the rings are off

Every year after Mother’s Day, I slip off my wedding rings and tuck them away until fall. Spring and summer on the farm are dirty, sticky months full of soil and planting, clanging metal gates and cattle charging. It is no place for precious metal. Every year, I am struck by the age my hands have gained. They are not my hands. They are my grandmother’s.


(Photo credit to the lovely Lynell Shooks Miller)

This is a season of life out here on the farm. There are five sweet robin eggs in the garden birdhouse, bright baby blue. Six new baby longhorns are running through the evening light as I type, daring one to chase the other. The strawberries are flowering and about to bud and tomatoes will be planted this weekend. Two of our best friends welcomed a baby boy into their family this afternoon. New life is everywhere.

My grandmother is in the final stages of life. A phone call this afternoon confirmed that the very last days are here. My grief is tempered by the understanding that she is going to feel so much better soon… her body has waged war against her for 30 years, crippling her with arthritis. That will end, and I can ask for no greater gift.


She left me her arthritis. I see it when I take off my rings and in passing… a flash in the mirror, a certain angle of a photograph. I feel it in my joints and I read it in my medical file. Her story will be mine soon enough. She also gave me her orange fedora and Polish hips. We are that kind of family.

I am literally surrounded today by life and death… both are staring at me, sitting on my porch and streaking across the sky. And yet, I forget the enormity. There are library books to return and lunches to make. Gus has attached himself to the van with a bungee cord, and Abby is 3 days short of a nap. I live in the in-between until the phone rings and the extremes make themselves known again. It’s easy to forget the extremes even exist when you are trying to find the twist-tie to the bread.

But then again, we can’t live in those extremes. We can visit but we cannot settle. There must be a foundation to steady the life and death, beginnings and ends. There must be somewhere to come home to.


So I will make an apple pie and set the table… like every night.

And I will hide my rings and plant new seeds.

And I will grieve the end of life and cheer the beautiful new breaths.

Because I live in the in-between. THAT is home.

Amazing really… how the best days and the worst days and all the days in-between… all the days start with a sunrise and end with a sunset.

Every time.

About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

25 responses to “the rings are off

  • Kay Williams Yount

    Beautiful piece. We are all living in the in-between . . . but until I read this post, I had not thought of it that way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your children, your home, your life . . . your in-between.

  • Lou

    This is beautiful. I love the way that you put it. I am praying for a little more in-between living for the rest of this year. Prayers for your grandmother. xxx

  • Miss Laura

    Beautifl. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve reached this time of waiting with your grandmother – I lost my most dear and wonderful grandma two summers ago, and that time of waiting, while difficult, had its own beauty. Watching her begin what we as followers of Jesus know is life’s most meaningful journey. Seeing evidence that she had glimpses of the other side and was eager to get there. The waiting, the phone calls, the way that the wheel of everyday life continues to turn in the midst of this – I remember it well. Hugs to you, friend – your perspective on this will serve you well in the coming days. Many prayers, much love. The Mikruts would love to stop by for apple pie sometime soon.

  • Bonnie Mulder

    I love all three pictures on this page. Goodness.

  • Frances Pullen

    Katie, this is one of your very best! A simple yet profound start to my day, and I thank you for this and all your other pieces. Fine writing is a joy to read!

  • esteph

    love this. love you. between the twist ties and cancer i have lived. sunrise, sunset. god is always good. a prayer of peace for your grandmother from my lips will rise.

  • Sarah

    Beautiful, poetic, and very true. Thank you for sharing!

  • amyctilson

    Just beautiful!! Makes me wanna come up and pay in the dirt with you! Maybe bring a little south with me. 🙂

  • Shanda

    (Sigh). A contented one. A long one. A feel good one. One in which you don’t have to breath again for an extra skip. This brings out a really good sigh in me. Thanks.

  • Becky Swann

    Sheesh, I read that in one deep breath, and exhaled at the end. Good good stuff!

  • mrs. g

    thank you. thank you.

  • Katie

    Your writing is stunning. I loved this piece so, so much. What a lovely way to honor your grandmother.

  • sundaygrant

    That always blows me away thinking how the days go on, the seasons still change even after a life is gone. Your words still do blow me away!

  • Amy B.

    Sometimes, I think that’s what’s hardest about the losses – we know life will go on. It hurts to know we will survive what seems impossible.

  • Amy B.

    And prayers for your grandmother and family.

  • Barb Nichols

    This comforted me today. I needed this perspective. I love the words you wrote: “But then again, we can’t live in those extremes. We can visit but we cannot settle. There must be a foundation to steady the life and death, beginnings and ends. There must be somewhere to come home to.” Thanks!

  • Missy

    Living in the in-between with you. Reveling in the beauty of your words today. And the truth. Every time.

  • erica

    again with you and your pretty words. you do it to me everytime!

  • Miriam

    Oh how I love you! I love the words in that come out of that pretty little head of yours! …and you who once told me you didn’t think you should go to allume because it was for “real bloggers!” God is using you, friend!!!!

  • Kim Fernando

    Beautiful. And also it all makes me a little sad, even as I know to live is Christ and to die is gain. So glad it’s all in His hands, because sometimes the extremes are way too enormous for me to understand. Thanks for this.

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