Monday Music #19

 

There are songs, special songs, that can transport us back in time to a certain point, a specific memory. Leaving On a Jet Plane is one of those songs for me. I think I mentioned it once before in a blog post.

The song, written by John Denver, was recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary in 1967. So, I imagine it was around  the summer of 1968 or 69 when my cousin Paula and I sang it at the top of our lungs in the back of her parents station wagon. We, all us Graham/Denmark cousins, had been to the next town over to swim. We were headed home down a south Georgia two-lane, the summer air blowing our hair around as it dried our swimsuits, and I don’t remember if the song came on the radio or if we just started singing it. I’m not sure why this moment in time has stuck with me all these years. I think it was the pure joy of the moment, the carefree happiness of a childhood that was always made better when cousins were around.

A few weeks ago I reunited with Paula for a weekend in Arkansas. It was the first time, probably since that summer, that we had been together for any length of time. In fact, we’d only seen each other 4-5 times in the intervening years. But, there is something about the bond of cousins – the years made no difference – it was like we picked up where we’d left off so many summers ago.  We have led such different lives, yet the bond of family and the bond of Christ has held us together. For that I am grateful.

 

me 7 P

 

 

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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

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’.

 

Scan0002

 

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

maibou 2

Enjoy!

Little Boy

e1

PAD Day 4 was to write a portrait poem. This one’s for E.

 

 

Little Boy

I know you like smoked cheddar,

but not that weird cheese, Ricotta

you know every Star Wars character

and superhero

but you didn’t know your great-grandpas

your cow-lick is untamable,

your curiosity insatiable

you are lanky and heavy footed

you love videos that are silly

and reading in bed

you have a wonderful laugh,

but it stays buried inside too often

when you sleep you sleep hard,

then you are up with the sun

you are the little boy

I will always love

 

 

One’s Native Place

visitjacksonville.com

photo-visitjacksonville.com

 

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?

 

 

 

Thoughts Inspired by This is Us #2: Moments

jimvalvano1

 

S2/E11    –   “The Fifth Wheel”

While Kevin and his mom are talking he backpedals a bit, saying  “I didn’t have an unhappy childhood.”

“It wasn’t as good as I thought,” Rebecca says sadly. “But I know we had moments,” (and we see them sleeping together on the floor during a thunderstorm) “you and me, Kevin. I know we did. I feel it in my bones.”

Thinking about moments with each of my children. The scene of Rebecca and Kevin sleeping on the floor reminded me of the months of my last pregnancy. The two older kids were in school, so me and #3 had a lot of time to spend together. He was my sidekick, my shadow, my nap buddy. After lunch and before his siblings got home, we would snuggle up together on the couch, often to the drowsiness inducing sound of the dishwasher running in the kitchen. These were sweet moments.

There was the terrifying moment I had with #4, holding hands with this eleven year old girl as we rode in the ambulance together after our car wrecked, this child who was thrown out of the back window. Those seconds when I could not see her were the longest I’ve ever had. God’s grace was on us that night, cushioning the landing of my youngest in the tall grasses on the side of the road.

Then there was the moment when I landed in Shannon, Ireland. My older daughter, who took a different flight, had arrived an hour earlier. She had made a CD of the Duhks for me to listen to on my flight over the Atlantic. I was so excited and relieved at the same time when I saw her there waiting for me, and the next week was an adventure I’ll always cherish.

A moment I remember with my eldest was in 2003 when I went to visit him in DC. We were riding around, seeing a few sights, and he was concerned because I was so quiet. I didn’t realize then how sad I felt – I couldn’t put a name on it, I couldn’t call it depression. But, he reached over and held my hand. Now, 15 years later he is a nurse, often working with patients who are suffering depression. He stills shows that empathy. He knows.

 

Comfort Clothes

A few years ago, my cousin Debbie wrote a lovely piece about her trusty brown sweater. She says,

“This is my someone’s at the door, throw over your gown, warm, feel good, soft, sleep in, coffee stained (you can’t see them, thankful brown) enduring, lasting, missing one button, never fail me sweater. I keep it because it is the one thing I can trust to give me that peace of mind and comfort I need.”

This brought to mind Old Red. Old Red was an old red wool coat that belonged to my mom. Long past its prime, it hung in the closet for years. On Saturday afternoons when Dad would kick back in his recliner in the den, with a golf game on TV, he would say, “Go bring me Old Red.” I, or whichever of my brothers was closest, would go it from the closet. Dad would proceed to cover up and fall asleep. But we wouldn’t dare try to change the channel. He would stir up and bellow, “I’m watching that.” I wonder whatever became of that coat; it would have come in handy here in Alabama.

Then there were my overalls.
overalls

When I was in college at Georgia Southern, there was this great old fashioned hardware store in town where you could buy painters pants and overalls. In the mid-70s these were the fashion around campus. I wore my overalls a lot. A whole lot.  I have a picture of me in them a few years later at Clearwater Beach holding my firstborn son. I also remember that I had them on the day I rushed out of the house to take my neighbor and her son to the ER. I didn’t have time to change, just scooped up the baby and the diaper bag and flew out the door. Barefoot. I’m sure people were shaking their heads at me at the hospital, especially when I had to go into the restroom to unhook them in order to nurse my baby. Then, when I was pregnant with our second, I wore them through about my fifth month. I think I finally gave them up when they got too many holes in them.

My husband had a pair of comfort shorts. When he finally replaced them, we had a burial ceremony in the side yard. He put them in a  shoebox and dug a hole, and then we and the four kids all trooped out, very somber of course, while he said a few parting words over them. They had lived a good life and died with dignity.

I appreciate Debbie and her trusty brown sweater. Comforts clothes are akin to comfort foods. And to friends.  We need to keep them around.

I love how she ends her thoughts. Thank you, Debbie.

“People are constantly telling us we need to let go of the past and move forward. No, we don’t have to forget the past; it is a part of who we are, where we have been and where we are now. Holding on is what we call “memories” and what’s wrong with having those to fall back to?… It is the thread of life that connects us to each other and if I find it woven in a piece of clothing, I’ll hang on to it and I’ll continue to hang this sweater over me until it or I am no more.”

 

(originally published 11/15)