Hope in the Not Yet: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Ashley Larkin


f221296e-f28b-468b-be96-451b3a55661a

In the last few years, there have been no online writers to get my attention like Ashley Larkin. She has a quiet, un-clammoring way about her which is backed up by strong story-telling and great depth. I have no problem believing she lives like this out in her real life. Please do welcome Ashley to the Wild in the Hollow Guest Post series. We have so much to learn from one another, don’t we?

* * * * *

My 86-year-old grandmother lives in an adult foster home within two miles of my mama.  Grandma receives frequent visits, gets her nails painted, works puzzles with her caregivers, goes to lunch, listens to books, watches the birds that gather at the feeders and on the swollen river out the expansive windows. From her sporty wheelchair, Grandma exercises her legs and arms, her fingers, her voice. Over the last two years, the disease that’s weakened Gram’s body causes her to speak in whispers. Lately vocal therapy has helped her find a new place in her throat, and cords are beginning to rumble more forcefully. Grandma’s caregiver tells me that Grams finally found her motivation to talk. She wants to make a visit to Tacoma, three hours north, this summer and longs to be able to chat with her childhood friend over breakfast. Hope propels her.

________________

Some months ago, I took Grandma for a walk on River Road. As I pushed her wheelchair, I told her about my girls’ latest activities and the puppy we’d be getting soon. I talked about the change of seasons, pointed to scurrying squirrels and fluttering chickadees.

As is often the case, she was quiet.

The air was nipping cold, and I stopped frequently to check on her – wrapped her scarf around her face like a muffler, held her gloved hands in mine to warm them.

At times, Grams moved her feet from the crossbar and used her legs to help walk the wheelchair. We veered off to let a car pass, and I asked if she wanted to try walking.

“Yes,” she mouthed, nodding her head slowly up and down.

I pulled Grams up by the strap she wears around her waist, and she leaned hard against me. I felt her determination, her fragile dependence and worried I would drop her. It felt so risky, this step-together-step-together walk on pavement. After a half dozen steps, Grandma began to droop.

“Alright, Grams, let’s go back to your chair. You can do it,” I said. “We’re doing this together.”

When Grandma finally sat back down, she seemed worried, melancholy. Heading back down River Road, she turned slightly to me. “I’m not worth much anymore,” she said.

I pulled off to the road’s edge, right in front of my dear childhood friend’s home, so I could look in Gram’s eyes.

“Grandma, your worth is immeasurable,” I said, words nearly catching in my throat for the times I longed to hear them from her.

“Can I pray for you?” I asked.

“Yes, please,” she whispered.

I held Grandma around the shoulders, and we pressed our cold faces together. In that moment – like Amber – I wanted for nothing and for everything (Wild in the Hollow, p.160). My heart cried Kingdom come, for the Spirit’s presence in biting air, for peace and ends to earthly pain, for grace that endures.

As I prayed, I longed for Gram’s body to seek hard after Jesus, imagined her skin absorbing and holding love like a drenched cloth.

“You are so precious, Grandma,” I said, kissing her at the crown of her head and on each cheek.

_________________

On the drive to Grandma’s last Thursday, I call my mama for an update.

“She’s doing well. We played games yesterday,” Mama says. “It was so much fun. We hung out for hours, and she didn’t get tired.”

When I arrive just before lunchtime, I find it hard to connect with Grandma. She seems uninterested, even though I’ve brought our new puppy to entertain her. Eventually, I say, “Grams, Mama tells me that you played Yahtzee and Jenga this week. I heard you won!”

Grandma sits up a little straighter, looks steadily at me; cloudy blue eyes still highlighted the color of feathers.

She answers perfect deadpan: “It’s. Because. I. Cheat.”

We laugh hard.

Sometimes when I visit, Grandma is seized by giggle fits, and she’s a child again. Sometimes she belly laughs squinty-eyed hard, and I know she sees things beyond me. She lives in the “tension between already but not yet.” In time suspended like only the youngest and oldest seem to do.

____________________

When I was nine, Grandma made Annie and me dresses from chicken feed bags, and we fringed them and painted on zigzags and rainbows in red, yellow and green. We ran barefoot across the farm and squatted low to seek for hidden things, and when I stood up from the grasses, I saw Grandma on the front deck.

Arms folded, smiling like a girl.


349560f2-db02-4922-8e7c-cc25c2b1bc82

Ashley Larkin longs to be a place of welcome and seeks hard after the beauty found in broken things. A writer, speaker and mentor to young women, Ashley is passionate about the healing work of Jesus, redemption stories and clinging to hope as a lifeline. She lives in a 110-year-old house in Portland, Oregon with her husband, three daughters and their yellow lab puppy, Clementine.

Find her at ashleymlarkin.com

 

amberhaines
About me

15 Comments

Spree
Reply January 25, 2016

Dear Ashley! Do you know (besides Everything) what I love about your writing? You have a gift for bringing heaven and earth within each other's grasp. Your words are tangible and beautifully of this earth and of us people, and yet they speak always of what lies beyond our touch. It's where your heart lives, I know, in this space that is at once hoped for and lived in. How I treasure you. How I have learned from and been forever blessed by having you near! Thank you for writing Ashley. I love you.

ML
Reply January 25, 2016

Such a sweet and insightful look at how we age and how grace is ever present around us. Beautiful imagery.

Barb Buckner Suarez
Reply January 25, 2016

Oh, I loved this so much, Ashley. That moment when your Grams felt worthless pierced my heart and brought the tears to my eyes (they didn't fall, but that's only because I don't cry -but you already know that.) To have her beautiful granddaughter assert that her worth is immeasurable - such a gift, that moment. XO

Alia Joy
Reply January 25, 2016

I will never stop loving the way you see the world, that hazy horizon of heaven and earth where glory lives and beckons us on to see and to know and to believe all over again. I love what you capture here. As per usual, you're writing is a gift to us. Love you so much, and miss the heck out of you, friend.

Martha
Reply January 25, 2016

Oh Ashley, your words are so beautiful that I wait for the next ones...and what your mom says, is just as beautiful because she said what I felt, but didn't have the words to say.

Jenny Marrs
Reply January 25, 2016

Such beautiful imagery and a captivating story. Thank you for this. Truly beautiful.

Becca
Reply January 25, 2016

Such a beautiful post Ashley...patience, love, & healing in these precious visits with your grandma!

Dana Butler
Reply January 25, 2016

Sweet, beautiful friend. Thank you so so much for a glimpse into your heart for your Grandma, into the way you love. What a profound, moving, inspiring gift. I love your guts, Ashley Larkin. And also I miss your face. <3

Peter Clemente
Reply January 25, 2016

Your ability to express feelings, emotions and unshakeable faith have a lyrical, spiritual quality. Words flow with ease and understanding, transporting us, the readers, into a place to be explored and be comforted by. You are a precious jewel!

Ali
Reply January 25, 2016

The grace woven throughout this story touches my heart deeply. Your unconditional love for grandma is a gift to our family. You are His hands and feet. I love you.

Elizabeth
Reply January 26, 2016

Lovely and love filled.

Christy
Reply January 26, 2016

Your writing has a way of making me feel like I am right there with you in person, watching it all, experiencing it with you. What a beautiful picture of the time you spend with your Grams. I know it must be a gift to you, as well as to her. You are wonderful, Ash, and I love you! See you soon xoxo

Angela Severson
Reply January 26, 2016

Ashley,
This is so very tender! So beautiful. I cherished the story, resonating with the truth displayed in the gracious story of both/and.....And what it means to grow older.
Love you,
Angela

Krista R
Reply January 26, 2016

Ashley - the last 12 years of my father's life were spent in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke and having left side paralysis. often times when I would push him in his chair, and he'd be feeling peppy he'd use his right foot to push, to help propel us forward. he was pretty good at using it to brake too! it will be 5 years in July since he passed. Reading your words offered me a memory of my Dad that has been tucked away. Those simple things that he did, the way he still participated as he could. I love reading your words, and today, through my tears I am so grateful for this simple little memory of the man I miss so terribly. Thank you for your honesty, your attentive eyes and heart. Blessings!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *