A change in the air


Kay Reminger, Leader Columnist

There is a subtle change in the air, a certain undeniable notion that something is different. Every single year around this time, my heart starts to take on that familiar heaviness and I get to feeling melancholy.

It hit me quite sharply when our daughter was looking through her supplies and ordering books. I realized with a jolt that it was almost time for her to leave for her last year of college. Other moms feel the same way, I’ve discovered.

We were talking to friends of ours after church one day. “You getting ready to head back to college?” I inquired of their daughter, standing close by. Her mom turned to me just then and I saw my own momma’s heart reflected in her eyes; immediately there was a bright sheen to them.

Quietly, I murmured, “They can be 5 years old or in their 20s, it doesn’t matter, does it?”

Intuitively, we looked at each other, an understanding that required no words.

The change in the air brings me right back to our oldest son getting ready for preschool, excitedly looking through his fresh box of crayons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s backpack alongside a brand new pair of tennis shoes. Tears threatening to spill are just a moment’s thought away. The years pass by so quickly!

Once when my middle one was 5 years old, he had come through the front door after a day at kindergarten. I was in the kitchen and had the radio turned to a Christian station. There was a preacher giving an animated talk at the time and he was into the part of his sermon where he was almost hollering to get his point across. At that precise moment, my kindergartner burst through the door, dropping his backpack on the floor and announcing in his little man voice, “That guy is nutch!” (He was going for speech therapy and hadn’t quite mastered his “s’s” yet.)

Years later, the same middle one, by then college-aged, had come into the kitchen, showing up unexpectedly on a late Friday afternoon and again, I had the exact same station on with the exact same preacher who was in the exact same frame of mind.

Looking (up) at my son coming in the door, I stopped, mouth open, eyes wide. He looked at me laughing, “What’s up, Mom? Surprised to see me?” I was, but the timing was simply amazing. I was dazed and speechless with the sheer magnitude of seemingly living through years in the blink of an eye. Where. Did. The. Time. Go.

A change in the air brings back memories of not only getting the kids off to school, but of combining oats, a job I royally disliked. Never failing, we had to wait for the combiner, realizing the oats was either getting weedy or becoming tramped down by recent rains. Sensing my husband’s impatience, I was always on edge.

When we stored our oats on the farm we had the unpleasant task of unloading it from the gravity boxes into the granary. Masks were a necessity. After the combiner left we had to contend with the straw, a dirty job. Inevitably, we’d be working through the hot, dog-days of August, putting up the silo pipe into the barn mow and hauling the blower from the shed, affixing it to the pipe. The cows would nose around, procrastinating as they made their way into the barn for night milking. They just had to stop and sniff all of that intriguing machinery.

Chopping straw, it would find its way deep inside the collar of my shirt and make my back itch. The straw had to be bone dry and I would be caked in a fine dust sticking everywhere to my sweaty self. Never was I more relieved than when that job was done for the season.

I was in the garden picking sweet corn one day and noticed the combiner in our neighbor’s field across the way. I am ashamed to confess this very selfish thought: “Better you than me!”

This time of the year a change in the air brings nostalgia, something I know is coming. I need a task to help me get my mind off our daughter leaving. Maybe I’ll ask our neighbor if he needs some help with his straw.

Wait. Talk me out of it, please.

(“But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, Who will transform our earthly bodies into glorious bodies like His own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which He is putting everything as it should be, under and around Him.” Philippians 3:20, The Message Bible)