Old Rugged Cross

It had been a bad day. I woke up with dried – um, mucous – around my nose and clear up on to my cheek. That’s never a pleasant way to start the day…no matter how dead sexy you may be. I couldn’t breathe through my nose, I had a headache, and I was still tired after a sporadic night’s sleep. After a trip to the restroom, I got back under the covers in time for Brent to bring me breakfast in bed. Little did he know his points of good measure would be erased a few hours later.

Our house was a mess. Something about traveling and holidays just puts me on hold, and I become completely incapable of cleaning house. Throw on that the fact I’m struggling with sinus issues, am pregnant and exhausted, and it just makes for non-productivity. I had made a conscious decision that feeling good or not, I was going to get some things done around the house, and number one on my list was taking down the Christmas tree.

Brent announced he would not be participating in any household work “until 1:00.” He then proceeded to march to the basement to play his video game, which shall remain nameless, but know that I hate it. I shuffled around and decided to make myself a protein shake since I couldn’t quite finish the breakfast Brent made me. Not that he did a bad job – but when you’re pregnant, you either can or can’t finish food. This time I couldn’t. I poured the milk in a cup, added the chocolate powder, put the lid on securely, and began to shake. No sooner had I started shaking, I heard a “pop!” and simultaneously uttered a swear word. The lid had dislodged itself and I had milk and chunks of chocolate powder over half my kitchen. I grabbed some cleaning wipes from under the sink, and through hormonal tears began to wipe the fridge, the wall, the dishwasher, the counter, the cupboards, the sink, the baseboard, and the floor. It took a while, and a few too many cleaning wipes, but I had it all accounted for. I chugged the rest of the milk and powder chunks left in the cup, and threw the cup in the sink.

Not how I intended to be productive.

I decided if I did the dishes, since my kitchen was almost sparkling clean anyhow, I could move on to the next task at hand. As I always do, I started to the water and soap, and threw the knives in the sink first. I walked away to put my slippers on, and when I returned, I shut off the water and grabbed the washcloth and a cutting board. The moment I dunked the washcloth in the sink, I remembered there were knives in there. It was too late. My finger stung, but I couldn’t see anything upon inspection. It only hurt. I decided to wash the knives I had forgotten about and then move on to the cutting board. By the time I had the cutting board placed in the drying rack, I noticed my dishwater was red. Blood red. I inspected my finger again to find a chunk of skin missing, and blood running down my hand. Hormonal tears showed themselves again as I went to the bathroom to bandage my finger.

After finishing the dishes one-handed, a feat much harder than you might think, I decided it was as good a time as any to take a shower. I got in to the shower at 12:58. 1:15 p.m. when I emerged, I noticed no one else on the main floor of the house. Damn video game. Penelope, our cat, was sleeping on our bed as I got dressed. I vented to her some as I picked out clothes that would be comfortable and public-savvy. She meowed back sympathetically. I ever so quietly put on my coat, gloves, and shoes, and headed out to the car. If he’s going to be a lazy jerk, I’m going to treat myself to some Dairy Queen. Said the logical hormones. I drove through DQ and purchased a hot dog – which was almost as comforting as I could have asked for at that moment. I continued on to the grocery store to purchase the few items we needed – the basics of eggs, milk, and red meat.

By the time I arrived home, after 2:30, Brent had realized it was after 1 p.m. He had started cleaning out the utility room in the basement. How this benefited our productivity goals for the day I still have not figured out. So on top of wounded pride, wounded finger, and the Christmas tree staring back at me from the living room, it was more than I was ready to take.

I hastily hung up my coat when I saw it. Dangling out of a secret sleeve pocket, I saw the necklace. The chain was completely entangled and the silver was horribly tarnished. I hadn’t seen the necklace in almost two years, and there it was hanging out of my coat sleeve pocket.

In February of 2006, my great-grandmother, Vida, passed away. She was my most cherished person on this earth. I loved and respected Gramma Vida in a way I hadn’t any other being. She was as genuine and as dear a soul as there could possibly be. Her death was hard on me. I had purchased the cross necklace as a reminder of Gramma Vida, who she was, and more so – who she lived for. Some time ago I had misplaced it, and though I searched and searched, the necklace was nowhere to be found.

I was choked up upon seeing the necklace. “Gramma Vida….” I whispered, as I untangled the necklace chain from the pocket. I turned the cross over in my hands and that’s when I heard it in my head…. The hymn.
“On a hill far away,
stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame.
And I love that old cross,
where the dearest and best,
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross –
where my trophies at last I’ll lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross –
and exchange it some day for a crown.”

It played in my head and a smile broke out across my face – I couldn’t help it. Gramma Vida loved hymns, and I’m sure she was singing along with me. And really – a necklace inspiring some impromptu worship? After the day I’d had? It was quite comical.

It had been a bad day. But the emblem of suffering and shame reminded me that some spilled milk and a mangled finger were not reasons to lose hope or feel defeated. Somehow this tangled wad of tarnished silver brought everything back in to perspective for me. Brent eventually took the Christmas tree down and put it away, and I had found the necklace I thought was lost. In the meantime, I had been reminded of what’s really important, and cherishable. I haven’t decided if I’ll clean the necklace, or if I’ll wear it as is. It’s not much of a fashion statement in its current state, but then again – fashion isn’t the statement I’m going for.

I will cling to the old rugged cross…..

One Reply to “Old Rugged Cross”

  1. Hi Val,

    I's Shannon & Stacey (who is one of my best friend's in RL) told me about your blog.

    I enjoy reading it. You are a very good writer.

    Stop by sometime.


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