I Never Knew His Name

When you travel through many years as a “denizen” of the Trade Days, flea markets and yard sales of the South, you get to know many people. Some of them are home towners who you have grown up with and who you have known all your life. Some of them are friends who you only meet and see at Trade day, or other “trading” places.

I found out today that one of my friends, who I’ve known for quite a number of years….I’d say at least 10 or 12….maybe more, died of a sudden heart attack about three weeks ago. He was 57 years old.

I knew his first name was Jerry, but otherwise I knew him as “the military guy” He had served thirty years in the military and was from Alabama. He and his friend came to Trade day on Tuesdays every week that it wasn’t raining. He was young looking to me…I’d had not guessed he was 57. He wasn’t overweight, was tanned and fit looking, had a neat black mustache. He knew more about military memorabilia than any man I ever met. If I had something which I wasn’t sure about in the military realm I could ask him about it, and he would probably know. He collected military items, but would never “rip me off” on anything. He bought quite a few things from me.

If it was something good, he would tell me “you need to do a little more research on this before you ask that price on it” which indicated my price was too low. He could have bought it, and I’d have never known, but he didn’t. He had integrity, which is getting to be a rare quality to find these days.

I’m glad his friend came by and told me about him today. He said that Jerry had never had any symptoms of heart trouble. It was quite sudden. I recall what Dr. Ware told me years ago that the first symptom some people have of heart disease is sudden death. I was lucky, I had pain.

It’s happened quite a bit over the years, that somebody just doesn’t show up anymore….and you always wonder what happened to them. You can ask around and sometimes find out what happened, but many times you never know. They just kind of fade away. I’m glad that in this case, at least I know.

As for the “military guy”, my friend, my deepest condolences to his family and friends. He was a good man, and they are hard to find.

Godspeed.

Did you see Jesus

Did you see Jesus today? Was he the person in line in front of you at Wal-Mart who had to put some items back because they were short on money? Was he the person with the sign at the intersection which said “will work for food” who really just needed a couple of bucks? Was he the prisoner down at the jail who needed a visitor to bring him a Bible? Was he the sick person at the ER with no insurance who was having a heart attack, or the kid at home waiting on that Summer sack lunch because their stomach was growling. Did you see him in the Hispanic people wanting to learn English with nobody to teach them? Did you see him in the Meth addict with the rotten teeth who just doesn’t know how to get off the stuff, or in the waitress at the local breakfast joint who you just left two dollars when you could have left four. Did you see him in the mirror? It’s easy to see Jesus on Sunday in a Church full of other Christians, and give your 10% and be done with it, but maybe just a little harder on the other days of the week. I know I need to open my eyes a LOT more, because Jesus said however I treat them is the way he’s gonna treat me…..

Missing Humanity

Enjoy your time, live your life. Don’t be so concerned over what other people think, or what kind of philosophical differences you have with them. Where does it say that just because you disagree with someone that you must hate them? What kind of society have we become when “hate” becomes the buzzword on every days news? When hateful conversation is the norm on “Social” media. Not very social, eh?

We have become a culture of information overload, which has desensitized us to each other’s humanity. How human can a photo in the upper right hand corner of an electronic “page” be? When is the last time anyone in here wrote a letter to someone? I know some lovely people who still write, who still use language to communicate, and who still use touch to love others. How short of a time will it be before that all goes away?

Technology may be great, it is great, really. Some nights I just miss some of the humanity we have had to relinquish in order to move forward. I’m a dinosaur, and we all know what happened to them.

Moving Small Stones

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Confucius

As I posted on another firend’s page, a wonderful person who was worried that they could not make a difference….one little candle lit in darkness can be seen for miles away. Now, that’s figurative and not literal. It just means that we all need to do what we can do. If it’s something little, something small…like giving a hungry man something to eat, or donating ten or twenty dollars to a worthy cause, then we need to do it. We need to do it for any person, regardless of who they are, the color of their skin, the job they do, the political views which they hold….anybody, we need to do what we can do, for anybody.

If we ever get in a position where we can do something large, like a Bill Gates, or a Warren Buffet…then we do something large. Change the lives of thousands if possible. Educate people, give them sources of water to drink and food to eat.

Confucius was right, because enough small good acts done on a regular basis eventually become something great. The mountain will be moved, but only if someone starts with the small stones.

And if you don’t care for Confucius then go and read Matthew 25:31-35, and think that information over.

A Day in the Life

We had a birthday party for Rue today at Kirsten’s house. It was a super nice little get together. I sit and look at the family, and I’m proud of who they are and how they act. I’m happy to be with them.

I will continue to take life one day at a time as long as I can get it. My life goals at this point are very few. Simple things become immense pleasures, and small kindnesses become extreme treasures.

I’ll take a super comfortable pair of socks. A good casserole (or some Au gratin potatoes).

A beautiful sunrise or sunset…is so appreciated, and I’ll be super excited if I get to see the total eclipse on August 21st this year. It’s supposed to be very, very good here.

The birds at the feeder, and the pesky squirrels. “Alexa” playing “Superstition” or “Stompy the Bear”

A good home grown tomato for a sandwich. (Thanks Guy Clark for that song)

Oh, there are things I need…but most can hopefully soon be taken care of. Some new glasses. A new tooth to replace the one I broke. Some pain relief. But I’ll get there on these few things, and a couple of other things over the next few months.

Tidy some things up. Get rid of some more useless stuff I don’t need that perhaps someone else does.

Climb down off soapboxes.

Get ready for Fall, but just one day at a time. One day and one week. Not too much further out. Not wishing any time away, no matter what that time may bring.

For whatever the future holds, it hasn’t gotten here yet. So I’ll try and patiently wait on it.

Have a good Sunday friends.

Life Without Music

I just realized today that without music, my life would have been very bleak. I came to that conclusion as I was taking baby Evie to her Mommy.

I have my own songs on my phone, and the little kids seem to like them. Eli always wants me to play them when we are out riding together. “I want to hear you sing Papa” he says. And he listens and is soothed, and often slips off to sleep.

I played some other music for Evie first, and she didn’t pay much attention. When I put one of my songs on and started singing, she perked up and started going “ahh..ahh…ahh..” in a cadence that could only have been singing. Six months old tomorrow, and singing. Recognizing my voice, and realizing that it is something more than just talking. Something magical. All my children and grandchildren are the same way. If this was a gift I had even a small part in giving them, then my life has been worthwhile.

My Dad played the radio and sang along for me when I was a baby. I could sing “Jambalaya” when I was three. “Your Cheating Heart” and “Crazy” I helped my Grandpa lead singing at Church when I was four. Music has often been my salve, my joy, my love and my rescue from insanity. My perfect retreat from the world, even as I was in the midst of chaos. It is a complex mathematical equation reduced to auditory simplicity that almost any human can understand and enjoy.

My voice is going now. Years of use, medical and health problems have reduced it to a very unreliable instrument. Yet I am not angry or bitter. I have music in my mind and in my psyche every waking moment, and besides I am one of the best whistlers you have ever heard.

I don’t know what I would have done without music. Without it’s ability to transcend time through past songs, I could never remember certain periods of my life. The music pricks my consciousness, and transports me back, and I remember. The pleasant, the painful, the loving and the tears. Every new song I hear over the years melds itself to the events and people who are present in that time. It’s a biographical, chronological and auditory history built into my brain.

I hope if the day comes when I cannot ask for things I might want, that whoever is taking care of my final times will crank up the oldies from the sixties on a music machine…or perhaps by then the little ones will be old enough to come and sing me a tune. I’d even take “The Hot Dog song” I actually probably be pleased to hear it.

The Graveyard Shift

It’s the graveyard shift. You know. The middle of the night. 3:30 in the morning, and not a soul in sight, like it says in the Garth Brook’s song “The Thunder rolls.” Except…there are lots of souls in sight here. Lot’s of other Zombie like creatures crawling around over and under steaming a puffing machines, like human maggots, gnawing on food they can’t digest.

I tell you, this strange little work place sometimes seems like a depiction of Hell itself. I was standing at the top of a stairway that leads to another part of the building, and looked out over all these infernal machines, these machines of man. There were puffs of steam and water vapor coming from a thousand different places. Places that they are and are not supposed to be coming from. All of this fills the air with an eerie sense of unreality, and of dread.

All of the people look small and insignificant from this viewpoint, sort of like automatons, sentenced to do this hard work in this hot and desolate place forever, and forever. The top of the steps was about 160 degrees, since it’s near the ceiling where all of the hot air rises. I felt faint, like I was in a Stephen King nightmarescape and couldn’t get out. It was like that horrible dream we all have where you know you are awake and you want to move, but you can’t. You try to make a sound to wake yourself up from the terrible state, but you scream and it only comes out as a whimper.

Terrible.

More and more I am coming to believe that we are living our Hells here on Earth. I am often not sure of what comes hereafter. I wish I could say I was 100% sure. God, I wish it. How many people can say that? Those of you that can congratulations. I envy your faith. I just can’t say that yet. Does that mean I am not saved? What is saved?

I believe in all of what Jesus taught. I believe that existence is a product of creation….therefore I believe in a “creator”.

It’s just so hard in this current state to say I totally know what’s going to happen today or tomorrow, if I find myself no longer here.

I often wonder about some of the things the faithful believe. People who have had near death experiences tell about going to meet friends and family as they move “towards the light” I wonder though, is there any sense of time after we die? If, when we die we morph to immortality, then there would be no time, right? So therefore, our loved ones who are waiting there “beyond the light” for us in the great beyond would feel like they no more had even got there and had time to turn around when BOOM, there stands everyone else they ever loved following right along behind them. It blows my mind.

No sense of time in the hereafter so BANG, there everyone is! In the meantime, back here on Earth, we go on living the laws of Physics to the utmost, which means time passes normally for us. Gosh, it really makes me wonder about things when I think about stuff like that. My head starts to swim and clog up like a sewer. I can’t comprehend it at all.

I wish I could have a vision which would make all these things clear. After all, it’s predicted that young men will dream dreams, and old men will see visions about the things which are going to happen. I haven’t had my vision yet though. I am still waiting on it. I am waiting on it here tonight at 3:30 a.m. COME ON VISION!….well…that didn’t work well. Perhaps if I get up there in that 160 degree heat for a while longer? Nah….not going to happen.

Maybe tomorrow night, or perhaps tomorrow during the day when I am trying to sleep it will come. While the sun is shining it will all come to me in a flash, and I will understand the nature of the Universe!

I am NOT holding my breath though.

America’s Day

A beautiful cool morning for the celebration if our Independence from England. I am always so amazed when I look at our history and realize our cobbled together Republic was able to defeat the most powerful country in the world at that time.

We have always been a tumultuous and divided country, but yet have managed to survive and thrive. We have fought and killed our own brethren in a War between the States, and have fought our way through two World Wars. The crisis of divisiveness we now face is probably the most serious ever in our country’s history, because it is a battle which is being waged against the vast majority of Americans by a very few who want to control and dictate to all of us. They keep us divided through media misinformation and financial manipulation. They have poisoned our minds and have brainwashed us into thinking that we…We Americans are each other’s enemies.

They have chosen divisive social issues to camouflage the fact that they are taking away our freedom. We must, we MUST quit bickering over things which matter very little and begin to take our country back from the super rich. Don’t use Fox News or MSNBC as your source of information. In this day and age we have the ability to research vast amounts of knowledge for the truth which is out there! Don’t take what you hear on TV as the truth, nor what you see on Social media because it is the information we are being spoon fed to keep us divided.

Have a wonderful day today, and pledge today to start right now to build an America which will still be here 200 years into the future.

The “Civil” War

One of my first memories as a little kid was sitting on one of the big Civil war cannons at Chickamauga National park and having my picture made. I have no idea if it was a Yankee or Rebel cannon. It really didn’t matter. Since that day I have been at or riding through that park hundreds of times. It has always been with a sense of awe and reverence.

My great grandfather fought there. North Carolina 39th I believe. He and his brothers joined the Confederate army in order to get away from a dirt poor pitiful farm and back breaking work. They joined because that’s what all the other boys were doing. They joined because it might give them a chance to better themselves. I also had three great great grandfathers at that battle. Two from the mountains of Blue Ridge, Ga., and one from Pickens county. They were all dirt farmers too. They joined for essentially they same reasons as Great grandfather. They took their orders from their officers, and fought bravely. My great great Uncle Larkin German had his cousin killed by a sniper right next to him, then shot the sniper dead by centering in on where the gunsmoke came from. He was cited for saving lives. This was war, war is hell. They were fighting for the wrong cause in a losing war, but they didn’t know it. They were fighting where and when the political forces of the day told them. They were fighting on the side they were fighting on, due to the circumstances of where and when they were born.

I say this because I still go through that park occasionally. I’ve gone to other Civil War parks, such as Gettysburg, and I feel the same sense of awe and reverence…and a deep sense of melancholy. So many lives lost, all Americans. A war fought by the common men as surrogates for the politicians and for the rich…on both sides. The last great war fought with Napoleonic tactics, which produced mind numbing casualties. Rivers of blood. Loss of limbs and other horrible injuries on both sides. The loss of “a way of life” at the war’s end was something suffered mainly by the rich Southern plantation owners. My ancestors who survived went back to a life of hard work just the same as before the war. I am not sure if any of them hated black people. I have nothing to indicate to me they did. I have nothing in writing to indicate they rallied around the “stars and bars”, and it was more likely they rallied around their own particular state flags.

I am not certain what type of heritage they brought back with them. My Uncle Curly had my great grandfathers gun and uniform in a closet and it got burned up in a house fire. My great grandpa Davenport became a preacher. My grandparents never spoke of any sentimentality they had held over from the war.. indeed I believe they wanted to forget it.

Even though they fought for the South I do not like to read posts disrespecting them, and all other Southern soldiers. There were a lot of disrespectful and heinous crimes done by people on both sides during that war. I respect all the American people who had to give their lives.

I think the idea of Southern heritage is a complex issue. It’s one that does not simply revolve around a certain flag. It revolves around hunting and fishing and certain kinds of foods. It revolves around people who live on the back country roads. It revolves around people who had to become self sufficient in a rural culture, not in the big cities. Was there discrimination, and racial hatred? Yes, of a certainty there was and some of it still lingers. But there were also black people and white people working together in the cotton fields and cotton mills, and cooperating with each other for the common good of their families. Certainly not all racism and white supremacy came strictly from the South. It came from all parts of the country.

Now we again have uneasy situations going on in this country. Police shootings, the Charleston murders and it’s continued divisive aftermath. A media which continues to want to divide and subtract instead of multiply and divide. Overreaction by businesses and personalities who want to jump on the bandwagon for their own personal gain. People feel as though they are being told what they HAVE to do, by people they don’t believe have the authority to tell them “what to do.”

As for me, I just want a sense of reasonableness and calm to prevail. I hope this weekend as we celebrate the 4th of July, we can remember that we are all Americans and this is one country “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equally”

The Hot Summer-A Story From my Youth

THE HOT SUMMER

This summer is a hot and dry season thus far. I cannot remember a time in the past twenty years when we have gone so long without some significant rain. At least in this day and age, we can go inside the house, seeking the solace of air conditioning which brings the indoor temperature to a cool 72 degrees. It wasn’t always that way.

Back in my childhood, from the time I was twelve, on up until the summer before my Senior year in High School, I would spend a lot of time at my Grandparent’s house in Blue Ridge, Georgia. I know some of you have read some of my recollections of them which I have shared. They were my Mom’s parents, and if you know where Blue Ridge is located, you will realize that they are Georgia “mountain” people. Scotch, German and English in descent, they were also pretty frugal country people.

Grandpa built their house back in the early 1900’s, in an age when there was no indoor plumbing, and no electricity. I barely remember the days before the “electric” was installed. I was very young. I do remember the outhouse very well. I remember many a hectic trip out to the little shack early in the morning. I remember swatting away many a yellow jacket, honey bee and hornet during the summer time too. Those critters really had an affinity for that location for some reason. I couldn’t figure out why back then, I just didn’t want to get stung on the butt!

The hot summers, such as this one we are suffering through now, were hard to endure in the old wooden house of my Grandparents, because they never had air conditioning of any type. Back in those days you would cool off by drinking cold well water, sitting on the front porch, or seeking the shelter of a shady spot somewhere in the trees. There were box fans, and window fans later on, but everyone knows those things simply move around hot air. We sweated. A lot.

The evenings were the best times. The times after the sun would sink below the tree line behind Grandpa’s house, and things would start to cool of somewhat. You could get a glass of sweet tea most of the time and finally cool down a little bit. Sleeping wasn’t easy though, especially for we kids, because we had to sleep in the “upstairs” bedrooms, and everyone knows that heat rises. It truly does. We lay in bed and we sweated. A lot.

Most of the time during the days, in the summers I spent there, I would go “play” in the cold, clear creek which ran in front of Grandpa’s house. It was so cold, even on the hottest summer day. I “fell” in the creek a lot. I drank from the pure spring water which ran in that creek, an accumulation of many, many smaller springs on further up in the mountains which gathered together and converged into that fast flowing creek. It was better than any swimming pool in which I have ever swam.

I remember the last summer I stayed up there, the one before my Senior year in High School. My Grandparents were getting older. At least it seemed so. As I consider it now, I realize that in 1967 my Grandma was 68 years old. Grandpa was 75. That seemed ancient to me back then. Looking at it from my viewpoint today, those ages don’t seem all that old.

Grandma had 32 years more to live. My children got to know her quite well. She came to my daughter’s wedding in December of 1991. Grandpa lived another 23 years, and my children also got to know him pretty well. I have photos of them running around up at my Grandparents when they were teenagers, although by that time, the old house was gone. It had gotten blown over by a tornado in 1973, and was replaced by a trailer.

Grandpa never was satisfied with that trailer. I remember him having quite a few choice words to say about that place. It just wasn’t like having his old house.

Grandpa Stewart was quite a good singer and I remember one of the songs which he like to sing back in those days was “This Old House” it was a semi religious country ballad, comparing an old house to the human body. The lyrics are at the end of this writing. Grandpa didn’t know at that time that he was going to lose his memory to dementia in his final years. He couldn’t remember who he was, where he was and anything about his life. It’s a hard, hard way to go…and hard on the people who love you.

Even though he lived in that trailer quite a number of years before he finally ended up going to the nursing home, I can trace some of his problems back to the years right after he lost his old house. He had owned quite a bit of land back in his early days also, and as he had to sell off land in order to pay bills, many of them due to medical problems, I could see how it ate at him. Those of us with Scottish, Irish, English and German blood…especially the Scots though, and he was a Stewart…. those of us are tied to the land, and our homes like Scarlett O’Hara was tied to Tara. It’s a hard thing for a lot of people to understand, but the memories of our lives are rooted deeply and emotionally to the place where those memories happened. Grandpa knew this, and felt this. In the end, his lost his memories and everything that he was.

My Grandmother hung on, and lived in that trailer on her homestead late into her nineties. She didn’t want to go to the nursing home when she was in her mid-nineties. She could still do for herself, she said! She had fallen a couple of times though, and the family was afraid for her. She always resented being in the nursing home, and greatly enjoyed visits from her family, especially when it involved going out to eat. “I hate this old nursing home food” she would say. She died at 100 years of age on December 16 1999. If she had lived until January 1st, she would have been one of the few people who would have lived in three different centuries, as she had been born in August of 1899. My Mom only survived her by barely ten years.

Grandma was of that same English, Scottish heritage of people who loved the land, and were tied to it emotionally and physically. I’m not sure how many people in this day and age are like those old folks. Not nearly as many now as there were back in their day.

So, as I near the age at which my Grandparents were when Grandpa would sing his song, I can empathize with how they felt, how my own parents felt; I guess how we all feel when we get some “years” under our belt.

Things change, and I am like they were and don’t do well with change. My daughter told me that yesterday, and she was quite right.

I do however, realize that everything does change and there is often good which comes along with it. There are benefits and there are some things which lay in the balance, and you have to wait to see on which side of the scale the weight is thrown.

All my love to all those I have known, and to those who I now know, and those who I will know, but have not yet met. Life is wonderful.

“This Ole House”

This ole house once knew his children

This ole house once knew a wife

This ole house was home and comfort

As we fought the storms of life

This old house once rang with laughter

This old house heard many shouts

Now she trembles in the darkness

When the lightnin’ walks about

(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer)

(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no more)

Ain’t got time to fix the shingles

Ain’t a-got time to fix the floor

Ain’t got time to oil the hinges

Nor to mend no windowpane

Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer

She’s a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

This ole house is gettin’ shaky

This ole house is gettin’ old

This ole house lets in the rain

This ole house lets in the cold

On my knees I’m gettin’ chilly

But I feel no fear nor pain

‘Cause I see an angel peekin’

Through the broken windowpane

(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer)

(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no more)

Ain’t got time to fix the shingles

Ain’t a-got time to fix the floor

Ain’t got time to oil the hinges

Nor to mend no windowpane

Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer

She’s a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

This ole house is afraid of thunder

This ole house is afraid of storms

This ole house just groans and trembles

When the night wind flings out its arms

This ole house is gettin’ feeble

This old house is needin’ paint

Just like me it’s tuckered out

But I’m a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

Lyrics by Stuart Hamblin…originally recorded by Rosemary Clooney