Early winter in southwestern Kentucky comes in fits and starts with alternating icy winds and snow showers mixed with warming trends of various lengths. Sun, one day, might be followed by steel gray skies the next. Max found the warm days a respite for his bones and joints. He found if he dressed appropriately—his granddaughter Allison called it layering—he could sit outside in his rocker in the afternoons. Most days he’d carry his Bible outside with him. After the trip to the ocean he’d started going to church again. Ryan had stayed through the summer and then Millie and Andrew began taking turns picking him up and carrying him in to town church on Sundays. The other stayed at the house with Lily. Now he supposed they’d all be going together.
He’d been foolish to have stayed away so long. Worship in the presence of other believers reinforced the foundations of his life. He’d learned that as a boy, practiced it as best he could with his own family, succeeded at times, failed at others but even now there it was like the benediction, “May the Grace of God, the Love of Christ Jesus our Lord and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit go with you.”
With reluctance he glanced at the empty rocker next to him and then down at the two envelopes in his lap. Millie would be by shortly to take them to the post office. Peggy and Millie had taken care of the majority of the thank you notes, but he’d wanted to write these two, one to Sophia Winchester and the other to Amanda Carmichael. Both wrote often—Amanda suggested he get a computer so they could e-mail; He chuckled—that wasn’t going to happen—and Sophia called Millie frequently. Sophia plowed along like always, clearing the path for others. Amanda’s letters delighted him; they were mixtures of youth and maturity. She had started attending church with her parents. But was quick to add, “Now don’t go praying for me or anything”, as if she could stop him.
The envelopes were unsealed. Max reached into his jacket pocket and extracted two color photos, one for each envelope. The faces in the snapshot smiled up at him, the Carnes family—all grown up—framed by sea grass with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. In the center sat Lily a half smile on her face wearing the blue outfit with white flowers, hat and all and next to Lily sat “Greta” her hand over Lily’s.