Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton

Chapter 24
Donkey Shelves

135135 Whatever Winferd did, he did it big. Mama once said, "He even has a busy way of stirring molasses candy." His whole body bustled to the rhythm of his whistling while he stirred. He had a busy, important air about everything he did. Nothing was ordinary. Not even an accident. Like the time Marilyn climbed up in her baby buggy, pulling the glass mixing bowl of cream down over hear head. She gasped and blubbered while thick cream rolled down her nightie, onto her blankets and dribbled to the floor.

"Wow!" Winferd exclaimed. Like a streak, he was outside filling the black tub and building a roaring fire under it. By the time he announced there was plenty of hot water, Marilyn had already been bathed, the cream was mopped up and everything was under control.

Winferd's enthusiasm reflected in his work. He had a whistling good time making Marilyn's cute play pen. But he worked ten hours a day, six days a week for Emil Graff, so it seemed necessary that I do a little creating of my own.

I had rooted a dozen cuttings from Mama's pretty geraniums, but I had no window sill. My calculating eye appraised the sunny, south windows of the garage doors. An ideal spot, of only there were shelves. Winferd's sisters were competent carpenters, but not I. I couldn't saw a board straight, or drive a nail all the way in without embedding the head in sidewise. I have always been a bailing wire, adhesive tape type of carpenter. Adhesive tape would never fasten a shelf to a door, let alone hold potted plants.

With spike nails and bailing wire, I hung loops on the doors, and slid slats from orange crates through them. When Winferd came home, I had a row of geraniums potted in the tomato cans lined up on my shelves.

"What's that?" he pointed in dismay.

"Plant shelves," I replied.

"They look like donkey shelves to me."

"I've never heard of a donkey shelf," I said.

"Neither have I," he grinned. "Here, move your plants and I'll help you."

With solid iron brackets and smooth white pine, he built two beautiful shelves.

I discovered a secret that day. If Winferd was too busy to do a job for me, I could do it myself. If it happened to be carpenter work, it usually turned out to be a donkey job. With loving compassion for my awkwardness, he always took over.

One Saturday morning, a regional MIA convention was being held in St. George. Since Winferd was the WMMIA Superintendent, he was supposed to be there.

136136 Whe I got up, I felt terrible. We were going to have another baby, and Dr. McIntire had kept me in bed for a few days because I was threatened with a miscarriage. But now, I was supposed to be up and around.

"Winferd, I'm scared," I said as a sharp pain stabbed me. "Please don't leave me."

With a look of concern he said, "I have to go. I am furnishing transportation for the others."

"But I need you here," I pleaded.

With a hug and a kiss he said, "Darling, you're going to be just fine. Now I have to be about the Lord's errand." And he left.

Holding my middle, I groaned as a hard cramp grabbed me. Tears of self pity coursed down my cheeks. Curling up on the bed, I wept. Wasn't that just like a man! To think things would be fine just because he said so! What if the worst happened? What if I died? One thing for sure, there would be no use dying just before MIA, because he'd have to tend to that first. He always maintained that the Lord blessed you for doing as you were told.

Marilyn played happily with her spool doll in her playpen, but it was time now for her orange juice, so I arose. Then I realized my pains were gone. I felt great! With a spurt of energy, I shined the house and did my baking.

When Winferd returned that evening, he touseled my hair. "I knew you would be fine," he said.

"But how did you know?" I asked.

"Because I asked the Lord to please take care of you, and I received the assurance that he would."

Always his faith was justified.