|Pulpit of Bones: My father's world|
|June 23, 2011 Deb Carpenter-Nolting|
The only time I remember being sick as a kid was when I ended up in the hospital with a severe case of the flu. Everything was hazy except for my mom, who was by my bedside. Every time I woke, she was in my line of vision. Time was marked by the shadows crossing her face. There was only one time I woke and she wasn’t there, but where her face had been, I could now see the picture of Jesus on the wall, and He watched over me when Mom couldn’t.
When I was well enough to go home, I lay in bed in my room and recuperated. Mom kept my room dark except for the closet light, probably so my 10-year-old self wouldn’t be scared. I remember the quiet, which was unusual in a home of seven children. Mom must have restricted play to the basement or outside or the other end of the house. Mom was a diligent caretaker, and the only visitor she allowed in was my dad.
Dad was a rancher and farmer and worked from daylight to well past dark most days. He must have detoured through a town on that particular day, because he arrived with a gift. Dad wasn’t one to buy us kids toys, so store-bought items were a rarity. This evening, though, when I was dreading a long night of restless sleep, Dad appeared in my doorway with a globe. The globe was about 10 inches high. The metal earth had painted, multicolored land masses and blue bodies of water and was set at an angle on a metal stand, anchored by a plastic axis. The stand was decorated with astrological signs, which seemed exotic and foreign and very worldly.
This was just one way my father expanded my world. Dad had a curiosity about his natural surroundings and he passed that curiosity on to his children. I remember times he wondered about true north versus magnetic north, the Ice Age, the Great Flood, cycles of drought and flooding. I remember bringing him the globe, and watching him hold my little world in his big hands, speculating as he shifted its perspective. Was the world upright on the seventh day, when creation was complete? Was north true north then? If so, what caused the difference between true north and magnetic north? Did the growing ice cap cause the earth to shift its axis? Could that shift have caused the ice to melt and move? How did the Great Flood change the face of the earth? Did the plates shift then, defining our continents? What changes would the earth undergo in our lifetimes?
If Dad were alive today, he would be following the weather, gauging the rain and calculating the snow-melt. He probably would have been nervous knowing that my husband Tim and I crossed the swollen Missouri to spend two days and nights with Tim’s family at a resort near Platte City.
I was nervous about the potential flooding, but all went well. On Father’s Day 2011 we left Platte City, Missouri and crossed the river at St. Joe. I breathed a sigh of relief when we were back on the home-side of the river.
At Nebraska City, we headed west and made another stop in Kearney to visit the Arch Monument. Then we stopped at an antique store. As we roamed the displays, I saw a globe like the one Dad brought me when I was ill. Shortly after that, I had taken it to school for show and tell and when we were riding in the back of the pickup it slipped out of my lap. The earth broke free of its axis and rolled around in the bed of the pickup. The plastic knobs holding it in place couldn’t be repaired, so for years my orb rattled around of its own free will. The one in the antique store was firmly latched in place.
I looked at the price tag – $12.50. I didn’t really need another globe, but as we wandered through the store, I reminded myself it was Father’s Day, and I couldn’t resist the sentiment of buying myself something that represented a connection between me and my dad.
While we were still shopping, our daughter called to tell us there were warnings of severe storms and that we’d probably run into bad weather and possibly some flooding. When we got back on the road, I called my mom. It had rained all morning at her place, but she’d made it back to her house from church despite the muddy roads, so she was doing fine.
We soon ran into rain. The radio warned of tornadoes and hail, but we managed to safely slip through the corridor between the two. It was still raining when we got home, so we decided to grab the important items from the car and run to the house.
I reached for the globe, and I cradled it close to me so that it wouldn’t get wet and slip from my hands. What more appropriate way to bring this rainy Sunday, Father’s Day, to a close, than to find the world my father had placed in my hands and set it firmly back onto an axis. I want to pass my father’s world on to my girls, and I want it to be whole and intact.
Read more by Deb Carpenter-Nolting