Roots, Wings, and Not Having It All


Grandpa Marvin Olson framed within the hay loft on the farm.

Two grandparents within a year’s span.  That’s entirely too much grieving for the soul to swallow without feeling swallowed.  Two times I boarded flights alone; one while carrying Henrik inside, one with Henrik in my arms.  He would never know the beautiful people being laid into the ground this side of Heaven.  How she loved babies, how tender her heart and hands were, for so strong and determined a woman.  How his cow call sounded, how much he loved napping on the floor after a big lunch, how his eyes were so twinkly.  Henrik wouldn’t understand what it meant to me as a child, to travel from my home state of Montana out to North Dakota, to the wide expanse of farmland, to the two farms that mattered most in this world.  We’d go for Christmases or Thanksgivings or summers that baked hot on the prairie.


Grandpa (left).


 On the farm.


The farmhouse.


 Great Grandma Sophie.


Grandpa Marvin and Grandma Violet.

It was easy to envy my cousins.  They were raised in North Dakota and saw my grandparents all the time it seemed.  They had more stories with them and I imagined how many more wild kittens they got to catch and how many more rope swing rides up in the hayloft they got and how many chicken eggs they got to collect in the tin bucket for Grandma O.

I didn’t want to live in North Dakota though; I loved Montana with its mountains and rivers and skiing and beautiful camping spots.  I just wanted to bundle up all that I loved in North Dakota and drag it into Montana, right next door would be nice.  I haven’t been able to shake that dream; I still want to do that, though my bundle would be ponderously large considering all the people and places I’ve fallen in love with.




Crossing the Dearborn River at our cabin.

God has given me wings.  Many times.  First it was to Pennsylvania, where my husband’s roots are (as he’d tell you proudly, all the way back to William Penn who gave his family their land deed).  Then to Saskatchewan, Canada so he could finish his degree in the more financially friendly north.  Then to Costa Rica to learn Spanish.  Then to Chile to serve as Christian missionaries.  Then to Pennsylvania once again, with flight plans ready to go to Honduras next.

Every home I’ve lived in I’ve bloomed right into.  I plant flowers, I tuck bulbs into the dark damp earth (some that I’d never see bloom).


In my garden beds in Chile.


My front beds in Pennsylvania.  This was all just grass when we moved in.

Maybe I understand why I explode into each home I’ve lived in.  Part of me wants it all to look like we’ve been here a while, like we’re going to make lots of memories here.  I want it to look and feel rooted.  Because flying is tiring and sometimes you just want to sink into the good dirt and stay awhile.

“Bloom where you’re planted”, they say, but I’d add, “And bloom wherever you’re blown too”.  If God leads you out of native bower, dare to bloom there.  If you miss family get-togethers and memories made with them, if you don’t get to have all that, grieve it and give it, give it into God’s hands.  He who willingly removed himself from God’s immediate presence and glory for 33 years can understand your longing for home.


Last visit with Grandma Gwendolyn before her death.

Life is both wonderful and painful and the staying or going doesn’t mitigate that.

If we can’t have it all this side of eternity, let us lean into our lot full heartedly.  Grieving that which isn’t ours to enjoy, but bursting wide with the joy of what we do have.  And you know my dream?  Of having all whom I love all together in one place?  Why, that just may happen, on the other side of when eyes close in death and awaken in truest life.


7 thoughts on “Roots, Wings, and Not Having It All

  1. Holey moley, woman. This is fabulous writing. Thank you, thank you. And thank you to Shawn Smucker who led me here by including one of my posts, with yours, in his favorite five for the week. This is amazing.

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