Think Before you Speak

Before you call somebody Ugly:

If I could stay spiritually at any age, I’d stay spiritually like a baby. Innocent and pure, with almost everything that happens being a new experience.

How and when do we pass beyond the barrier of that purity? Can we ever get it back?

When Jesus said “you must be born again” I believe that’s what he was referring to….rebirth into innocence. Rebirth into purity. The body can never again be as it was when we are born. It ages and eventually dies. I believe we are then born into a new phase of spirituality. There are many beliefs as to the how and what, and I’ll have to admit I don’t know the real answer. I won’t even discuss that right now.

I just think it’s a shame that in between our birth and our death, so many lives are so filled with hatred, bigotry, misogyny, and violence.

Conversely, it’s a relief that so many others, mayhap the majority, are filled with love, compassion, empathy, and understanding.

I guess that it’s the hard wiring of the human mind that causes a tendency for some to be more one way then the other. It’s a fact though, that sometimes people choose cruelty and meanness when they could choose kindness and humility, no matter which way they are wired.

It’s a tragedy that just a tiny bit of thought, and a minute or two of consideration before speaking or acting, can make such a huge difference in our lives, and how we are regarded by others.

I’ve Never Been to Scotland

From 2014- I’ve Never Been to Scotland.

I’ve never been to Scotland, although I would like to go there. It’s the home of golf and many of the world’s great courses are there…including Royal St. Andrews, the home of golf. Although it’s been almost 10 years since I have played, I still occasionally go down to the local track field and hit a few.

My Dad taught me how to play golf. We were both left handers and I used his clubs the first time I ever swung at a golf ball. I totally missed it. Daddy laughed that big laugh of his and told me the first one didn’t count. I hit the ball the second time, and the rest of my time at home kinda revolved around that sport. Dad and I formed a bond of camaraderie with our common love of golfing, along with my brother Mike, and it was one that endured until he was physically unable to play anymore.
I visited the cemetery this evening on the fourth anniversary of his death, and left a golf ball on his stone. It would have been more appropriate to have thrown it out in the woods, since we both spent a heck of a lot of time in the rough! That same reality hit me again for the umpteenth time that he is somewhere I have not been yet.

Well, as I said at the start, I’ve never been to Scotland. I believe it exists though, as there is ample evidence that it is there, and there are golf courses there aplenty, with a lot of Scots on them whacking away with vigor at that little white ball.

I also believe in life after death, although I’ve never been there I believe there is ample evidence it exists. And I believe someday in the future at some point the old left handers will be out in the rough looking for that ball and laughing that big laugh! Until then, there’s life to be lived and love to be loved.

Eli and Rue and the Rain- 2016

When I took them out this afternoon behind the church, Rue and Eli, it was raining. I wanted to teach them something, so I gave them both a quarter to entice them to listen about evaporation, and how the rain got up into the sky.

Rue played in the water coming down out of the drain, and Eli followed it down the dry cement under the carport.

Rue lost her quarter in the grass and cried, so I gave her another one. When we went home Eli lost his in the chair, and I had to give him another as he was leaving to go home.

So, I’m out a dollar, and I know they knew it was raining. I’m not sure they learned as much about evaporation as they did about how many quarters Papa has in his pockets.

Everything’s Just Been Different!

My Daddy had the house on Simmons street built when I was very young. I’m pretty sure we moved there before I was five years old, because I can remember being there when my brother was born in 1955.

I remember that Momma was in the Trion hospital in labor, and Daddy was pacing out and back in the living room in front of that big picture window that Momma insisted on having built.

He was smoking Salems one after another. He finally got to head out for the hospital when my cousin Mary Mount came to look after me. I dutifully went off to bed and to sleep, and in a few days Daddy brought baby brother Mike, Mom, and himself home from the Trion hospital in his 1953 Pontiac.

The world was different back then. It was a world of very few television shows, and a lot of outside play. During the summer months, we lived outside from daylight til dark. In the first few years we lived there, my Uncle and cousins lived right next door. Johnny, Patsy and little Jeff. After a while, Uncle Curly moved, and Coach Jones and his wife moved in. They had a son, Jerry with whom we played….and his wife had a baby girl while we lived next to them. Can’t recall her name right off hand.

The cemetery was just across the road, and we kids used it and the wooded field next to it, as our playground. It never occurred to us to be scared, even as daylight turned to dark, and the lightning bugs and moths came out in force. I guess that’s the reason I used to still go up to that dark, quiet place in the middle of the night as an adult to watch the meteor swarms. Just another place to be, and safer than most…because the people resting there certainly weren’t going to bother you.

I used to lay out in the cold, sweet clover sometimes in our backyard in the waning days of summer, into the early fall, and watch the big puffy clouds go by, and try to figure out what they looked like. I thought about the future, and the things I had in mind to do. Now that the future is here, I find myself sometimes wanting to go back and lay there awhile again, and rethink some things. I wonder if it’d do any good, or if things would just work out the same way?

Ain’t been too bad really, not at all. Just different than what I figured.

Grandfather Stewart

When I was a kid, I used to sit out on my grandpa’s front porch with him a lot. It was a great view. He lived at the end of a dirt road, called “snake nation road”. There were a lotta snakes out there. I remember Grandpa killing a bunch of them. He had a long handled hoe that he kept the blade sharpened on, especially for that purpose. If he spotted a copperhead or a rattler, he’d corner it and down that hoe would come “whack”. Off with his head, like the Queen of Hearts would have said. But, all snakes aside, the view off the front porch of his old house was grand.

There was a fast creek just across the dirt road, where I’d often go spend hours catching crawfish and spring lizards. Just stand on the edge, or in the middle of the “crik” and turn over big rocks, and see what was underneath them hiding. You wouldn’t believe the size of some of those critters. But, back to the front porch sitting.

Grandpa would sit there in one of the rocking chairs, looking out at old “Johnny” mountain rising up in front of him, right behind Uncle Lark Davenport’s house. It was a beautiful little mountain back then. Grandpa had killed a lot of deer up there over the years. The antlers hung up on the upper rail of the front porch, along with some rattlesnake rattlers, and various other hunting souvenirs.

Every day at least once a day, Grandpa would get his wallet out of the upper pocket of his overalls, and proceed to count his money. Sometimes he’d have a good bit in there. He wasn’t planning on going anywhere and buying anything, he just liked to count his money. I always thought it was the Scots in him, as he was a pretty tight old man with a dollar. He once told me he “Didn’t want to die broke”.

As he got older, his memory went. I don’t know what type of dementia it was, but he couldn’t remember who he was, where he was, who anybody else was, and couldn’t put together a lucid sentence. Most of the time when we went to see him in the nursing home they put him in, he seemed happy to see us, but nothing he said made sense. It coulda been all the moonshine he’d drank over the years, or poor circulation. I don’t know. He didn’t have his wallet anymore in his overalls, didn’t have any money after a while either. Guess the nursing home got it. He ended up with nothing in the end. He lived to be 98 years old, and the last time I saw him he was in kidney failure, and dying. He died broke, but worse yet died without knowing that I still loved him. I told him, but he didn’t know what I was saying. Money was no longer an issue.

Occasionally, I think about that habit of his when I get my wallet out to see if there’s any cash there. Sometimes there is, sometimes not. I can assure you at this point, there’s never going to be much. But, I do have love. As I sat in the little swing out on our patio this afternoon with Evie and Ellie, and looked out at Lookout mountain, I realized I’m so rich I could never count how rich I really am. I’ve got a wonderful family….children, grandchildren…and even if I someday lose my memories, at least I will have had them. My grandfather never told me he loved me. Far as I can remember, I never heard him tell anyone that. That’s not the case with me.

Drifting off to Sleep.

For as long as I can remember, up until the past few years, I’ve lain in bed and “daydreamed” at night after I turn the lights out, until I drifted off to sleep. I always did it as a child. I fought and won so many battles as a super hero, I can’t tell you. My mind was an endless flow of things that I’d be when I grew up, or of far out fantasy’s lived in different times or on different planets. Even as an adult, I’d fantasize of winning the lottery and how I’d spend that great big old pile of money, or of great vacations in some faraway place. I’ve even played golf in my mind while I lay there waiting for sleep to come. Made some great shots too.

Sometimes I would relive old memories of great times and places while waiting on the sandman. But, that doesn’t happen anymore.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m nearing my 70th birthday, or if I’ve just worn out my brain over the years. Now, I’ll read up until it’s “lights out” time and when I turn off my lamp, my mind just kind of “zones out” into a nothing state. Usually, I’m off to sleep in a few short minutes….but it’s just not the same. I really used to enjoy those outlandish fantasies. I can’t really dive back into my old memories too far either.

I have to consciously try to think of something, and most of the time it’s something I have to be concerned about, or worry about. Just for one or two nights I’d love to go back to that six year old kid state of mind and drift off to sleep as Superman, or Batman. I don’t think it’s in the cards though.

For all of you kids whose imagination is as big as the sky, and who can imagine yourself crossing the galaxy in a spaceship to explore unknown worlds…..enjoy yourself. You deserve it.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is May 10th this year. My Mother is gone. She died December 10th of the same year my Dad died, which was 2010. I miss them every day. Even more so lately in this age of isolation. My Dad was always a rock for me.

I know Sunday is a “holiday” which has been set aside to honor our Mothers…and our wives who are the Mother’s of our children, but really shouldn’t we do that every day?

I certainly love the Mother of my children every day. Paula Neurauter Bowers and I have been married almost 51 years, and for 48 of those years she has been a Mother….every day. She’s been a Grandmother since 1990, and since 2011 has been constantly in caring for our youngest grandchildren. She has more love in her heart for her “little ones” then they could ever know. To be in the situation we are in currently is pretty heartbreaking at times….but we’ll get through it somehow.

I respect her more than I do anybody for being the Mother and Nana she has been. I think I have told her that on some other days besides just on Mother’s day. I haven’t told her enough…I never could if I tried.

Before this year Mother’s day was getting more and more commercial every year like a lot of other holidays. They shame you if you don’t go to Jared’s or Kays and buy her a diamond. I think a lot of Mother’s would as soon to have something their kids made them, than something bought. A crudely colored card with a scribbled “I love you” Something made in love by a child or grandchild.

My Mom kept a cutting board I made for her in Vacation bible school when I was eight. It said “Mother” I think I still have it somewhere around the house. She never used it, just kept it propped up in the kitchen. Guess it’s sort of like the little squiggly drawings I keep that the kids and grandchildren did when they were tiny and gave them to us as presents. We still get them. They are hung everywhere…on the refrigerator…one the walls. Mom got a cutting board, but she never lost it.

My Mom was a person who had many problems and privations during her lifetime. She was beset by mental illness in 1960, and battled it off and on for the rest of her life. She was thirty years old that year, and she lived to be almost 81. That’s a long battle. It’s one most people would have given up on, and I witnessed the days that Mom would have given up if she had not had that spark of love in her for her family. That tiny spark which we could nurture and eventually bring her back to us for a period of time….many times for years and years. She was a sweet lady during the “good” times. She loved to cook, took up crocheting, and watched her soaps every day with Daddy. She was terribly sick the last few years of her life, with diabetes and a nervous system which was wearing out. She had to have a pacemaker, and it always hurt her….I believe it was on a nerve or something. There were some very bad days. Wearing and wearying days. Days in which I wish I could have done more, would have done more. My regrets are myriad, and many.

Yet, when I think of her now, I think of her as a young woman. I think of the smell of clean bleached sheets hanging on the clothes line when I was four. I think of the backbreaking work she did filling battreys in the mill on the second shift for years, because we needed the money, and so she could save some money. I think of the trips with her and Daddy to Myrtle beach, and the “frozen yoga” I think of the Italian Cream cake for my birthday. I think of the deep love she had for her own Mother, and the twice a month trips to the Blue Ridge nursing home that she and Daddy took, to take Granny out to eat. I think of how much she really did love my brother and me, and also all her precious grandchildren, the five of them. Yes, I indeed have all of those, and many more, good memories to sustain me, and to which I cling on many days, especially on Mother’s Day.

So, on this Mother’s Day this Sunday, show your Mother some love if she’s still with you. Call her, text her, video text her, do a drive by at a physical distance which won’t put her at risk. Send some flowers if you can find a place to do it in this day and age….but most of all just tell her you love her somehow! Tell someone who is not a physical Mother, but who has been significant in your life, you love them and you are taking time on this Mother’s day to let them know how much you appreciate them. Facebook would be a great place to do that. Let’s use it for something that has something to do with love for a change.

I’ll be thinking of my Mom, and I’ll be with my wife.

And lastly Dad…miss you every day old buddy. Wish I could hear what you had to say….but I’ve got a lot of what you said deep in my heart.

Hawks and Crows

In my ancestry, in my blood, there are traces of many people.  Thousands of people.

I have a heavy dollop of English, Scottish and Irish, followed closely by Western and Northern European (Viking)  I didn’t know that until I did the Ancestry DNA test, but after having it done….now I know!

I have an affinity for finding things in nature which have been left behind. Many are times that I walked the trails behind my Grandparent’s home in Blue Ridge and found arrowheads and other implements. I still have on particular arrowhead which I still keep in my little keepsake chest which is a white quartz point with blue and red veins running through it. I find sticks of different shapes that look like things to me. I am always on the lookout for different plants and animals.

I have always felt a special affinity for the birds. Anybody who has followed me on Facebook for any amount of time at all has seen bird photos.

Hawks seem to always be sitting on trees and power lines watching as I drive down the road, or walk by the rivers.

Lately I have been attracting Crows. Lots of them. They follow me around like they have something to tell me. Cawing and talking to me. I think they are telling me that I am doing the right thing. “Stay in shape” “Keep on keeping on” “Live long and prosper” Oh wait…that’s Spock, never mind.

A lot of people don’t consider crows good luck. They actually represent death in some cultures, I guess probably because of their dietary habits. (They eat dead stuff…for Gosh sakes) The Hindus believe crows are the link between the worlds of the living and the dead, carrying messages.

The Scottish have a saying about “going away up the Crow road” denoting death.

But…my spirit tells me differently. Something inside says they are special. I’ll go along with the Native American belief about the crows.

Contrary to popular belief, crows do not symbolize death in Native American culture. Instead, they are seen as omens of good luck, with their intelligence being their defining characteristic. This is why they are often portrayed as tricksters in Native American folklore. Omens of good luck.

I choose to believe in the good luck. I choose to believe in being a trickster.

I’ll keep the crows as walking companions as long as they want to come along…..

Did I do the Right Thing

With this damned pandemic hitting in mid March, my wife and I went into isolation in our basement apartment. It was on a doctor’s recommendation because of the new novel Coronavirus disease which has been sweeping the globe causing many deaths.

On that day in March, now closing in on two months, I stopped hugging and kissing my children, and started staying 6 feet or more away from them, and them from me. Not quite two months yet, but it has forever changed my life and my character.

I have always lovingly touched, kissed and hugged my children and their children. It’s who I am. Not just as a turn of a phrase either. It is literally, physically and emotionally, mentally and spiritually Larry Bowers. That aspect of me IS me. To lose it for any amount of time is almost worse than death. Damn the Coronavirus and whoever, whatever, or wherever it came from. To have taken almost two full months of love from many of us “older” people is an affront to our being. And, it is not even over yet. Who knows when that will be?

The numbers of dead in this country don’t paint a hopeful outlook. Over seventy thousand dead…..and still going. In only two months….seventy thousand. Oh God. Those families, I’m so very sad, so sorry. I cry every night. I pray again for the first time in years.

I realize what the virologists and specialists say is true. I’ve read the descriptions of what the disease does, and I’ve seen the film clips. I know it’s for our own good. We’ll get through this…they say. When this is behind us ….they say. When it’s safe to physically able to show our love to our loved ones again….what will we do?

I see notes and posts on social media from people who are my age, or nearly so…who say they have continued to be with their families and have continued to be a loving family unit, and they aren’t dead yet. It makes me wonder: did I do the right thing? Have I given up two months, which has changed me both physically and mentally, for nothing? When and if I can hold my babies again, will I go into it without a single thought about it…or will I be timid?

The torturers from hell couldn’t have devised a more sneaky, malodorous painful method of punishment than this for a person like me.

Definitions

Caution is defined as “care taken to avoid danger or mistakes”

Fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous and likely to cause pain or an imminent threat”

I’m not fearful of death, but I am cautious of doing things which might cause death. My caution is exercised out of knowledge of a particular subject and by gathering the most information possible. I look both ways before I cross a busy street while I’m on foot. Once upon a time when I was in the fourth grade, I crossed a street without looking and got hit by a car. I wasn’t afraid before I crossed, but really scared after I got hit. Now I’m cautious when I cross streets. That caution came from experience….unfortunately in that case.

Ignorance is “lack of knowledge or information”

Stupidity is “behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgement”

I have often done things out of ignorance to the situation, and sometimes have been stupid in my behavior. I knew at the time when I was doing something stupid, that I was doing something stupid. I once stopped by a beer joint with one of my friends and we bought three beers a piece. He drank his three while he was driving and ran his car off the road into a ditch. That was stupid and he knew it, but he did it anyway.

I have done things out of sheer ignorance that later on made me incredulous at my actions, when I realized my lack of knowledge on the subject, or my lack of information. I found it’s best not to act on any subject before you have as much information as possible, or before you gain the knowledge of the subject you are trying to act on. In other words, it’s best not to try and bullshit your way through a conversation about something with an expert in the subject. Your ignorance will show.

Being cautious is much different than being in fear, and being ignorant is not nearly the same as being stupid. Too often these terms are used interchangeably and therefore are often taken as being the same.

They’re not.