, God, for Your many blessings and the marvelous time we had today. Help me to be a part of a strong cord with my friends and…”Amelia falls into a deep, restful sleep.

 

 

 

Church

The alarm wakes Amelia at 6:30. She jumps out of bed to the aroma of fresh, perked coffee. Going to the kitchen, she feeds Freddy, pours herself a coffee, and then returns to her room to get ready for a busy day. After a relaxing shower, she dries her hair and dresses in a floral, lavender dress. She packs a change of clothes for after church.

When she is through, she returns to the kitchen and pops a slice of toast into the toaster. She pours some orange juice and a second mug of coffee. She stirs in some cream and sugar.

Amelia sips her coffee while she reads.

An old Chinese Proverb says it well.

You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.” In other words, it is impossible to avoid destructive thinking entirely. We will be tempted. We will have negative thoughts and temptations, but we do not have to allow them to dwell in our mind. God has given you ‘a garbage disposal for your mind.’

How interesting! This is helpful. I will write it in my journal. She writes, Sunday, July 13, 2008:

Heavenly Father, please help me to ask You for guidance, listen to the words of wisdom I read in my Bible, and hear from my Godly friends. Write them on my heart. Do not allow me to let a bird build a nest of negativity in my mind. Help me use the garbage disposal to get rid of my negative thoughts. Be with our minister as he shares Your Word with us this morning…

At 9:20, Amelia takes her backpack and cooler out to her van and drives over to the bed and breakfast so that she can pick up Stan.

“You are right on time, Amelia,” Stan says as he gets into the passenger seat.

“I like to be on time, Stan. My father is a deacon at our church, and we are always the first family at church.”

“I had the same thing. My mother was the Children’s Pastor, and we had to be at church early every Sunday.”

They drive for a while before Stan breaks the silence, “Where did you go to school, Amelia?”

“I moved to Vancouver and attended the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design for two semesters. I went on to receive my Bachelor of Education at the Vancouver Island University. What about you, Stan?”

Stan talks about the different universities he attended. “I learned a lot working beside by my uncle and father.”

Amelia pulls into the church driveway. Her parents are standing at the front of the church. “Stan, these are my parents Marvel and Randal Wilber. This is Stan Vander Woerd.”

Curtis comes over with a big grin on his face. “How is your pet porcupine, Amelia? Have you named him yet?”

“Yes, I named him Prickles.”

Bernie says with a chuckle, “We named ours Spike and Thorn.” They all break out laughing while Amelia’s parents stand there not knowing what is going on.

Amelia pulls Prickles out of her bag and shows him to her parents. “This is Prickles.” The four of them talk about the fun they had the day before and how they had all won a porcupine for first prize. Her parents join in the laughter.

Amelia and Stan sit with her family in church. The church service starts with a hymn before the minister says.

“I would like to welcome our guest. I am Pastor Dan Kroll. Everyone calls me Dan. I have a prayer request. Ben Jones fell off his tractor yesterday morning and will not be able to farm for the rest of the year. The deacons will get together Monday night and plan how we can help him and his family. Some of us have already taken turns doing his morning and evening chores. The community will work together and bring in his harvest.”

Pastor Dan prays, “Dear Heavenly Father, bless Mr. Jones and help him get well. Thank you for all his friends and neighbours who have mentioned that they will help him…”

When he is finished praying they begin to sing. Their voices harmonize together as they worship the Lord in song. After the offering, Amelia and her mother sing a beautiful duet.

Pastor Dan says, “All the children can come and sit on the carpet squares in front of Pastor Jerome. He has a special story for you today. Your parents can listen to him if they want.

“Jerome’s story is based on what is written in 1 Corinthians 12:14-17. I paraphrased some of it for you.

For the body is not one member, but many.

If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? If the whole body were ears, how would we smell?

Pastor Jerome sits in a chair in front of the children. This story is a bit long, but it has a good message. He starts.

 

A Town Called Body

This is a story about the Hand Family. They lived in the town of Body at the end of Arm Street. For years, they had lived together in harmony.

Mr. and Mrs. Feet lived at the bottom of the hill on Leg Street with their Toe Family.

Several Hair Families had homes at the top of the hill on Head Street. They had so many children that they lost count of them. As soon as a new batch of baby Hairs came along the older ones had to leave home. The Hair Families were worse than rabbits as far as how many offspring they produced each year.

Now let us get back to the Hand Family. Everything was going well. They were a loving family. They all worked and played together and never had a fight. Every night the Hand Family put their hands together in prayer. When the eight fingers and two thumbs of the Hand family touched, they all pointed straight up to heaven.

One day, the twins, Right Pointer Finger and Left Pointer Finger, got together and started to tease their brothers Timmy and Tommy Thumb. “You are missing a joint. We have two joints and can bend our finger in two places. You can only bend your thumb in one place.”

The Baby Fingers joined in saying, “Timmy and Tommy are fat and stubby.”

Soon all eight Fingers were having fun teasing Timmy and Tommy Thumb. “The two of you are always pointing in the wrong direction. We point up with our fingers while you point to the right or left.”

That night at prayer, the two Thumbs were so hurt that they curled up across the palm of their mommy and daddy Hand. The eight Fingers had a hard time touching each other. There was a big gap between the Hands. The day before when the Hand Family came together in prayer the Fingers and Thumbs pointed up to heaven. Now the two Thumbs were bent over with sadness.

The teasing continued for several days. Soon the eight Fingers did not come together to pray any more. They did not want to touch the Thumbs.

The Fingers got together and told Timmy and Tommy, “We don’t want you to be a part of our family anymore. You must have been adopted because you do not look like us. Leave us alone and do not talk to us anymore. Don’t even come near us.”

The two Thumbs were heartbroken and felt so sad.

They got together and started to whisper. “I have had enough of this teasing, Tommy.”

“What do you think we should do about it?” Tommy asked.

“How about if we both go on strike tomorrow, Tommy. We won’t do any work.”

“That is a good idea, Timmy. We will not help the Fingers do anything tomorrow. We will just pretend we do not exist. As far as they are concerned, we are dead.”

Tommy stammered, “I don’t want to be a part of the Hand family anymore. I would like to run away, but I can’t because I am joined to them.”

The next morning Tommy and Timmy went on strike. They would not move. Right Pointer Finger reached down with the Baby Finger and the two other Fingers. They tried to pick up the hairbrush, so they could brush the Hair Family who lived at the end of Head Street. They found it impossible to do. They tried to squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush but could not open the lid. They tried to put socks on the Feet Family to protect the Toes and found it impossible to pull them up.

The Feet Family got impatient, so they slipped their bare feet into the shoes without having socks on. The Hand family reached down but was not able to do up the shoelaces. The Feet family took a step, tripped on the untied shoelaces, and just about caused the body to fall over. They kicked off the shoes and slipped their feet into bedroom slippers. This all happened within ten minutes of the Hand family getting out of bed.

They tried to talk with the two Thumbs, Timmy and Tommy, but got no response.

It is too bad that someone wasn’t there that day with a video camera when the Hand family tried to feed Mouth her breakfast on Lip Street. The milk jug fell onto the floor. The box of cereal spilt all over the kitchen table. They tried to open a jar of jam and peanut butter but had no luck, so Mouth had to eat her toast plain. The clean shirt on Chest Street had so many spills on it that the Hands on Arm Street had to go up to their bedroom and change into clean clothes before going to school. It took them longer than usual because they could not do the buttons up on the shirt and had to put on a pullover instead.

They tried to ride their bikes, but the Hands had a hard time holding onto the handlebars. The slippers on Feet Street kept sliding off the pedals. They gave up and the two Feet on Leg Street had to run all the way to school, so they would not be late. The Toes from the Feet family began to hurt without the protection of their socks.

At school, it got even worse. When it came time for keyboarding at the computer, the Pointer Fingers had to hit the space bar. They had to hold the pen between the Right Pointer Finger and the other Fingers. The teacher was so upset with their sloppy handwriting that she kept the Hands after school for a detention.

Because of the detention, the Hands were late for the baseball game. The Hand family was the best batters on the team. They had hit several homeruns that season. When it came time for them to go to bat, they found it impossible to hold the baseball bat. They lost the game. They kept begging the two Thumbs to help them and got no response.

The eight Fingers called a family conference. “What have we done? We realized our life has not been the same since we started teasing Timmy and Tommy Thumb. We cannot pray together. The Hair family is in tangles. The Tongue on Head Street is complaining about having bad breath. We cannot hold a pen or open a tube of toothpaste without the Thumbs help. Mouth has been complaining all day about eating toast without peanut butter and jam. The Thumbs would not help us hold the baseball bat, so we lost the game.”

“The Foot family is complaining of blisters on their Baby Toes because of not wearing socks today.”

“We need to ask our brothers Timmy and Tommy Thumb to forgive us.”

That night when it was time to get ready for bed the eight Fingers talked to Tommy and Timmy Thumb.

“We are sorry for the way we treated you. Will you forgive us?” they asked in unison. “We didn’t realize how important you are to the Hand family and to everybody who lives in the town of Body.”

“Yes, we will forgive you,” the two Thumbs replied.” It felt so good to be able to talk after not speaking all day.

Right Pointer Finger told the other Fingers, “We need to ask God to forgive us as well.”

The two Hands join in prayer just as they used to do with all their Fingers touching, pointing up to their Heavenly Father in heaven. The eight Fingers prayed, “Dear God will you please forgive us for teasing and hurting our brothers, Timmy and Tommy Thumb? We have hurt so many of our friends in the town of Body. We are sorry.”

When the prayer was over the Hand family felt much better. The Fingers and Thumbs were touching each other after being apart for so long. They all went down and made toast with peanut butter and jam to give to Mouth on Head Street for her bedtime snack.

That night when they were brushing the Hair family on Head Street, they asked the Hair family to forgive them for the way they had acted. They put some soothing ointment on the blistered toes of the Feet family and asked for their forgiveness. They spent extra time brushing the Teeth family on Lip Street to get rid of jungle mouth.

There was peace once again in the town of Body. The families lived in harmony knowing that everyone needed each other. They all had an important job to do. The Fingers learned a valuable lesson that day. If they did not treat each other with love, respect, and kindness, they would not be able to get any work done.

By Kathy Pitsworth


Pastor Jerome asks, “What do you think boys and girls? Do you think the Thumbs taught us a valuable lesson? I have a special pair of gloves for you to put on your hands so that you will remember the story that I read to you today. My Wife Hanna sewed the thumbs up for you. Try eating your lunch or playing a sport, while you are wearing these gloves. Let your parents try them on as well. You need to ask your parents some questions to find out if they were listening to the story?”

“Let us pray. Our most Gracious Heavenly Father, I pray that we will all remember how important we are to You and each other. Help us as a church body to use our hands to help other people who are in need. In Jesus name, I pray Amen.”

The people gather in the parking lot after church to talk. They watch as the children run around trying to pick up stones and sticks with the gloves that had the thumbs sewn shut.

Jerome walks up to Amelia and Stan, “Take this pair of gloves without thumbs home and have some fun.”

“Thank you, Jerome,” Amelia joins the other women. They are arranging to babysit their children and bring meals every day to help the Jones family in their time of need.

Stan stays behind and talks with Jerome. “That was an interesting story you read. Do you have an extra copy?”

“Not with me, Stan. Give me your e-mail address and I will send it to you.”

Stan pulls out his business card and gives it to Jerome.

Jerome looks it over, “I see you are an antique appraiser. My grandparents live near Erieau and are moving into a senior residence in September. Their old farmhouse is full of antique furniture and collectibles. I am their power of attorney, and they want me to have their antiques appraised before I sell them. Could you do it for me?”

“Yes, give us a call, and my secretary will make the arrangements. I just go where the company sends me.”

“Good, I will do that. This takes a load off my mind. If you are ever driving through Blenheim, give me a call, and I will meet you for coffee.” He gives Stan his business card.

 

 

 

Amelia’s Family

Amelia watches her parents and brothers pull out of the driveway. Stan follows her to the van. She opens the pop cooler and removes a cold root beer along with a small bottle of apple juice. She hands the pop to Stan. “I thought you might be thirsty. I know I am.”

“Thank you, Amelia. I am thirsty.”

Amelia opens the lid and takes a swallow of the sweet refreshing juice. She passes Stan a pair of the gloves without a thumb. “Try opening the can of pop with these gloves on,” she teases.

She watches Stan. There is something about his eyes and the way they shine when he laughs. I know I have met him before, but where? He tries several times. It is impossible to grasp the tab without using his thumbs, so he gives up and removes the gloves. He has no trouble pulling the tab to open the pop using his thumb and pointer finger.

He looks at his long, slender fingers and short, single- jointed thumbs and says, “Jerome gave a good object lesson today. He is sending me a copy of the reading, so I can give it to my mother. She is always looking for new stories. I wonder if she could make it into a puppet play. You never know with her.”

“The story about the Hand Family has caused me to do a lot of thinking this morning, Stan. I will never look at my hands and the people in my church the same way again.”

The parking lot at church is empty when Amelia starts the van and heads down the road. They discuss the thumb story and have a few good laughs as Stan tries to pick up a pencil and write without using his thumb.

Stan inquires, “Does your mother work, Amelia?”

“Yes, she does all the paperwork for the farm. Farming is not as easy it used to be. My mother has to write down the time of the day that my father sprays the crops, what chemicals he uses and the direction the wind is blowing. It takes hours of paperwork to run a farm nowadays. You have to use a computer to fill in all the government forms and keep all the accounts straight.”

Amelia drives east. Stan looks around and sees all the fields of wheat and corn on both sides of the road.

Amelia continues, “Mother also teaches computer skills part time at school. I wonder how she does it. She has a hen house, so we have chickens and fresh farm eggs. She grows most of her own vegetables and different kinds of berries in her big garden.”

Amelia makes a left turn onto a gravel road. She drives for another mile and turns right.

Stan shakes his head, “I think I’m lost. I have never been down this road before.”

Amelia says, “Welcome to my family’s farm.” She turns right onto a long, winding farm driveway. She parks her van under an old maple tree, and two large farm dogs bark as they run out to greet her. She gives them a gentle shove and tells them, “Stay down, Toffee. Be good, Cocoa. This is Stan, and he won’t hurt you.”

Stan reaches out his hand and rubs the dogs behind their ears. “What beautiful dogs! What kind are they?” The two dogs wag their tails and run around Stan as he walks toward the house.

“Toffee is a Golden Labrador Retriever, and Cocoa is a Chocolate Labrador Retriever.” Opening the door, she says, “This is the house where I grew up and spent most of my life. The farm will always be home to me.”

The house is a typical red, brick farmhouse built around 1920. Stan looks around and sees a place where men’s work clothes hang and dirty work boots sit on a boot rack. The first room they enter is the mudroom. It has been modernized and equipped with a shower and change room where the workers can change their work clothes before coming into the house.”

They walk through a well-stocked large, summer kitchen. Stan walks over to get a better look at an old, antique stove that stands against the outside wall. “I have never seen a Glenwood Home Grand Kitchen Range with a water reservoir in such good condition before. Do you mind if I take a closer look at it?”

Amelia follows him over to the stove. “My great grandfather bought it for his wife in 1890.” She lifts the lid from the water reservoir to show Stan how clean it is.

Stan opens the oven door and examines the interior that is just like new.

“My father had it restored about ten years ago. We don’t use it anymore, but it does bring back some good memories. I still remember my Grandmother Wilber cooking our Christmas turkey in it when I was a little girl. She prepared all the meals for the harvest crew over this wood stove back in the thirties before they installed electricity. The towns and cities had electricity and phone lines long before the farms in the country did.”

Amelia points to the humungous electric range beside the wood range. It has a grill in the middle and two ovens. “My mother still uses this electric range to do all her canning.” The kitchen contains copper-lined kettles and pots wrapped in clear, plastic bags to keep them clean. It is stocked with all the equipment that a farm wife would need.

Amelia takes Stan into the family room where her brothers and father are relaxing.

Her father gets up and greets him. “Make yourself at home, Stan.”

“Thank you, Mr. Wilber.”

“Call me Randal. Everyone does.”

Amelia pours Stan a glass of iced tea. “I will go help my mother with lunch.”

Amelia smiles when she turns her back to leave. Her brothers are already telling Stan about running a farm. I hope they don’t talk Stan’s ear off. “What do you want me to do?”

Her mother has made most of the lunch the day before. She tells her, “A. J.. you can go to the refrigerator and get the salads for me while I slice the cold ham?”

Amelia removes the potato and cabbage salad from the refrigerator and puts them in the center of an oval table. She returns to the fridge for the tomato aspic. She removes the fresh-baked buns from the pan and puts them into a basket lined with a napkin to keep them warm.

Her mother calls the men for lunch.

Stan sits beside Bernie across the table from Amelia. He looks up and smiles at her before her father prays.

“God, we thank You for the lesson we learned in church today. Help us to remember that we are all important to You. Be with Mr. Jones and help him to get well. Bless our guest and the food we are about to eat.

Amen.”

Stan takes a generous portion of the food as it is passed around the table. He starts to eat and says, “The salads and homemade buns are delicious. I like the tomato aspic.”

When they are finished eating, Bernie, talks about the Ridgetown Campus where he goes to school. “We have been taught so many new ways to grow food.”

“Would you believe it, they are starting to build greenhouses on top of the skyscrapers in New York City? They are so high up that they have all the sun they need during the day. I have been doing research on rooftop greenhouses, and I am writing my thesis on the subject.”

Stan sits and listens while Bernie gives more details about modern farming. “That is interesting,” Stan says, “I never heard about growing food on top of skyscrapers before.”

“Some larger cities are building small parks on the roofs of apartments and office buildings. There aren’t enough places for people to get fresh air in downtown Toronto and New York City.”

Curtis tells them, “I will be apprenticing in the greenhouses at a large hotel in Toronto this fall. The chefs grow fresh herbs and some of their own fruits and vegetables in the greenhouses on the roof.”

Amelia and her mother remove the empty plates and bring in a big dish of strawberries mixed with homemade cherry pie filling. “Take all you want, Stan,” Amelia says as she puts the ice cream and cake on the table in front of him.

Curtis passes the fruit around after taking a generous helping. Stan spoons some on his cake and ice cream.

He comments on the topping, “This is really good. I have never had fresh strawberries and cherries mixed together before.”

Amelia tells Stan, “It is one of my inventions. It came about when mother had some extra guests after church one Sunday. We only had one quart of fresh strawberries in the fridge, so Mother sent me to the basement root cellar to get a jar of her homemade cherry pie filling. I misunderstood her and mixed the fresh strawberries in with the cherry pie filling. It has become our family favorite.”

Stan finishes his dessert and says, “No.” when offered more. “I ate so much food this week that I will have to walk it off.”

Curtis pushes his chair away from the table. Turning to Stan he asks, “Do you want to explore the farm and learn how we grow the vegetables in our greenhouses?”

Bernie says as he stands up, “This will help you work off some of your lunch. I have to be careful eating mother’s cooking.” He rubs his stomach. “I think I need to stop eating all this rich food.”

Stan tells the brothers, “I would like to go with you. You don’t mind do you, Amelia?”

“No, go with my brothers while I help clean up. I need to talk with my father about the antique store.”

Stan helps the brothers clear the table. “I have always wondered how you grow vegetables without soil. I am looking forward to having a tour of your greenhouses.”

When they finish clearing the table, Stan follows the brothers out to the mudroom. Curtis takes an old T-shirt along with some coveralls from a hook and hands them to Stan. “You will need to put these mud boots on to protect your shoes. You can drive if you want to Stan.”

“Are you sure? I have never driven an all-terrain vehicle before.”

“Have you driven an electric lawn mower or motorcycle before?”

“Yes.”

“Then you will have no problem. Go slow and follow my instructions. Turn on the key and give it some gas. Stay in the lane behind Bernie. I will follow you.”

They drive down a long, windy farm lane. Bernie stops at the edge of a cornfield.

Stan walks over to Bernie.

“This is a special Hi-Bred corn, Stan. It was developed by our local seed company to be used in the making of ethanol. We sell this corn to the Ethanol plant.” Bernie reaches over, pulls a cob off the stalk, and peels it back. “This corn is not good to eat.”

“I never knew there were different kinds of corn. I only eat peaches and cream corn topped with lots of creamy butter and, of course, the kind of corn you pop.”

Bernie laughs as he tells Stan, “Most people who grew up in the city think the same thing. Our young adult group has a big corn roast for the church in August. I will phone you and let you know the day if you want to come for some farm fresh corn.”

“Thanks, I would like that.”

They drive to another field. Bernie uses his long knife and digs a beet out of the ground. He brushes off  the dirt, then takes out his water bottle, and rinses the beet.

“Come and see how smooth the skin is, Curtis.” Bernie cuts the beet in half. These beets are resistant to disease. The field manager and our professors were right. This new variety of sugar beets does not have the deep depressions in the skin where it can trap dirt like the old varieties.”

Curtis tells Stan, “We are excited because this is the first year anyone has been allowed to grow this genetically-modified sugar beet in Canada. We will harvest them in the fall.”

Bernie slices off a thin sliver and hands it to Stan. “Lick it. They are not ripe yet, but you can still taste some of the sugar.”

Stan tastes it. “You are right. They are sweet. I always thought that sugar came from sugar cane and that beets were red, but these are more of a yellow colour. How do they make sugar from sugar beets?”

Curtis replies, “After the sugar beets are harvested in the fall, they are hauled by trucks and stored in piles north of Chatham. While they are still frozen, they send them by truck to a refinery in Michigan where they are refined into sugar. It is a long, slow process. If you want more information, I can give you some pamphlets that you can read.”

“Thanks, I am interested in learning more, Curtis.”

Bernie continues, “We have to depend on the weather when we grow sugar beets. A few years ago, we had a mild fall and winter and the whole pile of beets started to rot. In the spring, the neighbour’s near where they were stored complained of a small black fly the size of a gnat. They were swarming all around the area. This happened before we started to grow sugar beets. They have done research and have a better way of storing beets and disposing of the spoiled ones, so they do not cause the flies to bother the neighbours.”

Stan is inquisitive and asks all kinds of questions about the farm. He had never been on a real farm before. They take him into the greenhouse.

Curtis says, “Stan, you need to hose off your boots before entering the greenhouse. Upon entering, please step on this pad with disinfectant. It might seem funny, but you also need to slip your boots into these disposable slippers and put this white outfit on. We do not want to bring any soil or insects from outside into the greenhouse as it might contaminate the greenhouse environment.”

After they disinfect their boots and put the protective clothing on, the men walk through several different greenhouses. Stan sees how they grow tomatoes along with red, yellow, and green peppers. They end the tour at a small greenhouse that is separate from the others.

Bernie tells Stan, “This is our lab, where Curtis and I do some of our experiments for school. Try this.”

He hands Stan a small, bright, red strawberry that is perfect in colour and taste.

“It is delicious, Bernie.”

“I have been trying to find the best way to grow raspberries and strawberries in the greenhouse. Raspberries are easier than strawberries. I bring the potted raspberry plants into the greenhouse after they have sat out in the cold for a few months, usually in March. I use bumblebees to pollinate the plants once they start to flower. A few months later, we are picking fresh raspberries. I do not think we will do it commercially for a few years. We need to do a lot more research…”

 


 

 

 

 

God Answers Prayers

Meanwhile, back at the house, Amelia and her parents are sitting around a table in the study looking over blueprints. Her father tells her, “I did not want to say anything about your Aunt Stella’s plan for the store until I knew you were going to stay and run her business.

“Stella already arranged to have the addition built for the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild, but she died before we could start. All the building permits have been approved. Stella had me place an order for the material before she died, so all we have to do is pick a day to start.

“I  talked it over with Ben after you phoned, and he is arranging for some men to help us with the addition next Thursday morning. It is up to you. Is that what you want?”

“Yes, Father. It is a good idea. I want to build the addition. This will make it easier for us when we open the store.”

It is about four when the men return to the house. Amelia has a jug of fresh squeezed lemonade ready for them. A short time later, her brothers and her father excuse themselves. “We have chores to do.”

Amelia’s mother Marvel gets up. Turning to Amelia, she says, “I will go start supper. Will you put a pot of water on to boil and get the steaks marinating?”

“Yes, Mother.”

Stan asks, “Do you need any help, Mrs. Wilbur?”

“Call me Marvel. All my friends do. I need someone to start the barbecue for me. I will show you where it is.”

Stan follows her out to the screened-in patio.

“It is ready to turn on Stan. Push the button and it will light. Let it heat to 400 degrees and then turn it down. Thank you for your help. I will go and pick the vegetables for supper.”

Stan lights the barbecue and sits waiting for it to get hot.

Marvel is in the garden, and he sees her put her hand into the soil by a tall green plant and pull out tiny round balls before dropping them into a pail.

Amelia brings out two pots of water and puts them on the two side burners. “The pots will be boiling when we are ready to cook the vegetables.” Stan follows her back into the kitchen.

Marvel walks in and points to a six-quart basket sitting on the counter, “Just in time, Stan! I need help to French these beans.”

Stan grabs a chair and picks up a handful of beans.

Amelia shows him what to do. “This little tool was invented to French beans. Just remove the stem and push the bean through the blades.”

Ten minutes later the bowl is full of yellow beans.

“Can the two of you set the patio table for me? I have the tray ready with the dishes and silverware.”

“Yes, Mother.”

Stan gets the tray and follows Amelia out to the enclosed patio. After setting it on a side table, he walks over and checks the temperature. It is at 395 degrees, so he turns it down.

Soon the table is ready. Amelia dumps the vegetables into the boiling water and closes the lid.

Marvel comes out with some steaks and puts them on to cook. “How do you like your steak cooked, Stan?”

“I like it medium rare.”

The aroma of barbecued beef fills the air.

They hear Toffee and Cocoa barking as they follow the all-terrain vehicle back to the house. The men take turns cleaning up before joining them on the patio. Bernie will be out in a few minutes. He is responding to a fax that just came in.

Amelia pours them a tall glass of iced tea. Her father Randal takes a sip and says, “I just listened to the farm report. Field tomatoes in the United States are causing people to get sick. The salmonella scare is hurting our tomato business, and we are unable to find a buyer for our hothouse tomatoes even though they are from an entirely different source. It is lucky we don’t grow jalapeño peppers, or we would have to dump our whole crop.”

Curtis interrupts, “You are right, Father. Farming is getting more difficult. We have to keep so much paperwork. Animals get sick with mad cow disease. We lost our shirt on our feeder steers when that happened. We couldn’t even give beef away. Now they are finding salmonella in peppers and tomatoes. Nothing is a sure thing, anymore.”

His father disagrees. “I wouldn’t say that, Curtis. God is always a sure thing. He was with us when the beef market turned upside down, and He will be with us through the tomato scare.”

Bernie comes out of the house all excited. He is waving a piece of paper, “God is good,” he tells them. “I just received a fax from a large hamburger food chain. They indicated that they want to buy all the ripe tomatoes we have, if we can certify they are salmonella free. They are sending someone from their own labs to test them first thing in the morning.”

Curtis tells them, “Our own tests have shown that the tomatoes we grow are safe and free from salmonella.”

“I know, Curtis. Companies are finding it hard to obtain safe tomatoes to use. They are so desperate that they are sending their own tractor-trailers to pick up all the tomatoes we have ready if their lab gives the go ahead. They will even pay top dollar because they are so desperate. What good is a hamburger without a slice of tomato on top?”

Amelia says. “It is an answer to our prayers.”

Marvel lifts the lid of the barbecue, “Curtis, the steaks are ready. They need to rest for ten minutes. Can you get the pop cooler from the kitchen for me?”

“Yes, Mother.”

Soon the food is cooked. Randal says grace and they all help themselves. The steaks are cooked to perfection. The wax beans are crisp. The baby potatoes are tender.

Stan says, “I have never tasted a steak this delicious, Randal. Where do you buy your meat?”

Randal replies, “It is our own farm-grown beef, from our feedlot where we fatten steers. A local butcher ages the meat for us before he cuts it up and flash freezes it.”

When all the plates are empty, Marvel asks, “Have you been to the Blenheim Cherry Festival, Stan?”

“Our family used to go to the Cherry Fest in the summer when I was a young boy. That was a long time ago.” Stan rubs his arm and a strange look comes over his face.

Bernie interjects, “They shut down the main street, set up the carnival rides, sell cherry pies, and put on a big sidewalk sale. They also hold the annual cherry-pit-spitting contest.

Randal says, “This is a big deal for our town. The judges keep the records of the farthest cherry pit spit! I won it for my age group when I was ten.”

Bernie says, “I can only spit fifteen meters. The trick I’m told is to go with as dry a pit as possible, curl up your tongue, and let your tongue propel it through the air as you blow.”

Marvel removes a bowl full of big, juicy, black cherries from the cooler. “Boys, you can help by clearing the table and bringing everything into the kitchen while your father cleans the barbecue. When you are through, you can teach Stan how to spit cherry pits.” She says with a laugh, “Remember, do not spit cherry pits by the house or on the lawn. I do not want to weed baby cherry trees out of the grass all spring like I did a few years ago.”

Twenty minutes later the kitchen is tidy once more. Amelia and her mother sit on the patio swing to watch and laugh as the men practice their spitting on the driveway. The boys use a tape measure to measure how far they spit the cherry pits. It is a long, slow process.

The women sit and talk while the men have fun.

“I like your young man, Amelia”

“Stop trying to match make, mother. He is not my young man. I just met him on Tuesday. I don’t even know much about him. My lawyer told me that his firm highly recommended him for the job.”

Ignoring what Amelia said about matchmaking, she continues, “You will have to bring him back again.”

“Stan will be going home when he is finished, and I will likely never see him again.”

“Where does he live?”

“Stan is from Mount Bridges near London.”

“He seems like a good catch,” Her mother teases.

“Stop mother. You are embarrassing me. Stan is not a fish, and I am not trying to catch him.”

“Did I hear you talking about fishing?” Stan says with a smile on his face as he walks over and sits on the swing beside Amelia. He looks Amelia in the eye and with a wide grin says, “I love to fish.”

Amelia’s face turns a bright red. She excuses herself and runs to the bathroom, grabs a cool wet towel, and places it over her face to remove some of the heat. Mother, you need to stop trying to find me a husband.

After she feels composed once more, Amelia returns to the patio. She has a hard time looking at Stan. She looks at her mother and sends her a few daggers with her eyes as if to say, ‘now look what you have done, Mother’. Instead, she says, “It is getting late. Stan and I have to get up early because we are going fishing with his family tomorrow.”

Stan gets to his feet, “Thank you for the amazing day and for answering all my questions about the farm. I will try to come back for the cherry spitting contest. I spit a pit nine meters. Is there a prize for first time losers?”

“No,” Bernie tells him, as he rubs his stomach. “But you can enter the pie eating contest on Friday. That one is always a win-win situation. You get your fill of cherry pie while the crowd cheers you on.”

Randal holds out his hand, “Come back and see us again, Stan.”

“I will.”

 

Thirty minutes later, Amelia pulls into the driveway of the Sunshine Bed and Breakfast.

“You have a lovely family, Amelia. God has blessed you. I will pick you up at 7:30 tomorrow.”

“I am looking forward to our fishing trip. See you in the morning, Stan.”

Stan has a big smile on his face as he watches Amelia’s van drive down the road. It will be fun to spend the whole day with Amelia tomorrow. I would like to see her catch a big salmon.

Amelia opens the door and puts Prickles, her new porcupine, back on the shelf. She goes to the kitchen and feeds Freddy, grabs a juice out of the fridge, and sits in her overstuffed chair by the window in the living room to reflect on the day.

It has been a delightful day. Stan and I enjoyed ourselves. He seems to get along well with my family. I just wish Mother would stop trying to push me when it comes to dating. I have always prayed and asked God to help me find the right husband. I do not even know Stan yet.

I am looking forward to meeting his family tomorrow.

Amelia looks at her watch. It is 10:30, so she heads to her bedroom. When she is ready for bed, she opens her journal and writes, July 13. 2008,

I had a fantastic day with my family and Stan. I can’t wait to go fishing tomorrow.

She opens the new book that her friend Emily gave her on Friday and reads.

My Dear Friend

You are worth more than a million dollars to this world.

How much is God worth?

How much is Jesus worth?

How much is the Holy Spirit worth?

How much is your Spirit worth?

How much is your body worth?

If you went to the store,

You would not be able to buy the above.

They are priceless.

They have been given to you and your friends from God.

Jesus, who lives inside your heart,

Owns everything in the world.

All the money in the world,

Every diamond and precious stone ever cut.

So how can you put a price on yourself?

You are created in God’s image,

As a special gift from God above.

So remember that you are worth more than,

All the diamonds in the world,

All the gold ever dug.

You are worth everything to God.

So when you look in the mirror today.

Look for God’s reflection.

Remember that you have more than a million-dollar

body.

You are a treasure from heaven given to us from God.

God loves you.

Dedicated to all God’s Children.

Emily

This writing is priceless. I will phone Emily when she gets home from her trip to Alaska and thank her.

What a wonderful day! There is something about Stan, and I cannot put my finger on it. I know I have met him before. I will talk to him about it while we are fishing tomorrow.

“God, thank you for such an enjoyable day. Help me have a good rest and be with us as we go fishing tomorrow…”

 

 

 

Friends

The alarm wakes Amelia at 5:30. She is tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, but Stan will be there to pick her up soon. She feeds Freddy, pours coffee, and then heads back to her bedroom for her morning devotions. Her experiences from the past have taught her that if she misses her quiet time in the morning, her day will not go as smoothly. That does not mean that bad things will not happen.

Amelia picks up her Bible.

 

Monday, July 14, 2008.

She glances at the title of her devotion for the day. How fitting! I am going fishing in a boat on Lake Erie today and will likely see several lighthouses.

 

The Reflection from the Lighthouse

I was watching a program on TV this month about a lighthouse. I had a most awesome thought. Jesus is our Light, and we as Christians are to try to reflect His light out into this dark world. All lighthouses had to use an oil lantern before electricity.

The light keeper would trim the wick and fill the lantern with fresh oil every day. For the rest of the day, he would shine the mirrors and windows so that the lights would glow for miles. The light was first reflected onto shining mirrors, and then it was reflected out through windows to penetrate the thick fog as a warning into the dark, so that boats would not hit the dangerous rocks off shore.

God has given each Christian the responsibility to let Jesus’ light shine forth from our homes and hearts, so that the people all around us who might run ashore or get wrecked on the rocks of life might be given the warning of danger before it is too late.

If the light on a lighthouse goes out, the light keeper has to be there to fill the lamp with oil and trim the wick and light it again, or all the boats in the area will be in danger if a storm comes up.

We have been told to let our light shine and not hide it under a bushel or let Satan blow it out. It is our responsibility to keep the oil in our lamps full and the wick trimmed, so that our light will reflect brightly into this dark, foggy world.

Is your wick trimmed of sin, and your lamp filled with the Spirit of God, so that the reflection of Jesus shines from your heart out into the world each day?

Psalm 119:105. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Karen

 

“My Dear Heavenly Father, help me be wise as I run the business Stella left me. Help me to be a true witness and let my light shine out into this dark world for you. Never let me turn my back on those who have less than I. Help me to understand what it is you want me to do. Protect us as we go fishing on Lake Erie today. Thank You, God, for this inner joy and peace that You have given to me…”

The writing about the lighthouse is interesting. I think I will make a copy and give it to Stan.

She takes the book of devotions and photocopies it before heading to the kitchen.

While Amelia sits eating a muffin and drinking her second mug of coffee, she listens to the Lake Erie marine report.

…mostly sunny with a light wind from the west. All you boaters have a terrific day. Lake Erie will be calm in the morning with the wind picking up slightly around 4:00.

Amelia returns to her bedroom to get dressed. She has fair skin, so she puts on lots of sun block. She dresses in a pink sleeveless top with her favorite white Nevada zip off cargo pants. She likes the deep pockets in the pants. She puts the zippered legs into her backpack along with extra clothes just in case the weather changes. It can be cooler out on the lake.

Looking up at the shelf in the closet, she picks out her favorite fishing hat. This should keep the sun off my face. I don’t think I have forgotten anything.

Returning to the kitchen, she puts an extra scoop of food into Freddy’s dish and gives him a big hug. “I will be gone all day, Freddy. Take care of yourself and I will be back to feed you your supper.” She is closing the lid of the picnic basket when Stan drives up.

Amelia opens the door, and Freddy wanders over to greet him. Stan reaches down and rubs Freddy under his chin. “Good morning, Freddy.” Turning to Amelia, he asks, “Can I help you with your picnic basket?” I wonder what is in it.

“Thanks, Stan. Be careful with the basket. I baked some special treats for you.”

With a smile on his face, he opens the lid and peeks. “I can’t wait to try a butter tart.”

Amelia laughs as she picks a tart off a plate and hands it to Stan. “Why wait? You can sample one now.”

He takes a bite. “It is delicious, Amelia.”

“Thank you. The weather reporter said it would be an excellent day for boating.” She climbs into his truck, and Stan shuts the door behind her.

When they arrive at the dock, Amelia jumps out of the truck, and runs over to her friend. She gives her a big hug and asks, “Nettie, how are you and Tim? It is good to see you.” Looking around she asks, “Where are your children?”

Nettie tells her, “Tim is on the boat, and the children are staying with their grandparents.” Nettie notices Stan getting out of his truck. With a surprised look on her face, she says, “I didn’t know you knew my twin brother, Stan.”

“I didn’t know Stan was your brother. We just met last week. He is appraising Stella’s estate.”

“Where is Fred, Amelia? Stan mentioned that the person he was working for had a boyfriend called Fred.”

Amelia breaks out with laughter. She is laughing so hard that her sides start hurting, and tears begin running down her face. “I left Fred at home. He hates boating with a passion.”

Nettie giggles, “Stan actually thought Fred, the cat, was your boyfriend?”

“Yes, isn’t it hilarious? You should have seen Stan’s face when he found out Fred was my cat. Too bad I didn’t have my camera ready to snap a picture of the expression on his face.”

Amelia and Nettie have tears flowing down their cheeks while they stand on the dock laughing.

Stan first looks at Amelia, then at his sister, and finally back at Amelia. He sets Amelia’s picnic basket on the dock in front of her and with questioning voice he asks, “What’s going on here? How do you two know each other?”

“Stan, this is A. J., my friend. Her name is Amelia Jean; all my summer sisters have nicknames. I told you all about them remember. My nickname is Ettie.”

“That was confusing. I never remembered their nicknames.”

Amelia looks from Stan to Nettie. “Now, I know why I thought I had met you before, Stan. You are a splitting image of your twin sister Nettie. The only difference is Nettie has long hair and yours is short.”

Stan shakes his head and says, “We have a lot of talking to do, but if we want to go fishing, I need to help Tim put everything in the boat.” He picks up Amelia’s picnic basket. This is getting more confusing… Nettie and Amelia are friends.

Stan’s Uncle Dedrick and his wife Helena are already on the boat.

Dedrick reaches his hand out to help Amelia aboard, “Good morning, A. J. I didn’t know you were friends with my nephew, Stan.”

“Stan and I met last week, Dedrick.”

Stan interrupts them, “Don’t tell me you know my aunt and uncle as well.”

“Yes, they were regular customers at the tearoom. We have known one another for years.”

Helena tells Stan, “A. J. made me an extra hot pot of mint tea whenever I went to Stella’s. You always made it the way I liked it, right, Amelia?”

“Yes, I did Helena.”

Dedrick interrupts their conversation, “We need to start soon, Amelia. Please hand me your backpack, so I can put it in the cabin. I don’t want it to be in your way when you pull in a big fish. If my memory is correct you caught the biggest salmon the last time we took you fishing.”

“It was about six years ago, Dedrick. Thank you for reminding me. I wouldn’t want my change of clothes smelling like fish.” She is laughing as she hands him her backpack. Nettie tells Amelia, “We can sit back here and chat while the men stow the supplies.”

Amelia asks Nettie, “Are you going to Sharon’s barbecue on Wednesday?”

“Yes, I promised Sharon that I would provide her with some fresh fish, so I hope we have some luck fishing today.”

The men store the gear. Soon the boat pulls away from the dock. They wave to the people fishing along the pier as they go through the channel on their way out to open water.

Helena asks as she rubs some sun cream on her face and arms, “Are you going to keep Stella’s Tearoom open, Amelia? Stella made the best fresh-baked scones I have ever eaten. I loved them topped with her homemade marmalade.”

“Yes, Helena. I have moved back to Erieau. My cousin Jocelyn is going to help me run Stella’s while I teach part time. We plan to open on Friday, July 25th.”

Helena says, “That’s good news, Amelia. Your aunt made the best butter tarts for miles around. I always bought some to take back to London with me.”

Nettie continues the conversation, “I preferred the blueberry muffins. They were always full of fresh, plump blueberries and served with homemade blueberry jam.”

“Aunt Stella taught me how to bake. I used to go with her and pick fresh fruit. We even went and picked our own nuts. We always froze enough to last us for a year.”

The women continue to talk about Stan and Nettie being twins. They find it interesting that Stan is working for Amelia at Stella’s Antiques.


 

 

 

 

Fishing in Lake Erie

They all sit back and relax as Dedrick steers the boat toward the hot pickerel fishing spot by the bluffs on the other side of Rondeau Park.

Dedrick puts out a drift sock to slow the boat down while he trolls for pickerel. They do not use downriggers but use a heavy sinker and let it bounce off the bottom with a long narrow-coloured spoon that has some artificial bait on the hook. They catch their limit of pickerel and a few bass as they fish in about thirty feet of water.

Dedrick says, “It is early yet. We have time to go swimming before lunch.” He turns the boat around and heads to where there is a sandy beach.

Amelia asks Stan, “Are you going for a swim?”

“No, Amelia, I never learned how to swim.”

Amelia and the rest of the passengers dive into the deep cool water and swim around the boat. Stan sits and watches as Amelia swims through the water in front of him. She is a beautiful woman. We have so much in common. Just think-- she has been a friend of my sister all those years without my knowing it. I plan to get to know her better. I wish I had learned to swim so that I could be out there with her now.

He rubs his arm through the long-sleeved cotton shirt. As he thinks about why he never took swimming lessons, a chill goes up and down his spine. I am not ready to think about it.

Stan sits and watches the commercial fishing boats returning with their catch to Erieau. It has been a relaxing day, and I am glad I decided to come.

The women return to the boat and go below to change. When they are finished, they set the food out on the table.

They sit chatting while they eat lunch. The food soon disappears. They are all hungry because of the busy morning. Nettie brings out a big bowl of strawberries and cherries. Everyone reaches into the bowl and enjoys eating the fresh fruit. Once they are finished, the women put everything away.

“This is such a gorgeous day. I am glad I came along,” Amelia says as she applies more sunscreen.

“I am enjoying being with you and my family,” Stan says. He has a big smile on his face as he talks to Amelia.

Dedrick walks over and talks to them, “Let’s go and try to catch a trophy salmon. I have been given a report by a friend that they are catching them about twelve miles from shore.”

Everyone is enjoying the warm summer day. A gentle wind is blowing just enough to keep them cool. The sky is a beautiful blue with big, marshmallow clouds.

Fifty minutes later the boat slows, and Tim puts a minnow on the hook of a golden spoon. “This is one of the best fishing spots around. You women can toss a coin to see who gets to pull in the first two fish,” He sets up the downriggers.

Amelia and Helena win the coin toss and sit in their chairs waiting for the fish to take the lure. The calming motion of the boat moving across the lake causes Amelia to doze. She awakes with a start when she hears the line on her reel unwind. A big fish is running away with her bait. She grabs the rod and sets the hook. Soon there is more excitement as a fish takes Helena’s bait.

After a good fight, the fish on Amelia’s line tires and Stan is able to net it. He is excited as he says, “This is a keeper, Amelia!” He removes the hook and hands the salmon to Amelia. “Hold it up while I take your picture.” Stan takes her picture while she holds the fish.

Tim helps Helena net her fish, “Another keeper”, he says. He puts the fish in the live well after Stan takes her picture.

The men set the downriggers once more.

They take turns sharing their favorite fishing stories.

Amelia tells of a time she was fishing in a canal near Chilliwack, B.C. “A steelhead hit my line. I set the hook and the fish began to fight. I fought it for twenty minutes. It would just swim up and down the river. I could not budge it. I had an interview for a job in Vancouver that afternoon. It was getting late and I had to go, so I reluctantly cut the line and turned my back on the fish. The worst part is I did not get the job. I lost both a large steelhead and a job on the same day.”

They all sympathize with Amelia.

It is Dedrick and Helena’s turn to fish. Dedrick shares a fish story while he waits for a fish to take his bait.

“I was twenty years old and one of the lifeguards for 30 children from the inner city of St. Louis, Missouri. We were on an inner tube float trip on the Meramec River. Three children were snagged by two-inch fishhooks. The hooks had been tied from tree branches or strung across the river on trotlines. It was no fun having to row three crying children with hooks in their arms back to camp. It took over an hour, and they had to be taken to the hospital to have the fish hooks removed.

“I was asked by the camp director to go with this older woman to drag the river for fish hooks and cut the hooks off the tree branches that were hanging in the water. The camp director told me to watch out for poisonous water moccasins. I was to act dumb if anyone came along in a motorboat.

“We spent the afternoon collecting fish hooks and were ready to row back to camp when we heard a motorboat coming around the bend. I pulled in the anchor and covered the pile of hooks with an old dirty sack and then motioned for the older woman, I think she must have been around 25, to come and sit beside me.

“I put my arm around her and pretended we had been necking. The men in the motorboat pulled up close, looked in the boat, and asked, ‘Have you seen anyone cutting our fishing lines’?

“No,” I lied. “We are just out for a romantic afternoon.” I snuggled in closer to this stranger. I didn’t even know her name. Our lives depended on it. Both men had a shotgun sitting between their legs, and they were angr...

The story is interrupted when a fish takes Dedrick’s bait.

He stands up and sets the hook. After the fish is put in the live well, Nettie asks, “Does anyone want a snack?”

“Yes, I am getting hungry for Amelia’s butter tarts,” Stan says.

Amelia gets her picnic basket and takes it to the small table. She removes a jar of raspberry jam, some creamy butter, and the containers with her baking.

Helena opens the cooler, and they all help themselves to a cold drink.

“The muffin is good,” Tim says, before he takes a second bite of his zucchini muffin. A big glob of raspberry jam drops onto the front of his white polo shirt.

Nettie gently scolds, “I forgot to pack your bib, Tim.” She gets a wet cloth and tries to remove the stain. “Oh! No.”

Nettie drops the cloth as she reaches for her rod to set the hook. She forgets about the stain on her husband’s shirt as she starts to reel in an extra big fish.

The fish is a real fighter and tries to throw the hook. Nettie thinks she is going to lose it several times when the large fish takes off on her. After a good fight, Tim finally nets the big fish.

“It is too bad that the fishing derby was over yesterday, or you would have won first prize, Nettie,” Tim is happy for his wife. He is very gentle as he removes the hook from the fish’s mouth.

They all come over and admire the salmon. Nettie tells them, “I want to release it, so it can have more babies for me to catch in the future. It really is too large to keep.”

Tim lets it slip back into the depths of the lake. Tim teases his wife. He pretends he is holding a knife and fork in his hands. “You talk about a cat having nine lives. That salmon just about ended up on my dinner plate.”

The friends laugh at Tim’s antics. He has always been the clown in the group.

The hooks are set once more, and the fishing continues. Soon the rods are bending and Stan and Tim each pull in a salmon.

Dedrick tells them, “I decided the year I bought the boat that my guests could each keep one salmon or one lake trout a day. There is always tomorrow and I want some fish left in the lake for my children.”

 

 

 

Black Clouds on the Horizon

It is about 3:00 when Dedrick hears the emergency weather report. He turns up the marine radio and hears, “Severe storm warning for Lake Erie. Tornadoes sighted near Windsor. Expect torrential rains and hail along with gale force winds from the west. All boats need to return to shore immediately.” He looks and sees some dark clouds forming in the west.

Dedrick walks over and tells them, “Bring in all the fishing lines and put them away. We need to head the boat to shore with haste. Check to see if your life jackets are on tight and prepare for a storm. Take everything that is loose to the cabin, and put it in the cupboards. Lash anything that is movable down. A big storm is heading our way.”

Dedrick hits the switch that pulls the anchor up. The boat motor roars to life.

Amelia’s hat is caught with the strong wind, and before it can be stopped, her favorite fishing hat is blown overboard. The boat bounces up and down in the choppy water, and they have to hold on to the railing to keep their footing. They all find a job to do and with much difficulty, the fishing equipment is stowed in the proper compartments.

Dedrick steers the boat through the choppy waves. The clouds are getting darker in the west. It starts to rain. There is a head wind blowing from the west slowing the boat. Giant white caps cause the boat to bounce up and down. Tim hangs on to the railing as he walks over to talk to Dedrick. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Dedrick tells him, “The wind is slowing us down. The storm is getting worse. It is impossible to make it to Erieau. I will try to beach the boat on the sandbar at Rondeau Park. Tell the women to go below into the cabin, so they will be safe.”

Tim instructs the women to go below and returns and tells him. “The women are safe.”

The three men chat as they eagerly wait for the new emergency marine weather report. The waves are getting worse and the black cloud is closer. It is starting to rain. They are still about ten miles from shore when they hear the announcer say, “There is a tornado and storm warning for all Chatham-Kent. Hail the size of golf balls; have started to fall in Chatham. The hail is breaking windows and destroying crops. You should find shelter immediately. Gale force winds are heading southeast and will hit Blenheim and Rondeau Bay area soon. All boats should head to shore as soon as pos…The boat jerks to a sudden stop.

Tim and Stan hang on to their seats preventing themselves from getting hurt. Tim shouts above the noise of the rain, “What happened?”

Dedrick is not able to answer. His body has been slammed against the steering wheel. He is doubled over in pain. The wind has been knocked out of him, and he is gasping for air.

Stan turns the motor off, and the two men help Dedrick to his feet. With concern in his voice, Stan asks, “Dedrick, where are you hurt?”

Dedrick whispers as he gasps for breath, “I think I broke some ribs.” They help him get comfortable in a chair.

Stan says, “I will go see what we hit. Tim will you go check the boat over and also the women in the cabin.”

Tim goes below deck and sees Helena stretched out on the bed with Nettie holding a pressure bandage to her head.

“What happened?”

Nettie tells him, “Helena hit her head on the corner of the shelf and has a big gash. She is unconscious.”

“Can I help you?”

“No, we have it under control. I think the pressure bandage is slowing the bleeding.”

“Call if you need me.” Tim checks the boat for leaks and sees no water. He returns and tells Dedrick, “Helena is hurt! She has a deep gash on her head, and she has passed out. Nettie and Amelia are trying to stop the bleeding. I didn’t find any leaks.”

Dedrick gets up to run to his wife but has to sit down again because of the pain.

Stan yells, “Come quick! There is a gill net tangled in the propellers. Tim and I have to go overboard and cut the net away to free the boat. Dedrick, we will need some help.”

Stan says, “I will get Amelia. Tim, get us two sharp fishing knives and some strong rope.”

Stan calls Amelia to help and gives her some important instructions. They go to the stern of the boat where Tim is waiting with the two knives and the rope. The men attach the leather sheath to their belts. They secure their life jackets, tie a rope around their waists, and fasten the rope to the back of the boat. The wind has picked up, and the waves start crashing over them. They are drenched and the deck is slippery.

Stan shouts above the noise of the storm. “We are in danger of the boat capsizing. We have to cut the net free soon. It is causing the boat to tip more with each wave.”

Amelia comes over to help. “What do you want me to do?”

Stan says before he jumps into the cold, choppy water, “Tie this rope around your waist and to the railing of the boat. Hang on tight. We don’t want you to fall overboard.”

Tim ties a rope to a life jacket and hands it to Stan. “Tie it to the net so the Ministry of Natural Resources can find it.” He jumps into the rough water beside Stan.

The two men cut away at the net that is heavy with dead smelly rotting birds and fish. Soon they have the net cut free of the propellers. They try to remove the net string from around the blades, but it is impossible.

The men continue trying to pull and cut the tangled net out of the propeller blades but have to stop when the waves get even higher. Stan loses his footing on the back step. The sleeve of his shirt snags on the propeller. The waves toss him around like a rag doll. His arm is slashed open by a sharp blade. He tries to get his shirt untangled but has no luck. Tim cuts Stan’s shirt free with his knife. Amelia and Tim help Stan climb on board the rocking boat.

Tim yells after they are under the protection of the canopy, “Amelia, you need to stop the bleeding in Stan’s arm. I will put up the distress flag and radio the Canadian Coast Guard for help. We need immediate assistance. Without a running motor, the boat might capsize. The storm is getting worse.”

Amelia hears Tim as he speaks into the radio to the Canadian Coast Guard. “MAYDAY, MAYDAY.” Tim gives their position, “This is the ‘The Beloved Rose’ out of Erieau. We have snagged a fish net and both our propellers are damaged. We have injured people on board…”

Amelia starts to look after Stan, “Let me take care of your arm. I need to stop the bleeding!”

Amelia grabs some clean towels out of a drawer and ties a pressure bandage around the gaping wound in Stan’s arm and the bleeding slows. She notices all the burn scars on his body. Stan is shivering so badly that she finds a few dry beach towels and wraps them around his shoulders.

“Thank you, Amelia. I am so cold.”

Tim returns and tells them, “There are no other boats in the area that can give safe assistance, so the volunteer Canadian Coast Guard (Aux) out of Erieau is on their way.”

Hail, the size of golf balls starts to pound the boat. The noise from the hail gets louder, and soon the men have to motion instructions with their hands. Tim writes, the storm is getting worse.

The gale force wind blows the waves over the boat tossing it around like a child’s toy. The hailstones tear holes in the fiberglass canopy. The windshield is cracked. They are all soaking wet and shivering from the freezing hail and rain.

The storm begins to blow the rain and hail in under the protection of the fiberglass canopy.

Dedrick puts his hands together in prayer. They bow their heads and pray.

Tim returns from checking the boat. No one can hear him, so he writes. The boat is holding together. The waves continue crashing over the sides of the boat. Tim points to Stan and Amelia. He mouths, “Come with me!” Tim starts to help Stan go below when a big wave hits the boat almost flipping it. Tim holds on to Stan preventing him from falling. Amelia slips on the wet stairs and is thrown through the air and lands hitting her right shoulder and face hard on the table. A big red welt appears on her shoulder, and it hurts to move her arm.

Tim helps Stan to a chair, and then shuts the door to keep the water out. He helps Amelia over to a seat. Nettie comes over to check her.

Stan notices the large, red welt on Amelia’s shoulder.

Nettie makes a sling and eases Amelia’s arm into it before she puts an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the purple bruise.

It is no use talking. The pelting of the hail prevents them from hearing. Nettie gets a new bottle of water and washes out the wound on Stan’s arm. Stan winces as his sister pours some antiseptic from a bottle over the gaping wound. She shouts with concern in her voice, “I don’t want you to get an infection.”

Nobody can hear Nettie because the pounding of the hail makes it impossible to hear. She puts another pressure bandage on the wound. Good, the bleeding is slowing. She motions for her brother to put his left arm in a sling. It is lucky for you that I took up nursing, The loud banging from the hail continues to smash against the sides of the boat.

When she is finished, Nettie returns to check Helena’s bandage. She had taken some blankets and tied her to the bed, so she would not be tossed about. Her head is still bleeding when Helena wakes up. When she tries to sit up, Nettie holds her down and shakes her head.

Tim opens the door and motions for Stan to come. He shows him what he wrote on a piece of paper. No choice… anchors not holding… Boat might sink… preparing emergency dinghy… Jump overboard.

Amelia pulls out her phone and as best she can with one hand hits the buttons to write a text to her mother. “Pray… Bad storm… Boat might sink… I love you all.” She presses send. Another wave tosses the boat around knocking the phone out of Amelia’s hand. She reaches down with her left hand and puts the soaking phone back to her ear, but the connection is dead. She returns it to her pocket. I am so cold. I need to get something warm out of my backpack.

Before she can act on her thoughts, Stan opens the cabin door and hands her a note.

Everyone come up. Boat might flip.

Nettie unties the blankets that are preventing Helena from being tossed around. Stan, with much difficulty, helps the women climb the stairs. He reaches out to help Helena after a big wave crashes over the boat. The water rushes down into the cabin drenching them. The storm is getting worse.

Tim phones the Canadian Coast Guard (Aux). It is no use. They cannot hear what he is trying to say to them, because of the noise from the raging storm and large hail. Tim sends up another flare before writing in big bold print. We need to pray. He folds his hands in prayer.

They continue to pray as they prepare to jump overboard. Large hailstones drown out their words.

Tim writes, When you jump in the water, stay together. Tim ties a short rope on all the life jackets so someone can grab it, and then writes. Tie your rope to the dinghy. They help Helena get into the dingy and tie her in.

The hail hits them as Tim motions for Nettie to help him push the small dingy into the raging water.

Dedrick comes over yelling and motioning, “STOP! DON’T JUMP!” He grabs the paper from Tim and excitedly writes. Coast Guard saw the flare. Be here soon.”

The Coast Guard arrives just in time. They throw Tim a rope, and he secures it to the boat.

Just as fast as it started, the hail ceases and the raging storm stops. Dedrick talks to the captain of the Coast Guard. “We will need an ambulance to take my wife to the hospital. She is bleeding from a gash on her head and might have a concussion.”

The Coast Guard Captain tells Dedrick, “We have some paramedics on board. The storm has slowed down enough for us to pull alongside your boat. They will come on board and give medical attention to anyone who is hurt. You will need to sign some papers before we can tow you.”

The Canadian Coast Guard (Aux) pulls up alongside Dedrick’s boat and someone throws a duffel bag on board as two people jump onto the boat. Nettie and Tim grab their arms preventing them from falling into the water.

“Hi, I am Ronda, and this is Jim. Who is the owner?”

“I am,” Dedrick says.

“We have some papers for you to sign.” She hands him a waterproof envelope.

Ronda asks, “How can we help you?”

Nettie tells them, “I am a nurse. This is Helena. We put a compression bandage on her head to stop the bleeding. I think she might have a concussion.” Pointing to Stan, she says, “Stan’s arm is bleeding badly. He has a deep gash in it. We need to stop the bleeding. Amelia has a large bruise starting on her shoulder where she hit it. Dedrick, the owner of the boat, might have some broken ribs.

Ronda checks Helena’s vitals. Turning to Jim, she says, “Help me get her below where we can get her dry.”

Nettie goes ahead to strip the wet sheets off the bed and replace them with dry ones from the upper cupboard.

Ronda puts a new bandage on Helena’s head. She asks Nettie to help her remove Helena’s wet clothes before wrapping her in several dry blankets.

Stan knocks on the door.

Ronda says, “Come in. You must be Stan.” She checks him over. “The gash on your arm is deep. I will put a new compression bandage on it to stop the bleeding. The doctor will have to stitch it up when we get you to the hospital.” Stan is beginning to shiver from the cold and shock.

Ronda puts a new compression bandage on Stan’s wound. Do you have another shirt, Stan?”

“Yes, in the red backpack in the cupboard.”

Jim gets the backpack and pulls out a warm jacket with a hood. He tells Stan. “I will help you put on some dry clothes. Try not to use your arm. We do not want you to get a chill.” Jim helps Stan put the jacket on so he can get warm before he slips Stan’s arm into a sling.

Ronda checks out Amelia’s arm. “Good, I don’t think you have any broken bones. I think you might have dislocated your shoulder. That is a nasty bruise starting on your cheek, and it will be sore for a few days. You need to go to the hospital and have it checked out.”

Amelia thanks her and leaves the cabin while they help Stan change out of his wet pants. She borrows Nettie’s cell phone and phones her mother.

“I got your text, Amelia. It is good to hear your voice. Where are you?”

“Mom, we are safe. The Coast Guard has arrived. They are towing the boat to the Erieau Marina. We will arrive there soon. Please come and get me. I really need you. I love you.”

With tears in her voice her mother replies, “We are on our way. I can’t talk as I am driving. I LOVE YOU, AMELIA.”

The protective fiberglass canopy has several holes in it from the large hail. Tim looks around the cabin. It is one big mess. The supplies that were not stored in the cupboards are floating in about an inch of water on the floor. He piles the mess in a corner out of the way and fills the kettle with some bottled water. When it boils, he makes a large pot of tea.

He opens the upper cupboards, finds some dry blankets, and takes them over to Amelia and Dedrick. He wraps one around his shoulders. He asks, “How is your arm, Amelia.”

“I am in a lot of pain, Tim. Thanks for the blanket and tea. I am starting to get warm. The boat came so close to sinking, and I was afraid we would all die.”

It seems like forever before they reach the safety of the Erieau Marina. The loving arms of Amelia’s family are anxiously waiting to hold her.

An ambulance is waiting to take Stan and Helena to the hospital in Chatham. They want to take Amelia along, but she lies, “My shoulder is feeling better. I just want to go home.”

The news about the accident has spread around the town, and several people stand around taking pictures with their video cameras.

Amelia’s father and brothers say they will tie down the boat. The storm blew down several trees and did a lot of damage in the area before it passed through. The power is off in the surrounding area.

The Coast Guard takes a short report from Dedrick.

They tell him, “We will bring someone from The Ministry of Natural Resources to talk to you. It is a crime to leave a gill net unmarked. They will send divers to remove the net when the weather has improved.

“People do not realize that fish die and rot in lost nets. The decaying fish attract birds and other fish. It is a never-ending cycle until someone finds the abandoned nets and the DNR removes them.”

When they are through questioning Dedrick, Amelia calls Tim over. “Tim, can you get my camera for me?” She tells him where she put it. He gets it for her along with her backpack and hands them to Marvel, before he drives Dedrick and Nettie to the hospital in Chatham.


 

 

 

 

Safe at Home

Marvel drives Amelia back to her house. The lights are still out, so she asks, “Amelia, where do you keep your emergency flashlights just in case the lights do not come on before it gets dark?”

“They are on the shelf in the laundry room.”

“I will get them later. Come with me.” Her mother takes her to the bathroom and has her sit on the chair. “Let me look at your shoulder and arm, A.J. I think you should go and see your doctor in the morning. That bruise does not look good. You should have gone to the hospital. I will send your Aunt Isabel to check it out for you in the morning. You can’t be too careful.”

“It will be all right, Mother. Help me remove these wet, ruined clothes. I need a warm bath. Just look at me. I am filthy.” It felt so reassuring for Amelia Jean to hear her mother call her by her nickname, A.J.

Amelia’s arm is useless. Her mother helps her remove her ruined, soiled clothes and drops them into the garbage can. The pink, sleeveless blouse has a tear in the back where it caught on a hook, and her favorite white cargo pants are ruined. No matter how much she washes them, she will never be able to remove the black grease, Stan’s blood, and the green seaweed stains.

Amelia slips into the warm lavender bubble bath laced with Epson salts. She tries to relax as she washes away the grease and grime from her ordeal.

Her mother helps her shampoo her hair before she holds out a warm bath towel. She walks with her to her bedroom. Marvel tells Amelia, “Lay back and rest A.J. I have fed Freddy for you. Take these two painkillers to help with the pain.” She hands Amelia a glass of water and two white pills.

“Mother, we were so close to drowning.” Memories of the past few hours keep coming back. She begins to cry. Her mother holds her while Amelia tells her all about what happened to them in the boat.

Finally, Amelia falls asleep. Her mother brushes a natural curl away from the bruise on her cheek. “I love you, Amelia.”

Marvel goes to the laundry room and returns with a mop and pail to begin to clean up what the storm left behind. “What a mess!” Her mother shuts the window. “There is water everywhere.” She starts to wipe up the water around the windowsill and  off  the floor.

Several hours later, Amelia’s mother comes into the bedroom and notices that Amelia is awake. She asks, “Amelia, are you all right? The lights just came back on.”

“I hurt all over, Mother.” Amelia is stiff when she gets to her feet and finds it hard to move her arm. She looks in the mirror and notices the bruise on her cheek. That looks awful.

“Tim phoned while you were sleeping. He is driving everyone back to Erieau. Helena has a concussion, so the hospital has admitted her. Stan has several stitches, so he will not be able to work for a while.”

“I am sorry to hear about Helena, Mother. I hope she will be all right.”

“I have been praying for her. Stan says Tim will bring them over after they clean up. Stan says he wants to talk with our family tonight. Brenda and Kim have brought in enough food to feed an army.”

“The people in Erieau are so kind, Mother.”

“I know, Amelia. I had to tell them that you were resting.”

Amelia’s mother gives her a gentle hug. “I will help you get dressed. What do you want to wear?”

“How about my lime flowered shift. It will be easy to put on. She tries to chuckle, but her face hurts. “The pastor sure knew what he was talking about yesterday. We do need all the parts of our body to function.”

Marvel talks with her daughter with concern in her voice, “The bruise on your shoulder has turned a bright purple and doesn’t look good.” Amelia winces when her mother checks it with her gentle fingers. “You need to get it checked in the morning if the swelling doesn’t go down.” Her mother goes to the kitchen and returns with an ice pack and helps Amelia put her arm in the sling that the medic had given to her.

Marvel picks up the hairbrush and starts brushing her daughter’s hair. “At least you don’t scream when you see a hairbrush anymore, Amelia. I can remember chasing you all over the house before school every morning. You never liked your hair touched. I remember the day you took my scissors and cut your hair short.”

“Oh mother! I was just four. It grew back in even curlier. It is always full of tats. Thank goodness for the new kinds of hair conditioners they have now.”

The mother and daughter spend some precious moments reminiscing. Marvel wipes away some more tears as she gently gathers her daughter in her arms once more. “Thank You God for bringing Amelia Jean safely home to me. Help Helena get well…”

Amelia slips her feet into her favorite slippers, and they make their way slowly to the living room. Her mother helps her get comfortable on the couch before covering her with a warm comforter. Freddy, not sure of what is going on, snuggles at her feet.

Her mother turns on the television, and they watch the news.

Amelia is shocked to see her face on TV. Her hair is a mess, and her pink blouse is torn and covered with Stan’s blood. She sees her loving family run over and gather her in their arms. Her family is crying tears of joy as they hold her.

“There was a daring rescue near Erieau this afternoon when a missing drift net was caught by a boat’s propeller. If the rescue boat had not arrived when it did, all the passengers on board would have abandoned the boat. It was taking on water and had just about capsized several times. By request of the families involved, we are withholding their names. The Ministry of Natural Resources will be removing the wayward gill net and conducting an investigation.

The worst hailstorm on record hit the Chatham area this afternoon. Hail the size of golf balls and bigger continued to pound the area for 20 minutes.” The reporter holds up several hunks of ice. “There will be millions of dollars in insurance claims… The hail damaged most of the vehicles in the automotive dealerships around Chatham. Shingles will have to be replaced on most of the homes in the area.”

Amelia and her mother watch, as they show several videos that were taken of the falling hail.

“Stay tuned for the National News!”

“Tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables are being recalled. The inspectors still do not know where the source of the Salmonella is coming from. We will keep you posted.”

“That is enough news for one day. It is bad enough watching it, but even worse when you are part of it.” Her mother says as she picks up the remote and clicks off button. “I will go make a pot of tea. Do you want some?”

“Yes, Mother.”

Marvel says on the way to the kitchen, “Stan and his family will be here soon.”

 

 

 

Stories from the Past

Amelia is dosing on the couch while her mother cleans up some of the mess left when the rain from the storm blew through the open windows. Marvel rinses out the mop and rags then takes them to the back porch to dry. There is a knock at the door. It is her husband Randal.

Randal looks over at his sleeping daughter and whispers with concern in his voice, “How is Amelia? I came as soon as I finished helping the boys with the evening chores.”

“I am concerned about her arm, Randal. I wanted to take her to the hospital, but she insisted that she would be alright.”

“Amelia has always been stubborn just like me.”

“Father… is that you?”

“Yes, Amelia.” Randal walks over to his daughter and wipes his tears away as he gently caresses the bruise on her cheek. “I love you, Amelia. Thank God you are safe.”

Her parents sit beside her and listen while Amelia tells them all about the storm… “Something strange happened to me during the storm. I know we all prayed, and you sent out an emergency prayer request.

“During the worst of the storm I felt the love of Jesus surrounding me. I had the same feeling I had when I was a little girl and looked at the picture of Jesus in Stella’s big family Bible. Jesus was holding the little girl in his arms. I felt Jesus say, ‘It will be all right, Amelia, trust Me’…”

The doorbell rings, and Marvel gets up to answer it. Stan, Nettie, Tim, and Dedrick are standing there. She tells them, “Come in,” She asks, “Randal, can you help everyone find a place to sit while I get them a hot cup of tea.”

Randal helps Dedrick as he gently eases himself onto a straight back chair.

“Stan, you would be best to sit in this overstuffed chair. You can rest your arm on the armrest.” He takes him to the chair that is beside Amelia. “I will get you some pillows to put under your arm.”

“Thanks, Randal.”

Amelia looks over at Stan. He looks a bit pale. His left arm is bandaged from his wrist to his elbow and is in a protective sling. It has been a scary day, but I thank God that we are still alive. We came so close to drowning.

Stan makes himself comfortable in the overstuffed chair by Amelia. Stan winces in pain as he eases his arm onto the pillows. “How does that feel, Stan?”

“It helps. Thanks, Randal,” Stan says as he looks over at Amelia. She is on the couch beside him. Amelia seems to be in a lot of pain. The bruise on her face and shoulder look bad. Amelia notices something more than concern in Stan’s eyes as he asks, “Are you sure you are going to be all right, Amelia? What about your face…your arm? Shouldn’t you go to the hospital and have them checked out?”

“I will be all right,” she lies. I don’t want to go to the hospital. All I want to do is go and curl up in my bed and sleep. “My arm hurts when I move it, and I have found a few new bruises. I will have to slow down for a few days. They tell me you had several stitches put in your left arm.”

“Yes, it is lucky the blade of the propeller didn’t cut an artery. They are worried about infection, so I am on heavy antibiotics. I am right-handed. How about you?”

“I am out of luck.” Amelia tries to giggle, but her face hurts when she tries to smile. “I am right-handed. My mother had to help me dress and comb my hair.”

Stan smiles as he says, “She did a good job. I like the way your hair curls. That is a nasty bruise on your cheek.”

Amelia puts her hand to her cheek. I must look a mess. “It is sore.”

Marvel returns from the kitchen with a tray and sets it on the coffee table in front of Dedrick. She hands him a cup of tea and offers him some cream and sugar. Dedrick, what did the doctor say about Helena?”

“They did a CAT scan, and she does have a concussion. The doctor put in several stitches to close the cut above her eye. My wife will be staying in the hospital overnight in case there are any complications.”

“That is too bad. We have been praying for her.”

Randal asks, “What about your ribs, Dedrick?”

“They took x-rays and one rib is broken, and several others are badly bruised. I will not be doing much for a few days.”

Marvel remembers how Stan likes his tea so adds the sugar and milk. She asks, “Is there anything else you need, Stan?”

“No.” He takes a sip of tea, “That is what I needed. Thanks, Marvel.”

“How many stitches do you have, Stan?”

“I don’t know, but I felt like a human pin cushion by the time they got through with me.”

Marvel tells him, “You will need to rest your arm for a while.”

She serves her daughter before asking. “Is anyone hungry? Brenda sent over a big pot of chicken stew, and Kim made a platter of sandwiches.”

Amelia replies, “Yes, but we need to talk and unwind first. It was a frightening afternoon.”

Marvel comes over and asks, “How are you, Nettie?”

“I will be fine. I have found several small bruises, and my whole body hurts from the boat being tossed around.”

Tim walks over and puts his arm around his wife’s shoulder and their eyes connect. He says, “I have a few bruises also. No one can go through a bad storm like we did today without getting banged around. It could have been worse.”

They sip their tea, as they think back over the day.

Stan breaks the silence and tells them, “Dedrick talked with me while we were waiting in the emergency room. Let me start at the beginning.”

A cold sweat comes over him, and his body begins to tremble as he continues. God help me. The memories that he had repressed for years come rushing back into his mind… they start to overwhelm him. He takes another sip of tea, and it doesn’t help. He tries to collect his emotions before talking…

“I was nine years old, when our family’s cottage caught on fire.” Good the words are finally out.

“The fire department came and rescued our family. My dog, Skipper, was still in his kennel in my bedroom. Before they could stop me, I ran back into the burning cottage yelling, ‘Skipper, Skipper, where are you?”

It takes a lot of effort for Stan to look over at Amelia…

“Amelia, your Uncle Oliver Peabody, ran into the burning cottage to rescue me.” Stan takes another sip. “Oliver was killed when a rafter broke away from the ceiling and hit him on the head. I am sorry, Amelia! I was the cause of your Uncle Oliver’s death. Your Aunt Stella’s husband died because of me.”

Amelia looks away. Stan caused Stella’s husband to die. She is at a loss for words… I remember…Oliver was so kind to me… No Stan… Not you... How could you cause his death…With a broken voice, Amelia says, “I remember my father bringing me home from camp for Oliver’s, funeral. The police and firefighters lined the street. My father drove me back to camp the next day.”

“We were both just children, Amelia. You are lucky you were able to go to camp.” Stan takes another sip of tea. He begins to tremble at the memory as he says, “My shirt caught on fire, and I was burned badly. The firefighters rolled me in a special blanket to put out the flames. The paramedics did what they could.”

Amelia remembers the scars on Stan’s body. Her heart feels the pain in Stan’s voice as he continues. “I was in such bad shape that they arranged for a helicopter to land in Erieau to airlift me to the burn unit in London. I passed out and don’t remember my first helicopter ride.”

Amelia has tears in her eyes. She looks around the room and sees her friends and family wiping their eyes with a tissue. “I am so sorry, Stan… I didn’t know.”

“I had to undergo some painful skin grafts to repair the damage to my body. I spent several months in the burn unit in London. My family sold what was left of our summer cottage, but that is not the worst of it.”

Amelia looks over at Stan and has to look away. The anguish in his eyes is too much for her. What could be worse?

“It was hard, Amelia. I never returned to Erieau until last Tuesday. Returning to Erieau was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life. I had to face my nightmares.”

Nettie limps across the room and sits on the right arm of the overstuffed chair. She gently puts her arm around her brother Stan’s shoulder to support him as he continues.

“There was so much confusion during the fire that no one saw my little brother Kirk when he slipped back into the burning cottage after me. They did not miss him until it was too late. He died, along with your Uncle Oliver that night.”

Nettie begins to weep at the memory.

“I am responsible for their deaths.” Stan starts weeping and the unleashed tears of years begin to flow. “I caused the death of your Uncle Oliver and my little brother Kirk.”

The room is silent except for Stan and Nettie’s weeping.

Dedrick holds his hurting ribs as he walks over and puts his arms around them. He tells Stan. “You are not responsible for the death of Oliver and Kirk. It was an accident, Stan… I know… I was there… I woke your family and made sure everyone was safe. I never thought about your dog, Skipper. I am sorry, Stan.”

Marvel, Tim, and Randal walk over and join Dedrick. They put their hands on Stan and Nettie’s shoulder as Dedrick prays for them. “Our Loving Heavenly Father, we pray for Stan and Nettie. We ask in Jesus name, that You will remove their heavy burdens from the past. Comfort them…”

As Dedrick continues to pray, Stan and Nettie feel the memories and burdens they had carried for years lift from their shoulders. God took them away and replaced them with an inner peace… “Heal my wife Helena and help there be no complications. Also, look after Stan and Amelia. Bless them… Thank you for saving our lives this afternoon…”

When he is through, Marvel whispers to Randal. “I need help.” They slip into the kitchen. Marvel  removes a pot of chicken stew from the stove, “Will you fill this large soup tureen with stew and take it to the table for me? I will make another pot of tea. My mother always told me, ‘there is nothing like a hot cup of tea to heal what ails you’.”

Randal helps his wife and soon the late supper is ready.

When the tea is steeped, she takes it along with a platter of sandwiches to the table. Randal puts his arms around her and whispers, “I love you, Marvel.”

“I love you, Randal.” She kisses her husband on his cheek before going to the living room, “Come have some supper.”

They sit around the table and unwind as they share stories from their past.

Nettie tells about her own personal nightmares after the fire. “I blamed myself for letting go of Kirk’s hand. My girlfriends came with their parents to see the fire. I asked mother if I could go to stand with them. With tears running down my mother’s face, she said, ‘Yes, but take Kirk with you and hold his hand.’

“I held tightly onto Kirk’s hand as I ran over to talk with my friends. In all the excitement, Kirk must have slipped his hand out of mine. When I went back to stand by my mother, she asked me, ‘Where is Kirk? I thought he was with you.’ That is when we realized my little four-year-old brother Kirk was missing. It was too late by then. He was already dead.”

It had been a long day. A lot of emotional healing had taken place. Stan and Nettie were both feeling better after the truth was spoken. The family started to talk about what really happened all those years ago.

Stan and Dedrick get up to leave.

Marvel tells Stan, “Brenda brought your suitcases over like you asked her to when you phoned her. They are in the front hall.”

Nettie goes and holds Amelia’s good hand. “I will phone you tomorrow.”

Tim takes the suitcases to his car, and they drive away.

After everyone has left, Marvel returns to the living room and asks with concern in her voice. “Are you sure you want to be alone, A.J.? Your father brought my suitcase, and I am prepared to spend the night?”

“I will be fine mother.” She says. “All I need is a good night’s sleep.”

“Get some rest, Amelia. I will phone you in the morning.”

Amelia’s parents hold their precious daughter as they say a special prayer of thanksgiving.

Her father says, “I will drive you home, Marvel. You are exhausted. The boys can get your van tomorrow.”

 

 

 

The Uninvited Guest

Amelia locks the door, and looks around. Everything has been put away. A sharp pain goes from her right arm to her shoulder. She tries to lift it. My right arm will not move. I guess I will have to wear the lime flowered shift to bed. She walks over and examines her body in the full-length mirror that hangs on the wall behind her bedroom door.

I have several more bruises. The memory of when the gale force winds tossed the boat around like a toy causes her to tremble. I sure was knocked about. She touches her sore arm and remembers how her body hit against the walls and table.

I think I need something for the pain. She walks into the bathroom and sees the bottle sitting on the counter. Thank you, for leaving the lid off, Mother. She was right. I should have gone to the hospital. Amelia reads the instructions on the bottle then takes two pills and washes them down with a cold drink of water.

She returns to the bedroom and sits in her special chair. She finds it hard to get comfortable. Her whole body is starting to get stiff. Forty minutes later, she is still trying to get comfortable. Her head is starting to ache and she feels like she is going to be sick. “God, I wish I hadn’t sent Mother home. I do need som...” The ringing of the doorbell interrupts her.

She glances at her watch. Who would be coming to see me at this time of night? The doorbell rings again.

“Coming, I will be right there!” It is hard for her to get up from the chair. She walks slowly down the hall to the front door and asks, “Who is it?”

“It is Pearl.”

Opening the door she says, “Pearl, what brings you out, this late.

“YOU, I was worried about you, Amelia.” Pearl holds Amelia’s hand while she checks her over. Amelia is in worse shape than her mother told me. She is as white as a ghost. “Come, let me get you to the couch.”

She supports Amelia and helps her move to the couch.

“If you don’t mind me being truthful, Amelia. You look as if you need to go to the hospital?”

“I will be all right in a few days. How did you hear about the accident, Pearl?”

“I was watching the late news. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw your face. I tried to phone you, but all I could get is your answering machine. I was troubled, so I phoned your mother. She was anxious about you spending the night alone, so I jumped in my car, and here I am.

“I brought my overnight bag with me. You might be able to send your mother home, but try getting rid of your best friend. Move over. There is enough room for both of us on your couch.”

Amelia starts to weep. Her best friend Pearl holds her in her arms. It is going to be all right now that Pearl is here.

Amelia wipes away the tears. “I needed that. I think I was in a state of shock. It all happened so fast, and I have not had time to think about what took place yet.”

“I am here now, and I would like to hear how you got that bruise on your face and shoulder. I will get two ice packs for you first.”

Amelia holds her hand to her face and starts to cry again.

Pearl returns with two ice packs and fluffs the pillows on the couch. She covers Amelia with a warm comforter. “Now start at the beginning.”

“Mom wanted to spend the night with me, but I wasn’t thinking, so I sent her home. Thank you for coming, Pearl. You don’t know how much I need your support.”

The friends talk well into the night as Amelia tells her story about how Stan and Nettie are twins and everything else that happened.

Pearl looks at her watch, “It is well past one. I think we should get some sleep. Show me where your bedroom is.” She helps Amelia get up from the couch, holds her good arm, and steadies her as she walks down the hall to her bedroom.

Amelia’s mother is right, and Amelia finds herself having nightmares. She is being tossed about in a boat and calling out to God. At last, He comes and takes her by the hand. She remembers the picture of the little girl in the big Bible, and she feels Jesus’ arms surrounding her as she drifts off into a restful sleep.

 

Amelia rolls over in bed and groans with pain. Her right shoulder is stiff where she hit it. With much effort, she gets out of bed. She looks at the clock and sees that it is 9:00.

Amelia is not able to raise her right arm above her head. She looks in the mirror. I have a black eye. That wasn’t there last night. The big purple bruise on my shoulder has gotten bigger. My jaw is sore, and my cheek is puffy and starting to discolor more. She looks over her body. I have bruises all over my body.

Pearl comes to the door. “Good, you’re up. I fed Freddy for you. I wonder what the other person looks like,” she teases. “Let me help you get dressed.” She helps Amelia get into the shower and then dress in a light blue shift.

When Pearl is finished combing Amelia’s hair she says, “Amelia, I still think you should go to the hospital. I have an appointment in Chatham later. I can drive you.”

“I will be okay,” she lies. “It looks worse than it is.” Amelia hands her daily Bible study to Pearl. “Will you read it for me, Pearl? It is hard to hold it with one hand.”

“Yes,” Pearl takes the book from Amelia and starts to read.

 

The Storms of Life

We all will have to go through storms in our lives. When we are in the storm, we cry out to God, and we ask Him, ‘Why?’ When we get desperate, we cry out ‘God help me.’ Our God reaches down His strong hands from heaven, grasps our weak ones in His, and rescues us.

He listens to our cries, and he answers our prayer, but as soon as the storm is over, most people forget to thank Him for his help in rescuing them.


Mark 4:36-38 Paraphrased

Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat and go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee… Jesus was tired, so he put his head on a pillow and fell asleep.

A violent storm with strong winds arose; the waves started to fill the boat, and it was starting to sink. Jesus’ disciples tried to awake him. “Jesus, don’t you care?” They asked. “We might all drown.”

Jesus got up and told the wind to stop... He told the sea, “Be still.” The wind ceased and there was a great calm on the sea.

Jesus said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”

His disciples feared what Jesus had done. They talked among themselves. “What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Remember when you go through the storms of life that Jesus is with you and wants to reach down and tell the storm to be still. Reach out to Him and ask Him to calm the raging storms all around you. He wants to say to you today, ‘Have peace, be still, and trust in Me’.

By Karen

“Thank you, Pearl. I sure went through the storm of my life, yesterday. God answered our prayers. The boat was taking on more and more water as the waves continued to crash over us. We were being tossed around like a toy. We all said one last prayer and were getting ready to jump overboard when Dedrick said, ‘Stop’. God sent the Coast Guard to rescue us just in time. When all hope was gone, God reached down from heaven and grasped our feeble hands in His strong ones.”

“You’re right about going through a storm yesterday, Amelia. I thank God for saving your life. She looks into Amelia’s eyes. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

The two friends embrace and talk about their friendship. Amelia says. “We have been best friends ever since I sat beside you on the big yellow bus. It was our first of many bus rides to and from school.”

Pearl wipes a few tears away and says, “You are making me cry. I always looked forward to seeing the big yellow bus coming down the road because you were sitting in your seat with a big smile on your face.”

Yes, Pearl, “We rode that bus together for thirteen years.”

I need to go back to the kitchen. Breakfast will be ready in ten minutes.” 

After Pearl leaves, the room, Amelia thinks about what the pastor said the day before about the thumbs. It is true that we need all the parts of our body. If one part is injured, it is hard on the rest of the body. “God, Thank You for rescuing us yesterday…”

When she is through praying she heads for the kitchen. Something smells familiar. Her favorite breakfast is sitting on the table. “How did you know that this is my favorite breakfast, Pearl?”

“Remember the sleepovers, Amelia? Your Aunt Stella always spoilt us with breakfast on Saturday morning. She made waffle-French toast dripping with butter and real maple syrup, along with a large mug filled with hot cocoa overflowing with baby marshmallows.”

Pearl has to cut Amelia’s French toast into small pieces because her arm is hurting so much.

Amelia wipes away some more tears as she eats her breakfast. The friends reminisce about the summer sleepovers they used to have.

After they are through eating, Pearl gets up to turn the television on. “I want to see the news.”

When the news comes on Amelia sees her face on the television screen once more.

After they give a more detailed report, of the near tragedy, they start showing pictures of the damage from the hailstorm. Someone holds up a piece of hail the size of a golf ball.

It will take months to repair the millions of dollars of damage that was done to automobiles and homes when giant hail hit Chatham Kent and the surrounding area yesterday. They show clips from several car dealerships in Chatham. One dealer said most of our vehicles look like a dimpled orange. Another reporter is up on a roof showing people that they need to check their shingles for hail damage. He shows them the dimples in the metal siding on a house, along with broken windows and screens with holes in them.

Amelia remembers how she, as a photojournalist, used to be the one taking the pictures. She tells Pearl, “It is hard to be the one in the news.” She shares some of her feelings about how she felt when she saw herself on TV. “My hair was a mess, and my bra was showing through the torn blouse. I was covered in blood and grease. It was awful.”

“I know. I saw you Amelia.” Pearl cleans up the kitchen and heads for the door. “You need to rest, all you can today, Amelia. Do not overdo it. I will stop in and see you later. I have an appointment in Chatham in an hour.”

They give each other a hug. Pearl picks up her overnight bag and heads for her car.


 

 

You Need To Rest, Amelia

Amelia’s head is aching. She is on her way back to her bedroom to rest, when the phone rings. I wonder who it is this time. She looks at the caller ID and sees that it is her boss, Mr. Hanks.

She picks up the phone and says, hello.”

“How are you, Amelia? We saw you on TV and heard about the boat accident. I noticed your arm was in a sling, and your hair was a mess. That isn’t the best picture I have seen of you,” he teases.

They both begin to laugh. “I know I was embarrassed by the pictures. I promise I will be more careful, whenever I do a newspaper report from now on. I am aching all over and have a hard time using my right arm. I have several bruises, but no broken bones.”

“It is a miracle that you could make it to shore yesterday.”

“Yes it is. The boat is totaled and my friend is in the hospital with a concussion. Her nephew had a deep gash on his arm.”

“We would like you to write a human-interest story about the boat accident for us, Amelia. We will put it in your final column. It would be a way of saying goodbye to your readers. If possible send us some pictures.”

“I will do that for you, Mr. Hanks. I have several pictures of the fish we caught yesterday. I will go over to the boat, and take some more pictures of all the damage for you before I write the story.”

“Don’t overdo it Amelia, it looks like you need to rest,” Mr. Hanks says before he hangs up the phone.

I do need some rest. Amelia’s phone keeps ringing. It is her friends and family wanting to know if she is all right. I am so tired, and now I have to write this report. If I am going to get any work done today, I will have to put the answering machine on.

She records a message. “This is Amelia. I am busy right now.” She does not want her friends to worry, so she says. “I have no lasting effects from the boat accident yesterday. If you need to speak to me, please leave a message after the beep. If it is an emergency, phone my cell phone. Thank you.”

Amelia goes over and turns her computer on. “Heavenly Father, I am going to need a lot of help and strength from You, to get through today…”

Twenty-nine e-mails are waiting for her. She deletes the twenty that are junk mail.

She has to type with her left hand so it takes her longer to write her article.

I am writing this column from Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom in Erieau. This will be my last news report. I have decided to leave the paper and live in Erieau. I will start teaching school in the fall and open Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom, left me by my Aunt Stella. We will open on July 25th. I talked about her in some of my columns. If ever visit Erieau stop in and have a cup of tea with me.

Mr. Hanks, the editor of the newspaper asked me to share about the accident I had yesterday. My friends and I were having a beautiful carefree day, fishing on Lake Erie when a storm came up without warning. Our boat just about turned upside down.

While the owner of the boat headed for shore as fast as he could, we snagged an abandoned fishing net with both propellers. The men tried to cut us free when it began to hail. Golf balls of ice pounded at us from the sky cracking the top of our boat. We were adrift in waves that made any roller coaster ride feel tame. The boat started to swamp, and we were ready to jump overboard when the Coast Guard Rescue boat out of Erieau arrived…

Amelia Jean Wilbur

Amelia remembers that she has the Bible on her computer. She opens the program and clicks on Psalm 23. The person who reads says, King James Version. Psalm 23:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Her arm is too painful to write in her journal, so she mulls some of the words over in her mind for a while…

“Dear God. The familiar words of this Psalm always comfort me. We all walked through the valley of the shadow of death, yesterday. I will fear no evil; You came and took away my fear. For You were with me and Your rod and Your staff comforted me. I want to thank You for taking care of us yesterday. Help Helena and Stan’s get better.”

Amelia turns the computer off. I am so tired I think I will go and rest...there is a knock at her door. Oh no, not again. She gets up from her desk and opens the door.

Stan is standing there with a bouquet of white roses with pink carnations. He has a big grin on his face.

“This is the least I could do after what you went through yesterday, Amelia” he smiles. “Nettie dropped me off. She will be back in 20 minutes to pick me up.”

Amelia forgets all about being tired as she reaches out her hand for the flowers. She buries her face in them to cover up her tears. She says, “Thank you Stan. I will go and put them in water. Help yourself to a pop?”

Amelia has tears flowing down her face as she goes to her laundry room. She removes a fancy tall pink vase from the cupboard, and fills it with water. Her heart begins to race as she arranges the beautiful flowers. It takes her a bit more time because she is only able to use her left hand.

Amelia takes several deep breaths of the fragrant flowers to calm her emotions. She puts a cold cloth on her face to remove the evidence of her tears. She stops by her bedroom to apply some fresh makeup then returns to the front room, with the skillfully arranged flowers. She walks over and puts the vase on the table by the window.

Stan admires both the vase and the woman holding it. “That is a pretty vase, Amelia. Is it English Hobnail?”

“Yes it is.”

“How are you feeling after your adventures yesterday? I notice you have a black eye.”

She puts her hand to her face and touches her tender cheek. What will Stan think? I look a mess. “Yes it showed up this morning, and I am aching all over. I have never like going on roller coaster rides, but yesterday was worse. At least on a roller coaster you are strapped to your seat.”

Her cheek hurts as she laughs. “I told my friends when I was younger that I would never go on a roller coaster ride again, but how wrong I was.” She tries to laugh, but her face hurts. “I was glad when the storm stopped, and I could keep my feet under me.”

“You’re right about it being like a roller coaster ride, Amelia. I never expected to make it to shore alive after the waves started to wash over our boat.”

“It was the worst storm that I have ever experienced, and I was on my friend Pearl’s boat when the tornado went through Erieau a few years ago.”

“You will have to tell me about it someday, Amelia. Your pastor sure gave us a good lesson on Sunday. Wait until I talk with him again!” He gently touches his sore arm. “He was right when he said that if one part of your body is not working, the other parts have a hard time functioning.”

“I know what you mean. Pearl had to make my breakfast this morning.”

“I am glad you had some help. I brought a copy of my morning devotions for you Amelia. God is sure good at getting his point across. Do you want me to read it to you?”

“Yes, Stan. I want to share what was in my devotion this morning as well. I just finished listening to the 23 Psalm and it gave me peace.”

“This is the story that I read in my devotional last night.” Stan starts to read from the paper in his hand.

Unforgiveness is the single most popular poison that the enemy uses against God’s people, and it is one of the deadliest poisons, that a person can take spiritually.

Micah 7:19 paraphrased.

God delights in mercy. God will turn again. He will have compassion on us; and subdue our iniquities. He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Fishing in the Ocean of Unforgiveness

My best friend, Fay, was a passenger in my car two weeks after I passed my driver’s test. A drunk driver ran a red light and hit the passenger side of my car. Fay’s back was broken and she was in critical condition. I walked away from the accident without a scratch.

I visited Fay in the hospital for the first few months. My heart became heavy, when I realized that she would never be able to ride her horse Thumper again.

Fay’s family was cool toward me after she moved home. Thumper, her prized jumping horse, stood in the stable. Fay had won several equestrian competitions before the accident. A row of trophies sat in the case in her bedroom. The walls were covered with pictures of Fay sitting on her famous jumping horse. The more I visited Fay the heavier my heart became.

Soon I was uncomfortable visiting Fay because of the guilt I held. It was causing a barrier to grow between us. I will say this though; Fay never once blamed me for the accident, even though my friends and her family did. Fay always had a kind word, whenever I visited her.

I never forgave myself for what happened. I sat and mulled the accident over in my mind. The more I thought about it, the more I blamed myself. I prayed and asked God for His help, but I could never forgive myself. My family moved to London the year after the accident, and I never saw Fay again.

I was at the store and had just put the cutest pair of baby shoes into my shopping cart when I looked up. My heart began to race. Fay was coming down the aisle toward me. I looked around, but there was no place to slip out of sight and escape. I could not avoid her.

I had to face her and talk with her. My palms began to sweat and my body trembled. This was going to be hard as it had been ten years since the accident.

Fay called my name then drove her electric scooter over and asked, “How are you doing Sue? I haven’t seen you in years.” She had a big smile on her face; I bent over to hug her, and she returned my hug. I couldn’t believe that Fay was glad to see me.

I told her that I was fine, and that I was picking out some baby clothes for the baby I was going to have in three months.

Fay asked, “Do you have time to join me for lunch?”

I tried to think of an excuse, but decided to join her. “Yes Fay, meet me next door at the new hamburger place.”

After going through the checkout, I put my shopping bags into my car. I bought lunch and sat across from Fay. My hands were shaking as I ate my hamburger and fries. I asked her, “Where are you living, Fay?”

Fay told me, “I am still living in Woodstock, and I am a minister in a small church.” She told me how her electric scooter helped her be independent and that her van was equipped with a lift, so she could drive it alone.

I told her that I taught math in a high school near Ingersoll.

Fay asked me, “Who did you marry?”

I pulled out my wedding pictures and showed them to her. I told her “Nathan and I have been married for two years now, and we will be having our first baby in three months.”

Fay was excited. She took some photos out of her purse and showed me a picture of her two boys and her husband, Rodger.

We spent time talking about our lives. The air was getting tense as I started to think back to the car accident. It was hard for me to speak the words I was thinking. A few tears escaped and trickled down my cheeks. With much effort, I finally stammered; “I am sorry about the accident Fay. I still blame myself.”

Fay looked me in the eye and with love and concern in her voice; she asked me, “Have you been Fishing in The Ocean of Unforgiveness, all these years, Sue?”

“What do you mean by Fishing in the Ocean of Unforgiveness,” I asked.

“Come out to my van where it is more private Sue, and I will share what I have learned over the years, with you.”

I joined Fay in her van.

She told me, “I wrote my thesis on forgiveness. I have spent the past four years as a Chaplain at a local Hospital. I work with families that have been traumatized by accidents. Some of the patients I pray with, have caused the death of someone, while driving drunk, and face time in prison.

Because of the car accident ten years ago, I was able to learn compassion for hurting people. I am more effective in my ministry when I talk about forgiveness because I learned how to forgive. Did you know that unforgiveness of self, and others is the single most popular poison that Satan uses against God’s people?

“I teach the patients and their families about the love of Jesus and how he died on the cross for them. I teach how God tells us that He forgives us when we repent. He is merciful and He will forgive all our sins and throw them into the deepest ocean. He does not treat us as we deserve.

I talk about God’s words from the Bible and show them where it says, as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for us when we repent; As far as the east is from the west, this is how far He has removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for his children so the LORD God has compassion on us when we ask to be forgiven.”

Fay told me that day, “I have found out over the years that we are our own worst enemy because we have a hard time forgiving ourselves even when we know that our friends and God have already forgiven us.” She asked me, “Are you ready to forgive yourself, Sue?”

I sat there with my mouth ajar. I realized at that moment that I had been fishing in the ocean of unforgiveness every day, for the past ten years, and I had caught a big one. I hung on to the blame of the accident for dear life and could not let it go. It had become a lifeline to me.

Fay told me, “I have never blamed you for the car accident Sue. Other people might have blamed you, but remember I was in the car with you that day, and I know what really happened. It was never your fault, Fay. The other driver was drunk, and you did not have time to stop when he drove through the red light and hit us.”

Fay told me, “Your Heavenly Father wants to take your burdens away Sue. It is time for you to stop going out in the boat and fishing in The Ocean of Unforgiveness. Give the past to God and stop hashing it over in your mind. Forgive yourself once and for all and be set free...”

Fay was a true friend that day. She told me, “Let go of the past, cut the fishing line, and let me help you row your boat to shore. Allow God’s peace to wash over you and be set free from The Ocean of Unforgiveness.”

My Heavenly Father removed the heavy burdens from my past that afternoon, and I no longer blame myself for the accident. I have been free ever since.

That was in the spring. Fay and I are best friends again. She only lives 15 minutes from me. Today she is sitting on my deck, holding her namesake; my new baby daughter, Fay, in her arms. I am preparing lunch for them, while she keeps an eye on her children who are playing in the yard. It is miraculous what truth and forgiveness can do.

By Sue

Amelia and Stan are both weeping when Stan finishes the reading. They say a prayer, thanking their Heavenly Father for sparing their life the day before and setting Stan and his sister Nettie free from the guilt they carried from their past.

Amelia tells Stan about her morning Bible study. “I need to take a picture of Dedrick’s boat to send to my editor. He wants to use it in my final column for the paper. Do you feel like coming with me?”

“Nettie will be here in five minutes, she can drive us.

“That is good because the two of us aren’t up to driving yet. Let me get my camera.”

“That reminds me Amelia. Did you see my camera after the storm? I hope it didn’t wash overboard. I couldn’t find it.”

“I grabbed all the cameras and anything else I thought important after the storm started and took them below deck and stored them in the top cupboards above the beds.”

“Thank you, I will get it later.”

A few minutes later Nettie drives up in Stan’s truck. She gets out and checks on Amelia. She agrees to drive Amelia back to the boat.

Dedrick is watching the insurance adjuster, as he takes pictures of the damaged boat.

They hear the adjuster say, “It will cost more to fix the boat than it is worth. I will write it off, and send you a check. You can keep the boat and fix it up yourself, or use the money to buy a new one. I noticed that your van has been badly damaged as well.” Dedrick and the adjuster walk over and examine the van.

“What about your cottage? Did the hail do any damage to it?”

“I don’t know. It was dark when I got home last night and I left early this morning to visit my wife in the hospital.”

Amelia turns to Nettie and asks, “Could you take some pictures for me, while we wait for Dedrick to finish? My arm is not working too well today.”

“Yes but you will have to show me how.” Nettie picks up the camera and holds it while Amelia sets up the complicated lenses.

“I have it all set up now, just click the shutter.”

Nettie takes some good shots. When she is finished, she asks, “Do you mind if I take a picture of you and Stan, in front of the boat? You both seemed to have weathered a violent storm.”

“It is okay with me, what about you Stan?”

“I don’t mind, he says with a grin.” They both have their arm in a sling, but that doesn’t stop Stan from putting his good right arm around Amelia’s shoulders as they smile for the camera.

Dedrick walks over and teases, “What is going on here?”

Nettie says, “I am taking a picture of the survivors.” “Smile,” She clicks a picture of her uncle, and then hands the camera back to Amelia.

Stan asks, “Nettie, will you get my backpack and camera for me? Dedrick is in no shape to get it.”

“Where is it?”

Amelia tells her where she put it.

Nettie returns with the camera and backpack.

Stan asks Dedrick about Helena.

“She is doing better, Stan, but won’t be coming home until tomorrow. She said to tell you that she wants you to move into the guest room at our cottage if you want.”

“I will stat there the next time I come to Erieau. Nettie will be taking me home, in my truck. The doctor said I should not drive for at least a week.”

Dedrick gives Stan a key to his cottage, before they head back to drop Amelia off.

While they drive down the road, Amelia notices all the damage around them. People are putting tarps over their boats in case it rains. “I will need to have someone check out my van and the roof of the buildings, Amelia says. That was a bad hailstorm we had yesterday. I have never seen hail so big.”

“Do you think you will be able to come to the Cherry Festival, in Blenheim, on Saturday? My brothers will sign you up for the big spit.”

“I will try to come if my arm feels better, Amelia. What time do you plan on going to the Festival?”

“I will be there to open on Saturday morning. I have to see how my arm is feeling.”

Nettie tells her, “It looks like you will have to take care of your arm. Don’t overdo it, Amelia. I still think you should have your doctor x-ray it.”

“I will ask my Aunt Isabel to take me when she comes.”

She hands Stan and Nettie a copy of her business card. “If you can make it on Saturday give me a call on my cell phone and I will show you around. Bring your umbrella; it always rains for the Cherry Festival.”

“We will,” Nettie says. “I think you need to go and lie down and rest, Amelia.”

“That is what I plan on doing.” Nettie pulls Stan’s truck out of the driveway Amelia waves to Nettie and Stan as they drive away.

“I feel lightheaded. I need to go and sit down and rest.” The words are no sooner out of her mouth, than she sees her Aunt Isabel’s van stop in front of her. Her aunt gets out of her van and removes her suitcase.

She drops her suitcase and runs over to Amelia just before she faints. Ben and Kim are coming out the front door of the antique store. Ben runs over gathers Amelia in his arms and takes her to the sofa. It brings back memories; I carried her Aunt Stella to the very same sofa the day I told her that her husband Oliver was dead.

When Amelia regains consciousness she asks, “What happened?”

Isabel answers, “You fainted. You have been overdoing it.”

“My arm is really, sore. I am having a hard time moving it.”

Her aunt, a physiotherapist helps her to sit up. After checking her arm and shoulder, she tells Amelia, “You need to go to the hospital and have it x-rayed. I will drive you.”

“I have been told that by everyone, and I think I will take you up on your offer. There is definitely something wrong with my arm. My head is throbbing, and I look a mess. I wish I had listened to my mother yesterday. I am too independent for my own good.”

Isabel shakes her head and agrees with her. “You are just like your father.” She takes Ben aside and asks, “Will you phone Marvel and tell her I am driving Amelia to the hospital. I will phone her when I have any news.”

“I will, Isabel. Phone us as well.”

Ben and Kim help Amelia out to Isabel’s van and get her comfortable with a few pillows, before Isabel drives her to Chatham. They arrive at the Hospital. It is busy and they have to wait. They finally send Amelia to x-ray.

About an hour later the doctor enters the cubical and tells Amelia, “It is good you came in. That is a nasty bruise on your face. You will have a black eye for a while. You have a badly bruised shoulder. I am afraid that you have pulled your bicep muscles, in your right arm. Fortunately, nothing is broken. You need to rest your arm, as much as possible.” He hands her a prescription. “You need to fill it.”

“Thank you.”

“Go and see your family doctor in a week, and have him check you over. Try not to drive for a few days, and I recommend that you go home and rest.”

The nurse comes back in the room and fits her with a special sling. “Take these two pills and go home and rest. Keep your arm elevated whenever possible and use an ice pack on your shoulder, arm, and face.”

It is late when they finally leave the hospital. Isabel phones Marvel and Ben on her cell phone while she waits for the prescription to be filled.

Amelia has a hard time keeping her eyes open on the drive home from Chatham.

After Isabel opens the door to Amelia’s home, she walks with her back to her bedroom.

“I think you need a good night’s rest, Amelia. I packed my bags just in case you needed me. I will stay with you tonight; someone has to look after you.” She helps Amelia get ready for bed then pours her a glass of water and hands her a sleeping pill. She gets some ice packs from the kitchen.

“I will teach you how to get the strength back in your arm, once it is better, Amelia.”

“Thank you, for all you have done for me today, Aunt Isabel. I am awfully tired.”

Isabel puts a light blanket over Amelia, turns out the light, and sits in the chair beside the bed. Fred comes and jumps on her lap. “You are worried about her Fred, so am I.”

Fred purrs as to say, “Yes.”

Isabel hums some of her favorite songs, while she watches over Amelia. Within 20 minutes, the pill takes effect and Amelia falls into a drug induced sleep. She whispers, “At last Amelia is getting some rest, Fred. You must be hungry, come with me.”

Fred follows Isabel out to the kitchen for a bowl of cat food. I think you need a treat. She gets a spoon and puts a teaspoon of ice cream in his dish. Isabel sits and relaxes with a well-deserved bowl of vanilla ice cream.

When Freddy is finished his treat, he returns to the bedroom and jumps on the chair to watch over Amelia.

 

 

 

Summer Sisters’ Barbecue

When Amelia wakes in the morning, she is still groggy from the sleeping pill she took the night before.

Isabel comes in and tells her, “I fed Freddy for you and made two dozen deviled eggs, for the barbecue this afternoon.”

She helps Amelia shower and dress. When she is finished, she says, “I want you to rest this morning. Your breakfast is set up in the kitchen.” If you need me, I will be over at the tearoom cleaning up the mess left behind by the storm. Just phone and I will come.”

Amelia goes to the kitchen and sits at the table. She sips the warm refreshing mint tea and bites into a fresh banana date muffin. She looks out the window to see several branches on the ground where she had mowed the grass the week before.

“Thank You God for sending me friends to be with me in my time of need. My shoulder is painful this morning. Help me not overdo it. Thank You for my Aunt Isabel, who has stayed the night with me…”

Amelia turns the radio to the Christian station, tips her recliner back, and puts her feet up. Freddy jumps on her lap and gets comfortable. Her eyes are heavy. The song, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice,’ is just finishing. The woman says; our scripture today is from, Philippines 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I will say, Rejoice. 5. Let your gentle behavior be known unto all men. The Lord is… Amelia falls into a restful sleep.

 

A few hours later, Isabel enters the room and looks around. A smile comes to her face as she sees Freddy sitting on Amelia’s lap guarding his special friend. She walks over and whispers, “The insurance adjuster is here, Amelia.”

Amelia wakes with a start. “What time is it?”

“It is 11:00. You have slept the morning away. I showed Mr. Rodgers, the insurance adjuster, around your property, and he is waiting for you at the kitchen table.”

Amelia turns the radio off and follows her aunt into the kitchen.

“Amelia, this is Mr. Rodgers.”

He gets up and greets Amelia. Her aunt pours them a hot cup of tea then returns to the store.

Amelia enjoys a sip of the hot tea.

Mr. Rodgers tells her, “Your right van mirror is broken, and your sunroof has a crack in it. Take your van in to have it fixed, by the repair shop of your choice.”

“I will”

“You will need new shingles on all your buildings, along with a new sunroom. I noticed that the hail broke several windows, damaged the screens, and dented the metal siding.

“The tree that fell on the sunroom will need to be removed. I would advise you to phone a roofer and automotive repair shop today as most homes and vehicles in the area are in need of repairs. If not, there will be a long wait.”

Amelia tells him, “I will phone today.”

“Good, have them send me a fax with an estimate of the cost, to my office. I took pictures of all the damages that have been done by the storm, and I will put them in your file.” Mr. Rodgers gets up from the table. “I would shake your hand, but I see you have hurt your arm. I must go as my phone has been ringing of the hook.”

Amelia picks up her phone and calls a repair shop in Ridgetown. They will fix her van the following day. Since she can’t drive, she arranges for her brothers to drop it off.

There is a knock at the door. It is her father and Isabel’s son, Simon, who is a contractor.

Her father gathers Amelia in his arms and looks her over. Using his pet name for her, he asks, “How are you feeling this morning, A.J.?”

“I am still sore.”

“You need to rest and not overdo it.”

“I am trying.”

“The storm couldn’t have come at a better time, Amelia, her father says. Simon and I had already made arrangements to start to remodel your place, tomorrow.”

Simon tells her, “I brought several different shingles with me.”

“Let’s go to the table, and I will look at them.” Amelia picks up the shingles that Simon spreads on the table. “I like these ones, Simon. What kind are they?”

“They are the new Roof Shakes that are made here in Chatham. They come with a 50 year warranty and are resistant to hail.”

They look like cedar shingles.

Simon says, “They are made using recycled plastics, fiber, rubber, and engineered polymers. I had a tour of the plant when it first opened. They told me that they can be recycled and turned back into roofing shakes at the end of their life cycle.”

Amelia feels the texture. “It looks like wood. It will bring a country touch to the buildings. I like the idea of supporting companies from Chatham-Kent, and I will go with them. I think I like this one best.”

Isabel comes over to the table and tells them. “I made some sandwiches and a pot of chicken soup. If you clear the table off, we can eat lunch.”

Isabel greets her son. “I expected you and Bev to be extra busy because of the hail, Simon?”

“Yes, Bev told me that the phone rang off the hook all day yesterday. It looks like I will be busy all summer.”

Her father assures Amelia, “Simon and I will take care of everything.”

Amelia relaxes as she bites into an egg salad sandwich. When they are finished eating, Amelia returns to the recliner. She takes her pain pills and relaxes.

When the dishes are put away, Isabel tells her, “I have to go home and be in Chatham by 3:00. Do not overdo it Amelia.” She gives her niece a hug and grabs her overnight bag then heads out the door. “I love you.”

Ben is at the door when Isabel leaves. He walks over to the sofa and asks, “How are you doing Amelia? Kim made you a pot of beef stew. He takes the pot out of the cloth-carrying container and puts it in the refrigerator. She couldn’t come to see you because she is in town making pastry for the cherry pies. She said she will stop and see you in the morning.”

“Thank Kim for me, Ben.”

“I will.” Turning Randal, he asks, “Are you ready to go?”

“Yes,” The two men go out to start making plans for the construction the following day.

Shortly after they leave, the phone rings. It is Nettie, Stan’s sister. “Amelia, Stan is in the Hospital. They just brought him back from the operating room.”

“What happened to Stan?”

“When Stan woke up this morning his arm was all swollen. We took him to the Hospital in London and the doctor said he has a serious infection. They had to operate. He is back in his room and sleeping. They want to keep him overnight.”

“Tell him that I will be praying for him.”

“I will; I have his phone number at the hospital. You can call him later.” Nettie gives the number to Amelia. “I will phone you if there is any change. How are you feeling?”

“I have a badly bruised shoulder. It is extremely sore. Thank goodness for pain pills.”

“You take care of yourself. I will see you at the Cherry Festival on Saturday. Stan is talking about coming and asked me if I would drive him.”

“I am looking forwarded to seeing you, Nettie.” Amelia is a bit lightheaded and is tempted to phone and cancel. Her bed looks so inviting. Before she can pick up the phone, Sharon is at her door.

Sharon looks Amelia over and asks, “Are you sure you are well enough to come? You look tired.”

“I will be okay. I will have to sit and rest for the afternoon. The deviled eggs are in the cooler.”

“I will carry your cooler as we don’t want anything to happen to them. It has been reported, all over Ontario and maybe Canada via television, that you are not too steady on your feet lately.”

They both start to laugh. “Remember the time we were making deviled eggs for Stella’s surprise birthday party. I called your name and you swung around with the plate of eggs in your hand. The plate stayed in your hand, but the eggs sprouted wings, flew off the plate, and landed all over the floor. That was the first time I ever saw an egg fly. If I remember correctly, you cried.”

“I was only 13; and you know how much I love deviled eggs.”

The friends continue to reminisce as they drive the short distance to Sharon’s cottage. Her summer sisters and their families have arrived before her and crowd around asking questions about the boat accident.

Some of the children say dancing up and down with excitement, “We saw you on TV, Aunt A.J.”

Their parents shoo them off telling them, “A.J. is tired and needs to rest.”

Sharon takes Amelia over to a comfortable lounge chair in the shade of a tall sycamore tree. “What can I bring you to drink?”

“Do you have any iced tea?”

“Yes, I made several jars of sun tea.” Sharon returns with a tall glass of iced tea, and sets it on the table beside Amelia. Sharon’s baby starts to cry. “Tillie is hungry.” She takes the little girl out of the playpen and changes her wet diaper. When she is finished, she sits and nurses her.

It is the usual kind of summer day. Friends sit together reminiscing about their past, while the children play.

Sharon says as she puts the sleeping baby back into the playpen, “It’s time to go for a swim Amelia. Can you call me if Tillie wakes?”

“Yes, enjoy yourself as you swim with your family.”

The mothers call their children over and lather their tender skin with more sunscreen.

Amelia watches as the men prepare the fish, by smothering it with garlic oil and rock salt. They wrap it in foil and put it back into the coolers filled with ice. I remember asking them, why, do you use so much salt. They told me, it adds flavour; we will wash the salt off with the garden hose before we cook the fish, and then add more garlic and oil. Wait until you taste the fish, Amelia. You will come back for more.

Amelia sits and watches the children swim, and play. The little ones, who can’t swim, have a life jacket on. Lake Erie has a strong undertow, so parents can never be too cautious with their children’s safety.

One day not long ago I was just like those children without a care in the world. How does that song go? ‘Stop the World I want to get off’. That is how I am feeling today. Everything is a buzz.

Her head starts to spin, and her arm and shoulder are throbbing. Amelia feels like she is going to pass out. Pearl is walking by and notices how pale Amelia is. She calls Aileen, who is a nurse, to look at her. Aileen brings over a cool cloth and puts it on Amelia’s forehead. “Take a sip of your iced tea, Amelia; you are as white as a ghost.”

Sharon joins Pearl and Aileen. “You need to rest Amelia. You went through a lot of work to catch our supper for us. Is there anything I can get for you?”

“Yes, I hurt all over. Can you bring me my beach bag please?”

Sharon hands Amelia her bag.

“Thanks Sharon.” Amelia removes a container with her pills and pops two painkillers into her mouth. “I hope these help. My shoulder is really hurting.”

The women sit and chat about the hailstorm, while the children continue to play in the sand. Amelia tells them about all the work that is going to happen at her place the following day.

Sharon says, “Amelia, my husband is contractor. I will ask him if he can help.”

Aileen and Pearl tell her that they will talk to their husbands and the other men and see if they will come over as well.

Aileen says, “Nettie phoned yesterday and said she couldn’t come because she had to take her twin brother home because he was hurt during the storm. We didn’t know that Nettie had a twin brother. What’s he like?”

Amelia tells her, “Stan looks just like Nettie, but his hair is shorter and lighter. He has the same blue eyes and a dimple when he smiles.” She starts to blush.

As summer sisters are known to do, they start to tease Amelia. She tells them, “You are treading in dangerous waters, and I had enough water on Monday to do me a lifetime.”

They all laugh together, and stopped teasing Amelia.

Amelia falls asleep and wakes to the aroma from the fish cooking on the barbecue. She sees Sharon walking over to her. “Sharon the fish smells delicious.”

“It does, do you want anything else to drink Amelia?”

“Yes, I would like some cold water if you have any.”

Sharon brings back a bottle of water, removes the lid, and hands it to Amelia. Soon it is suppertime and Sharon excuses herself. “I will bring you a plate of food, Amelia.”

Amelia gets up and walks over to the large octagonal picnic table. She chooses a spot under the shade of the umbrella.

Pearl brings her a cool wet towel. “Wipe your face and wrap this towel around your neck, Amelia. It will help keep you cool.”

“Thanks Pearl.” All my friends are being kind.

Sharon returns with a plate of fish that is barbecued to perfection, along with an assortment of salads, and two deviled eggs, and sets it in front of Amelia.

Amelia takes a bite of fish, “Tell your husband that the fish is scrumptious Sharon. It is not too salty. The garlic oil adds just enough flavour to the salmon.”

They all agree. The people sitting around the table become silent as they eat their supper.

When they are through eating, the children come around with a garbage bag, and they put their plates and watermelon rinds into it.

Amelia gets up and excuses herself. “I think I will call it a day. Monday took a lot out of me.”

“I will drive you home. Don’t worry about your cooler. I will wash it and return it tomorrow.” The friends drive the two blocks to Amelia’s place.

Sharon waits while Amelia opens the door. “Have a good evening and do not overdo it.” She puts her arms around her friend and looks her in the eye. “I love you Amelia. Take care of yourself.”

“I think I will be going to bed early tonight.”

As Amelia closes and locks the door, she thinks, I am so blessed by my friends and family. “Freddy where are you?” she calls, “I brought you some salmon.”

Freddy comes over and rubs his side along Amelia’s leg. Amelia puts the fish into his dish and washes her hands.

She sits at the table and turns the radio on.

The woman who is speaking says; close your eyes while I read, Isaiah, 49:13-16.

When I pause, say your own name. It will have a personal meaning to you. Listen to the words of encouragement from your personal, God. If ever you start to feel blue, remember that God knows all about you and has your name not only written on his hand, His Son Jesus has it written in His heart.

Amelia closes her eyes and listens.

Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains, for the LORD has comforted his people, and will have mercy on his afflicted, ones.

Sometimes, just like Jerusalem, Amelia might think that, The LORD has forsaken her, and Your Lord has forgotten you.

Can a woman forget her sucking child that she should not have compassion on the child of her womb? Your mother might forget you Amelia, but it is impossible for Me to forget you. Come look at my hands Amelia; see your name is on the palms of My hands…

The woman continues to talk, but Amelia is overwhelmed so she turns the radio off and wipes away her tears. She walks into the kitchen, and pours herself a drink of water, so she can take the sleeping pill her doctor prescribed for her. She goes to her bedroom, gets ready for bed, and turns off the lights.

She thinks about what she has just heard, as she lays her head back on her soft comfortable pillow. My family along with all my friends and my Heavenly Father love me. God loves me so much that he has my name engraved on his hand. I know that Jesus loves me, and I love Him as well.

She starts to pray: “It has been a rough few months God. I heard a story once of how You catch every teardrop in a bottle and hold the tears close to Your heart. I know that I need to let my tears flow. When I do, I can see Your rainbow shining through the bottle of tears, as You lovingly hold the bottle in Your hands. Thank You God for the healing power of tears.”

That night God had to get an extra bottle. All Amelia’s grief was shared with Him. As He promised not one teardrop was missed. Amelia went into a deep sleep, and rested on the promises of God her Heavenly Father.


 

 

 

 

The Cherry Festival

Amelia’s mother insisted on taking her back to the farm on Thursday night. Amelia had been overdoing it, and her father said it would be easier for the workers to do the repairs without Freddie the Freeloader and Amelia underfoot.

It took a lot of persuasion by Amelia, to convince her mother that she would not overdo it if she dropped her off at the church, so she could help her friends make pies on Friday morning.

Her arm was sore so all she could do was sit at a table checking bowls of cherries for missed pits. Her friends rolled out mounds of pastry and made hundreds of cherry pies.

Amelia did not want to admit it, but she was exhausted when her mother drove her to the Cherry Festival on Saturday morning. Her mother kept telling her. “You don’t look well, you need to stay home.”

“Mother I need to get out and have some fresh air.”

“Okay, but do not overdo it. I will park the van in the shade, and give you my spare key in case you need anything. You might want to rest or freshen up. I need to go help Isabel set up her booth.”

I should have stayed home, but I came anyway. I have been overdoing it. Amelia heads over to help her friends take the pies out of the coolers.

Hanna and Pearl tell Amelia that they have enough help, and that she should sit and talk with them while they work. Amelia keeps insisting that she can work with one hand. After a half hour, her friends are proven right. Hanna looks over and sees that Amelia’s face is red, “Amelia you have been overdoing it again. You need to rest. Come sit down in the shade, and I will get you a cold bottle of water.”

Amelia’s shoulder is hurting her, so she reaches into her fanny pack and pulls out her pain pills. She pops two pills into her mouth and washes them down with some water.

Amelia is glad to sit and watch her friends work as a team. Several neighbours and school friends stop and chat with her. It is good to be at the Cherrie Fest after all the years I have been away. I am enjoying saying high to all my friends, from the past.

The crowds start to mingle at 8:45 in front of the booth even though it will not open until 9:00

She is about to get up and help them when she hears a phone ringing. Amelia looks around to see where the sound is coming from and realizes it is hers, which she had put in her pocket earlier. She opens it up and says, “Hello,”

A familiar voice asks, “Is this Amelia?”

“Yes.”

“It is Stan, how are you doing, is your shoulder any better?”

“It still hurts, how about your arm, Stan?”

“It is alright now that the infection has gone. I have to be careful so that I don’t overdo it. Fortunately, the painkillers help with the pain. Nettie is driving me to the Cherry Fest, and I want to know where I can find you?”

“I am at the booth on the main street selling cherry pies. You cannot miss me. I am the only person wearing a sling,” Amelia says with a smile. “I will be waiting for you, Stan.”

“I will be there in an hour.”

Shortly after she hangs up, her brothers Bernie and Curtis come by the booth. Curtis asks, “Have you heard from Stan yet?”

“He will be here in an hour.”

Bernie says. “Good, we’ll meet you both at the cherry spitting contest, around 10:15. We have to leave after the contest to help father raise the roof on your house.”

Curtis goes over and stands in line. “I would like two small cherry pies please and two root beers to wash them down with.” He has a big smile on his face as he hands a pop and pie to his brother.

Bernie challenges him, “I can eat my pie faster than you, Sis you can say start.” A crowd gathers around the two brothers. The contest is on.

Amelia says, “Start,” and they both eat their pie in three bites. “I win,” Bernie says with his mouth full of cherries. He takes a large gulp of pop to wash them down.

“Didn’t your family teach you any manners,” Amelia asks with a chuckle.

“We are just practicing for the cherry pie-eating contest.”

“I am sorry, you are a day late.”

Curtis has a big grin, when he replies, “I know, but it is fun to practice.”

Bernie puts his empty pop can into the recycling bin, then walks over to Amelia and says, “By Sis; you are a good sport as usual; see you later.”

Amelia shakes her head and returns to the tent to work. Boys will be boys, and sometimes, they are a pest, but I love them anyway. “Wait a minute, what did the boys mean help Father raise the roof on my house? What is my family up to now?

Amelia rests for a while, before going over to the booth to help. She waits for Stan to arrive. She sees him walking through the crowds toward her with his arm still in a sling. We will look funny walking around the Cherry Festival with our arms in a sling.

Stan comes over to the booth, and Amelia introduces him to some of her friends. Stan looks over all the pies, and glances up at Amelia. He has a sparkle in his eye when he asks her, “What pies did you make?”

“I am sorry to say I didn’t make a single pie. My friends put me on pit patrol. They sat me at a table with a big bowl of pitted cherries. I spent the whole day looking for cherry pits.”

“Pit patrol, are you kidding me, Amelia?”

“No Stan.” She smiles as she says, “However, I did prevent a bowl full of pits from being baked into the cherry pies. The customers, who buy the pies, will be thanking me for my efforts. I have saved them from biting into a pail full of wayward pits.”

“I can’t wait to bite into a pie, to find out if you are telling me the truth.”

Pearl tells him, “We haven’t had any complaints about pits in the pies, yet this year.”

Stan smiles, Amelia is as beautiful as I remember. The bruise on her face is not as bad as it was on Monday. She has a sense of humour and a dimple when she smiles.

Stan is still chuckling, as he asks, “Are you ready to go and see me spit, a cherry pit, Amelia? Nettie has gone to the lake to see how, Helena is. She will pick me up later.”

“I am finished working for the day. The boys will meet us at the cherry spitting contest.”

“Where do they have the contest?”

“Follow me, it is over there by the bleachers where the crowed is gathering! You have to qualify if you want to enter the contest. We can eat lunch after you have a try at the big spit,” she teases. “No one spits cherry pits with a full stomach.”

“Do you want anything to drink, Amelia?”

“Not now.” Stan walks over to the booth and buys a can of pop, and takes a refreshing sip of his root beer.

They walk over and find a spot on the bench, and sit in the shade to wait for Bernie and Curtis.

Stan asks, “What has happened to you, since I saw you on Tuesday?”

Amelia answers, “You don’t want to know. It is a long story.”

“Try me.”

“Here goes, as you already know we had the boat accident on Monday. I had an x-ray at the hospital, on Tuesday. The insurance adjuster visited me on Wednesday. I went to the summer sisters’ picnic in the afternoon on Wednesday.

“A man woke me up at 7:00AM on Thursday. He told me that he had a construction dumpster, and asked me where he wanted me to put it?

“I was still in my P.J’S. Thank goodness my cousin arrived and took over for me. He parked my van on the boulevard, so they could back the dumpster next to the house.

“A short time later, my brothers arrived. They told me, that they would drive my van to Ridgetown to get it repaired and stop at the lumber yard, and bring back everything on my list.”

“I thought to myself, what list, I never made a list.

“My cousin put a ladder on the side of the house, and climbed up on my roof, and started to remove shingles. He tossed them into the dumpster, and they make a big clang as they hit the metal. My head began to throb and I hadn’t even dressed, nor had my breakfast yet. Freddy was upset with all the noise and cowered under my bed, and would not come out to eat his cat food.”

“My father arrived ten minutes later with the husbands of my summer sisters, neighbors, some men from the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild, and men from my church. It was like an old-fashioned barn-raising.”

“I put on some old work clothes and made a pot of tea. My cousin Jocelyn and my Aunt Isabel arrived at 9:30. I showed them where to put Jocelyn’s belongings. At 10:45, my brother’s returned with the farm truck full of lumber. After unloading the truck behind the house they started working on my place.”

“Isabel arrived with my mother at 11:00. They had 3 cooked chickens, several bowls of salad and 5 pies. Isabel and my mother asked some of the men to carry the food over to the tearoom.”

“They set the tables, and were ready to feed the work crew by noon. Isabel and my mother were singing and laughing. They told everyone that they were in their glory.”

“Isabel said it was just like feeding a thrashing crew. She rinsed the plates before I put them into the dishwasher.

“At 5:00, the men all climbed into their vehicles, and said they would be back at 8:00 the next morning.

“My mother packed my suitcase and told that my father wanted me to go with her to the farm until they were finished Freddy will not stop meowing, and he is in everyone’s way.

“After I arrived at my mother’s house, she fed me supper along with a hot cup of tea, before putting me to bed.”

Amelia has tears of laughter running down her face when she is finished. “Now tell me, how did your week go?”

Stan is laughing so hard that he cannot speak. He takes another sip of his pop before saying, “I spent a day in the hospital. I had pretty nurses waiting on me, hand and foot. After leaving the hospital, I went home and my mother and Nettie spoilt me,” he laughs.

Amelia laughs along with him, “I was sitting at home feeling sorry for you. I will know better next time.”

 

 

 

The Big Spit

Curtis and Bernie arrive. “Come with us Stan. You need to sign in and then have a qualifying spit.” Stan follows them to where the judging will take place.

The qualifying contest starts. The judges have a long tape measure, and the contestants come up one at a time to spit their pits.

Stan steps up to the line and spits his first pit. The wind starts to blow so it does not go far. He puts another cherry in his mouth and begins to chew it. He takes a deep breath, swallows the pit, and he begins to choke. Amelia rushes over and gives him his can of pop. He takes a sip then tries another spit, but does not qualify and is out of the contest.

Amelia’s brothers do better than Stan does. “Too bad Stan,” Curtis says, “It takes a lot of practice.”

Bernie says, “We entered the Horticultural Society Container Garden Contest. Come with us and see what we made.”

Bernie takes them over to the park on Ellen Street by the library, where all the containers lined up.

Curtis points at one of the containers. “This is the one I made, and it has a blue ribbon.” He opens the attached envelope. The enclosed paper says, “You have won a cash prize. You can pick it up at the Library in Blenheim any time after 1:00 on Saturday. Several garden centers are interested in your idea.”

Amelia and Stan examine the container. The plaque says, ‘Garden Salad’. It has an assortment of red and green lettuces, some spinach, parsley, chives, pansies, and sage.

“This would be good for a backyard patio Curtis.”

“That was my whole idea, Amelia. People are not eating enough vegetables. It would be easier if they could go out on their patio and make a fresh salad. They could pick it, put it in a bowl, wash it with their garden hose, and never have to bring it into their house when they are having company over for a barbecue. Most people do not know that you can eat pansies. How is that for planning?”

“I like it,” Stan says, “Do you have any for sale?”

“Yes, we have some back at the farm. You can pick one up on your way home. They are on the patio by the front door.”

“Thanks, I will.” He pays Curtis. Pointing to the dandelion he says, “I notice that you have a weed in your planter.”

Curtis laughs, “That is not a weed, Stan. The young leaves of dandelions are good to eat. You should remember, never eat dandelions growing in the wild that have been sprayed with chemicals. There are all kinds of uses for dandelion. The milky latex has been used as a mosquito repellent; the milk can be applied to warts, which helps get rid of them, without damaging the surrounding skin.

“You will find that most parts of the dandelion are used in herbal medicine. You can find more about dandelions on the computer.”

They both walk over to where Bernie and Amelia are standing. Bernie picks up his blue ribbon and removes an envelope from the container. “I have won some money as well. I did something different. This is a Water Garden Container.”

“It is interesting,” Amelia says. “What is in it?”

“The lilac coloured plants are Water Hyacinth. The one that looks like watercress is Creeping Jenny. The tall green feathery one is called Parrot Feather. I used a large eight-gallon cement container. Several small goldfish live in the container. I added blue pond tint to the water to help filter out the sunlight that causes algae. This container has a battery operated pump, but at home, I use an electric pump.”

Amelia comments, “The two of you have done a good job. You never told me you were into planting containers.”

“We had to do it for our school project this year. Both Curtis and I were graded on our containers. We both won prizes at the Toronto garden show in March.”

Curtis looks at his watch. “We have a half hour before we will meet you back at the cherry spitting contest at 12:15.”

Amelia and Stan arrive early so they walk over and look at the birds, under the protection of the tent. They share some of their stories as they wait for Curtis and Bernie.

Stan says, “I had two parrots once, but found them to be messy. I gave them to my neighbour.”

Amelia says, “We never had birds, but made up for it with pet chickens. My mother played a trick on us one year. She bought us baby chicks that grew up to lay blue and green eggs. I did not believe her when she brought a dish with blue and green eggs from the chicken coup.

“I went out and waited in the coup for several hours and sure enough, a hen laid a green egg. I think they were called Araucana Hens. We called them our Easter Egg Hens. It was cool to take the eggs to school for show and tell that year.”

They find themselves getting tired so they return to the bleachers and rest. Every so often, someone comes running up to Amelia and gives her a hug. Amelia introduces Stan to her friends. They talk about what they have been doing. E-mail addresses and phone numbers are exchanged with promises of getting together in the future.

Amelia spots her mother walking towards her, “I have saved you a spot in the shade, Mother.”

“Thank you, Amelia. How are you feeling Stan?”

“The sun is hot, and my arm is hurting.”

“I brought both of you a cool wet towel. Put it around your necks and you will feel better.”

Curtis and Bernie tell the judge that they have arrived. Bernie spits first and Curtis follows. The champion from the year before spits his pit the farthest, so he wins the annual cherry spitting contest. It is over for another year.

Curtis comes over. “How about trying some ribs.”

Stan answers, “Sounds like a good idea to me.”

They all follow Curtis to where a big barbecue is piled high with delicious ribs. They reach their hands into a large tub filled with ice and pull out a cold can of pop. The person behind the table fills their plates with oven-baked beans, coleslaw, a half rack of ribs and a bun. They sit in the shade of the tent and eat their fill.

Nothing tastes better than eating a half rack of ribs that have been barbecued to perfection. It is even more fun when you are with family and friends. After they are finished eating, Marvel tells them, “I need to go back and help Isabel with her booth.”

Bernie excuses himself, “We have to get back, and help father raise the roof, of your house, Amelia.”

“What do you mean? Raise the roof of my house?”

“Our lips are sealed,” Curtis says with a mischievous grin, as he winks at Stan. “You will find out soon enough.”

Amelia says, “I don’t know if I believe you. The two of you have always played jokes on me.”

The brothers start to laugh, as they run towards their truck.

Stan asks, “What do you think your brothers are up to, when they said; ‘raise the roof of your house,’ Amelia?”

“I don’t know Stan. They mentioned it earlier. I have no idea what they are talking about.”

Stan is laughing to himself. The boys had filled him in on their secret earlier in the day.

“Where do you want to do now, Amelia?”

“I haven’t eaten any cherry pie yet, how about you, Stan?”

“I always say that there is room for a slice of pie.”

Amelia walks with him towards the booth where she was working in the morning. Renee and Bruce Wizen are waking by so she introduces Stan to them. They sit in the shade of the tent and talk for a while.

“Don’t forget to come for the teacher’s supper August 15, at 3:00, Amelia. You can bring Stan if you want. The two of you need to take care of your arms.” Renee gives Amelia a hug, before leaving.

Amelia and Stan walk over to the booth where they are selling pies. Stan says, “We will have two small cherry pies, topped with vanilla ice cream.”

They take their plates over to a table in the shade. Stan takes a bite, “This is a good cherry pie Amelia, but I am afraid I am going to have you fired.” He holds up a cherry pit. “You missed one.” They both laugh.

Nettie arrives and finds Stan and Amelia. Turning to Amelia she asks, “Why is your family raising the roof of your house?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, Nettie. No one will tell me anything.”

Stan looks at her and smiles. Turning to his sister Nettie, he winks. “It is time for us to head for home.”

Amelia and Nettie give each other a warm hug. I will see you in a few weeks Amelia. Phone me and tell me what they did to your house.”

Stan is still laughing. “I will tell you what they are doing on the way home, Nettie.” Turning to Amelia, he says, “My lips are sealed. I have been sworn to keep it a secret.”

“That is not fair Stan.”

“A promise is a promise. I plan on returning to Erieau on Monday after I have my stitches out. See you then, Amelia.” I would like to spend more time getting to know Amelia. She is a special woman.

“I will see you then.” What is my family up to, now? It has been another exciting day. Stan is a thoughtful young man. I cannot wait until he returns on Monday.

Amelia walks across town to her aunt’s booth. Her mother is finished for the day and is ready to go home.

“I think you need to rest more Amelia. You have been overdoing it. Your father phoned and said he has finished raising your roof. Your house will be ready for you to move into tomorrow, after church. I will take you home then.”

“What do you mean finished raising my roof, Mother? Everyone knows what is going on with my house, except me.”

“It is a secret, Amelia.”

“I am glad that I am going home, then I will find out what everyone is talking about, raising my roof.”

“You will find out soon enough.” Her mother, chuckles.

“I know Freddy will be glad to leave the farm. He hates dogs. He attacked your dog Toffee and scratched her nose yesterday. I had to put Toffee in her kennel this morning to protect her from Freddy.”

Isabel comes over and gives them both a hug. Amelia and her mother walk back to the van and head out of town.

When Amelia gets home, she has a quick shower and a bite to eat before going to her bedroom. She is exhausted from all the activities of the day. She turns on the radio and listens to the music for a while. A program comes on and a woman reads, 1Thessalonians 5:16-18, paraphrased. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Amelia turns the radio off and prays. “Thank You God, for my family and friends...”

 

 

 

The Building Is Complete

Amelia wakes up to the smell of fresh perked coffee and looks out her window. It is going to be a beautiful day today. It is so good to be home and to sleep in my own bed. There is a gentle breeze blowing through the open windows from off the lake.

She goes to the kitchen, and after she feeds Freddy, Amelia returns to her room and picks up her Bible. “I have a lot to do today God. I pray that I will put you first and if necessary slow down, and as they say, smell the roses.” She checks the date on the calendar. It is Monday July 21, already. She opens her devotion and reads what it says.

 

How to Change

I Can’t

Into I Can

Start by moving the T in can’t to the right one space.

Then remove the apostrophe.

Add ry to the right of the T.

It will change, I can’t

Into I can try.

It works every time.

Soon, if you say

I can try, instead of

I can’t

You will be able to do it,

because you tried.

The words

I CAN’T

Will become

I CAN TRY

 

Philippians 4: 13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

She pulls out her well-used journal and starts to write.

“Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to think more positive thoughts. I know that I can do all things because You will be with me today. I dedicate this business to you. Allow me to be a servant in all I do and say.

“My plans for Kim and Brenda to help me didn’t work out. They have to work next door, so they can get the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild, ready to open on Friday. I haven’t had time to find additional help, and we will be opening on Friday. I pray that we can get all the work done before then.

Amen”

I have to get going. She has a quick shower and puts on some work clothes.

It is going to be a long day. The store is a mess with dirt and dust. I don’t know where to start. Mom and Aunt Isabel said they would be in around 1:00 to help…

The office phone rings and Amelia answers, “Hello”!

“Hi Amelia, this is Aileen. I was talking to your mother yesterday, and she said you were overdoing it. I phoned all the summer sisters who are in town, and they want to come over to help you dust today. We will come over around 1:00. It will be like old times. See you later.”

“Thank you Aileen, I could do with extra help.”

Amelia puts her phone back in her pocket. “Thank you God for answering my prayers.”

Amelia’s lawyer J. M. Bibs arrives at 9:00, and they go up to Amelia’s office where it is private.

Mr. Bibs tells Amelia, “The arrangements you have made will work better. Stella and I talked about building the addition for years, and she never got around to it. I still don’t know how she kept the antiques in her store separate from what belonged to the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild.”

Amelia replies, “Stella had her system. It had to do with tags. A certain coloured tag for each category. It was all right only if the tag stayed with the article. I was forever coming across something with a missing tag. Stella always seemed to know where it belonged, and would put a new tag on it and return it to the right shelf.”

“I don’t know how she did it, Amelia.”

“Someone would come into the store and want something. Stella could take them to where it was every time. Antiques were not just pieces of furniture or pottery to Stella. The antiques and collectibles had a history, and Stella knew most of their stories.”

Amelia opens one of Stella’s old ledgers. “I am working on turning some of Stella’s ledgers into a book with pictures.”

She reads an entry: Number 8974 Framed Needlepoint Silhouette brought in by Daisy Mann October 21, 2005, Paid $200.00. Worth $20.00, replacement value priceless.

Footnote, Daisy Mann made this at the age of 14, in London England, while attending school. She told me, “Every stitch had to be perfect or the headmistress would make me rip out the stitches.” She said, “The blitz was going on, and I spent most nights shaking with fear, as the bombs fell all around my home. I would go to school the next day and find some empty desks. Our teacher would hang her head in sorrow as she told us the names of the students that had been killed the night before in the blitz.”

Daisy told me, “One night when my father was home on leave, the air raid sirens started to blare. My father went outside and had an eerie feeling. He ran up to our bedrooms grabbed us by the hand and told us to hurry…follow me. We ran in our bare feet, dressed in our pajamas down the street to the local bomb shelter. When we returned home, the next day, a bomb had hit our house. The bed where I had slept the night before was destroyed. This Needlepoint Silhouette was covered in dust.”

Daisy said, “I didn’t go back to school for a few days. Men came and boarded up the holes in the walls and roof. We had to sleep in the living room. I continued to have nightmares, so my family sent me to live with a maiden aunt out in the country.”

Daisy told me, “I never saw my family again. They were all dead within three months.”

She told me, “I need some extra money for medicine. The doctors told me yesterday that I have only three months to live. Would you buy this Framed Needlepoint Silhouette from me? I know it is not worth much, but it is precious to me. It is all I have to remember my family by.”

Amelia tells Mr. Bibs, “There is an obituary taped to the ledger.”

She reads. Daisy Mann went to be with her family and Lord April 12, 2006. She was, predeceased by her husband Dan, in 2002, her mother, Massey, and little brother, Jim, who were killed during the blitz and her father, Frank, who was killed in action, during the Second World War. Daisy Mann will be sadly missed, by all her friends.

Amelia walks over and removes the beautiful Needlepoint from the office wall, and shows it to her lawyer.

He reads the tag, “number 8974, hand stitched by Daisy Mann.”

On the back, it says, please return to Stella’s Antiques in Erieau, after my death.

Daisy Mann

 

Amelia dabs at her eyes with a tissue. “The Needlepoint, Silhouette was brought into the store by a nurse from a nursing home in Chatham in June. It contained this letter.”

 

October 25, 2005

Dear Stella,

Thank you for your kindness. I will have died when you receive this letter. You have blessed me. Every night when I go to bed, I look up at the Needlepoint, and remember my kind mother and father along with my little brother. I remember how you allowed me to keep the silhouette for the rest of my life.

I pray that God blesses you.

Daisy Mann

Amelia says, “Mr. Bibs, that is the kind of person Stella was. I will always remember the way she loved and helped people.”

“It is a good idea for you to do a picture book about your memories of your Aunt Stella, Amelia. Let me know when it is ready, I would like one.”

They sit in silence for a while looking out the window at the lake. They both think about how much of a blessing Stella had been to them.

Amelia breaks the silence, “I will phone Ben and find out if he is there.” She phones and recognizes Ben’s voice. “Hello Ben, Mr. Bibs, and I are on our way.”

 

They walk out the front door and over to the new addition and enter.

Ben is all excited as he shakes hands with Mr. Bibs “Welcome to The Erieau Historical Collectors Guild, Mr. Bibs. Do you have time for a tour?”

Amelia says, “I have to get back to work. Can you show Mr. Bibs around after we sign the papers?”

“Yes Amelia.” Ben takes Amelia and Mr. Bibs into the kitchen.

Mr. Bibs looks around as he follows Ben. “The men have done a good job, with the building project.”

“You can thank the volunteers. We had so much help for the past few days. The people were literally coming out of the woodwork, if you will excuse my pun. Once the word got around town of what we were doing, people came to help. We had plumbers volunteer their time and material to build the washrooms and kitchen. An electrician came in and installed all the electrical work at no cost. Volunteers came and spent three days building this addition for us. It has an incredible view of the lake through this picture window.

“The members of The Erieau Historical Collectors Guild have spent the weekend moving everything that belonged to the society from their homes and Stella’s Antiques into the new showroom.”

“That is good Ben. I have the legal papers with me. I will go over them with you and Amelia.” The lawyer starts to read from the legal papers in front of him. “…for the sum of…a month, The Erieau Historical Collectors Guild agrees to lease the said property from Amelia Jean Wilbur… You will need to provide your own insurance and liability…”

“We have a copy of the insurance papers for you,” Ben hands the lawyer a manila envelope.

Mr. Bibs takes the papers out of the envelope and reads them over. “The lease agreement is written out for you. Amelia you can sign the papers on these lines. Good. Now Ben, you can sign on these lines.”

After Ben and Amelia are through signing the lease papers, Mr. says. “Congratulations Ben, the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild has a new showroom.”

There is a knock at the door. Ben opens it, “Come in and welcome to the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild. You are our first guest.”

“I am Joe Slims, from the local newspaper and have come to interview Ben Rose, and Amelia Jean Wilbur.”

“I am Ben Rose and this is Amelia Jean Wilbur.”

Mr. Bibs excuses himself, “I will have someone else show me around, and then I have to go. I will be stopping in to see you next week Amelia.”

“Thank you for all your help Mr. Bibs,” Amelia says as she takes him over and introduces him to Ben’s wife, Kim.

“Kim, can you show Mr. Bibs around for me? Ben and I will be busy for a while.”

“Yes Amelia, come with me Mr. Bibs.”

Mr. Bibs follows Kim into the back room and up the stairs to the loft. Amelia returns to talk with the reporter.

The reporter asks, “Do you have a picture of your Aunt Stella that I could use for the write up?”

“Yes, come with me over to my office and I will get it for you.” Amelia takes Joe next door. The reporter takes several pictures of Amelia standing in front of Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom.

 

 

 

Stan Returns

Stan arrives at Stella’s Antiques at 11:30. “Amelia rushes out to welcome him. She has a big smile, and her heart begins to race. “Stan, it is so good to see you. How is your arm?”

“It is a lot better. I saw the doctor in London this morning, and he put a new bandage on it. I will have to be careful with my arm for a few more days. I am staying with Dedrick and Helena.”

“How is Helena? I arrived home after church yesterday so I didn’t have time to visit. When I phoned her on Friday, she still had a bad headache.”

“She is doing better, her headaches have stopped.”

“That is good news, Stan.”

“Come in, and let me show you around. We can start with the new Erieau Historical Collectors Guild building next door.”

Amelia takes him outside and they enter through the new doorway into a spacious room.

Stan looks around, “This is great, Amelia.”

Ben walks over, “How are you doing Stan?”

Stan shakes his hand. He has a big grin as he says, “The arm is a lot better. I like the job you did on this room, Ben. The addition with the new picture windows, make all the difference.”

“We think so. This will make a lot less confusion for us. Come and see what we have done.”

Amelia excuses herself. “I have so much to do before Friday. Come over when you are finished Stan.”

Ben and Kim show Stan all the new shelves and showcases that the men built. Kim is so excited that she cannot stop talking. “There is room for everything and even a place where we can have meetings in the back room, with a small kitchen.”

“They bought me several new filing cabinets, and I even have an office with a desk and a laptop computer. I can keep all the club ledgers organized now.”

Ben teases, “I can finally move, in my garage and basement. It took three truckloads to move everything that I had in storage. This is our new business card with our own phone number, web page, and e-mail address. Amelia’s mother has set up a web page for us. Life is getting better.”

Kim tells Stan, “We will be taking all our pictures with a digital camera from now on. Amelia’s mother has volunteered to teach me how to use the computer, so I can download pictures.”

When he is finished with the tour, Stan tells them, “I need to go; I will see you later.”

Stan walks to the back yard and looks around. The trees are trimmed and new shingles cover the roof. He smiles as he notices the four-window room above Amelia’s house that her brothers had told him about on Saturday. They really meant what they said: they were going to raise her roof. He chuckles.

Amelia joins him in the backyard.

“Your family and friends have been busy, Amelia. I am interested in what they did when they raised your roof,” he laughs.

“You knew all along what everyone was up to didn’t you Stan.”

“Yes, and it was fun keeping the secret from you.”

“My father said it was like an old fashioned barn-raising. Mother and Isabel along with several volunteers supplied the food. The men provided the labor.”

“I am glad you decided to separate Stella’s antiques from the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild’s, artifacts.”

“I know that I made the right choice.”

“I still don’t know how you kept everything separate.”

“It was difficult.”

Amelia takes a closer look at Stan. He has shadows under his eyes. He must have been quite sick.

“I can’t wait to see the surprise your family built for you, Amelia. Bernie and Curtis told me all about it on Saturday.”

“Follow me.” She takes him into her house, and he follows her up the stairs. “This is my surprise. They raised my roof and built a new art studio for me so that I could teach art classes. My father and brothers did a marvelous job. They even moved all my belongings from my apartment to Erieau for me.”

Stan looks around the room. He sees rows of art supplies neatly stacked on the shelves.

“They built several new bookcases to hold all my books, Stan. Bernie and Curtis told me that they had worked for two years making this artist coffee table for me. It was supposed to be a surprise for Christmas, but they gave it to me early. It is big enough to hold all my sketches and paintings, so they will not get damaged.”

Stan goes over to the coffee table and pulls out a thin drawer, then removes several of the sketches, “I like the one of Freddy sleeping on the rug.” He returns the sketches to the drawer and walks around the room.

He stands before a picture of a blue heron. There is something different about the bird, but he can’t put his finger on it. He picks up Prickles the porcupine that Amelia won at the scavenger hunt and chuckles. “Your twin is in my bedroom on a shelf.”

Several other oil paintings hang on the walls. He studies them. “Did you paint these pictures Amelia?”

“Yes, I had no place to hang them before.”

“Amelia, these are great. You have a way with shadows. Where did you learn to paint?”

“I spent three summers in British Columbia, working with artists from all around the world. I found it hard to move back to Ontario, but I missed my family.”

“I have never been out west.”

“You would love it Stan. It is breathtaking when you drive through the mountains in the spring. Every time I drove around a corner, I saw a different waterfall. Each of them were more beautiful that the one before.”

“I will try to go some day.”

“Have you had lunch yet, Stan?”

“No, I wanted to see you first.”

I have some leftover sandwiches in the refrigerator in the tearoom. Would you like to join me for lunch?”

“Yes,” He smiles, “I would like that.”

“Dad added a door, so I could go from my art studio to the tearoom without going downstairs.” Amelia pulls a key out of her pocket and opens the door.

Stan follows her into the tearoom, and helps set the table while Amelia prepares the food,

They catch up on all the news while they eat a lunch of a flour tortilla roll up,  filled with cream cheese, lettuce, ham, tomatoes, along with a side salad.

When they are through eating and the dishes are put away, Amelia puts a Christian tape into the CD player.

Stan says, “I want to set up my equipment.”

It takes Stan more time to set up his equipment as he can only use one arm to carry everything. Ben sees him and offers to help carry the heavy things for him. When he is finished, Stan starts working.

Amelia gets out her bags of soft rags and some furniture polish and fills a container with warm soapy water. She pushes her cleaning supplies on a wheeled cart into a room. She has to be careful because her right shoulder is still tender. The furniture and collectibles have an inch of dust on them because of all the construction. Now where will I begin? She laughs as she remembers the words from her morning devotion. I can change ‘I can’t’, into ‘I can’. Mr. ‘t’, you have got to go.

There is a noise on the stairs as Amelia’s mother and Isabel arrive. Several of her summer sisters follow them into the room. They come over and discuss with Amelia what needs to be done. Amelia shows them the work list on the wall. They all pick a job and start to work.

Isabel lifts off the drop cloths, and puts them into a laundry basket. She covers a large table with a plastic oilcloth then helps Marvel put the collectibles and fine china on the table.

Amelia’s arm is still hurting so she sits at the table and checks the individual pieces of china with her aunt’s ledger to make sure the prices match. Lois and Aileen start to wash and disinfect the floors, shelves, and counters in the tearoom kitchen before putting all the dishes through the dishwasher, while Sharon dusts the walls and cleans the storeroom.

Isabel and Marvel wash the antique dishes and figurines, before they put them away. They chat while they help Amelia clean and polish the tables and china cabinets, with a special furniture polish.

The grandfather clock strikes 5:00, and it is time for Amelia’s friends to go home. Sharon says, “We will back in the morning to help you. This is just like old times.”

They give Amelia a hug and depart.

Amelia looks around the room they have just finished. “Everything sparkles.”

“Thank you for all your help Isabel.”

Marvel tells Amelia, “We are making a dint in the dust, one room is finished and five more to go.”

“Remember what your Sister Stella always said, Mom. Never look at all the work in a room. Just pick up one article at a time and start dusting.”

“I will try to remember that tomorrow when I return. See you in the morning, Amelia.”

“By Mom, by Isabel, I love you. Thanks for all your help!” Amelia watches them walk out the front door.

“Thank you God for such a kind loving family and all my friends.” Amelia goes into the sparkling tearoom and makes a cup of tea then sits for a while looking around at all the work her friends have done for her. The shelves are washed and they even put everything back where they belong.

She looks out the window at her backyard and sees that it is all tidy. The trees have been trimmed and several large dead branches removed. A new sun porch protects the swing.

Stan comes up behind her and startles her. “Amelia, I need to go. My arm is sore and it is after 5:00. It looks like you are overdoing it. You should slow down so your arm and shoulder will heal. I will be back tomorrow at 9:00. See you then.”

“Would you like to stay for supper and barbecue some hamburgers, before you leave, Stan? I never did learn how to master the barbecue. My brothers say I turn every hamburger I cook into shoe leather.”

“I would like to stay, Amelia. I have no other plans.”

“The hamburgers are in the refrigerator.”

They enter Amelia’s house. She lets Fred out while Stan opens the refrigerator and finds a package with two juicy homemade burgers. He seasons them with some spices and sets them in a pan while he goes out and lights the barbecue.

When he returns to the kitchen, Amelia is making a fresh spinach salad. “My mother sent along some baby potatoes she stole from the garden.”

“What do you mean, stole?”

“Mom likes to go out to the garden and dig around the potato plants with her hands and remove tiny potatoes. The plant is left in the ground to continue growing. Mother would tell us when we were children, “Put a pot of water on. I am going to steal some potatoes for supper.” It is a family joke. I can’t imagine my mother stealing anything.”

“I saw her steal potatoes when I visited at her home. She went out to the garden with a pot. She bent over and reached around the potato plants then put several potatoes into the pot. If she ever gets arrested for stealing potatoes I will have to testify against her, and she will be found guilty as charged.”

They both start to laugh.

“Stan, the salad is ready. I will bring the peas out, and we can shell them. Nothing better than fresh, shelled peas cooked with a few green mint leaves?”

“Yes I will.”

Stan puts the two pots of water on the burners then turns them on. They continue to talk while they shell the peas.

“You have a good sense of humour, Stan.”

“I learned my humour from my mother. She was a clown. Once, she had me dress in a green frog suit, for vacation Bible school, for a whole week. She told me, “Do not talk to the children just say, ‘ribbet, ribbet, ribbet.’ I posed for pictures with the children every day. I was so hot in the suit, that I told my mother, “If I have to dress in that frog suit for one more day I will croak and fall over dead.” You know what she did about it, she laughed and walked away.”

Amelia was laughing so hard that she had to hold her sides. “Was your mother really a clown, Stan?”

“Yes, my mother spent several summers going to different Christian clown schools. She went to Bible College and is a children’s pastor. She loves making costumes and puppets.

“I once dressed as a dog with big brown spots; my favorite was the time my mother turned me into a dinosaur. I did not mind the heat that week. I even wore the costumes she made me for Halloween. I always won a prize for the best costume.”

“It looks like you had an interesting childhood, Stan. I had to help feed the chickens and weed the garden when I was home. I spent four days a week helping Stella, in her store, during the summer.”

“It is time to set the table and cook the burgers, Stan.”

Stan grills the hamburgers, while the peas and potatoes cook. Amelia finishes bringing out the salad. When the vegetables are ready, they put the food on the table.

“Would you like to pray, Stan?”

“Yes, God, we thank You for this food and the blessings You have provided for us…”

Amelia serves the salad with a sprinkling of feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Stan bites into his hamburger and says, “This hamburger is delicious and juicy, not like the meat you buy at the local supermarket.”

“I know Stan; there is nothing better than grain fed beef.” She pours Stan a tall glass of iced mint tea.

He takes a sip. “What kind of tea is this Amelia?”

“It is mint tea. I picked the mint fresh from my garden and let it steep in hot water. When it is cool, I put it in the refrigerator then pour it over ice and serve it cold.”

“I like it and I find it refreshing.”

When they are finished eating, Amelia gives Stan some strawberry cheesecake.

“I love cheesecake,” Stan says, as he takes a bite. “This is scrumptious.”

“My Aunt Isabel made it for me.”

Stan finishes eating and sets his fork down. “I have an interesting story about the cheesecake I made for my mother.

“I like stories, Stan.”

“We were having a surprise birthday party for my mother, last Christmas. My sister Nettie asked me to make my famous New York Chocolate Cheesecake for the party.”

“You make cheesecake, Stan?”

“Yes, chocolate is my specialty. I went to the store and spent an arm and a leg for all the ingredients. I like to enjoy myself when I do my Christmas baking so I put my Santa hat on. I was home alone so I put some Christmas music into the CD player and turned it up really loud.”

“I do the same thing when I work Stan. I love good music.”

“It took me several hours to make the cheesecake. I wanted it to be a surprise for my mother. The refrigerator was full, so I took the New York Chocolate Cheesecake down to my father’s workshop in the basement to cool overnight. I opened the window and shut the door, so that the room would stay cool.

“Now as Paul Harvey says, ‘Here is the rest of the Story’.

They both break out in laughter.

“I didn’t know that a family of mice had moved into the basement for the winter. They were wondering what they were going to eat for Christmas dinner. Their son ran home to the hole in the wall all excited. “Santa has delivered us a wheel of chocolate for Christmas,” he told his family as he jumped up and down with excitement.

“Mother and father mouse waited for it to become dark before going out to investigate their son’s story. Sure enough nestled on the workbench between the electric sander and drill press was a chocolate wheel of cheese.

“The family spent the night celebrating. Some of the mice children did a belly flop into the middle of the cake. They climbed up to the top of the workbench then out onto the shelf that was about two feet above the cake and jumped. The girls tried to do a ballerina dance, but their feet became stuck in the gooey mess.

“Their parents reminded them, “We have to move quickly and take as much of this chocolate wheel of cheese back to our home before morning. Remember, at first light, we have to be ready to hide.”

The mice family was generous, so they sent for their neighbors to share in their wheel of fortune. Before morning, word had spread up and down the street that there was a chocolate cheese party. Come and get all you want. There is plenty of food.”

“The plate was just about empty by 8:00, in the morning.

“I came whistling down the steps to the workshop to retrieve my cheesecake. My face froze in anger. “Mice” I shouted, “We have mice.”

“I drove to the store to buy some mousetraps. The mice had been taught well by their parents, and I never caught a single mouse. Mom told me, ‘the mice packed their bags and moved down the street after dad agreed to get a cat for Christmas’.”

“Are you joking, Stan?”

“Yes, in a way I am. The story of the mice and the New York Chocolate Cheesecake is true. I had to rush to the store and make another Cheesecake for my mother’s 50th birthday party. I put it in the freezer to cool. The story of the mice was the talk of the party.”

“It is a good story. Maybe I will turn it into a picture book if you don’t mind. I can visualize the mice doing a belly flop into the chocolate wheel of cheese.”

“You can use the story, Amelia. I would like to see how you illustrate it.”

“We need to clean up Stan; it is getting late. I will wash the dishes, if you help me take them into the kitchen.”

I enjoyed myself this evening. Stan carries some of the dishes to the kitchen before going out to clean the barbecue. He returns to the kitchen to wash his hands.

“Thank you for supper, Amelia. I think I will walk around town for awhile.”

“See you in the morning, Stan.”

Amelia goes over to the showrooms to look at the work they had done that day. By habit, she wipes her hand across a table. Not a speck of dust, Stella would be proud. With a grin on her face, she remembers, I spent the mornings dusting for Stella. She would tell me, that if we clean one room a day, it would all be dusted by Friday. She remembers the words, she said to her mother that afternoon, never, ever, look at everything in the room. Just dig in and do one job at a time, and soon you will be finished.

Now I am dusting for myself. Stella is not here to talk about Jesus and help the time pass faster. I remember Stella helping me memorize scriptures while we worked together. Amelia reaches into her pocket, pulls out a few tissues, and wipes away her tears. I find it hard to carry on without you here encouraging me, Stella.

Entering her office, Amelia picks up a beautiful Royal Dalton figurine. She is dressed in a flowing blue dress. The workmanship is beautiful. I dusted her every week, when I was a young girl. Stella knew that I loved her. One day it disappeared off the shelf. I was so sad. Stella had put it away. She gave it to me the year I graduated from high school.

As Amelia holds it in her hands, she thinks about the opening on Friday. I wonder if we will be finished in time.

She goes home and has a relaxing bubble bath, and falls asleep in the tub. The water is cold when she awakes so she rinses off with a warm shower and gets ready for bed. She sits in the chair by her bed and reads Colossians, 3:15-16, then writes it in her own words,

Let the peace of Christ, rule in your heart.

You are called to peace.

Be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach.

Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God.

I like the title, of this devotion.

 

Let Your Light Shine for Jesus

What happens to the flame of a candle when people gently blow on it? We all know that the flame will start to flicker back and forth. If someone blows too hard, it will go out.

We have been called to be a light in this dark world with our flame pointing to heaven. If we let the circumstances around us cause our light to flicker back and forth, our life will burn out quicker.

Light a candle. Take some time and watch the flame, as it points to heaven. Try gently blowing on the candle. See what the flame does to the candle. The wax will start to burn unevenly and twice as fast as when there is no cross breeze.

Next time you look at a candle, compare the flame to your life. Jesus said not to hide our light under a bushel. He said our light is to shine for Him, and not to let Satan puff it out on us.

When we keep doing things to please the people around us and do not pray and listen to what God wants us to do, our light flickers.

Stop and compare your light to the one we used to sing about as a child. I pray it is shining brightly.

Karen

It is an interesting reading, but I am so sleepy. Amelia puts the books on the shelf and gets into bed. She falls into a deep, dreamless sleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.

 

 

 

The Inventory Continues

Amelia wakes refreshed for the first time in days. She is up before the sun, so she pours herself a coffee and goes up to the art studio to watch the sunrise. Soon the sun begins to bud over the horizon. I will try to have my morning devotions up here from now on. It is so beautiful to see the sunrise. She looks at the date on her devotion. It is July 22. We will open the store in three days.

Amelia picks up the new book that her friend Emily gave her the week before and reads.

 

God Will Provide

Give God thanks for what you have. Give God thanks for what He will provide for you in the days ahead. He promises us that He will provide for you, the same way He provided for His people in the wilderness. What about the fishes and the loaves?

Give your love offerings to the people who God shows you. God gave you the gifts in the first place so that you could use them to bring joy to His hurting people. One person at a time will find joy, love, and peace because of what God has taught you to do.

Teach God’s children how to give. Let it spread from one person to another. This is what the Bible teaches in Acts. It says no one was in need. The people looked around them when God showed them a need. They, with love, reached out to the hurting people and provided for them, not only money, but love. Go now, do what God has called you to do. Love His hurting people. Share your love with them and help them to heal.

Philippians 4:19-20, And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now unto our God and Father, be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

Emily

“God, you are so good. You have provided for all my needs, and gave me extra so that I can bless others.”

I had better start working. There is a so much to do if we are going to open on Friday.

Stan is already working when Amelia arrives. She greets him then puts the clean drop sheets on a shelf in the back storage room. Her summer sisters had vacuumed the room and cleaned the shelves for her the day before. She walks over to where the CD player is and turns on the Christian radio station.

Amelia hums a familiar tune as she returns to the showroom. She stops and talks with Stan. “You have an interesting job, Stan.”

“I do,” Stan says as he takes a picture of a delicate blue bud vase.

“I notice how you examine the vase before setting it back on the shelf, Stan. How did you learn to be an antique appraiser?”

“I was taught by my father and uncle for years in their antique business, before going to McMaster University and taking courses in Art History.”

Their conversation is interrupted when Amelia’s mother and aunt arrive. Ten minutes later her summer sisters, Sharon, Aileen, and Lois arrive.

Hanna arrives shortly after them. “I heard that you needed some extra help, so here I am.”

“Thank you for coming to help me.” Amelia gives her friends a hug.

Hanna asks, “What can we do to help?”

Amelia takes out a list and posts it on the bulletin board. “These two rooms, along with the tea room, and kitchen have already been cleaned.”

The women go over to read the list.

Pearl walks into the room. She has a grin on her face. “Sorry to be late.”

Sharon tells her, “We haven’t started yet. I love washing windows. Will you help me Pearl?”

“I will get some supplies.”

Pearl and Sharon go to the storeroom for some cleaning supplies. Aileen works with Amelia’s Aunt Isabel, and they start to vacuum and wash the floors.

Lois helps Amelia’s mother wash the collectibles. Hanna helps Amelia dust and cleans the shelves, before putting everything away in the display cases. As usually happens, there is much chatting between the friends as they help Amelia get her place ready.

Before they know it, it is time for lunch. They take a break and eat sandwiches, along with some of Isabel’s fresh baked cherry pie. When they are through, they all go back to work.

Stan enters the room that had been cleaned the day before and works on the inventory. It is a lot easier now. He puts a numbered tag on an object before taking a picture of it, and then speaks into his recorder.

When he returns to his office in London, Stan along with his trained staff will take the time to look the items up on their computers and in their antique books, before putting an estimate of what the antique is worth.

I remember all the years I spent training with my uncle and father. They both warned me, that appraising antiques for an estate would be a tedious job, and that the book price would not be what the piece was actually worth. They told me to be careful to mark every detail down in my notes. A hairline crack causes a porcelain figurine, or soup tureen’s worth, to drop in value. It will be a tedious job and takes hours. They were right.

Stan walks over to a china cabinet and picks up a porcelain basket. He checks it over for chips, and cracks before he speaks. “This is a yellow weave basket. It is in excellent condition. I like the way the fine molded black berries cover the outside. It has a twisted twig handle.”

He puts a numbered tag on the vase and sets it on a piece of black velvet. He takes a picture then picks up a Fenton Cobalt Marigold Carnival Pitcher. He says into the recorder, “I read about how this company produced Cobalt Marigold as part of the 1987 Historical Collection by Fenton, in a magazine article last month. The writer said that they sprayed cobalt glass with a marigold spray, to give it the bright iridescences that produced the lustrous, rainbow like colors.”

Stan continues working. He says, “I am impressed with the workmanship of this hand-painted limited edition ‘Fenton Snowman and Snow Lady’. They are in beautiful condition with no chips or cracks.” He pulls out a pink tag he uses for china and collectibles and writes number 396 on it, then takes a picture.

He picks up the last piece from the china cabinet. “This is an original Fenton Cobalt Blue Carnival Glass footed bowl. It is in the ‘Two Flowers Pattern’ made around 1910. It features brilliant iridescence with highlights of gold smoke and orange. The design is fine and deeply molded. The feet are the scroll type.” After examining it, he puts #418 on it, and says. This piece has no flaws other than light wear. The condition is superb.”

Stan looks up when he hears Amelia laugh. The rooms are bustling with activity all around him. It is surprising how enjoyable work can be, when the people laugh together.

He goes over to a mahogany grandfather clock, and turns the recorder on, “Anyone who is a collector of clocks would treasure this piece of furniture.” He opens the front door; “It has a superior nine-tube three-weight movement.” He checks out the name, “it is a 1900 Waltham grandfather clock. The hood has fancy cutouts on the sides and columns in the front. The front door has a shaped beveled glass. The mahogany grain in the case is in excellent condition. The clock has carved claw feet on the bottom. The fancy brass and silver dial has an original rich patina, and the painted moon dial has the original paint. The instruction papers for the clock are in an old brown envelope.”

He reads the papers, “The clock plays both Whittington, and Westminster chimes. It has a second hand in the middle. This is a well-designed timepiece!” He turns the recorder off, and types some words into his computer, then puts a number on the grandfather clock and takes several photographs of it.

As he is putting his things away, the grandfather clock strikes five o’clock. It can’t be, where has all the time gone? Laughing at the pun, he takes a second look at his watch.

Isabel tells them, “I have warmed up a big pot of chili, and the table is set. Come and eat.”

They sit around the table eating supper.

Pearl says, “Working here today has brought back memories from my childhood, Amelia. I remember the weeks I spent visiting you and all the dusting we did together.”

Lois says, “We all want to come back and help you on opening day, if you want us.”

Amelia walks with them to their vehicles and tells them, “It will be extra busy, and I could do with your help, please come.”

Pearl turns to Isabel. “Thank you for supper. I will see you all on Friday.

Amelia walks around the rooms. Thanks to my family and friends, every nook and cranny is clean and the windows are polished. Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom is ready to open on Friday. The deliveries for the tearoom will start arriving in the morning.

After everyone has left, Stan asks, “Do you want to get an ice cream cone, Amelia?”

“Yes Stan, I was thinking about going for a walk. I need some fresh air after all the dusting. Let me check on Freddy first.”

“Do you mean Freddy the Freeloader, your boyfriend?”

Amelia laughs with Stan, at their private joke.

“I will see you in 20 minutes.” Amelia goes to her kitchen and feeds Freddy, and then takes a quick shower to rinse the dust away. She changes into a white top with blue shorts. Her heart is beating a bit quicker than usual. Stan is going home tomorrow.

Stan is waiting for her beside his truck. He takes her arm as they walk the short distance to the ice cream shop. “What kind of ice cream do you want, Amelia?”

“I want black cherry.”

Stan orders a black cherry and a maple walnut cone.

Amelia takes a lick of her ice cream. “Do you want to go back to the swing while you eat your ice cream?

“That is a good idea.”

They walk back to the patio. Freddy follows them and climbs onto Amelia’s lap. He begins to meow. “Wait until I am finished Freddy, and then I will give you some ice cream. Amelia continues to eat her ice cream cone while Freddy continues to fuss. “I give up.”

Amelia breaks off the end of her ice cream cone and gives it to Freddy. “I forgot to tell you Stan, Freddy the Free Loader loves ice cream. The owner at the ice cream shop said that Freddy hides in the hedge until some ice cream falls on the ground and licks it up. It was the owner of the ice cream shop that named him, Freddy the Free Loader.”

Stan chuckles. “I had better give Freddy some of my ice cream.” Before Amelia can stop him, Stan breaks off the tip of his cone and gives it to Freddy. When Freddy is finished eating, he licks his paws as to say “thanks” and falls asleep on Amelia’s lap.

They sit in silence as they finish their cones. The ice cream drips out the end of the cone, so they both hold the tip end in their mouth and suck at the drips. Amelia pushes Freddy off her lap and gets a wet cloth. “I should know better by now than to give in to Freddy. I always end up a mess.” She tries without success to wipe the red drips off her new white blouse.

Stan laughs and wipes his sticky fingers with the wet cloth. “I have enjoyed myself today, Amelia.”

A breeze blows from the lake, while the swing moves back and forth. Stan and Amelia sit and relax.

Stan breaks the silence, “I should be finished with the inventory tomorrow. I will take all my paperwork back to London. It will be a few weeks before the final report is finished. I will keep your father and lawyer informed of my progress.”

“It has been an exciting two weeks, Stan. I noticed that your arm is healing. It looks like you will have a nasty scar to remind you of the storm.”

“It could have been worse, Amelia. The doctors caught my infection in time and fortunately, we did not drown in the lake.”

I know Stan; I have a whole new outlook on life since the storm. It seems that the grass is greener and the sky is bluer.”

“You are right Amelia. The best part of going through the storm is that I found the truth about my brother Kirk’s death. My family spent some time talking about Kirk while I was home last week. We all were so deeply hurt when Kirk died, that none of us talked about the accident. We just set the memory of Kirk on a shelf with his photo and tried as best we could, to get on with our lives.”

“That is sad Stan.”

“I know. I had the hardest time forgetting the fire because I carried the scars from the burns. I woke up in a cold sweat with nightmares calling for Kirk. He never answered. Every time I looked at the scars on my body, they reminded me that I had caused my little brother Kirk’s death.

I have not had a nightmare since the day of the boat accident. God has answered everyone’s prayers, and I have been set free. Nettie told me she is feeling better as well. She never told anyone, of how she blamed herself for Kirk’s death.”

“I am so glad for you, Stan.”

“Thank you Amelia.” Stan wipes a few tears away.”

“I am glad that your family was able to talk about Kirk’s death, Stan. I have been talking with my mother and summer sisters about Stella and all the good she did while she was alive. It is important to remember the special times we have had with our loved ones.”

“Yes it is Amelia.” Looking at his watch Stan says, “It is getting late and we both have an early morning. It has been good talking with you.”

“I will see you in the morning, Stan”

She watches Stan walk down the road.

 

Amelia smiles as she goes into her house with Freddy. She pours a cold glass of iced tea, prepares her coffee peculator for the morning, and sets the timer.

She wanders down to her bedroom and gets ready for bed, then takes her white blouse to the sink, and soaks it.

She is so tired that she puts a Christian CD in the player and relaxes. She is asleep before she finishes listening to the first song.

 

 

 

Finished

It is Wednesday morning and Amelia is ready to start work early. She sits in her new art room sipping from a hot mug of coffee and reads her Bible, while she waits for her friends and family to arrive. She picks up her journal and writes a few verses in her own words.

“Thank You God, for giving me such Godly parents. You helped Stan and Nettie remove some of the memories and burdens they have carried from their past. I will be opening in two days. Help me to become a Godly woman like my mother and Stella…”

Amelia reads from the book that Emily had given her.

 

A New Day in Your Life

At the women’s retreat this weekend, our group leader asked us, “Do you sit and mull over your mistakes from the past?”

Looking back over my life, I remembered doing this.

Our leader told us, “Today is like a new computer page in your life. You can write positive or negative thoughts on it. When you press the X button, to close your page, you have two choices to make. “Do you want to save the changes? Yes, or No?”

Her advice to us was, “Leave the negative thoughts from your past in God’s hands. Always press the “NO” button when you are asked if you want to save them to a file.”

She said, “God’s memory is like the delete button on your computer. Once it is pressed, you can write on a new white sheet. God wants to remove the old page with bad memories from your past forever.”

Satan wants us to continue to use the undo typing button. He wants us to go back into our past, so he can throw all our mistakes back into our face.

Read what it says in Philippians, 4:8, 9. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. The things you both learned, and received, and heard, and saw in Me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Emily

 

I need to press the delete button more often, and remove the clutter in my life. She gets up and leaves the room. While on her way down to her kitchen, Amelia says, “Thank You God for forgiving all of my sins when I come to you in prayer and repent.”

 

When she enters the tearoom, her mother tells her, “Isabel and I are going home. The tearoom is organized and all the deliveries have arrived. We will come in tomorrow morning to start the baking.”

Stan comes over and speaks to Amelia, “I am finished also and will take my things to truck.”

When Stan returns, he goes to the kitchen to speak with Amelia. “I will be heading back to Mount Brydges in the morning. If you need to contact me, you can call my cell phone or leave a message, and I will get back to you.”

“Thank you for your help, Stan. My cousin Jocelyn will be moving in to my house tomorrow to help me run Stella’s.”

“I am looking forward to meeting her. I will give you a call, the next time that I am in Erieau. It will not be as hard to come back now that I have forgiven myself for Kirk’s death. It was a heavy burden for me to carry all those years.”

“I am glad that everything worked out for you, Stan. Do you have time to go for a walk around McGeachy Pond? We might be able to see the baby swans.”

“Only, if I can bring my fly-rod with me. I do not know if I will be able to fish with my sore arm, but I would like to give it a try.”

“Don’t forget your binoculars and camera, Stan. I will pack us a picnic lunch.”

 

 

 

The Great Blue Heron

It is a short drive to the pond. The swans are hiding near the bulrushes while they keep an eye on their babies. The drake sounds the alarm, when Stan and Amelia approach. As they continue around the pond, they see several red-winged black birds and wild ducks. A humming bird, darts in and out of some flowers and a yellow canary flies back to its nest.

Stan sets up his fly-casting rod and then pulls on his hip waders. After wading out into the shallow pond, he begins the graceful motion of casting. The quiet of the afternoon is disturbed when a big fish jumps out of the water. Stan reels in a large green bass. “Amelia, do you want to take any fish home?”

“Not today, Stan.”

Stan is gentle as he removes the barbless hook from the mouth of the bass and releases the beautiful wild fish back into the water. He casts his line near a lily pad, and the water explodes again and Stan pulls in another bass.

Amelia sits on a rock and makes several sketches of Stan fly-fishing. The surface of the pond is without a ripple and reflects the clouds and blue sky. She puts her drawings away takes out her camera, and starts to take a few pictures. I will do an oil painting of Stan fly-fishing when I have time.

Stan’s left arm starts to hurt, so he stops fishing. It was only ten days ago that the boat just about sunk, and I hurt my arm. The past few weeks have gone quickly. Tomorrow I will be leaving Erieau and going home. He looks over at Amelia and watches her as she prepares the picnic. She is a special woman. God, is she the one? I am going to miss her. He sighs, as he leans the rod against a tree.

My father always told me, ‘Never put your rod on the ground Stanley. Someone might step on it, as rod tips are fragile. The gears of your reel will wear out if you get sand or dirt in it.’ Stan takes his hip waders off then puts his rod and reel into its protective case.

 

Stan walks over and sits on the blanket beside Amelia.

“Do you want me to pray before we eat?”

“Yes, please.”

Stan has to pause for a moment and collect his thoughts. So much has happened since I knocked on Amelia’s door, “God, I want to thank you for the food and all my new friends…”

Amelia hands Stan an empty plate, “take what you want.”

“It all looks so good,” Stan says as he takes a sandwich and some cut up vegetables. Amelia hands him, a root beer and he takes a sip. “The pop is refreshing.”

“How long have you been fly-fishing, Stan?”

“I was only seven when my father taught me how to fly-fish. He gave me a short rod with some wool tied to the end of it. He taught me, the proper way to cast a pretend fly. Do you fly-fish?”

“Yes,” Amelia rubs her right shoulder. “I will not be able to fish until my arm gets stronger. I used to fish in the Grand River before I moved back to Erieau.”

“I can remember my mother putting a lunch into our backpacks when I was a young boy. She always included two root beers for me. Dad and I would get on our bikes and ride here to McGeachy Pond. I can still hear the words of my father. ‘Raise your arm; do not bend your wrist, cast.’ Stan continues to talk about some of his fishing experiences. “It feels good to be free of the anguish I have carried for most of my life. Nothing will bring my brother, Kirk, back. Accidents do happen.”

Stan is taking a sip of his soda when they see a blue heron land in the pond in the shallow water, near shore. Amelia whispers to Stan, “I think it is Hughie.”

Amelia picks up her camera and removes it from its protective case before twisting on the special zoom lens, so she can take a perfect picture. She motions for Stan to be quiet.

She hides behind some brush, as she moves closer. The honeybees buzz around her feet as they dart in and out of the wild flowers, growing on the edge of the pond. Several monarch butterflies’ flutter about as they search for the perfect milkweed. Wild birds sing a melody in the background.

Amelia works her way to within ten feet of the blue heron. She is excited when she recognizes, Hughie. It is as if the beautiful bird recognizes me and is posing to have his picture taken. He puts his long neck in the water and comes up with a wiggling water snake in his bill. She takes a number of pictures and is just about to leave when the huge blue bird takes flight. Amelia snaps several pictures in succession until the beautiful bird is out of sight.

Amelia is excited as she views the pictures she has just taken. The long sleek neck of the blue heron stretches out as it tucks his dangling legs up into the flight position. The white patch that the vet put on his bill has turned yellow, but is still allowing Hughie to eat. I cannot wait to get home and download these pictures onto my computer.

Stan is holding his camcorder and greets her with a big smile. “You must have taken some prize winning pictures. I took a video of you taking a picture of the blue heron, see.” He holds his camera, so Amelia can view the video. She sees herself on the edge of the pond with her camera in hand. The blue heron is wading in the pond in front of her.

“Wow, these pictures are awesome.”

“I will make you a DVD and drop it off before I leave in the morning. We both took several remarkable pictures.”

“Yes we sure did, Stan.”

“I have terrific memories to take with me when I go home tomorrow. They will replace the ones I had from when I was a boy.”

“I am glad you faced your fears and were helped by God. I will make you a copy of my pictures of Hughie as well.”

“Hughie, who is Hughie?”

“Hughie is the blue heron you just saw. Our family saved his life several years ago.”

“How could you save the life of a heron?”

“Sit back and relax while I tell you the story of, ‘Hughie the Hooked-Beaked Heron’.”

Stan sits with his back to a tree, and gets comfortable on the blanket, while he waits for Amelia to tell her story.

“About eight years ago on a beautiful sunny day just like today, our family was walking on the trail around McGeachy Pond.

“As we rounded the curve, we heard a loud commotion in the brush. It sounded like an animal was in distress. My father picked up a long stick and took my brothers with him to investigate. When they returned, they told us that an injured blue heron, with a Dare Devil fishing lure dangling from his bill was making all the noise. Some heavy nylon fishing line was wrapped around his wings, so he could not fly. Dad told us that they would need to use the blanket to catch it.

“Dad and the boys cornered the big blue bird and wrapped him in a blanket. Dad dropped mother and the boys off at the farm then we took the injured bird over to our cousin, Randy, who is a vet.

“Randy asked us to wait while he phoned his friend, Chad, who was an expert on injured birds as he needed to get some advice. He told us that Chad had spent his summers working at a Wild Bird Care Center and knew how to repair the bird’s injured beak.

When he returned from talking to Chad on the phone, he told us, that his friend Chad would phone the Department of Wildlife and get permission for him to look after the bird, until it was ready to be released.

“After, Randy sedated the bird; we helped him cut the fishing line from around the bird’s wings. It took awhile because one of the bird’s wings was badly infected. The fishing line had cut through the feathers into the skin. The Dare Devil fishing lure was deeply embedded in the bird’s bill so Randy had to cut some of the infected beak away when he removed the fishhook.

“Randy told us, that he would bring Chad out to the farm when he came, to repair the blue heron’s beak. He told us, to take the bird home and when it was strong enough, to let it live in our lily pond. He also told us to surround the pond with our winter snow fence and keep the dogs tied up so they would not disturb the injured bird.

“My father phoned ahead and had the boys put the dogs in their run. They were not happy when we arrived home, as the dogs did not like staying in their run. We never tied them up because they never left the property.

“My brothers helped my father put the snow fence around the pond. Randy told us the bird would not be able to survive in the wild and catch fish until his beak and wing were healed.

“Our family named the blue heron, Hughie. Hughie was frail at first so my father put him into a shed and fed him ground up fish, using a funnel. We bought several pails of large minnows and emptied the containers into the pond so that there would be enough food for the blue heron. As soon as the bird was strong enough, Dad took him out to our lily pond, so he could swim and find his own food.

“Two weeks later, Randy arrived with his friend Chad. They caught the blue heron and took him back to Randy’s office. Chad repaired the missing part of Hughie’s bill. Randy returned Hughie to us the next day.

“When Hughie was better, he took one last look at us, as if to say, “thanks” and flew away. I always look for him when I walked around McGeachy Pond. I can recognize Hughie, because the right side of his bill is a different colour where they repaired it.”

“That is an interesting story Amelia. You should write about it.”

“I already have and I am working on an illustrated children’s book called ‘Hughie the Hooked-Beaked Heron.’ How is that for a title?”

“I like it! I know it will sell. Save the first copy for me,” Stan says as he swats at a mosquito. “We should be leaving soon, Amelia. The mosquitoes are starting to bite. There have been more reports of West Nile Virus in this area.”

“I have a can of repellent.”

When they get to the truck Stan says, “We will have to come here again when I return to Erieau.”

“You are returning to Erieau?”

Stan is happy when he looks into Amelia’s eyes and sees the excitement on her face. “Yes I am going to return to Erieau. My father sent me an e-mail this afternoon. The Erieau Historical Collectors Guild wants me to appraise their artifacts for their insurance company. Jerome wants me to appraise his grandmother’s estate before they sell it. I have enough work to keep me busy for the rest of the summer.”

Amelia has a big smile on her face when she says, “That’s good news. When will you start?”

“I am not sure. My father said they would tell me at the office tomorrow. I will be staying down the road at Dedrick and Helena’s summer cottage.”

“I am happy that you are returning.”

“I am also. Maybe we can spend some time together when I return to Erieau.”

“I would like that, Stan.”

“Thanks for bringing me to McGeachy Pond, Stan. It is one of my favorite spots. I love to take pictures and make sketches of the wild life.”

They are quiet on the drive back to Erieau. Stan stops his truck in front of Stella’s Antiques. “It has been a marvelous day Amelia. I will make a copy of the DVD with you and the blue heron and give it to you in the morning.”

“Thank you Stan.” Amelia’s heart is racing with excitement when she enters her house, “Sorry, I was so late Fred!”

Stan takes her backpack to the kitchen.

Fried is sitting there, with a dejected look about him. “Didn’t anyone drop their ice cream for you to lick up today, Freddy? Amelia you will have to give Freddy some ice cream for supper,” Stan teases as he pats Freddy. “I think you need to go on a diet, Freddy.” Stan continues to scratch Freddy the Freeloader under his chin. He looks over at Amelia and smiles. “It has been a pleasure working for you Amelia, but now I have to pack. See you in the morning.”

Amelia watches as Stan climbs into his truck and drives down the road. She goes into her house shuts the door and sits in her favorite chair. I am tired. She rubs her sore arm, as Freddy jumps into her lap. Burying her face in Freddy’s warm soft fur, she whispers, “Stan is coming back; Stan is going to return to Erieau.”

After Amelia feeds Freddy and prepares her coffee pot for the morning, she gets a bottle of apple juice from the fridge before getting ready for bed.

She reaches over and picks up the book that her friend Emily wrote.

This looks interesting. My friend Emily is such a good writer. I wonder how her family is making out in Alaska. She begins reading.

Fragrance of God’s Love

I have been praying for the past few months and asking God to give me a spiritual face-lift, and to clean my heart from all impurities.

When we are not able to forgive our brothers and sisters, or allow God to clean our hearts from all impurities, we will find ourselves with a heavy burden on our shoulders. This heaviness, if allowed to continue, will lead to depression.

My prayer for you, as you read this, is that you will be able to sing a new song of joy. Allow the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to destroy all your negative thoughts.

When we begin to sing and praise God and Jesus calling on Their Holy Names, we start to feel better. God will destroy our negative thoughts, but even better, He wants us to replace them with positive thoughts.

Think of the people who have blessed you, in your life, when you were in need. God sent those special people, into your life, to bless you. If possible, go and thank them. If they are too far away, pick up the phone and give them a call. Spend some time with them and tell them how the ‘Fragrance of Their Love’ came and changed your life.

Now go out and look for people who are hurting and find out how you can bless them today so that the ‘Fragrance of Your Love’ will touch them in their time of need.

When we give a glass of water in God’s name, we leave the ‘Fragrance of our Love’ behind. God covers us with His Fragrance.

 

2 Corinthians 2:15.Parafraised. We are the sweet fragrance of Christ, unto God, in the midst of those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing.

Emily

“That is beautiful. Thank You God, for this timely message. You are so good to me.”

Amelia smiles as she gets into bed. She dreams about an antique appraiser who just told her that he would be returning to Erieau.

 

 

 

Rest

The hustle and bustle of the past few weeks has worn Amelia out, and she does not hear her alarm clock go off at 7:00. Freddie comes into the bedroom around 8:00 and with much rudeness, plops on the bed, and lets out a big ‘Mee…oww’, as if to say, ‘Wake up you sleepy head, I want my breakfast’.

Amelia rolls over, looks at her clock, and jumps out of bed and says. “Oh no, I slept in,” then she realizes that all the work is finished, and she can relax.

I think I will pamper myself this morning. She moseys into the kitchen and feeds Freddy, before returning to her bathroom to pour a bubble bath.

Amelia looks her body over in the mirror and notices that the bruises on her face and shoulder have disappeared. She tests her shoulder and finds it is still a bit tender. She finishes the arm exercises that Isabel had taught her then steps into the warm bubble bath and lays her head back on a pillow to rest.

After she is dressed, she returns to the kitchen to get her breakfast. After putting a muffin and coffee on a small tray, she climbs the stairs to her new room, and sets the tray on the table beside her chair.

With the enthusiasm, she twirls in a circle, just as if she was a little girl. I love this room. I will be able to paint and write as I watch the sunrise and set. She gazes out of all the windows. There is a lot of activity on Lake Erie and in Rondeau Bay.

Amelia sits in her comfortable chair, opens her devotion, and reads:

 

REST

The words “Come unto Me, all those who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest,” keeps going through my mind.

“Come unto Me (Jesus) and I (Jesus) will give you rest.”

I find I get so tired going and going. I am so busy go, go, go. I have to keep busy all the time. There is so much to be done. This person needs help. He needs prayer. Cooking, shopping, go, go, go.

Wait a minute (Jesus) says, “Come unto Me, all those who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I go to bed at night, and my mind keeps hashing everything over and saying, is this move really Your will God?

I wake up in the morning, and I haven’t even rested. Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all those who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Jesus I am coming. I am tired and I sure could do with some rest. The weight of just living is causing my back to bend. Jesus, Help me! I can’t go on the way I am. I do love You, Jesus.

You want me to learn to lean on You. Just let You come along side me, and let You help me, Love You. To hear the whisper of Your voice as it echoes back to me, I love You! I love You! I love You.

Yes, now I hear You! You want me to rest in Your everlasting love. My burdens are not too heavy for You to carry. You carried the weight of the cross on Your back for me, so that I could be set free.

I close my eyes, with the whisper of my love for You on my lips.

Yes Lord, I will enter into Your rest, You have been sent to care for me day and night. Thank you Lord, I will come to You with all my earthly burdens and enter into Your rest.

I love You Jesus. I love You Lord. I love You.

By Emily

Matthew 11:28-30 Amelia writes it in her own words.

Come unto Me, Amelia, when you are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, Amelia and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest in your soul. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

“Thank you, God, for these inspiring words. I am turning my day over to you…”

Amelia finishes her coffee and muffin before putting her feet up. Life is so good.

About 20 minutes later, she looks out the window and sees Stan’s truck approaching. She takes the tray back to the kitchen. She is waiting in the living room, when the doorbell rings.

When she opens the door, Stan has a fancy gift box in his hand, along with the biggest smile.

“Come in Stan.”

“Good morning Amelia. Are you ready for the big day tomorrow?”

“Yes, I have spent the morning resting. Everything is finished. Jocelyn will be here soon, and I have everything ready for her.”

“That is good. Helena told me she was going to the Glass House Nursery, yesterday. Her friend told her that they sold homemade ‘Cream and Butter Fudge’, so I asked her to get some for you.”

Stan hands Amelia, a beautifully decorated box.

“Thank you Stan.”

Helena asked me what kind of fudge she should buy you, Amelia, and I told her anything would do. She told me that she couldn’t make up her mind and since she could mix, and match, she chose six.” He smiles. “I am curious what kind she bought.”

Amelia opens the box and reads the labels to Stan, “Pina Colada, Chocolate Explosion, Coconut Cream, Maple Walnut, Mint Chocolate Swirl, and Raspberry Chocolate Swirl.”

“You are starting to sound like the owner of your local ice cream shop, Amelia,” he laughs.

“Thank you Stan, let me get a knife and plate, so we can try some.”

“I have to get something from the truck first.” Stan goes to the truck and returns with a box containing four plants. He sets the box on the kitchen table. “This is from your summer sisters.”

Amelia looks at the small dainty pink flower bunches nestled in large green leaves. She reaches over and grabs a tissue before reading the name of the plant. She tells Stan, “The plant is called, ‘Blooming Kalanchoe’. I have never heard of it before, but the dainty pink flowers are beautiful. I will read the instructions on how to look after them later. Amelia opens the card and reads.

 

Dear Amelia,

Congratulations, on the reopening of Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom. We have so many good memories when we had a cup of tea with you and Stella. We were sorry when Stella died, but are happy that you will be able to walk in her footsteps.

You are a special friend and like your Aunt Stella in many ways. We pray that God blesses you tomorrow, as you open your doors to start a new chapter in your life.

We bought a plant for each table in the tearoom.

Love from all your Summer Sisters.

 

“I want to try some fudge samples.” She picks up a knife and slices through the creamy fudge.

Stan grabs a chair and sits at the table. Amelia hands Stan some samples of Chocolate Explosion, Maple Walnut, and Raspberry Chocolate Swirl fudge.

He takes several pieces of fudge and tries them. “I like the maple walnut the best.” Stan takes another piece and puts it in his mouth, “I have always liked maple walnut ice cream.”

They both agree that it is the best fudge they have had in a long time.

Stan tells Amelia, “I have to go. This is the copy of the CD I made for you. I will give you a call next week to see how you are doing.”

Amelia watches him drive around the boulevard, and out of town. I wonder when Stan will return.

Jocelyn and her mother arrive shortly after Stan leaves. Jocelyn gets out of the van and is awestruck, as she follows her mother, Isabel, through the doorway at Amelia’s house. “What have you been up to? I go away for two weeks, and everything has changed.”

“I will tell you all about it, Jocelyn, while I help you unpack.”

Isabel is laughing when she tells her daughter, “Jocelyn, never say that I don’t know how to keep a secret. I have had so much fun trying to keep the remolding of Amelia’s place from you. In the meantime, I need to go over to the tearoom and help Marvel with the baking. See you both later.”

“Not before you try a piece of the fudge Stan brought me Isabel. Take a couple of pieces to my mother, please. Look at what my summer sisters gave me. Could you please take the plants and put them on the tables in the tearoom for me?”

“Yes I will, Amelia.”

Isabel and Jocelyn try some of the fudge and agree that it is good. Isabel picks up the box of plants and the plate of fudge. Amelia holds the door for her as goes to the tearoom.

Amelia takes Jocelyn to her bedroom and helps her settle in. Amelia says all excited, “We had a big storm… the boat just about sank… Helena, Stan, and I were hurt… We had strong winds and hail the size of golf balls…”

“Slow down Amelia. Now start at the beginning and let me ask you some questions.”

“Didn’t you hear about the storm we had in Chatham-Kent two weeks ago, Jocelyn?”

“No, I was on a two week canoe trip in Algonquin Park.”

Twenty minutes later, Jocelyn is putting her last pair of slacks on a hanger when Amelia says. “We could have drowned, but the Coast Guard rescued us just in time. My arm is still a bit sore, but the big ugly bruises are gone from my face and shoulder.”

She takes the time to tell Jocelyn most of what has taken place since she saw her last.

Jocelyn says, “I still can’t believe that Stan, the antique appraiser who is working for you is Nettie’s twin brother.”

“It was a shock to me as well. I think the funniest part is when he told Nettie that the person he was working for had a boyfriend named, Fred.”

“Stan thought Freddy the Freeloader was your boyfriend; how silly!”

“Yes, isn’t it hilarious?”

“It sounds like you and Stan, are getting along, and I don’t just mean doing inventory. What is happening Amelia? I have never seen you this excited!”

Amelia blushes and tries to change the subject.

Her cousin has a feeling that a romance is starting to bud between Stan and Amelia. Not wanting to pry, Jocelyn says, “I want to see all the changes, lead the way, Amelia.”

Amelia takes Jocelyn on a tour. They start with the new Erieau Historical Collectors Guild addition. Ben and Kim are excited to see Jocelyn and tell her about what they are doing.

Ben teases her, “Now you will have no excuses, if you sell one of our antique phones, Jocelyn.” They both start laughing.

Amelia questions Jocelyn, but she tells her, “I will fill you in later.”

When they are finished with the tour, they go back to Amelia’s house once more. “Come and see what my father and brothers built for me, they literally raised my roof.”

Amelia takes Jocelyn upstairs to her new art studio.

“Wow Amelia! What a view. I will be able to rest after a hard days work. You can see for miles in all directions.”

“Yes, Jocelyn, I expect to spend a lot of time up here painting and writing, illustrated children’s stories.”

The phone rings. Amelia picks it up and it is her mother. “Why don’t the two of you come for lunch? We are right next door.”

“We will be right over Mom.”

Amelia steps down into a landing, and opens a new door with a key and enters the tearoom. The room is filled with the heavenly aromas. Fresh baked muffins and tarts are sitting on cooling racks.

Amelia spends the afternoon showing Jocelyn the new setup. “If you need me just take your cell phone and buzz this number, and I will come.”

After they are through working, they go out and sit on the glider swing. The cousins share several experiences they had, while working for Stella.

“We will never have to worry about selling something that belongs to the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild any more, Jocelyn. Tell me, how did you sell the antique oak wall telephone by mistake?”

“It was easily done. The white and gold tags that the Guild used to identify what belonged to them had fallen off the phone. Someone replaced the tag with one that belonged to Stella. There was no way to know the difference. She was in Blenheim, and her friend, I think her name is Renee, was getting married. Stella was her Maid-of-Honour. I was taking care of the store while she was away.”

“I know Renee. She was my schoolteacher for three years. I will be working with her in September. What happened next, Jocelyn?”

“A man came in and bought the old phone.

“Ben came in later and I told him I had sold the old oak wall phone. Seeing the expression on Ben’s face, I knew that I had made a big mistake.

“He told me, ‘The wall phone did not belong to Stella but to the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild. It was a part of their collection.”

“Were you ever able to get the telephone back?”

“Yes, the person who bought phone came back to the store the next day. I told him about my mistake. I phoned Ben and he came over and took care of the situation for me.”

“You were lucky, Jocelyn.”

“I know! The month after I sold the phone, Stella and Ben started to make plans to build the addition. They were going to start in June, but Stella died, and it was postponed.”

“It is finished now, Jocelyn. A similar thing happened to me on several occasions. The worse one was when I sold an antique mantel clock that belonged to them. You were lucky Jocelyn. We weren’t able to get the antique clock back. Living with Stella was never boring.”

Jocelyn swats a bee from off her arm. “The best memory I have from living with Stella is when she let me look at the pictures in the old family Bible. I could never get my tongue around the name, I think it started with, ‘Bible of Mot… Mo…’.”

“You mean ‘Mortier’ Jocelyn.”

“That’s the name, ‘Mortier’.”

“It is a hard name to pronounce, Jocelyn. I remember Stella telling me ‘it is a rare copy of a 1700 first edition ‘Bible of Mortier’; I would say the name over and over again, until I had it memorized.”

“I remember there being a big brown envelope with several papers in it. Where is the Bible now, Amelia? I don’t recall seeing it today.”

“I took the Bible to my friend Emily in Chatham. I never learned to read Dutch. Her mother used to interpret at hospitals and for the court, so I knew she could read and speak the language. I plan on to giving the Bible back to the ordinal owners, if I can locate them.”

“I hope you do.”

“I will keep trying Jocelyn. Emily and her family are in Alaska for a few weeks, and I have asked her mother to translate the Dutch into English for me. It will take a lot of work, but someday I hope to see the tears of joy when I ask, is this your Family Bible?”

“I would like to be there with a video camera when it happens.”

“I hope you are, but I am afraid ‘it will be like finding a needle in a haystack,’ if you know what I mean.”

“If I know you Amelia, you have already asked God to help you. I won’t be surprised at what the outcome will be.”

“Your right, Jocelyn, I have spent a lot of time praying for God to help me.”

They sit and rest as they share the afternoon together.

 

It is around 4:00 when their mothers come out and sit on the swing with them.

Isabel says, “We have done all we can for today. The two of us will be here, first thing in the morning.”

Marvel laughs when she tells Amelia, “The butter tarts are counted. I remember you sneaking them from the freezer, and eating them frozen, when you were a little girl.”

“Don’t blame me Mother! They are delicious and taste even better frozen.”

They chat as the glider gently sings back and forth. Marvel tells them, “I used to sit with Stella on this swing. We would spend the evening talking and forget about time. Some nights, or should I say mornings, I would phone Randal at 3:00, and tell him not to worry, that I would be spending the night again.

Isabel smiles, “and I thought I was the only one that forgot about time. One night my husband drove into the driveway frantic with worry. It was 4:00, in the morning, and Stella and I had fallen asleep while swinging on the swing. He had tried phoning and there was no answer. He bought me a cell phone the next day.”

Jocelyn says, “You never told me that story mother. And to think you gave me a curfew. I had to be home by 11:00 or suffer the consequences,” she laughs.

The women swing in silence as they think back to their own personal memories of Stella.

Marvel looks around the yard at the giant sycamore tree and notices the new well-built sunroom. Randal and her father had built the first one for Stella, to keep the annoying mosquitoes out. She remembers the night Ben phoned her with the sad news. She asks everyone, “Did you know Oliver built Stella the glider swing, for their 7th Wedding Anniversary? He was killed in the fire the next morning.”

Amelia says, “No I didn’t Mother, I was away at camp that summer. I remember coming home for Uncle Oliver’s funeral.”

“Isabel tells them, “Stella was a good friend. I never met her until Marvel married my brother Randal. She became part of my family that day as well. Marvel I know you miss your sister, Stella.” She puts her arms around Marvel and holds her.

Amelia reaches across and takes her mother’s hands, and tells her, “Stella, would sit crying with her face nestled in Oliver’s blue sweater. She usually had a pair of baby booties griped in her hands. Beautiful music was coming from the tape player that sat beside her. My heart would break as I walked away. I always said a prayer for her.”

Marvel wipes her tears away and asks, “Did Stella ever read you the stories she wrote?”

Isabel says, “I didn’t know she was a writer, Marvel.”

“She was a good writer. Stella was about 19 when she moved from England. I gave her a binder to hold all her writings. One of them has really blessed me. Amelia, will you get Stella’s green binder for me please? It would be better if I read it.”

“Yes Mother. Does anyone want a snack, or a drink?”

“I will help you,” Jocelyn follows Amelia into the kitchen.

While they are gone, Marvel says, “We can both be proud of our daughters, Isabel. I know I am blessed with Amelia. She is so much like my sister Stella.”

“She is Marvel. Amelia has Stella’s personality and even has the same dimple in her left cheek when she smiles.”

The girls return with a tray of refreshments, and Amelia hands the binder to her mother. They sip from a tall glass of iced tea and snack on some fancy cookies.

When they are through, Marvel reads from the binder.

 

 

Tomorrow, Your, Today,

Will be Yesterday

I was talking to my best friend about how God has always blessed me. He was with me when Oliver died. He was with me when I had the miscarriage. He held me in His everlasting arms all through my grief.

The words, ‘Tomorrow Your Today, Will be Yesterday’; kept going through my mind. I said them to my special friend, and she agreed with me that they would make an interesting subject to write about.

Tomorrow Your Today, Will be Yesterday

God, You were always there for my yesterdays. You are always here for me today. I have faith and know that You will be there for my tomorrows.

I remember the first night I spent alone after the loss of my baby. I walked out to the face-to-face glider swing that Oliver had built for me the day he died. I put the pair of baby booties I had just finished knitting and Oliver’s green sweater on my lap. I started the swing moving and without much luck tried to tune in the Christian radio station from the States.

The next thing I did would change my tomorrows forever. I pushed the play button on the portable tape player. Heavenly music started to fill my ears… I sat mesmerized, listening to God telling me through music that I was to look to the Good Shepherd. Our Shepherd is Jesus. I felt the arms of Jesus wrap around me as I wept. Tears are good!

God said He would send us His Comforter in our times of need. The tape gave me comfort. Six women were singing songs in harmony. I had never heard this tape before. I ejected it and looked at the name on the tape. It was called, ‘Everlasting Praise.’ It was from a singing group at my mother’s church in England. My mother must have left it behind after the funeral. It sat in the tape player, until the very moment I needed encouragement. Coincidence you say. I say a miracle.

I put the tape back in the player and played it over several times, while I grieved my loss. I was never alone. A warm peace always filled me, as I listened to the heavenly music.

Stella Peabody

August 1, 1992

Marvel sets the book down, and removes a tape player from her bag. This is Stella’s special tape. She pushes a button and heavenly music fills the air. The women sit and wipe away their tears. She promises to make them a copy.

Marvel picks up her sister’s binder. “Our life will never be the same without Stella’s gentle spirit. What I miss the most is her laughter. She could turn any situation around and help me find the humor in it. Let me see if the writing about the skunk is here. She fans through the pages. I found it, ‘The Stinking Thanksgiving’. I don’t have time to read it today as it is getting late. Remind me to tell you about the adventurers we had with the skunk the night before Thanksgiving some other time.”

Isabel laughs as she says, “I was there for the stinking Thanksgiving.” She holds her nose in fun as she gets up and stretches.

“Stella always had a special way with words. Do you mind if I borrow her book, Amelia? I want to make several copies and send one to your grandparents in England.”

“Take it with you Mom. Will you make me a copy of it, as well?”

“Yes Amelia. It is 4:00 already. I should go and feed the men and the hens.” Marvel picks up her sister’s book and walks towards her van.

Isabel follows her.

The women embrace. Amelia says, “Thank you for all you have done to help me, I love you both. See you in the morning.”

Amelia walks around her property, and notices all the changes. We will open tomorrow morning, at 9:00. Thank You, for being with me God.

Jocelyn is hanging up the phone, when Amelia enters. She says, “That was the metal detecting club I belong to. They are going to meet at the beach by the lighthouse at 7:00. A woman was swimming and sunning herself on the beach last week and lost her $4000, engagement ring. They asked if I could help them find it. You can come if you want, Amelia. Do you still have your metal detector?”

“Yes, it would be fun. It has been years, since I used it. Let me find it. I am sure it will need new batteries.”

“I have an extra supply of batteries, Amelia. How about we go for a swim before supper?”

“That’s a great idea.”

While Amelia looks for her metal detector, she thinks back to her 12th birthday. My parents gave me a metal detector so I could find buried treasures on the beach. I remember the summer I taught Jocelyn how to use it. The following year Jocelyn’s parents bought her one. Amelia finds it in the hall storage room. She replaces the dead batteries before returning to her bedroom to change into her swimsuit.

Twenty minutes later the strong swimmers are jumping in the waves. When they are finished swimming, they slip on their beach covers and walk along the beach. The warm sand filters through their toes. Amelia sees her friends, Sharon, and Aileen helping their children as they build a large sand castle.

Amelia and Jocelyn walk over and offer to help. They laugh and play with the children.

When the sand castle is finished Sharon says, “Amelia, we were just going to barbecue some hot dogs and burgers. Jocelyn and you are welcome to join us.”

“Amelia smiles, we will have to take a rain check.

Jocelyn tells them about the lost ring and metal detecting club. “We must go, or we will be late.”

They return to Amelia’s place, have a quick shower, and change into something comfortable.

After a quick bite to eat, Amelia says, “We are late and will need to drive to the end of the pier near the lighthouse.

It is not far and when they arrive, they turn on their metal detectors and join the other people waiting on the beach.

Jocelyn introduces Amelia to Gerry the leader.

He tells them, “The lady who lost her ring, is named Glenine Patrick. I came earlier and drew grid lines in the sand. We will start here and walk slowly side by side down the beach. When we reach those two sticks in the ground, turn around, and walk back.”

Amelia and Jocelyn start walking side by side slowly down the beach. They try to stay within the grid lines that Gerry had drawn in the sand. Jocelyn’s detector goes off first. The hole she digs only contains an old bottle cap. She fills the hole in and they walk for another ten minutes. Amelia’s detector goes off. When she digs the hole, she finds a 1932, silver dollar.

After the area has been gone over several times, Gerry says, “I guess we are out of luck, we will quit in five minutes.”

Jocelyn is about ready to quit when she hears her detector. She digs down in the sand. She sifts the sand through a sifter and removes sticks and rocks. She sees something shiny and picks up a gold diamond ring. She calls, “Amelia come over and see what I found.”

Amelia runs behind Jocelyn to the lake. Jocelyn washes the sand from the ring and reads, ‘Jim and Glenine, 1974’, She jumps up and down with excitement, before shouting, “I found the ring. Come and see.”

Gerry runs over, with a woman in her late fifties. “Jocelyn this is Glenine Patrick. She is the woman who lost her ring.”

Jocelyn says, “This is your ring Glenine. It says Jim and Glenine 1974.”

Glenine says with tears in her eyes. “Thank you Jocelyn, I have had this ring on my finger for 36 years. My husband died last year and the ring has a lifetime of memories.” She gives Jocelyn a hug and offers her a reward.

Jocelyn refuses. “My reward is to look into your eyes and see your joy.”

“Thank you,” she says as she turns to talk with Gerry. “I want to donate two metal detectors to your club so someone that doesn’t have one, can use it.” She takes out her purse and hands him some money.

The members of the club come over and congratulate, Jocelyn. They take a picture of her with the ring for their club records before saying goodbye.

When they arrive home, Amelia makes a pot of tea then picks up a paper.

“I want to read this writing to you Jocelyn. I always asked myself how my Aunt Stella could be so happy, after everything she went through. I finally found the answer, yesterday, when I read this.”

They both go out to the living room and get comfortable. Freddy comes over and sits on Jocelyn’s lap. He looks at her with his big eyes and lets out a content meow, at if to say, “where have you been, Jocelyn?” she rubs him under his chin, and he falls asleep.

Amelia reads. These comforting words were sent to me by my friend from Ottawa, the weak after Oliver died. She had been at a camp near Perth the year before. Marry a minister was the guest speaker. She shared how God gave her the words, ‘There Is a Place of Quiet Rest, Near to the Heart of God,’ the day her husband committed suicide. The words have brought much comfort to me over the years. I have never met you Marry, but want to thank you for sharing these words with the women, that weekend.

Stella Peabody


I became a widow when I was young. A few weeks later, I lost my unborn daughter. I can truly testify that, ‘There is a Place of Quiet Rest Near to the Heart of God.’

You might ask yourself where we can find the heart of God. I found that every time I gave someone a hug that I was near to the heart of God. Every time I sat and cried with someone who was hurting, I was near to the heart of God.

Every time I had a loss in my life, and I took my concern to God, I was near to the heart of God. Every time I sat and listened to soothing Christian music and allowed it to permeate my whole body, I was near to the heart of God. Every time I picked up my Bible and read God’s word, I was near to the heart of God.

The list can go on, sitting by a brook, seeing a baby’s smile, visiting a hurt and lonely person, driving someone to the store. There are so many ways to be near to the heart of God. I can truly say that, ‘There Is a Place of Quiet Rest, Near to the Heart of God’.

When we hug each other with Christian love, our hearts connect, as we feel the heartbeat of God.


The friends are lost in their own thoughts, as they walk to their bedrooms. No words could explain what they are feeling.

Later that night before Amelia goes to sleep, she whispers, “God, help me to find the quiet rest that Stella had in her life. Help me to be a blessing to others. Thank you that Jocelyn could find Glenine’s ring. We will open tomorrow at 9:00. I pray that you will be with us…”

 

 

 

Stella’s Antiques Opens

Amelia wakes up early. After she has a quick shower, she has a hard time deciding what to wear. She picks a flowered shift with deep pockets for her keys.

She heads to the kitchen, and Jocelyn greets her, “I fed Fred. Our mothers arrived early and are already baking in the tearoom. They said to come over, and we could eat breakfast together before you open the doors.”

“Thank you, Jocelyn. The radio station will be here at 8:30. Will you have them set up in the corner, by the quilts, for me?”

“That is a good place, Amelia. I have counted the float for the cash register and will have it setup shortly. See you later.”

Amelia returns to her bedroom. She picks up her Bible then paraphrases the words as she writes them in her journal.

Matthew 6:19-21. Amelia, do not lay up treasures on the earth, where moth and rust will consume them, and where thieves break in to steal. You should lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does consume, and where thieves do not break through or steal: for where your treasure is, your heart will be there also.

“God, You know my heart. I want to serve you. Help me to never put money before people…”

Amelia looks at her watch. It is 7:30. It’s time for me to leave.

She walks next door to her office, and reads a newspaper. Some reporters had been out to interview her, the week before. She picks up another newspaper and reads:

 

Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom

Will Re-Open in Erieau

Friday, July 25, at 9:00

The article has a picture of Amelia holding a photograph of her Aunt Stella. She grabs a tissue and wipes away a few tears. “I miss you, Stella. Thank you, for giving your Antique and Tea Room to me.”

Amelia picks up her scissors, cuts the article out, and puts it into a protective frame, then hangs the newspaper clipping on the wall behind the cash register.

She hears her Aunt Isabel and mother singing while they work. The Christian radio station is playing in the background. Her nose picks up the aromas of a freshly brewed coffee and the smell blueberries and cinnamon.

Her cousin Jocelyn comes from the tearoom and tells her, “Breakfast is ready, Amelia. Our mothers are waiting in the tearoom with some fresh baked scones.”

The four women join hands, and then pray giving thanks for Stella and the example, she was to her friends and neighbour’s.

Everyone bites into the warm scones dripping with jam. When they are through eating, Marvel, tells them, “Stella was my younger sister. She was always ready to help when I needed her.

Marvel says a prayer for Amelia and the business.

The grandfather clock strikes, 9:00. God help me be like Jesus and my Aunt Stella. Amelia walks over to the door and opens it.

A lineup of men, women, and a few children wait at the door. The local Christian radio station has their sub-station set up in the quilt room, and is broadcasting live from ‘Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom,’ in Erieau. Her summer sisters and the women she hired from the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild take turns coming in to help serve the customers.

After a busy morning, Amelia finally takes a moment to sit at one of the tables in the tearoom. She sips a well-deserved cup of tea. Isabel puts a plate of sandwiches in front of her. “You need something to eat Amelia. It is going to be a long weekend.”

“Thank you Isabel, why don’t you join me?”

“I just had a break, and I need to put some baking in the oven.”

“Thanks for all you are doing for me, Isabel.”

“I am enjoying myself,” Isabel hums along with the song that is playing on the radio as she heads back to the kitchen.

Amelia watches her mother as she uses an ice cream scoop to fill a pan of muffins. Her Aunt Isabel is rolling out some pastry for tarts. The tearoom is full of customers.

Sharon, one of the summer sisters, walks over with a Royal Dalton teapot in her hand. “Would you like your teacup refilled, madam?” she teases.

“Yes, please. I don’t know what I would have done without all my family and friends helping me today. The customers keep coming and coming.”

“You’re right, Amelia. It seems that most of the people who knew Stella have come for the opening. We will have time to talk later.”

Sharon carries the teapot around the room refilling the customer’s cups. She stops and chats with two older women, and takes their order. She returns with two cream filled tarts from the kitchen.

Amelia listens to the women, as they talk to Sharon. “We have been coming to Stella’s Tearoom for years. Our favorite desserts are these cream filled tarts topped with pineapple, mandarin orange, kiwi, and a maraschino cherry.” Amelia smiles as she watches one of the women pick up the delicate tart, with the cream filling with fruit on top. When she takes a bite, the rich cream filling, gushes out of the center.

Amelia looks over the railing to see what is going on. Two men are carrying a large china cabinet out the front door. Pearl is giving change at the front desk. There is a line of people waiting to pay for their particular dish or collectible.

Amelia finishes her lunch and her mother comes and joins her. She is carrying, two Black Forest tarts.

“I am glad you are taking a rest, Amelia. It has been ‘busier than a beehive’ this morning. How is your shoulder?”

“It is still a bit tender. I think I have been overdoing it, again. Thank you for the tart mother.” Amelia takes a bite. The tart is filled with creamy chocolate pie filling, topped with whipped cream and a spoonful of fresh homemade cherry pie filling in the center.

Amelia says, “I noticed that the baked goods are going fast. Brenda said she could make some at the bed and breakfast if you need her to.”

“We might, I will go and talk with her. I can’t make enough butter tarts, as they are eaten as quickly as I make them. I have several pans of muffins in the oven. Isabel is busy making some scones. She will bake them when the muffins come out.” The oven timer goes off. “I had better take care of the muffins before they burn.” Amelia’s mother gets up from the table and goes back to the kitchen.

Amelia finishes her tea and is just about ready to start back to work, when she hears a familiar voice.

“Amelia, what have you done to Stella’s place?”

“Emily, you’re back.”

“We arrived home yesterday.”

“A lot has happened since I saw you two weeks ago. We had a hailstorm and it did a lot of damage. Most of the town showed up and helped the Erieau Historical Collectors Guild build their addition. Tell me about your trip to Alaska.”

“Our family had an amazing time. I know you are busy, so I will stop and see you next week. I have brought the Dutch Family Bibles back to you. Mother was able to translate the important papers. Where do you want me to put it?”

“Will you carry it to my office and put it on my desk for me, Emily? I hurt my arm and cannot do much lifting.”

Emily follows Amelia into her office and sets the box on the floor. She picks up one of the Bibles and puts it on the desk.

Amelia slips her hands into her white gloves and sits with the Bible opened in front of her. She starts to pull the papers out of the envelope when Sid, the radio announcer, knocks on her door.

“Amelia, I need to do the interview now. I have to return to the radio station in an hour.”

“I will be there shortly, Sid.” Amelia closes the cover of the Bible, removes her gloves, and reluctantly gets up from her desk. Turning to Emily, she tells her, “Thank you for bringing me the Bibles. I will phone you next week when I have more time.” Amelia locks the door behind them.

The announcer speaks into the microphone and says, “This is Amelia Jean Wilbur, the new owner of Stella’s Antiques and Tearoom in Erieau.”

Twenty minutes later, Amelia walks back to her office. She is sitting at the desk with the family Bible open in front of her when there is a knock at the door. She looks up and sees Stan smiling at her.

“It looks like you are having a successful day, Amelia. The tearoom is so busy, that I couldn’t find a seat. Do you mind if I join you?”

“Come in Stan. You are right. The store is full. I have only stopped long enough to have my lunch. What brings you back to Erieau on such a beautiful day?”

“You, I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I am fine. The summer sisters have been a big help. It is always busy the first weekend. It will slow down next week.”

“I am glad you have extra help, Amelia.”

Looking down at Amelia’s desk his heart starts to race. “Where did you get our family Bibles from, Amelia?”

“These Bibles belong to your family, Stan?”

“Yes Amelia, these are our lost family Bibles.”

“My Aunt Stella bought them at an auction sale several years ago. I think it was just after her husband died.”

“Do you mind if I look at them, Amelia?”

“Go ahead. Please put these gloves on before you touch them.” Amelia hands Stan some men’s white gloves.

Stan pulls the gloves on then rubs his hands over the beautiful large Dutch Family Bible, with a brown leather cover, “I remember the day my Opa and Oma gave the Bibles to my mother. Did you know that they are a rare copy of a 1700 first edition ‘Bible of Mortier’?”

“Yes, Stan.”

Stan opens the first Bible, to the family history page and starts to read, in earnest. His tears begin to flow. He is so overwhelmed. He cannot believe what he is reading, “Amelia, come and see what it says. It is a marriage license written in Dutch.”

Stan interprets, “Roel Reindert married Stoflien De Poter on July 29th, 1928. This is my great, great Opa and Oma. This is the Family Bible that we thought was lost forever, after we had the fire in our cottage.”

“I am so happy for you, Stan. I have been praying for the past month asking God to help me find the owner of this Family Bible.” Amelia removes the envelope that Emily’s mother had put in the Bible. At the top of the page, she reads.

“This Bible belongs to The Vander Woerd and Reindert family. They were married in Holland in 1980, and moved to Canada in 1985 with two-year-old twins. The boy’s name is Stanley Dedrick Vander Woerd. That must be you, Stan. It has your twin sister’s name, Nettie Alyssa Vander Woerd. There is a note (they are the last entries in the Bible.) Do you know why nothing more was written in the Bible, Stan?”

“Yes Amelia, my Opa, and Oma Reindert came to visit us the month before the fire and gave my parents this family Bible. It was stored in a heavy metal trunk in the back closet.

“My mother had arranged for a Dutch Calligrapher to come as she was going to bring the Bible up-to-date. The fire burnt the cottage the day before she was going to arrive.

“That is sad Stan.”

“Yes it is, Amelia. My parents returned to their summer cottage the week after the fire, to see if there was anything worth saving. Someone had broken into the cottage and stolen everything that wasn’t destroyed by the fire, including the metal trunk.”

Amelia gets up, “I would like you to return this set of Bibles to your mother. This is truly an answer to my prayer.”

“No, Amelia!”

“I insist that you return the Bible to your family Stan.”

“Let me finish what I was going to say, Amelia. I want you to return the Bible to my mother yourself. She is out in Stella’s Tearoom with Nettie eating one of your morning glory muffins.”

Stan takes Amelia’s arm and walks with her out to where Nettie and a woman, who could pass for her twin sister, are sitting. Nettie gets up and gives Amelia a hug. The woman with her says, “It is good to see you, A.J. It has been a long time.”

“I am happy you are here Janny,” Giving her a warm hug she continues, “You’re just the person I have been looking for. I would like you and Nettie to come to my office, please?”

Stan whispers, “I didn’t know you knew my mother.”

“Yes, she has been a customer for years. The summer sisters, always had, ‘Mother Daughter Tea Parties’ when we were younger and Nettie, your sister would come with her mother, Janny.”

Stan shakes his head, as he follows the three women to the office.

“I have something for you Janny. Come and sit at my desk.”

Janny walks toward Amelia’s desk. She catches her breath when she sees her set of Family Bibles in front of her. She almost faints. Stan and Amelia support Janny, as they assist her to a seat while Nettie runs for a glass of cold water.

Amelia tells Janny, “The person who broke into your cottage and stole your Bibles took it to an auctioneer and sold it. My Aunt Stella bought it at an auction, and it was left to me after she died.”

“Oh Amelia, we have prayed for years asking God to help us find the Bibles. It’s not just the Bibles, which are important, it also has our family history, and my Oma’s will in the brown envelope. She died six months ago.”

My friend returned it to me today, Stan. Her mother translated the Dutch words into English for me, and I was just about to read it when I was called away from my office. Then Stan walks in and asks me, ‘what are you doing with our family Bible?”

I prayed that God would help me find the owner of the family Bible, never expecting it would be you, Janny.”

Janny wipes away her tears and in a broken voice says, “Thank you for taking care of our family Bible, Amelia. I know that you are busy today. I would like to come back and visit you one day, next week.”

“I would like to see you. We will have more time to talk then. I want you to take your family Bible home with you today.”

“I want to pay you for it.”

“No Janny, Stan’s and your expressions when you recognized your family Bible are payment enough.”

“Thank you Amelia, you are most kind.” Janny wipes some more tears away. “I will phone my parents in Holland when I get home. It was hard on them when their grandson, Kirk, died. They were broken hearted after the loss of their family Bible as well.”

Amelia hands her the phone. “Don’t wait, phone them now.”

“Are you sure, Amelia?”

“Yes, your parents have suffered the loss of their Family Bible for long enough.”

Janny picks up the phone and dials the familiar numbers. Her mother answers and she says into the phone, “Mother, are you sitting down? No, no one died. Our lost family Bible was returned to us this afternoon. Yes, I am sure; it is our set of Bibles. They are sitting on the desk in front of me...”

“I have lots work to do, Stan.” Amelia hands him a key. “Please lock the office door when your mother is finished phoning, and leave the key at the front desk.”

“I will Amelia, thank you for everything.” He follows her out the door, and gathers Amelia in his arms. She looks deep into his eyes and sees tears starting to form. With a voice that is about to break, he whispers, “It is a miracle Amelia. My family prayed for years that we would find our family Bible. God bless you Amelia, you are a special woman, and I would like to see more of you when I return to Erieau.”

“I would like to see more of you as well, Stan.”

Amelia hears Janny say, “Stan and Nettie, Your Oma and Opa want to talk to you.”

Amelia smiles as she quietly shuts the door behind herself. She wipes her own tears away, as she walks over to tell Jocelyn, Isabel and her mother, what had taken place in her office.

She whispers, “Thank you, God, for answering my prayers and finding the owner of the family Bible. I can’t believe it was Stan’s family all along.”

Her heart starts to beat faster; I know I am going to be seeing a lot more of Stanley Dedrick Vander Woerd. I like the way his name sounds, Stanley Dedrick Vander Woerd.

 

 

 

Epilogue

Sunday June 6, 2010

It is two years since Stan knocked on Amelia’s door and said, “I am here to see, Amelia Jean Wilbur. My name is Stan Vander Woerd.”

Little did Stan know that when Amelia Jean Wilber opened the door that day; that their lives would intertwine, and they would become husband and wife!

They started to date after Stella’s Antiques, and Tearoom opened. A year later Amelia’s father walked her down the aisle of her church and she became Amelia Jean Vander Woerd.

Today is a special day as it is with great joy that Stan and Amelia Vander Woerd carry their twin sons up to the altar. Pastor Dan and Jerome bless Oliver Curtis Vander Woerd, and then they bless, Stanley Bernie Vander Woerd.

 

When the service is over, their friends and family gather at Stella’s Tearoom, where Isabel, Jocelyn along with Amelia’s summer sisters hosts a luncheon for them.

Her brothers, Curtis and Bernie, are happy to hold their nephews while Amelia eats her lunch.

Curtis teases her, “You knew we would fight over who got to hold your baby, so you went and had twins. How are you going to live with, two Curtis’s, two Bernie’s, and two Stan’s?”

With laughter in her voice Amelia replies, “I should be an expert at it by now, Curtis. I have spent my whole life learning how to handle my twin brothers.”

Ben and Kim come over and talk with Amelia and Stan. Kim says, “Your sons are adorable. Remember if you ever need someone to baby-sit, that Uncle Ben and Aunt Kim are just down the road.

Brenda from the Sunrise Bed and Breakfast gives Amelia two knitted baby blankets. “I am so happy for you Amelia.

Remember that I love children, so if you need some time to relax just give me a call.”

Renee, and Bruce Wizen stop by to say hi, and they sit and talk about how they miss visiting with her at school.

Her summer sisters all come over and Sharon says, “We are good at spoiling each other’s children. You can drop Oliver and Stanley off at our cottage any time.”

Pearl holds her daughter in her arms as she says goodbye to, Amelia. Her husband Dennis, talks to Stan.

After the visitors leave for home, Amelia excuses herself so she can change and nurse Oliver and Stanley, before their nap. “You boys are going to be spoilt. You have so many people who love you, including your father and mother.”

Amelia returns to the living room after the babies fall asleep.

Amelia’s father Randal is talking with Stan and his father Stanley, about the new methods of farming.

Janny and Marvel are excited as they look through the picture albums.

Marvel says. “This is a good family picture of our mothers and fathers at Amelia and Stan’s wedding.”

“Yes, it is. It was good that they all flew over for the wedding.”

The women spend the rest of the afternoon examining the pictures of family and friends.

Janny gets up and stretches her legs. Amelia, “Stan told me you were a calligrapher. I would like you to bring the family Bible up-to-date. Your grandmother, and I talked it over at your wedding, and we want you and Stan to keep the Bible. I know you have always loved it, and we want to return it to you.”

Amelia reaches over and gives Janny a hug. “Thank you, Janny. You know that Stan and I will always treasure the family Bible and take care of it, all our lives. I will get my pens.”

Tears gather in Amelia’s eyes as she goes up to her artist studio to get her pens and ink. She takes a few moments to look around the room. An oil painting of the buck, that jumped out while she was with Stan at Rondeau Park, sits on her easel waiting to be finished. A painting of Stan while he is fly-fishing at McGeachy Pond is on another easel waiting for Amelia to frame it. Two porcupines, made from a pinecone and some pine needles, rest on a shelf beside an illustrated children’s book called, ‘Hughie the Hooked-Beaked Heron’, by Amelia Jean (Wilbur) Vander Woerd. Above the book, a painting of Hughie still graces the wall. Amelia pulls out a drawer in the coffee table and spreads several sketches out on the smooth wood surface. Stan comes up behind her and puts his arms around her. They reminisce for a few moments about the mission trip to Ecuador that they went on for their honeymoon the previous year.

She looks at the sketches of ‘June Bug’ and ‘Larry’, two of the boys from the orphanage in Ecuador. “I miss June Bug and Larry the most. Remember how Larry kept saying he wanted us to take him home to Canada with us. He kept telling us, ‘I fell into a pot of hot chocolate when I was born and that is why my skin is brown and not white, like yours.’ If I had room in my suitcase, those boys would have been taken on board the airplane as stowaways.”

“I know Amelia; I grew attached to them just as much as you did. The boys were always underfoot handing me nails as I built the cupboards for the new orphanage. We both have good memories from that trip.”

He turns his wife around and looks deep into her eyes. “I love you Amelia Jean Vander Woerd. Thank you for the gift of two beautiful sons.”

“I love you Stanley Dedrick Vander Woerd. Thank you for giving me your name.”

Stan holds his wife in his arms. She wipes at few tears. He whispers, “Mother is waiting, and it is getting late.”

“Did your mother tell you that she is giving us the family Bibles, Stan?”

“Yes. God knew all along when you prayed to find the owner of the Bibles, so you could return it to them, that He would be giving them back to you someday. God is so good.”

“Yes he is Stan.” She smiles as she picks up her pens and the bottle of special ink.

They return to the living room together.

Amelia walks over to Janny and says, “Janny, we will need to go to the dining room table to do this.”

Janny hands Amelia a piece of paper, “I have written out the words in Dutch and what you need to write in English so that you will know what to write. I will help you.”

“Thank you.” Amelia reads the words over before starting.

Stan puts on his white gloves and takes the first, beautiful large Dutch Family Bible with the brown leather cover out of the new protective trunk that he had made for them.

Amelia puts her white gloves on and opens the rare copy of the 1700 first edition ‘Bible of Mortier’, to the family history page. She puts the pen and black ink on a tray and covers all the pages that she is not writing on with a protective cloth so that if there is a spill, they will not be damaged.

She starts writing.


Kirk Nicolas Vander Woerd

Born December 3, 1987

Died July 21, 1992


When she is finished with Kirk’s information, she writes in Nettie’s wedding to Tim and the birth dates of their children.

She starts at the top of a new page and enters.

 

Stanley Dedrick Vander Woerd

Married, Amelia Jean Wilber

June 26, 2009

Chatham-Kent, Ontario Canada

 

Oliver Curtis Vander Woerd

Born, May 8, 2010, at 7:47 p.m.

Chatham-Kent, Ontario Canada

 

Stanley Bernie Vander Woerd

Born, May 8, 2010, at 7:59 p.m.

Chatham-Kent, Ontario Canada


Marvel and Janny over her shoulder, so that they can read what she has written.

Janny says, “It is so important to keep accurate records of your family history, Amelia. Our family just about lost this Bible, twice. We need to go to the living room and get comfortable. I want to tell you the history of Bibles.”

Amelia says, “I will check on the twins first.”

Stan wraps the Bibles in the protective covering and places them back in the trunk. I will build a display case for them.

Amelia’s family is sitting around drinking iced tea, when she returns. She takes time to look at each person in the room. I am blessed to have such a loving family. She walks over and sits beside Stan.

He smiles, as he puts his arm gently over her shoulder. He whispers, “Are you comfortable, Amelia?”

“Yes Stan.”

Janny starts her story. “My father’s Opa made a waterproof trunk for our family Bible and hid it all through the Second World War. He dug a hole by a tree in our backyard and lined it with cement and several old carpets. He put the trunk in it along with all our family jewels and other heirlooms then buried it.

“Father told me that his Opa took the whole family out to the tree and said to them, ‘If anything happens to me, make sure you dig up the Family Bible when the war is over’.

“He planted tulips, daffodils and other flowers, all around the tree so that the German army would not get suspicious and find the Bible. My father’s Opa told his family, that the Germans found peoples treasures, because they did not take the extra effort to hide them well. His Opa would go out at night and sprinkle fresh earth on the dip in the ground, around the flowers whenever the earth settled, so that there would be no evidence of the fresh dug hole.

“The war was too hard on his Opa, and he died. The year after the war was over; his family helped his Oma Reindert dig up the Bible. There was no damage to the Bible. They put it back on the special table in the dining room. Our father said that they read the family Bible each night after supper.

“I forgot to tell you that my father and his father and his Opa were ministers and that the Bible had been passed down from generation to generation of Reindert ministers. I am also a minister.”

Amelia tells Janny, “Maybe one of our sons will follow in your footsteps, and become a minister.”

“I would like that. I would like to see the babies before we go home.”

They go in and peek at their grandsons. They are awake so Amelia changes them and hands them to their Omas’, for one last hug.

After their parents leave, Stan says, “Help me put Bernie and Curtis in their car seats Amelia. I have a surprise for you.”

When they are ready, Stan says, “Follow me.”

Amelia follows her husband out to the patio.

“Look what I did.” Stan points to where he has added some safety belts to the seats of the glider swing to hold the car seats so the babies would be safe. He buckles the twin’s seats on the bench, then takes his wife and sits her on the swing beside him. Fred sits beside Amelia watching his new charges.

“Fred, you are going to be in your glory when the boys get older. I guarantee you that they will drop some ice cream cones on the ground for you to lick up.”

Stan laughs as he holds Amelia. They sit quietly on the swing. The boys fall asleep with the gentle motion.

Stan looks in Amelia’s eyes and asks, “When did you know you first loved me, Mrs. Vander Woerd?”

“It started the day we just about drowned. Then it was the day, we went to McGeachy Pond. I really knew for sure, the day you found your Family Bible, sitting on my desk.

“When I left my office you followed me, and gathered me in your arms. I looked deep into your eyes and saw more than tears.

“With a voice that was about to break, you whispered, ‘It is a miracle Amelia. My family prayed for years that we would find our family Bible. God bless you Amelia. You are a special woman, and I would like to see more of you when I return to Erieau’.

“I told you that I would like to see more of you also. I saw the love in your eyes. I knew then that I would be seeing a lot more of ‘Stanley Dedrick Vander Woerd’, and I was right. When did you know you wanted me to become your wife, Stan?”

“I knew you were the woman I wanted to marry the day you answered the door and said, ‘I am Amelia Jean Wilbur’. I had to hold my feelings in check for a few months so that we could get to know each other.

“The hardest day was the day of the storm out on Lake Erie. We were on the boat, and it just about sank. You came over and put the pressure bandage on my arm to stop the bleeding. You didn’t draw back, when you saw all my burn scars, but put some dry beach towels around my shoulders to help me warm up. I thought we were going to drown that day, Amelia. God had other plans for our lives, and here we are.”

“God is good at answering prayers, Stan. I prayed that he would help me find the owner of the family Bible. I also prayed for him to help me find a godly husband. He had you return to Erieau so that I could meet you. I was able to return your family Bible to your mother.”

Amelia feeds and changes the babies then returns them to their car seats. Stan sets up the table, while Amelia goes into the kitchen and returns with a light supper of leftovers.

They sit and talk about what has happened that day while they eat some leftovers. After everything is put away, the Vander Woerd family spends the evening relaxing while they listen to Christian music.

Several falling stars shoot across the sky. “Make a wish Amelia.”

“I don’t need to make a wish, Stan. I have everything I want, sitting on this face-to-face swing with me.” Amelia reaches over and runs her hand through Freddy the Freeloader’s fur. “God has blessed me.” She caresses Curtis and Bernie’s cheek, before giving her husband a kiss.


 

 

 

Other books by, Ethel ‘Hiday’ Wicksey

 

The

Scarlet

Cord

Rahab’s Story

We have all experienced fear, joy, hope, grief, and love. All these emotions have been woven into, The Scarlet Cord, Rahab’s Story. All the people written about in the Bible, woke up in the morning to a new day, ate their breakfast, and had decisions to make. Just like us, they had no way of knowing what their day would bring, or how the choices they made every day would affect the lives of their families forever. We are important to God, and so were the people we read about in the Bible.

This was posted on my face book in May.

Ethel, I read your book--The Scarlet Cord. It was four stars. The writing was simply put, interesting like a love story. It sure kept my interest. I hated to put the book down to do other stuff. Beginning to end it kept me spellbound.

Ethel, you are a gifted Author, and I commend you. Blessings

Ethel, put me down for your next book. If it is anything like your last, I cannot wait. Blessings

Mary Donais

Chatham Ontario

To order any of my books phone me at,

Ethel, 519 352 7046

or e-mail me at ethel_wicksey@live.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Coming soon

    The

Biggest

       Cover

           Up

By Ethel ‘Hiday’ Wicksey

 

From the Prologue of, “The Biggest Cover Up”

With satisfaction, they both turned their back on the crucified mangled body of Jesus. Caiaphas remembered telling Annas, “It is finished. Jesus will no longer be in our way. He is dead and his so-called ‘Father God’ could not save him.” How wrong we were!

      Caiaphas had been up, the whole night reading from the holy scrolls and spent much time reading the words of Isaiah. If only I had spent more time listening to my father when he read from the holy scrolls, I would have known the truth. The truth has always been there for me to read.

      Caiaphas, walks over to Annas, looks him in the eye, and says, “Annas, we are responsible for shedding the innocent blood of Jesus Christ, our promised Messiah.”

      Caiaphas walks across the room to address the priest. The bells on the hem of his priestly robe ring, as they brush across the stone floor. With a loud voice he says, “I have personally selected you to help us, because you are trustworthy. If you reveal the secret of the torn veil, or what we say here today, the Temple Guards will personally hunt you down, and kill you.

“Only the Priest, gathered here today, will have access to the Holy Place from now on.

      Follow the adventures of two brothers, who are priest. One was in the temple when the veil was torn by the hand of God. One stood on the hill and saw Jesus being nailed to the cross. The brothers, have proof of what really happened that day.

      They are running for their lives, and want to tell Jesus disciples, about, “The Biggest Cover Up.”















 

 



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