I AM Charlie Brown- A Memory for Halloween

I am Charlie Brown- A memory for Halloween.

I think maybe it’s because my birthday coincides with the first syndicated appearance of Charlie Brown in the newspapers back on October 21, 1950. I have always been like “good ol’ Charlie Brown” even before I knew who he was. It could be that or either just the luck of the Irish (or the Scotch-Irish in my case) but when I was young, every time the gang in our neighborhood got together to choose up sides for baseball or football, I always started to get a knawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. I just knew that no matter what happened, I would be the last one chosen for the team. It wasn’t that I was that bad a player, because I wasn’t. There were just a lot of decisions which entered into who was chosen and who wasn’t.

Rickey was chosen first because he was the fastest. Mikey was chosen early because he was small and quick and could maneuver well. Mike B. was chose early because of his HUGE size. Hiram was chosen, because he was the meanest and nobody wanted to choose the meanest guy last. Stanley was the friendliest so he got picked. So, by the time the last choice came around, it was me who was left. The last boy to be chosen. I was mediocre at most things. In baseball, I was probably the best hitter though. I later won a lot of games for my team in Little League, although I was the last kid picked by a coach for his team. I steered away from baseball and football in High School and went with “individual” sports like golf and tennis, where I did well. I’m not sure what the problem has always been. Maybe I don’t smile enough. I sure never kissed up to anyone just to be chosen, I considered that below my dignity. Guess it’s just part of that Scotch Irish heritage thing again, where my ancestors never bent their knees to the English. I am sure quite a few of my ancestors got a chopping or a hanging because they wouldn’t bend quickly enough.

FREEDOMMMMM…….Hmm,..guess I watched “Braveheart” one too many times.I was big, but not the biggest, fast but not the fastest, quick but not the quickest. For sure I was never the meanest. Definitely not the friendliest. Maybe the quirkiest. Yep, for sure that.But I guess the main thing is that it really never bothered me that much back then to BE the one chosen last. It bothered all the other guys, and if they were the last one picked they would raise all kinds of hell, and get their feelings hurt. I never did. It bothered me some, but all I really wanted to do was be a member of the team, and I always got to do that even if I was the last one, so what did it matter really?

The proof of your worth comes after the choosing not during it. So, I guess that’s another reason why I was always the last one chosen. I took it calmly. I was always the mediator and rarely the instigator. It must be because I’m a Libra. That causes me to believe in a certain balance. Or maybe because I believe God made us all the same on the inside.As I have gone on through growing up and into my adult life, it has become more difficult to be the last one chosen. I still exhibit most of the same qualities I did as a kid. I am smart, but not the smartest. Quick to learn, but not quite the quickest. I work hard, but there are probably some people out there who work harder. I am consistent in my beliefs about how people should be treated, but I am still not mean. I believe in treating other people like I want to be treated. I still don’t smile that often, and I am terrible at telling jokes. Most jokes require that you belittle someone or something, and I am just not going to do it.

I don’t like talking about myself and what I have accomplished, or failed to accomplish for that matter. I just still believe in that balance. I believe in being calm and waiting for all the decisions to be made and for all the choices to be exercised. I believe that fairness should be Universal and not just reserved for the richest, the strongest, the most advantageously placed politically, the meanest, nor due to any other quality that might be construed as giving a person the appearance of forbearance or special treatment. I despise favoritism. Fair is fair. People know what is fair and what isn’t. It is an innate quality that is placed within each of us a birth. The only difference is that some humans believe in “being” fair, and some don’t.So, many days in many ways I still wait to be chosen. I have a good record in life, not outstanding but good, and always trying to be fair and fight injustice. Just like back in my baseball playing days I have had a good average and have always helped the teams I have been on. I would love to be chosen first sometime in life, BUT even if I am still the LAST one chosen I will continue to do my best to be above average.

Even if things don’t turn out to be exactly fair in THIS life, I think that the Universal “balancer” will square things up one of these days. It may be a while yet, but it is one thing that IS inevitable.

Signs of the Season.

I recall as a child, the Fall was my favorite season of the year. It’s entrancing beauty, the just right temperatures, the first fresh frost of the year, which made the ‘skeeters and other bugs disappear and most of all, fall as a prelude to the wonderful holiday season.

I remember the Halloweens when we could go house to house and never worry about having to check our candy….except for this one old lady who lived over on sixth street. She would hand out marshmallows with hot peppers stuck down in them! We always just threw them away, and sometimes we would come back and throw a roll of toilet paper around in her yard.

The peace officers patrolled the town and just kept an eye out to make sure nobody was throwing eggs at cars or houses. They didn’t have to worry very much about somebody shooting at them, or having to shoot somebody. The peace officers carried guns, but they seldom ever saw use.

Onward we went from the wonderful candy collecting day to Thanksgiving with Macy’s parade, and a ton of roasted turkey. Most of the time here in the south the dressing was “pan” made. I never even had any stuffing in a turkey until after Paula and I were married. It was a great day. Out of school for a long weekend, and lots of football games. Then on from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

I don’t have time to write all the things I would like to about that wonderful season, perhaps one day soon I will.

I think back now, over these 66 years. My memory is a little spotty, but still good. I think how much I have enjoyed all of the Autumns I have lived. I think how much I have loved all the people who I am so close to, who are on this wonderful journey with me through life.

I think our lives and the way we live them are like reflecting pools. We see in others the good we want to see in ourselves…the good we have in ourselves, and we act accordingly with love. Either that, or we look at others and see reflected back the hatred or dislike that we feel for ourselves, and act accordingly with something which is less than love.

I damn sure wish I could wave a magic wand and have everyone feel the love for life, the love for my family and my few friends, which I feel when the first cold breeze of Autumn rolls in….I wish…

I know I can’t, and I never will be able to do so. I cannot express myself well enough to change the things about myself I badly need to change, but…at least I can see those things and realize them. If I have a problem with changing myself, how can I impose my imperfect will, or my imperfect opinions on other people? That would be a sign of self righteousness which it is very too late in life to try and enter into.

Enjoy the first cold breezes of Autumn tomorrow. Try to show some love. I’m going to try, and that’s all I can do.

Mom and her life

If my life were a pond of water, being fed by the stream of time and my mistakes and sins were like pebbles hitting the water…then the ripples would never cease. I believe in the forgiveness of our maker for our trespasses, because if it were not so I could not live with myself.

I think of my poor Mom tonight and her lifelong battle with mental illness, and how I failed often to understand what to do. I was angry at times when I should have been serene. I was short sometimes when I should have stayed silent. I lived with the disguise which the disease enveloped her in, and battled it..forgetting at times the frail human inside. How can one be so unfeeling I wonder? Was it the shell I built around myself from the time I was eight years old, and that first breakdown happened? “His Momma is crazy!” They would whisper behind my back. They all knew it. They had heard about her running down the street, calling out after me for help that day I walked to school. Begging me, the little boy to help her, the adult. And the time at Milledgeville…the trips out and back. The fear of loss, the relief of temporary reunion, and the agony of leaving. Every weekend for eight weeks

Mom made a comeback. It was long and hard. Just that simple. Long and hard, with a life filled with powerful medications and several more breakdowns. She loved us, and we knew it, but we endured some sorrow. I could never completely understand the dark places where her sickness took her. I am sure she could not either. She was very strong in truth, to be able to keep those shadows away, where many would have given in to it. She kept her sanity through sheer force of will and the need to be with her family.

Momma didn’t deserve the hand she was dealt. She didn’t ask for it, and at times didn’t handle it well. I understand now though, at this age, how easy it would be to feel sorry for yourself.

So tonight I grieve a little.
I grieve for such an early loss of innocence for two little boys. I grieve for the loss of time for a Mother with her children. I don’t write this for sympathy, or to be lauded. To be truthful, most people know none of this, and it might be better if no one ever did. I’m writing it for myself, for my own sanity and for complete disclosure of the fact that many, many pebbles went into my pond because of this. And to expunge some of the guilt I still feel and forever will feel.

My Mom’s name was Evia Bowers, and she lived to be 82 years old and died with her two son’s holding her hands, and the rest of her family in the room in 2010. She was in this world, and she did the best she could with the hand she was dealt. Just wanted you to know.