Can’t Separate

 

Can’t Separate

 

Can’t separate me from the past

my grandfather’s desertion

the tenacity of my grandmothers

the stories told and retold

by the aunts who remember  

 

Can’t separate me from my childhood

Dad’s bellowing and invented words

Mom’s steadfastness and silly jokes

brothers by my side, happy or not

supper in the kitchen every night

 

Can’t separate me from those cousins

who made paper dolls for me

we swam and skated and pretended

and whispered into the night

those first and forever friends

 

Can’t separate me from my husband

who made a new family with me

who grew and stumbled by my side

the one who really knows me

and loves me anyway

 

Can’t separate me from my offspring

flesh of my flesh who look like their dad

my babies grown up too soon

across state lines and time zones

in joy and sorrow, mine

 

Can’t separate me from this next generation

the little ones who let me love on them

these two with bits of me inside

this hope for the future

this family of mine

 

Written April, 2017

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Grief

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Sometimes when you are grieving it helps to talk to someone. But, sometimes it helps to just lose yourself in a book (or TV show) and relate to a fictional character or situation. And cry.

“When you lose someone suddenly and unexpectedly it hurts differently…it’s like a lightning bolt you can’t even see reaching inside of you and tearing out your guts…” – Randall, This is Us

That was exactly how I felt when I got the call about my mom- like my guts were torn out. And then I had to go full steam for a while.

“And then I thought about my friend Bluford Jackson, the one who got lockjaw after firecrackers burned his hand last Christmas. He had died soon after New Year’s Day and now nearly six months later I was just finally seeing that Blue was gone for good.”  – Will, in Cold Sassy Tree by  Olive Ann Burns

I can relate to Will’s feelings. It’s been three and a half months since Mom died, and it hits me in unexpected moments more and more. Grief is sometimes elusive, sometimes a pressing weight.

“Grief is different from unhappiness. In unhappiness one is stuck in time. In grief, time is totally askew.” – Sold Into Eqypt by Madeleine L’Engle 

“When people die, they are not wiped out of our lives as though they had never been, they are still and always part of our history. ” – Sold Into Eqypt by Madeleine L’Engle  

Today would have been my dad’s 86th birthday, but he died at 63. After 23 years, he is still a part of so many stories we tell, so many memories we cherish. He is in the height of my older son and the curls of my younger daughter; he is in the work ethic of my brothers. I read his words of love in the letters I found after Mom died, and although he had a hard time expressing those words aloud sometimes, I knew it was there.

 

 

 

Monday Music #10/Wonder #5

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1st Christmas in Jacksonville – 1965

This is a 2-for-1 combo of Monday Music and Wonder (Years).

The Wonder Years is one of those shows I could watch over and over. In Season Two/Episode Six, Harper’s Woods, the childhood hangout of Kevin, Winnie, and Paul, is set for destruction. A shopping mall was on the horizon.

“ Every kid needs a place to go to be a kid” – the Wonder Years

Growing up, we had a Harper’s Woods of our own, though it didn’t have a name. We just called it The Woods. It was across the road from our little neighborhood, a street of about 45 homes, built in the mid-sixties. I’m not a good judge of size, but I’d guestimate it was 9-10 acres. Within those boundaries were trails walked, and for the fortunate few, ridden by mini-bikes; forts built by trial and error;  games played; and tons of imagination swirling around.

I never saw a parent enter our little territory. If someone was late coming home or needed by mom, a sibling was sent in to fetch the required kid.

“There’s something in those woods you can’t see with your eyes. You have to look with your heart. It’s my childhood.” – The Wonder Years

Our other natural playground was the large drainage ditch than ran behind the houses. There my brothers shot moccasins and brought them home to be skinned. I waded in, catching minnows and little crawdads, always on alert for snakes, though. At the end of our street, the ditch emptied in a little creek. Across that creek was a magical zone I discovered when I was just on the brink of being a teenager. In it was a patch of bamboo and a huge fallen tree that went across the creek.  I crossed the tree, albeit on hands and knees, and wondered at the beauty of it all that I had no words for. Years later, when I read Bridge to Terabithia, it all came back to me. It was exactly what I pictured when I read about Leslie and Jesse.

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Christmas, circa 1987

By the time I was a teenager, our woods were gone, replaced by more houses that expanded our neighborhood. I babysat a lot of kids in my neighborhood, and now I see that in just a few short years, the freedom to roam that I enjoyed was cut short for those kids who came after me.

And now this – I discovered this song by Twenty One Pilots a few years ago and it fits right in here I think. Makes me think of my grandkids and wish they had a place to play like I did.

 

Monday Music #8

I haven’t written  a Monday Music since October, so I thought it was about time.

Over the years my kids have made me a little collection of Mix-CDs. The song I’m posting today is on one made by my youngest. It’s a fun tune, especially for those of us who grew up or dated in cars with bucket seats.

When we got married, my husband had just gotten his first car – a used Dodge Polara, early 70s model. In the picture below you can see it in all it’s glory, headed for our honeymoon. The two guys on the left are my brothers, the other two are brothers from down the street where we all grew up.  Hubby had a standing joke about his COD turn: Come Over Darlin’.

 

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And, a few years later, just like in the song, we had a Chevy Malibu that looked much like the one below.

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Enjoy!

Wonder #4

 

Forever Young

Written by Bob Dylan

 

May God bless and keep you always

May your wishes all come true

May you always do for others

And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung

May you stay

Forever young

Forever young

Forever young

May you stay

Forever young

May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth

And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous

Stand upright and be strong

And may you stay

Forever young

Forever young

Forever young

May you stay

Forever young

May your hands always be busy

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

And may you stay

Forever young

Forever young

Forever young

May you stay

Forever young

 

Below is a clip that sums up The Wonder Years wonderfully. “Forever Young” is sung by Joan Baez.

Thanks for the Musical Inspiration, Garden & Gun

Garden & Gun  Magazine is a must have for southerners, whether born and bred here or transplanted. I find gems in every issue, from music to restaurants to places I want to visit. I even have a playlist on Spotify made just of music I discovered while perusing the pages of this one-of-a-kind publication.

Inspired by an article in the June/July issue, written by Julia Reed, titled Songs of Summer, I got to thinking about songs that stand out in my mind and the memories attached to them. This will just be a sampling through the decades, except I’ll probably skip from the 70s to the 90s. I was having babies in the 80s and just didn’t keep up with the music.

1960s

What came to mind first was “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary. I didn’t realize until I looked it up that it was actually written by John Denver with the original title of “Babe, I Hate to Go”.  My memory comes from a late summer afternoon, riding in the back of my aunt and uncle’s station wagon with my cousins. I learned the song from my cousin Paula, and we were belting it out at the top of our lungs as we rode home from the public pool in Reidsville to their home in Glennville, Georgia. If I close my eyes I can feel the warm summer air blowing on my face, and hear the laughter.

An amusing song, one in which we didn’t get half the words right, was “Judy in Disguise (with glasses)” by Jon Fred & his Playboys. My little brother, when he was about three or four, would sing “Judy in the skies – na na na na…” For some reason it was great fun to egg him on to sing and dance.

JUDY IN DISGUISE (WITH GLASSES)

I can’t let the 60s go by without a Beatle’s shout out. My cousin, Anita (Paula’s sister, see above), used to play “Eleanor Rigby” on the piano upstairs in the playroom of their house. It was an eerie and intriguing song to me, back in an innocent time of my childhood.

 

1970s

Fast forward to my senior year of high school and the disco era. There are just too many songs to mention, but some of my favorites were from KC & the Sunshine band, especially “Boogie Shoes” and “Get Down Tonight”. It was a huge thrill to see them perform live at Disney during Grad Night, 1976. Back then there was a dress code for us seniors and I felt especially cool in my pantsuit, rocking out in the crowd in front of the castle.

BOOGIE SHOES

This next song is also on Reed’s list: “Muskrat Love” by Captain and Tennille. This came on my radar in 1977. My college roommate, Donna, was in love with Tony, and this was “their song”. They were a lot like Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam. She always kept that youthful silliness and I miss her – she passed away a few years ago.

MUSKRAT LOVE

My last 70s mention is “Brickhouse” by The Commodores. Every time I hear this I go back to my first year at Georgia Southern (then College; now University) where I joined the Chi Omega Sorority and this was like our theme song. I always think of Paula Ferguson and a bunch of us dancing to this over and over, though none of us were 36-24-26.

BRICKHOUSE

 

One’s Native Place

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Nothing is as fine as one’s native place – from A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

I wasn’t born in Jacksonville, but I’m claiming  this definition from Merriam-Webster: Native – living or growing naturally in a particular region.

I moved to Jacksonville three months shy of my seventh birthday and lived there off and on for 33 of the next 49 years. I lived and grew there; I was shaped by the influences of family and community.

I long to return, though so much has changed and so many of those I love are gone. Though I’ve lived in two other states and different towns along the way, none of them feel like home. Home is where you share childhood stories and you can reminisce with those who get what you mean. I know that in so many ways ‘you can’t go home again’ is true. But if I can’t go home, where will I go?