Saturday, February 3, 2018


Year 6-Day 34 :Today, I am grateful for my Randy and the "cobbatubey". 

It is his birthday, and he gets to be my official "gratitude" one day a year. It is in my rules, but the truth is that I am grateful for him every day. 

He is my opposite in so many ways... yet the weird thing is that on so many of the important things... there is that extra-sensory perception that grows from more than 32 years of togetherness. I love my guy. We fit just right.

I try to keep each year unique, even though the gratitude subject is the same. Today, I am truly grateful he is the "youngest of six" to compliment my "oldest of three". It works well for us. When he is with his siblings, he lights up and laughs harder than most will ever see him laugh. This includes our sons. I'm so glad they were with us this special Christmas evening. 

A couple years ago, we went to Florida for Christmas. Monte & Jan and Leonard & Linda live there. Ken & Lola winter there... as a Michigan snowbirds. Bruce and Billie are always willing to hop in the car and join the family when they know more than two or three are gathered. JR & Sheryl are in Michigan full time. We were able to gather 5 out of 6 for Christmas in 2015. We made so many memories. 

Christmas evening we all gathered together, I feared for Jan's sofa. They were laughing so hard... everyone is over 50 ... the risk of someone peeing their pants was high. Fortunately, the sofa remained a pee-free. 

All I wanted was a decent picture to document the time together. Just one. This, ultimately, became my favorite. Monte, Bruce, Lola and Randy... this is what sibling love looks like. I could not love it more. My heart is full and I pray that our boys gather as adults and laugh like this, telling stories of their youth. 

Cobbatubey came up in conversation. They lived in a house on Lake Street in Alpena, MI. Randy was pretty little at the time. Michigan winters are long. Perhaps even longer with a house full of kids. Parents had to be creative. The Lake Street house across from Lincoln School had a big basement. Jake and Shela let them ride their bikes in the basement. They all remember it vividly. It was a privilege. They needed to respect that most kids didn't have a basement big enough to ride in it... or parents who would let them ride inside.  

Like the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, something was off limits in the Lake Street basement. They had one big "don't". They could enjoy riding their bikes down there...  all winter long...  as long as they didn't run over the "cobbatubey". 

Their Dad was very clear and firm that this was the thing that would lose them the privilege. Their bikes would be cast out of the basement and into storage for the duration of the winter. They need only follow  one simple instruction. "Don't run over the cobbatubey." 

You must be wondering. Perhaps you lived in a home with "cobbatubey" or still do. Most of us call it copper tubing. It was the gas line to the furnace in the basement, making it very important to heating the house. 

My father-in-law had a unique vernacular. Some expressions would come close to the actual word or original phrase. Some phrasing reflected living in Northern Michigan. Other times, it was his own Jake-isms. It was part of what made Jake... well... Jake. 

The sibling memories grow sweeter with time. "Cobbatubey".... I am so grateful Randy and his siblings shared this memory, again. Each one would fill in the pieces as they reminisced.  They would ride all the way up to the copper tubing and sharply turn around, never running over it. It was a command they managed to obey every time... making it kind of amazing with this crew. They took their father's word and trusted it by showing obedience. 

This family story reminds me of Adam and Eve, except they did not obey the Father's command. Pride and temptation led them down the path that cost them life in paradise. The wages of sin led to labor, pain and death. That consequence continues from generation to generation. 

Still, God would not give up. He created man and woman to be in relationship with him and each other. He longs to forgive and restore his children. Just as Jake did not want the copper tube to the furnace destroyed, because it was how they heated the house, our heavenly father wants us to turn sharply away from things that destroy our relationship with him and each other. 

Knowing the Smith kids as I do, I am confident they pushed every limit until they reached the edge of the cobbatubey. Still, they managed to obey. Jake would have forgiven them if they didn't, but there would have been consequences. Likely, memorable consequences. 

From the scriptures:
Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises.-Hosea 14:2

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. -1 John 1:9

The house on Lake Street in Alpena will forever remain a sweet memory, and a beautiful lesson in obedience and grace. (Thanks to Bruce and Lola for helping with this post.)

Today, I am grateful for my Randy and his siblings and the "cobbatubey" lesson.

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