This one is just for sheer, rollicking fun. No drama this time, no hard questions.
Three years ago this month, Linford made a quick trip to Honduras, part of his responsibilities as a member of our church’s mission board. This is an account of one experience we had without him, back when life was a little simpler.
No, there’s nothing particularly earth-shattering here. I just like to write stories.
* * *
Oh, no. I need a man. I turned the windshield wiper blade over in my hand. Was it broken? I squinted in the inadequate light from the porch.
“Mom?” A head poked out the garage door. “You said you were coming right back.”
“Sorry, Jenica, I’m trying to fix the windshield wiper.”
“What happened?” She walked to the edge of the porch, followed by her sister. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”
“Shut the door behind you, sweetie,” I said automatically. Are these just scratches in the metal, or is the bracket broken?
The door slammed. Snow crunched beneath boots. “What happened?” My daughter’s worried face peered up at me.
I tried for a reassuring smile. “When I turned on the windshield wipers to clear off the snow, the wiper blade popped off.”
“Why?” Typical question from her.
“It must have been frozen to the windshield,” I said as I walked around the van to examine the other wiper. Is there a clasp, or does the blade slide onto the bracket? It was too dark to tell. I returned to the wiper arm standing at bladeless attention and attempted to slide the blade on.
“Can we still go to Grandma’s?” Jenica asked.
The wiper wouldn’t slide on. Does the bracket come off the wiper arm? I could reach it better if it did. “Not if I can’t get this blade back on. It’s snowing too hard to drive without windshield wipers.” A swift glance at her revealed her puckered concern. “I think I can get it, but I have to figure out how to fasten it on.”
I wiggled the bracket; it didn’t come off. I looked for a clasp; it didn’t have one. Biting back words of frustration, I settled back on my heels and swiped away the snow that had melted on my upturned face. Truth was, I needed a man, especially one informed in the mysteries of wiper blades, but my mechanically minded man was in hot and sunny Honduras. A fine time to snow, this was.
Blade in hand, I walked to the porch. “I’m going in to call Grandma and tell her we’ll be a little late.” I also needed to examine the blade under better light.
In the house, I studied the blade for clues on how to repair it. I learned nothing useful. Lord, I’m on my own here, except for You. I could use a little help.
When I walked back outside a few minutes later, Jenica was running laps in the snow. Her sister had ventured a few tentative steps from the porch, studying terrain made unfamiliar by an inch of white fluff.
At the van, I tried another angle, another approach to refastening the blade. My hands ached against the cold metal. From the other side of the van, Jenica announced, “Mommy, I found wizzle tracks!”
“Wizzle tracks?” I paused, frowning. “Do you mean woozle tracks, like Pooh and Piglet found?”
Pink with pleasure and cold, she ran to my side. “Like Pooh and Piglet. Wizzle, I mean, woozle tracks. Going around the van.”
“How many woozles do you think there are?” I gave up on sliding the blade onto the bracket and tried to snap them together.
“Just one, I think. Let me check.” Jenica disappeared behind the van again. I grinned. Would she remember what happened next?
In the quiet that followed, Tarica inched to my side. “Mommy, bye-bye?”
“Yes, sweetie, we’ll go bye-bye once the windshield wiper is fixed.”
She poked at the snow collecting on the front bumper. “Cold, Mommy.”
“Sure is,” I said and blew on my hands.
“Mom!” A cry of triumph from the other side of the van. “There are two woozles! I see their tracks.”
“Are they big tracks?” I asked.
Jenica emerged into the light, studying the snow. “No, they’re pretty little.”
“What will you do if you catch the woozles?”
She jerked to a stop. With a quick glance at the shadowy trees, she moved closer to me. “Mom,” she stated with lofty condescension, “I’m just pretending.”
“Oh, I see. Well then, you can just pretend to catch them.” I wrestled with the blade as I spoke.
“That’s what I’m doing.” Again that condescension as if I were the four-year-old. She looked down at the snow around my feet. “Hey, Mom, here’s big woozle tracks.”
I barely heard her. The blade was almost, almost—squeeze harder!—there! I stepped back and rubbed my hands together, cold and satisfied. “Let’s go, girls. I got it fixed. Grandma and Grandpa are waiting.”
They clambered in, woozles abandoned to the snowy darkness.
At the end of the drive, I paused, foot on the brake, to study the unplowed roads. Am I crazy to venture out on such a night? On the other hand, I will go crazy if I stay home by myself with two bored girls another evening.
“Girls,” I said into their chatter, “we need to pray.” They subsided and bowed their heads.
“Lord, thank You for helping me refasten the wiper blade. Take care of Daddy and bring him home again to us. Keep us safe on the roads tonight. May Your will be done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
As I eased out on the trackless white, I said aloud, “I miss Daddy.” Two little echoes piped up behind me.
I flicked on the high beams, but they blasted the falling snow into a swirl of blindness. I switched the lights back down, turned the wipers on—thank You, God!—and drove into the night while my precious cargo argued over who missed Daddy the most.
If the road had not required all my attention, I could have told them who did.