Midsummer settles over the hills like a warm but stuffy blanket, with hot, humid days and cooler evenings. The cool of the evening — a most pleasant time of day. As twilight dims the landscape and casts bluish shadows across the hills, time seems to stand still. The loud daytime chirping of the songbirds is now a muted twittering as they settle down for the night. Frogs begin their nightly chorus, with the deep bass of a bullfrog adding an occasional note.
Little flickers of light rise up from the lawn, as the lightning bugs turn their tiny lanterns on and off. The small grandchildren, tired from a day of hard play, snuggle up closer to the grownups on the swing nod sleepily.
Their jar of lightning bugs, which they pursued so vigorously a short time ago, gleams from the corner of the porch. They will be set free later.
Some things never change, and an evening like this is one of them. It calls to memory the childhood evenings that we spent on the front porch, listening to the frog’s croaking and watching night shadows overtake the day. Sometimes one of us would start singing a song, and the others would join in softly.
“Twilight Is Stealing,” was one of our favorites, and the words still resound in my memory, “Twilight is stealing, over the sea/ Shadows are falling, dark on the lea/ Borne on the night winds, voices of yore/ Come from that far-off shore.” To me then, it was just a sad, sentimental song, but now I can hear the voices of yore.
I can hear Grandpa’s wheezy chuckle, and Daddy’s hearty laugh. I feel my little brother Mark’s body snuggled up on my lap, and his fine blonde hair tickling my chin. The porch swing squeaks as we lull the little ones to sleep, and voices of yore are all around me.
Many times Grandpa would ask us to sing “Precious Memories,” and he would wipe a tear from his eyes as we sang it. I wondered then why the song would touch him so, but now I know. To us, Grandpa was just a fixture in our lives, beloved, but taken for granted. He was a short, toothless old man who rocked the babies, and brought candy back from his frequent trips to visit relatives. What we didn’t realize then, he wasn’t always old. Once, he was young and strong, a husband and a father with his family around him on another porch swing. When we are young, we can never imagine growing old, and old people to us were never young.
We are proud and happy to announce the birth of our second great-grandson, Hunter Elijah Bragg, who joined the family on July 3. He weighed in at a hefty 8 pounds and 14 ounces, and was greeted with joy by his sisters, Morgan age 5, and Molly, age 4. His parents are Joshua and Regina Bragg of Ovapa.
The girls wanted a little brother badly, and when Josh called to tell them the baby had arrived, he first talked to Molly. (She had already named the baby — “Koozie” if it was a girl, and “Boxen” if it was a boy.) When her daddy told her it was a baby boy, she yelled, “Oh, that’s just what we prayed for!” We are glad that Regina took over naming him.
He is a handsome baby, with a thatch of dark hair and eyes that seem to be turning brown. We are thankful that God has blessed us again.
Ominous black clouds moved closer in the evening sky, coming faster as the wind increased. Our daughter-in-law Regina and her little ones hurried in the house as the storm approached. She had brought the girls and her four-week-old son to visit, and Mom was anxiously waiting for the baby. Molly and Morgan crowded around Mom as she cradled baby Hunter in her arms, just as the storm struck. Loud cracking sounds came from the porch and skylight. Someone asked, “What was that? It sounds like hail!” Just then, hailstones began hitting the skylight window so hard that we hurriedly moved Mom and the baby to the couch, as her recliner was positioned right under the skylight. It seemed any minute that the window was going to break and crash down upon us. The hailstorm raged on, with stones as big as golf balls, and had soon covered the lawn like a snowstorm. We were so excited about the hail that we didn’t notice the deluge of rain that poured off the hill and ran across the lawn like a wide river.
The girls were excited, but scared too, and huddled close to Mom. I came in the bedroom to unplug the computer, with Morgan at my heels. She said softly, “I’m just trying to keep all of you safe!” I realized then that she was trying to keep us all in one place. The storm continued for quite a while, and the creek rose quickly. Soon the rain slackened, the water began to recede, and a pale quarter moon appeared in the sky. It was standing on its end, and as Criss always commented, “pouring out water.” It certainly did. When morning came, the hail damage was evident. There were dents in the vehicles, shredded flowerbeds, tattered gardens, and leaves all over the lawn. The tender impatiens suffered the most damage, with snapped stems and crushed flowers. I was looking mournfully at the once flourishing bed of impatiens when Criss told me, “Hey — it’s just flowers — we need thank the Lord for healthy grandkids and great-grands, and not worry about ‘things.'” He’s right, of course.
Give everyone my love,
Cousin Alyce Faye
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