Charles Cooper

By Charles Cooper
Special Contributor

After reading my last piece in the Arkansas United Methodist (“Lying down in green pastures,” Nov. 4, 2016), a friend observed, “Dinosaur Rex ate your mother-in-law.”

“Yes, he did.”

“You and your mother-in-law had an interesting relationship.”

“No, that was Dinosaur Rex.”

Amber and I had a negotiated relationship—good thing, since she had powers that could defeat spiders, dinosaurs and sons-in-law. She was Granny in a cape.

Amber had a bond with nature, as does Lady Wisdom, who was present with the Creator for the scattering of stars, the digging out of rivers and the carving of mountains (Proverbs 8:22-31).

Amber spent a lot of time in her yard and with her flowers. They bloomed nearly year round, crocuses, jonquils, hyacinths, crepe myrtles, mums, pansies—late into winter, for pansies are no pansies—and, of course, roses.

After she died in 2012, we transplanted her irises into our backyard: lavender and a mix of dark purple and white, and all with loud yellow stamens and pistils, as if they were visually calling her name, “Amber.”

So, Granny was in her backyard one evening and saw a dragonfly. She told the dragonfly to go away, but the dragonfly said, “No, Granny, I’m useful. I eat mosquitoes. You don’t want Beth and Sarah to be bitten by mosquitoes, do you?”

So, Granny left the dragonfly alone.

The next day Granny saw a toad, which looks like a frog with warts and stumpy legs. Granny said, “Go away!”

But the toad said, “I may not be as pretty as a dragonfly or even a frog, but I eat mosquitoes. You don’t want Beth and Sarah to be bitten by mosquitoes, do you?”

So, Granny left the toad alone.

The next day, Granny was perched in her favorite lawn chair, and she saw a mosquito. This time she rolled up the newspaper that was across her lap, and she reached back her arm to smash the mosquito on its head, but it buzzed, “The last two evenings you let a dragonfly and a toad go free and seemed happy to have them as your friends. Is it any way to treat your friends to smash their supper against a rock?”

Granny had to think about this, but when she had thought long enough, she looked up and there on the rock was a smiling toad.

Amber spent her weekdays volunteering in a thrift shop. People would unload their old clothes, furniture and toys. Amber would borrow from the stock when my children came to see her. She would fill the house with stuffed animals, dolls, games and baubles for parties; any day is a birthday if it’s a secondhand birthday.

It was not an arbitrary tossing of stuff, for “the clever consider their steps” (Proverbs 14:15). There were strategic surprises—a glamorous doll preening behind a curtain, a wind up frog in the tub, huggables in ambush. It was Grannyland.

When the kids left, she took it all back to the thrift shop and sold what would sell for next to nothing, and she gave the rest away to those in need. All proceeds went to help the local nursing home provide comforts to the old and dying, comforts not provided by the State.

So much good was done with hand-me-downs. Wisdom is efficient like that. She favors the little proverb as a way of conveying her truth. She does not waste time or resources on what is not useful to life.

I am sure the satisfied toad on the rock would agree.

The Rev. Cooper is a retired elder in the Arkansas Conference. Email: