Sunday, November 19, 2017

Facing the facts

There are phases of growing older that I noticed in my mother as she aged.  One thing that particularly bothered me was the way she clung to "stuff", insignificant items we all knew she would never need or use again.  I even saw her cry at the idea of leaving items behind when she and Daddy were moving out here to our place.  "I'm having to give up everything," she said, alluding to the fact that Daddy's cancer would eventually take him away from her.

We moved boxes of old double-knit clothing she'd bought at garage sales with the intention of cutting them up to use as quilt pieces, and she did make quite a few quilts after that.  But some of the stuff really made no sense at all.  However, we designated one little outbuilding as her storage space.  Most all of it was still there when she moved on to senior apartments, piled high with boxes.  From there, she placed herself in the nursing home of her choice, and that little shed remained full of her "stuff" until her death, at which time it was all hauled away as trash.  The only thing of any value among all that junk was a can of motor oil, which Cliff kept and used.

Yesterday I had a revelation that made me understand what prompted Mother's unwillingness to part with seemingly useless things.  Cliff is always looking for space to store various tractor parts and seldom-used tools, things he will likely need at some point but doesn't want the clutter where he has to look at it. Yesterday as he donned his coveralls to go outside, he said, "Hadn't I might as well tear that stanchion out of the corner of the barn?"

A panicky feeling clutched my heart as I hesitated, then said, "Well... we might need it sometime to restrain an animal we need to work with, so as long as I'm raising a calf or two each year, maybe you should leave it there."

It only took a minute or two for me to recall my mother crying over junk she deemed as precious, and to then see what I was doing.  I told Cliff, "Never mind.  Go ahead and take it out.  My problem is that taking the stanchion out reminds me I will never milk another Jersey cow, and that's silly, because of course I won't.  You can have that space."

Can you believe as I typed that last paragraph, my eyes teared up?  Me!  I don't cry, hardly ever.  Even at funerals of loved ones.  I just don't.  But somehow the idea of admitting I will never have another milk cow makes me cry; that's really pathetic and self-centered of me, but there you have it.  

I understand now how Mother was feeling, and her motivation for those feelings; I hope God will pass my apology along to her.  This is one of countless times that I've glanced heavenward and said, "I'm sorry, Mother."

Getting older means giving up things as it becomes necessary.  I still have my mobility, and a husband by my side.  I have much to be thankful for and I feel so very blessed.  I need to remember to count the things I can still do and rejoice, rather than mourning for things I'm unable to accomplish these days.

Peace.  I hope you find it easier to let go of cherished skills and talents as they're lost than my mom and I have.

On another note, in the previous entry somebody called to my attention that music on CD followed after cassettes, not 8-tracks.  So probably that was a cassette player in our pickup back in the 70's.  

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A magical trip to St. Luke's East

Our little girl's daddy didn't work yesterday, so since we didn't have her, I opted to go with Cliff to his radiation appointment.  He's been playing CDs on the way to and from the hospital, working his way through songs we hadn't listened to in a long, long time.  He asked if I wanted music playing, I said yes... and that's when the magic happened.

Waylon Jennings' voice came through the speakers along with the normal thumping, simplistic beat he always sang to:  "If you wanna go to heaven, gotta d. i. e., you gotta put on your coat and t. i. e..."; I was magically transported back to the '70s. 

I was working at Harmon manufacturing with a young lady named Lucy.  She was in a record club and had brought a small catalogue to work with her which, she said, contained bargains.  Looking back, Columbia was probably just trying to clear out 8-tracks, because CDs would soon be taking over.  There was a set of three Waylon Jennings tapes:  "Dreaming my Dreams" and two others, all great songs.  But I swear, we must have worn out "Dreaming my Dreams".  Packaged together the three CDs were a real bargain, so I paid Lucy whatever the cost was and she delivered the goods as soon as she received them. 

As the songs played one after another on the way to the hospital yesterday, I was flabbergasted at the perfection of every lyric, except for one that I don't remember ever hearing.  I guess we must have fast-forwarded through it a lot.  I remembered the first four-wheel-drive pickup Cliff ever had, a shiny black work of art, and how excited he was when we got about 10 inches of snow.  School was cancelled, so he and the kids took off to see if they could get that marvelous new vehicle stuck.  It was hours before I saw them again, but they came back smiling.  It's probably just as well I stayed home.  I'm sure they would have Waylon singing in the background, because that's the first vehicle we ever had for which we purchased an 8-track player.

The CD we listened to yesterday was one I purchased used, online, when I was replacing albums I remembered from the old days.  But it's been in the car all that time, and we don't spend a lot of time in the car.  Anyway, it was wonderful hearing those songs, with all the nostalgia they provoked.  I found the songs on Amazon Prime awhile ago and made a playlist, and I'm getting ready to tell Alexa to play it for me. 

If I had to choose a favorite, I suppose it would be "Darlin' Let's Turn Back the Years".  There's an instrumental interlude that I always claimed as "my turn to sing", and although it was about one key higher than I comfortably can sing in, I belted it out anyhow.  Every time it played.  Even yesterday.