Wednesday, November 30, 2011

JOYCE CLARK - MOM

Today is my mom's birthday.  I don't know what to really say about her except she has had to go above and beyond the call of duty of an ordinary woman raising a family.  It was a situation forced upon her and a situation which she accepted and worked on.

She had four children when my father came as close to death as one could possibly get.  He suffered from an aneurism in his brain which left him with a long rehab period to get back to where he could function in the world.  He had terrible headaches from the incident and it came to mom to take the reigns of the family and be sure we got through life okay.

She took me to speech lessons when no one could understand a word I said.  More time and money taken from her already busy schedule and small budget.  It was probably the best gift she could ever give me.  I talk very clearly now and even though people don't understand what I am saying they can understand the words coming out of my mouth.

She did a good, no a great job of it.  Dad had gone back to work and while it was difficult for him, he was doing his part of raising the family as best as he could.  Dad did his very best, there is no doubt about that and I am oh so proud of my dad.  However there was a lot left to be done that dad was not able to handle completely.  Mom had to step up and pick up the slack.

Mom and dad believed that a mother should stay at home and raise their kids and so she did.  For many years she stayed at home raising the four of us plus taking in other children to babysit in order to make some extra money.  It was hard work but she did what she had to.

I think she really always wanted to work outside the house.  She is very intelligent and has a good head for figures.  Raising kids was more important though and so that was the path she took.  Everyday when I got home from school, mom was there.  She was there when I was terrified to on my first day of kindergarten.

It wasn't easy raising four kids, especially the four of us.  We were all different with different needs and I believe she did her best to meet those needs.  She had to make decisions concerning the finances and budget of the family and to make sure we never wanted.  She taught us to be honest in all our dealings.  Not to lie and not to cheat.  She taught us to show respect for our elders and really to show respect for everyone.

Christmas must have been especially difficult.  I know she wanted to give us everything we wanted but had to budget and make Christmas as good as it could be for us.  It was the same situation year round.  Making the money stretch, taking care of dad, raising four kids.  That is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility to put on ones self.  In her mind it was the right thing to do and I agree with her.  I feel really lucky to have had my mom there whenever I needed something.  I knew where she would be while friends of mind came home to empty houses.

As time went on the situation began to get better.  Dad began to slowly heal over a thirty year span.  Eventually mom went to work.  She got work as a tax preparer in a private firm.  She proved herself and quickly rose in the ranks at the firm.  She would eventually retire from that firm even though I don't think she was really ready to retire.

This has been a pretty rosy picture, right?  Well mom is human as we all are.  She has made some small mistakes over the years but very small ones.  I have not always agreed with her on things and I got into plenty of trouble growing up.  That is all on me though.  I believe that my mom did her absolute best and did what she truly believed was the right thing to do.  The things she thought were the right thing to do turned out to be the right things to do looking back on things. 

I feel extremely lucky to still have both my parents as long as I have.  Our family has more or less stuck together.  That wouldn't have been possible without mom.  Mom kept the family running, kept us going through some extremely difficult times.  She held the family together because she worked hard at it.  It wasn't an easy task for her.  I think I speak for my brother and sisters when I say we realize that ist was difficult and we are thankful she worked so very hard to accomplish what she did.  She smiled a lot when it wasn't easy to smile.

If ever there was a reason to get the saying "just a housewife" out of the English language, it is my mom.  She was never "just a housewife".  I can not look at her and see those words match up together.  She is so much more than that.

She continues to take good care of dad and she continues to worry about her kids and grandkids and even great grandkids.  She is the matriarch of our family.  She deserves respect for all that she has done over the years.

Somehow this piece just doesn't feel like it does justice to her.  It is the best I can do right now though.  All I can say is "You did a good job mom.  Thank you for all the sacrifices and the lessons you taught as I was growing up."

Love you

Friday, November 25, 2011

THE TABLE

The table was made out of dark wood and looked heavy.  It had massive legs that held it up off of the floor.  It was the center piece of Grandma Hill's dining room.  It seemed that everything that went on in that house centered around the dining room table.

It was where Grandpa held court when there was trouble between his children in the early years.  It was where report cards from school were discussed.  The table was where thousands of checker games were played and hundreds of Monopoly games were played.  Strange card games with titles as "Rook" and "Pit" were carried out on this table.  Grandpa did his writing on this this table.  He would write poems and letters to the local newspaper there.  The surface of the table never seemed to wear out over the years even with all of this activity going on upon it.

The accessories in the dining room for the table included a china cabinet and a buffet,  Grandma's bell collection around the plate rail and my uncle's violin hanging on the wall.  One whole side of the dining room were windows that looked out on the flower garden.  A window seat went the length of the wall sitting just below the windows.

It was a beautiful room.  Grandma had entered a competition one time with Better Homes and Garden in which she described the table and the room and the importance it had held over the years for the family.  I went over and took pictures of the dining room for her to send in with her article.  she didn't win, but in my mind she captured the importance of the table and what surrounded it wonderfully.  This room was indeed the central control room of the house.  It was where anything important occurred.

It was at the holiday season when the table really showed it's importance.  Grandma would fix big Easter dinners that would be consumed at the table as well as even bigger Christmas dinners.  Both of these events made my Grandmother's talent at cooking and setting a table shine.  But the most important day of the year for the table was Thanksgiving.

There were not any other trappings during the Thanksgiving holiday except for Thanksgiving itself.  There were no Easter egg hunts or Christmas tales of what we all got for Christmas to take away from what the table's role was.  At Thanksgiving it was all about the table.

Grandma would spend all day cooking getting things ready.  The best plates would be pulled out and set upon the great table.  Standard dishes would be made that we could not get anywhere else.  Her homemade cranberry sauce along with her creamed potatoes and a small dish of oysters.  She enjoyed cooking and cooking for the Thanksgiving meal just brought that much more joy in her heart.

The Hill family took Thanksgiving very seriously.  The family would gather that night and food filled every inch of the table.  Grandpa always sat at the head of the table.  As the family grew, smaller tables would be set as accessories to the main table in the living room.  The important thing was that the family was together ans together for one purpose. That purpose was to be thankful.

Lest we forget what the purpose of that day was, my Grandpa would send up a prayer before dinner that reiterated what that day was about.  Thankfulness for the entire family each and every member whether they were able to be there or not.  He would thank God for our good fortune at having each other.  He would be thankful for all that we were provided.  The food, our shelter and the ability to help others.  He would be thankful that God had looked down on this family and protected us and provided us with what we needed, not what we wanted.

Televisions were seldom turned on at Thanksgiving.  Instead the entertainment may be a board game or card game or just spending time talking with those you loved.  Talk of what had happened over the past year and summarizing the events were often the topic of a lot of talks.  Politics was probably the hottest topic of all every Thanksgiving.  I can remember sitting on the window seat while my uncles and grandpa discussed, read argued here, the politics of the day.  I sat and quietly listened and received my first lessons in history and in political thought.

It was tradition for Grandma to leave a few things out on the table after dinner was over.  Turkey was always left out for a while as well as bread and other foods that could be eaten with fingers.  This was important because while all this talking made people hungry.  The uncles were the worst culprits.  They would pick at food during their "discussions" on politics  The thinking and making a point would bring up their appetite.  The worst of these was my Uncle Melvin.  After dinner he would hover around the table talking and listening to his brothers and his father picking at food the whole time.  I think he must have eaten a whole second meal and a part of a third before the evening came to a close.

As I sat at my mother's table yesterday for a small Thanksgiving meal I could see parallels to past Thanksgivings at Grandma and Grandpa's   It was a much smaller scale and there were no discussions involving politics and the food was picked up and put away.  There was not any lingering and picking of the food after the meal was done.  It was just over.

Over the years, the Thanksgiving holiday has lessened in it's meaning.  I tried to watch the Macy's parade Thanksgiving morning and saw very little of it.  The televised parade has become a long commercial for the networks shows and Broadway shows.  Very little of the parade itself was actually shown on the television.  I turned it off halfway through it.

The commercialization of Christmas has over shadowed and over taken the Thanksgiving meaning.  Thanksgiving has become lost since the stores and people in general have started the Christmas season the day after Halloween.  It is all about money and there is no money to be made on Thanksgiving.

It is a shame really.  When I look back on Thanksgivings in the past and the meaning that Thanksgiving meant and the way we were taught to truly be thankful for all that this country has given us, all that God has blessed us with.  All of this seems to have faded into the background.

We have one day now to show our thankfulness and to think of what we are thankful for.  There is no way you can think of all that you have been blessed with in one day.  Those weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving are just as important as thanksgiving Day itself.  It should be used as a time to reflect and prepare to truly give thanks and be thankful for our blessings.

I was pleased to see a lot of my Facebook friends give a reason for being thankful every day since Halloween.  It was a good exercise for all of them as well as me.  We have so much to be thankful for in this country even with the hardships that we face right now as a nation.  This country is still that city on the hill and each and every one of us are blessed to be able to live here.

Over the past year I can point to many things that I am grateful for.  connections remade with family members.  Still having my job even though the company went through some very difficult times.  My wife and son who watch out for me.  I have had food and shelter and have been able to give help to others when it is needed.  I was able to make three trips down south this year.  One for a funeral, one for a wedding and one because my sister needed someone to be there in a rough time for her.  I am thankful that I was able to make those trips because each of them were important.

I am thankful that I have those memories of Thanksgivings past and being able to be truly thankful. I am thankful I can still have memories of those that are gone who influenced my life so greatly.  Memories of both my Grandmothers, of my Grandpa, of Uncles Duane, Dan and Bill, Buster and Melvin and Aunts Jane and June among others.

I do long for the days when we have a few weeks to think of our blessings and to be thankful for them before we begin the maddening Christmas season.  I am afraid those days are gone though.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

UP ON THE ROOF

Every night I would come home and come face to face with one of the chores I dread doing around the house.  I would walk up towards the house and take a quick glance up at the gutter over the garage door.  There I would see leaves spilling out over the top.  The gutters were full and would need to be cleaned out before the next rain came.

I put it off as long as I could keeping an eye on the weather forecast every morning before I left for work.  Then one morning I heard the words coming from the television that i did not want to hear.  It would be warm on Friday and Saturday with high winds.  Sunday would turn cold and moving in on Sunday night would be rain that would stick around for a few days.  I knew deep in the pit of my stomach that the time had come to take care of the gutters.

I called Brett that afternoon and asked him if he was working Saturday.  I also had a back yard of leaves up to my ankles that needed mulching.  I knew that my hands would be limited in using the leaf blower on the gutters and then trying t run the lawn mower all in one day.  Ever since my wrist were victimized by carpel tunnel syndrome too much vibration on the wrist would make my hands useless.  So I asked Brett to come over and hold the ladder for me while I climbed up on the roof and got the gutters cleaned and then he would run the mower over the leaves and mulch them up.  He said that it was no problem and he would be there at nine on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning greeted me at nine-thirty.  Brett wasn't there yet but that was not a big surprise.  I had told him any time would be okay as long as we got it done before the Mizzou game started.  I decided to face my demons and go ahead and get the gutters done while I was waiting for him.  Now, if you have been reading this blog for awhile you know that I am terrified of heights.  The thing is that Brett isn't too wild about high places either so I had made the decision that since it was my house, I would do the high chores while he stayed grounded.  It seemed like the best thing to do since he was willing to help out.

I got dressed and put on my jacket and went to the garage.  I pulled my extension ladder out and took it to the back of the house.  I always climb on the roof from the back of the house because I look really silly getting up the ladder and stepping onto the roof because of my fear.  I look even sillier trying to get from the roof back onto the ladder to climb down.  I did not need the extra pressure of having Jim, my neighbor across the street, see me struggle to get up on the roof.

Jim is a very nice man and we have become pretty good friends over the years.  Jim is about fifteen years older than I am and when we were both younger he was always busying himself around his house keeping it up.  I would see him fearlessly on his roof leaning over to paint spots here and there during the summer and of course gutter cleaning presented no problem to him at all.  I always had the feeling that he knew I was trying to keep my house up but he did it so much better than I did.  I tried to keep up with him on the house work but never quite could until two summers ago.  The water company was replacing sewer lines and had dug up Jim's front yard.  For the first time in thirty years my yard finally looked better than his and I did not hesitate to walk over and tell him about it.  In the back of my head, Jim owed me one because of that.

After getting the ladder set up against the side of the house I went and got the leaf blower.  I have made it a habit to start the leaf blower and get it running while on the ground.  Using this method I would not be trying to start it cold from the roof where I envisioned myself pulling on the start rope so hard as to throw myself from the roof.  I would get it warmed up, turn it off and then climb up the ladder.  Once on the roof I would start the leaf blower rather easily because it had already been warmed up.  And so I began the ritual.

After starting the leaf blower and turning it back off I began to climb the ladder with the leaf blower in one hand and my shaking left hand holding onto the ladder.   My knees would shake with every step I took closer to the roof.  I finally arrived at the roof and after setting the leaf blower on it, pulled myself over the ladder onto the roof.

After getting on the roof I sat and took a couple of deep breaths looking around me to get use to the height.  Then came the moment.  The most deadly moment.  I got on my knees and pulled the rope on the leaf blower.  It started right on up much to my relief.

I slowly stood up and began walking down the edge of the roof blowing the leaves out of the gutter.  I stayed as far from the edge as the leaf blower would let me.  The weatherman had been right.  It was windy up there and that only made slightly more terrifying to walked along the edge.  After getting the back gutters done and having established my legs as being steady, I climbed over the peak of the house to the front gutters.  I saw Jim's garage door open and knew that he was in there watching me.  He always stayed in the shadows of his garage watching me as I worked.  One time I was out trimming with the the lawn trimmer when it had stopped.  I tried and tried to get it started again.  Suddenly Jim appeared from his garage and asked me if I had gas in it.  I had looked at the gas tank to see it was empty.  Jim had just smiled and faded back into his garage.  This is the kind of thing I did not want to happen while I was on the roof.

I eventually finished the front gutters and, pleased with myself, climbed over the peak of the house to head back to the ladder and get myself down off the roof.  As I crested the peak my eyes landed where the ladder should be.  It was not there.  Apparently the wind had taken it down and while I did not go to the edge of the roof to check on the ladder, I pretty much had a good idea of where it was.

I had been up there about half an hour blowing leaves and now I couldn't get down.  Brett had not arrived yet.  I called out to Barb a few times but received no answer.  The doors and windows were shut to keep the stiff cool wind out of the house.  I stood up and looked around.  I began to try to figure things out.  I looked over the top of the house and saw Jim's garage door open.  I thought about it for a bit.  I imagined yelling over to Jim's but couldn't bear the thought of the old man coming over to rescue me once again.  No, Jim was not the answer.

I sat on the roof and pondered my options.  I could try to jump from the roof and hope for the best that I wouldn't break an ankle or a foot.  The more I thought of that option the more I realized that it wasn't really an option.  I sat and continued to think.

After about ten minutes of sitting up there the girl next door cam out and played fetch with her dog.  She had not looked up in the sky and I was being fairly quiet and so she did not realize I was up there.  I watched her play with her dog and was just about to get the courage up to ask her for help when she went back inside.  It was for the best I suppose because if I had called to her, Jim would have heard and would have seen her walk over to my house to save me.  I took a deep breath and decided to sit it out hoping Brett would show up soon.

Finally after sitting on the roof about half an hour I saw his bald shaven head come walking around the corner of the house into the back yard.  My boy had arrived.  I watched him as he looked around the back yard and call out for me.  I slapped my leg and he looked up.  Then he looked at the ladder on the ground followed by looking up at me again.  He walked over to the ladder without say a word and soon I found myself handing him the leaf blower as he reached the roof on the ladder.  I did my silly move to get back on the ladder and began my descent.  It was not long before I found myself back on solid ground.

We talked about the mornings events as to how long I had been up there, as to how I was not going to ask Jim for help and so on.  Then I had to go into the house and explain to Barb where I had been for the last hour and tell her all the grisly details about being stuck on the roof and about how I wasn't going to ask Jim and all the other facts of the adventure.

It was time to go to the grocery store.  Barb said she would come with me since it was Thanksgiving shopping and there were a lot of items that I usually do not get.  While we were gone Brett mulched the leaves in both the front and back yard.

When I came home from the store I looked up at my nemesis once again.  No leaves spilling out over the top.  The gutters were clean before the rains and the the cold weather arrived.  The yard looked good with most of the leaves now gone and Brett and I sat in the warmth of the house to Watch Mizzou win another football game and become bowl eligible.

It is a good feeling to know that the chore of the leaves are done for another year.  Next year I will make sure that I have the ladder set up so that the wind does not blow it over again.  That is how life is.  No matter how old you get or how many times you do something, there is always something new to learn as you progress through life.  This year I learned that the wind can leave me stranded and alone with my thoughts on top of the house.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BEAUTIFUL MUSIC - POP

I was listening to some of my music this afternoon and came across some truly wonderful beautiful songs.  I began trying to think what songs I consider the most beautiful songs that effect me.  The rules I set for myself were simple.  The melody had to be one that catches in your mind and keeps coming back over and over.  The melody also had to carry the meaning of the song working hand in hand with the lyrics.

The lyrics had to be meaningful and have a purpose.  Sappy lyrics are not permitted.  The words have to convey the emotion that the writer is trying to get across.  It has to let the listener know what the message is without being cryptic.

The song has had to stand the test of time.  It has to communicate from generation to generation.  /this is the most difficult part of the test for a song to past.  There are different ways a song can accomplish this.  The original recording can be unsurpassed  and be the  best recording possible and able to touch the hearts of generations to come.  Another way is for each generation to have a new recording of the song that easily speaks to the generation it is recorded for.

There are a few song writers that immediately jump out as being great song writers with several songs worthy of making the cut.  Paul Simon, Carol King and Hank Williams Sr fit into this category.  After giving it much thought here are a few songs that I think meet the criteria

I expect there to be many disagreements pertaining to my choices.  That is the way it should be.  Music is as individual as those that listen to it and appreciate it.  This is my list as of today.  If I had written this yesterday or tomorrow, the list might be completely different.  It's music.  The way you look at music a lot of times depends on your mood or where you are in life.  

Number ten finds us with Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay."  The story of a man lost in the world and not able to find himself.  After searching everywhere he finds himself in San Francisco with the realization that he has no life and the thought process leading up to suicide.

Number nine I see a song that has been covered too many times to count. Each time it is recorded it sounds new but still brings about the emotion of lost love.  "Faded Love" is this song.

Number eight is "Love Hurts"as recorded by Graham Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris.  The voices in this recording match the beauty and the pain that love can bring.

Number seven I decided was Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle".  Any parent who has raised their children can relate to this song on some level.

Number six is Willie Nelson's masterpiece "Crazy".  While I prefer Patsy Cline's recording, I have yet to hear a bad recording of this song.

Now we get down to the REALLY good songs and the most difficult to choose.

Number five is George Harrison's "Something".  Easily a contender as one of the Beatles best recordings.  John and Paul never seemed to get in touch with their emotions as deeply as George did on this song.

Number four is Roy Orbison's "Crying".  Not enough can be said about this song. The melody follows the lyrics Orbison's voice puts the finishing touch on it.

Number three brings Carol King to us with "You've Got A Friend".  The same year she recorded this wonderful song, James Taylor recorded it.  It is his version that is better known but this is a song for the ages.

Number two slot is filled with Paul Simon's signature song "Bridge Over Troubled Water".  Art Garfunkels voice on the original recording is filled with passion.  you can not listen to this song without memories of someone in your past that faced tough times or a time when you were facing tough times and someone was there for you.

Number one was probably the easiest choice for me to make.  I knew it would be my number one when I first started thinking about this list.  "I'm so lonesome I Could Cry" by Hank Sr. can be recorded by almost anyone and when you sing it, you can't help but feel the loneliness and heart break of someone who feels totally alone and isolate from the world.  In my opinion it is the most beautiful pop song ever written.

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
Words and music by Hank Williams

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry

I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry

Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves began to die?
Like me he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry

Friday, November 11, 2011

A BETTER PLACE TO BE

Eddie Harper found himself in his mid fifties and alone.  People said he was an alcoholic and maybe they were right.  Looking back over things he could see how his drinking had cost him his wife and family and a good job many years ago.

He found himself working at Miller's Tool and Die, a small machine shop that was in the bad part of town.  He had been hired as the night security guard to protect the business from vandals and graffiti artists.  It was a huge drop from his accounting job that he had held some fifteen years before.  He found that the booze had made him a loser in the eyes of women and so now he was alone.

He lived in a small boarding house in a little one room with a shared toilet.  It wasn't exactly the way he had envisioned his life playing out.  Now he was alone and lonely and only imagined striking up conversations with women that he would see at the diner where he ate his meals or the bar that he went to when he got off work.

The bar he went to opened at ten in the morning.  Technically it was a bar and grill set up and stayed open until three in the morning.  A few days ago after a morning of drinking at the bar then going home drunk, he had slept past the time he was to be at work.  The boss had given him a warning that his job could be in danger if he was late many more times because of drinking.  He had decided to go on the wagon once again and for what seemed to be the hundredth time, try to clean his act up.

He had stayed away from the bar for about a week having breakfast after work a the diner and avoiding the bar all together.  Then last week he was at the diner and saw one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.  In his mind he imagined striking up a conversation with her that ended with her going back to his room to spend the day. It was a wonderful fantasy that almost seemed too real.  As the woman finished her meal and left he realized that he would  spend the rest of his life alone.  He no longer had the courage to even say hi to anyone like that.  What the hell he decided.  Not drinking was making things worse then better and so on this morning he found himself back at the bar and grill, depressed about his life and drinking gin at ten in the morning.

As he came into the barroom the waitress got him a glass of gin out of habit.  She had noticed that Eddie hadn't been there for awhile and asked him where had been.  Eddie ignored her questioning, too busy wallowing in his own self pity of the realization of being alone as a way of life for him until he would die.  The waitress told him that if he didn't want to talk, that was fine with her, but she was there to listen if he felt like talking.

Eddie sat there quietly and the fantasy from the diner reentered his mind.  The beautiful woman and how he had fantasized about taking her home.  He took a drink and then decided to tell the waitress about the fantasy.

As he began to talk the waitress came over and leaned on the bar listening to his story.  As she listened she could almost feel the pain in his voice.  He told her about approaching the woman and talking to her and how she had asked him to take her home with him and spend some time with him.  He talked with such passion that the waitress believed that he was relating a real part of his life, not realizing it was all a fantasy.  As Eddie finished the story with the woman slipping out on him while he was gone to get her something to eat.  In his fantasy she had left him a note and he knew he would never see this lovely woman again.  As he finished, she refilled his glass with gin and he began sipping on it.

After he had taken a couple of drinks from the glass he looked up at the waitress and noticed that she had a tear in her eye.  She began telling him that she knew how he felt.  She was lonely too.  She was not the kind of woman that men easily approached with conversation.  She felt like it was because she was a little overweight and not that good looking.   She expressed to him that people like them were not meant to be alone, it was something that life had just laid on them.  The waitress sadly said that it was too bad that people like themselves were meant to be so alone that they probably wouldn't even find another like themselves.  Another lonely soul that just wanted to be loved and have someone to spend time with.  She sometimes wished that she would have someone who would meet her when she got off work and go home with her to take away the loneliness.

Eddie listened to her as she expressed her frustration with life and relationships.  He began to formulate an idea.  The more he thought about it the more it seemed like this was something that could happen and it brought a small smile to his face.  He finished his drink and looked into her eyes.  He took her hand and stare at her trying to get his courage up.  Finally he asked her what time she would be off work.  She told him that she worked until five that evening.  He finally took a deep breath and looked down at the bar and in a soft shaky voice he told her, " I ain't got no place to go.  If you want, I can pick you up after work tonight.  Where I am at now, any place is a better place to be."

As the waitress watched Eddie leave the bar she smiled and her whole day changed.  She understood exactly what he was saying.  When you got no place to go, any place is indeed a better place to be.


A Better Place to be
by Harry Chapin

 
It was an early morning bar room,
And the place just opened up.
And the little man come in so fast and
Started at his cup.
And the broad who served the whisky
She was a big old friendly girl.
And she tried to fight her empty nights
By smilin' at the world.
And she said "Hey Bub, It's been awhile
Since you been around.
Where the hell you been hidin' ?
And why you look so down ?"
But the little man just sat there like he'd never heard a sound.
The waitress she gave out with a cough,
And acting not the least put off,
She spoke once again.
She said, "I don't want to bother you,
Consider it's understood.
I know I'm not no beauty queen,
But I sure can listen good."
And the little man took his drink in his hand
And he raised it to his lips.
He took a couple of sips.
And he told the waitress this story.
"I am the midnight watchman down at Miller's Tool and Die.
And I watch the metal rusting, and I watch the time go by.
A week ago at the diner I stopped to get a bite.
And this here lovely lady she sat two seats from my right.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was alright.
"Oh she was so damned beautiful that she'd warm a winter's frost.
But she was long past lonely, and well nigh unto lost.
Now I'm not much of a mover, or a pick-em-up easy guy,
But I decided to glide on over, and give her one good try.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was worth a try.
"Tongued-tied like a school boy, I stammered out some words.
But it did not really matter much, 'cause I don't think she heard.
She just looked clear on through me to a space back in my head.
And it shamed me into silence, as quietly she said,
'If you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me.
Cause I know I'm going nowhere, and anywhere's a better place to be.
Anywhere's a better place to be.'
"I drove her to my boarding house, and I took her up to my room.
And I went to turn on the only light to brighten up the gloom.
But she said, 'Please leave the light off, Oh I don't mind the dark.'
And as her clothes all tumbled 'round her, I could hear my heart.
The moonlight shown upon her as she lay back in my bed.
It was the kind of scene I only had imagined in my head.
I just could not believe it, to think that she was real.
And as I tried to tell her she said 'Shhh.. I know just how you feel.
And if you want to come here with me, then that's all right with me.
'Cause I've been oh so lonely, lovin' someone is a better way to be.
anywhere's a better way to be.'
"The morning come so swiftly but I held her in my arms.
But she slept like a baby, snug and safe from harm.
I did not want to share her with the world or break the mood,
So before she woke I went out and brought us both some food.
"I came back with my paper bag, to find out she was gone.
She'd left a six word letter saying 'It's time that I moved on.'"
The waitress took a bar rag, and she wiped it across her eyes.
And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh.
She said "I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
And I wish I weren't so dog-gone fat, I wish that you were mine.
And I wish that you'd come with me, when I leave for home.
For we both know all about loneliness, and livin' all alone."
And the little man,
Looked at the empty glass in his hand.
And he smiled a crooked grin,
He said, " I guess I'm out of gin.
And know we both have been so lonely.
And if you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me.
'Cause I know I'm goin' nowhere and anywhere's a better place to be."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

AND SO IT BEGINS

One night we are sitting relaxing watching our favorite television shows.  The commercials during these shows are full of scenes of happy little kids dressed in costumes trick or treating.  The next day the commercials suddenly are playing Christmas carols at us with suggestions on what the people on our individual Christmas lists really want for Christmas.

The stores go from a black and orange motif with bite size candy bars filling the shelves to aisles filled with Christmas trees and eggnog filling the milk areas.  It has been this way for a while now, I know.  There is still something inside of me that really gets irritated at the moving up of the Christmas season though.

When I was growing up after Halloween was finished, we went back to school and began learning about Thanksgiving.  Art classes were spent making turkeys using the outline of our hands.  We spent the next four weeks looking forward to a family get together that would remind us how lucky and thankful we are to be related to these people.  When you think about it, we probably do need a time or two to remind us why we are so thankful to have siblings that you fight with the rest of the yesr.

When thanksgiving finally arrived and was over with, they turned on the Plaza Lights in Kansas City.  Kids knew that it was now time to start logging your days of being good.  All you had to really do was be good for one month and that would pay off with the coming of Christmas morning.  Kids did not begin to get excited about Christmas until after the Thanksgiving meal.

On Thanksgiving morning we would watch the Macy's parade and at the end of the parade would come the great benefactor, Santa.  Then and only then did you even begin to think about Christmas.

Times have changed though.  While we only had to wait for Christmas four weeks, little ones today will be waiting for Christmas to arrive a full eight weeks away.  We only had to be good for four weeks.  Today's children are under the immense pressure to be good for eight weeks.  That, my friend, is a lot of pressure for a six year old to carry on his shoulders.

Lewis Black has described the modern timetable as Thanksgiving being Christmas Half time.  He is right.  That is exactly what Thanksgiving has become.  By the time you get around to being thankful for all of your blessings and your brothers and sisters you have already spent four weeks preparing for Christmas.

Maybe it is a good thing to down play Thanksgiving a little.  I have given it a little thought and perhaps we can now use Thanksgiving as a practice time for getting along with all these people that you spend the rest of the year wondering how you became your sister could possibly be related to you.  We spend Thanks giving by getting everyone together.  We sit around a big table and eat a meal together without any bickering (because that would not be classified as "being good").  We practice spending the whole day with them, smiling and making jokes until the day is done and we go back to our respective corners and figure out how well we did so that we can do even better on Christmas morning.

To me that is what Thanksgiving has become.  A rehearsal for Christmas.  Of course there is more to contend with at Christmas.  You have to give gifts and hope that you get your loved ones something that they will be happy with.  You have to pretend to be overjoyed by the gifts that your loved ones give you while at the same time they are performing the same act about the gifts that you gave them.

Thanksgiving use to be a special day.  I don't think that it is anymore.  We spend all the days leading up to Thanksgiving worrying about Christmas.  Isn't there enough pressure dealing with Christmas when we only had to deal with it four weeks instead of the current eight?

I know it is all about money.  Just as in sports when you use to have to end up in first place to go to the World Series, now you can end up in second or third place and still have a shot at the world championship (read St Louis Cardinals here).  The NCAA Basketball Tournament use to only invite sixteen teams and it was played over the course of a long weekend.  They worked that up to thirty two teams and then sixty four teams to get more games played and to stretch it out over a month to garner more money.  Since then they have added a sixty-fifth team.  Every game brings in money.

Same thing with Christmas.  Instead of limiting themselves to four weeks to talk people into shopping and spending more money then they can afford to, they tacked on another four weeks so you have the opportunity to go even further into debt than you ordinarily would.

Every year it seems that Christmas moves further from a Religious tradition into just a another tradition.   A big tradition to be sure, but still just another tradition.  I know that Christmas does not cover all the religions, it is mainly a Christian one.  But hey, we were willing to share it with all the other religions.  I see it as an opportunity for store owners that may not be Christian to be able to cash in on the deal.  I have no problem with that.

I just wish that there were someway to trim Christmas back to four weeks.  Wait until after Thanksgiving before the onslaught of commercials that pressure us every year.  Put some meaning back into Thanksgiving.  I know that we have learned that the first Thanksgiving was probably not as nice and neat of a package as we were originally sold on but then again, government offices still close on Columbus day, and we know he wasn't a Saint.

That is all I want.  I want things to slow down just a bit.  Take the time we have in November to make Thanksgiving truly a time to spot and think about how blessed we all are.  Leave December for The birth of Christ, Santa and all the commercial trappings that come riding into our lives on the coat tails of Religion.

Personally?  I would be satisfied with just celebrating New Years as a holiday.  Get all the Major football bowl games back to that one day and spend the day resting up before starting another year of ordinary daily stress that we deal with all year long instead of recovering from the stress that we just put ourselves through over the previous eight weeks.