A Pocket of Resistance: don’t weep for me

don’t weep for me

i ain’t likely to go too soon:
my parents died just shy of 99 and 98 respectively,
but
i have lived a much harder life than Mother and Daddy;
nearly all of my friends have more physical problems than me,
but
that’s not to say i don’t have problems:
they are just more irritations than impending death knells,
yet
still telling me the end of the road could be a persnickety possibility
and
could be sooner than later
before
i put my things in order
so wife, daughters, and other kin
won’t have to deal with the particulars
or
squabble over the things i leave behind,
which really aren’t worth very much
except memories…for a while.
my father once said to me (with some embellishment)
when he went, he just hoped
it was quick – it was –
and now,
i know why he felt that way
and
just like him
i don’t wish for anyone
to weep for me
when i’m gone
because
it ain’t that big a deal;
it’s gonna happen,
and
i’m fine with it,
and in fact
in many ways,
it will be fine;
sometimes it is time to go
even when you don’t know
it’s time to go
so when it inevitably happens,
laugh, don’t weep for me;
tell your stories of the goofy guy
who loved
and
loved life;
play my music,
smile
for i will be ashes, dust to dust,
placed next to my parents
across from where
i dug graves myself:
i will be home;
don’t weep for me.

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Notes from the Southwest Corner: Neighborhood Recollections

 

Published in The Lebanon Democrat Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

SAN DIEGO – Often, I go into the weekend mulling over possibilities for this column and come up empty until the last moments before deadline.

With my bride on a visit to see relatives in Prescott, Ariz., ideas hit me in the wee hours of  Friday morning. The problem is they just kept popping into my mind (at three in the morning). I knew if I did not record them, they would not be there after my Friday morning golf.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been playing golf with a group of guys, mostly retired military since 1991. I am not a good golfer, a handicapper in the mid-teens with lots of bad  habits developed early and difficult to eliminate. I sometimes wonder if I had seized the opportunity about 60 years ago when Bob Padgett opened the door.

The Padgett’s were wonderful neighbors. Bob built his house on Castle Heights sometime before my parents bought theirs in 1942. He hired my father as a mechanic several times and was the guy who put new tires on my aunt’s car so she could take my mother and this four-month old boy to Gulfport, Miss. before my father shipped out to the Western Pacific in the teeth of the war (and rationing: hence the tires).

Technically, they weren’t “next door” as Bob owned the vacant lot between our house and theirs. The lot was the football field, the baseball field, and the playground.

I never slept late even though I tried. I envied Beverly and Roberta who slept late in the summer and on Saturdays – Margaret Ann was a few years older although she seems much younger now – and I would anxiously wait for the two to come out so we could play.

It was a wonderful time and not likely to be repeated. Carefree has taken a hit from vigilance and technology. The Jewell children stayed outside from breakfast to sunset except for meals, rain, and cold weather (obviously from the photo, cold was not quite as inhibiting as the others).

From left:  Beverly Padgett, Martha Jewell, a cold friend, Roberta Padgett, a wilting friend, and jim jewell in the lot, circa 1950.

From left: Beverly Padgett,
Martha Jewell, a cold friend, Roberta Padgett, a wilting friend, and jim jewell in the lot, circa 1950.

That lot was used a lot.

From either 1949 or 1950, I crossed that lot almost every weekday afternoon just before three. The Padgetts had bought a television (we didn’t get our first one until 1954). They let me join Roberta for the afternoon fare. I would arrive at the end of the Kate Smith Show. Kate’s version ever of “America the Beautiful” is still the best. Then we would watch Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob, Clarabell, Flubadub, Dilly Dally, and the rest of the gang. A favorite of mine was the silent movies featuring the “Tons O’ Fun.” They were very, very large men who chased each other around in cars, an overweight version of the Keystone Kops.

Sometime after Howdy Doody, “Ruffin Ready” would introduce an oater. Ruffin was the Nashville character in western garb and a handlebar moustache. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and many other heroes captured my imagination before I had to leave for supper across the lot.

Now, I marvel at how much freedom we had. If I went to someone else’s house, I had to tell my mother; I had to be home for dinner and supper; I wasn’t supposed to get in any fights; I had to be careful around the neighborhood dogs, but those were about the only rules.

I have mentioned it here before, but the neighborhood was loaded with children. From South Greenwood to Clearview and West Main to Leeville Pike, it seemed children were in every house.

After I turned twelve years old, Bob Padgett asked me to shag golf balls for him. I had no idea what that meant but readily agreed. We drove out Coles Ferry Pike to the Lebanon Country Club, and he took me to the field west of the clubhouse. Bob positioned me out to around 150 yards with a gunnysack and began to practice his iron shots. I collected the balls as he hit and returned them to him, repeating and the process for about an hour. I must not have shown much interest. He paid me a dollar, and i never shagged balls again.

Now every time I hit a wayward shot (far more often than I care to admit), I think of Bob Padgett and wish I had asked him to help me learn the game. But I would have nothing to do with any sport unless it was football, baseball, or basketball. I’m sure I would be a better golfer today and significantly happier had I only asked.

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A Pocket of Resistance: A Few Thoughts on Memorial Day

i am not a big fan of government induced holidays. i would prefer we celebrate mostly on our own when we think it’s appropriate, and that doesn’t mean a barbeque, baseball, game, water frolics on the lake, or going to the beach. It also doesn’t mean large fireworks displays to awe the masses. i like the holidays Easter, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. i also like to wish folks happy birthdays and anniversaries, although admittedly, i am not real good at that, even with my own birthday calendar, Facebook, and Linked In reminders. That is just me. Folks can argue we should have or not have certain holidays from many different angles. Each is entitled to his or her own opinion. i’m not into convincing anyone i’ve got it right. i don’t keep score, and this is not a contest.

But for Memorial Day, I take two moments to honor those who suffered or fell in service to defend our constitution. Before 0800, or for those of you with military service: “Colors,” i climb the old railroad tie steps to the top of my hill and lower my flag to half-mast. Around noon, i repeat my climb and at 1220 in accordance with Navy tradition since i don’t have any saluting cannons for the 21 minute guns salute (begun at noon when available), i two-block the flag (that’s raising it to the top for landlubbers). On each occasion after completing the act of honor and remembrance, i turn and look west over the ships of the Pacific Fleet moored at the Naval Station below, out to the majestic Point Loma, a citadel for the bay, to the horizon of the Pacific from whence my father and i returned in the conflicts of our time when so many others didn’t.

Many, like my father, went with great sacrifice to their own personal and family life because we were in a conflict that threatened our very existence as we knew it. Others, like me, went because it was a requirement. Many of us, like me (significantly younger than my father when he enlisted), went with no sense of putting our lives on the line, even though we did exactly this – in my case, it was a remote possibility but still a possibility). i am sure those who made the ultimate sacrifice covered the spectrum of these reasons for service as well.

Yet i am also sure every single one of us knew we were going “to defend the constitution;” not the country, not the residing president, not congress, but the constitution as represented by the flag, or “ensign” as we Navy folks are wont to say. We knew and know because we gave our word, made an oath, swore to defend the constitution. And we did, in many ways, and today we honor those who made it a short lifetime of service.

I stand silently in respect and wish we had not changed the date from May 30th and turned it into a day off to have fun.

Today is also the birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson as noted in “The Writer’s Almanac,” along with a quote of the philosopher. i marvel at Emerson’s ideas of Transcendentalism, and think he made a lot of good points. From today’s “Writer’s Almanac:”

From the essay “The Over-Soul” (1841):

“The Supreme Critic on the errors of the past and the present, and the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-Soul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart, of which all sincere conversation is the worship, to which all right action is submission; that overpowering reality which confutes our tricks and talents, and constrains every one to pass for what he is, and to speak from his character, and not from his tongue, and which evermore tends to pass into our thought and hand, and become wisdom, and virtue, and power, and beauty. We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. Only by the vision of that Wisdom can the horoscope of the ages be read, and by falling back on our better thoughts, by yielding to the spirit of prophecy which is innate in every man, we can know what it saith.”

Have a good day and pause for a moment of respect for those who fell for us.

 

Posted in A Pocket of Resistance, Essay | 2 Comments