Hanging On, By Golly!

Anyone who knows me, recognizes my black humor so I make no claim of ignorance about what I’m going to say. What’s all this bit about death and dying. Every thing dies, everybody dies, end of discussion.

Not exactly. What if you and your two remaining siblings have had to say goodbye to the other six, counting the brother who died at 18 days old – although some psychics claim they grow up on the other side. I look forward to meeting this dude if indeed he does exist in some nether land. That brings up another question. Is there really such a thing as life after death or have we been deluded?

Long ago my eldest brother said “Folks will really be surprised when they die. All of a sudden they have the answer. They know.” I keep wondering where that brother is now and what he found out. I was with the next oldest brother when he was in Hospice care. He saw the three brothers who had already passed over standing behind me, which evidently didn’t include the baby who supposedly grew up but then he wouldn’t have been familiar, would he?

I’m reminded of the man who said “What if you die and there is no hereafter! I’m gonna me madder’n hell!” Ha ha, him and the bogeyman. My own belief is we just roll over into a different dimension of reality. Don’t ask me to explain that, please. We each have a right to our own belief and that one is mine. So I’ll wait, while hanging onto the proverbial cliff by my fingernails, enjoying communion with my two remaining siblings. Prepared to be surprised – or not.

Memory From Good Old Days

Once, when I was a young girl at the age of nine, I dreamed I wrote a book. When I saw the title on the cover with my name beneath it, I was amazed! For days afterwards I would try to remember the title, but couldn’t. Although the dream had planted the idea in my mind I told nobody about it. I believed it was foolish to even think I could do such a thing. Others would shame me if they knew of my conceit, that I even dared to dream I had written a book! Who was I to think I could write something others would want to read?

Forward thirteen years to age twenty-two. I had recently married and was also expecting my first child. I confided in my new husband, telling him I’d always wanted to write (the first time I’d ever dared to tell anyone!). “Then why aren’t you writing?” he said, as if what I’d said was not outrageously ridiculous! Duh! Don’t ask me why I didn’t know that if I wanted to write I should be writing! Perhaps it was the result of an inferiority complex. But after that I began taking pen to paper. When I later read what I’d written I blushed with embarrassment. The writing was full of cliches. As much as I had read, and I’d always been an avid reader, I knew too many cliches meant poor writing.

Forward to age thirty-three, the mother of four young children, all in school. I dared to enroll in a writer’s workshop. We had this wonderful teacher who had us put our writing on a large blackboard and the class would critique what we’d written. Thankfully, sharing our writing with the class was not required. Perhaps Mr. Young (bless his heart!) knew I was very insecure about my writing and did not draw attention to me or pressure me. I remember thinking one evening that my writing was just as good as some of the other writings on the board and I began posting mine.

That’s how my first written piece (besides all the ones I’d rejected and thrown away, of course) was written. Mr. Young told me it was publishable and to send the mss to Good Old Days magazine, a nostalgic publication. My piece was called “The Log Train,” a short story about my siblings and I watching for the log train to come out of the hollow where we lived in the Kentucky Mountains, how we played in the meadow beside the old tracks and called “Log Train’s Coming” when we heard the screeching of the iron wheels on the metal tracks. It was during a glorious yet short time in our young lives after our dad had died leaving a widow and eight children, the older children caring for and providing for the younger ones, my baby brother age six and me age eight.

March 1973 Issue

I cannot tell you how that short piece of writing, taking up only one page in the magazine, changed my life. No, I didn’t become a “writer”, so to speak, except for a few pieces here and there and finally a family book in 2006 called “Stories of a Kentucky Mountain Family As Told by Two Sisters and a Brother,” in which I also included many of my eldest brother and only sister’s writings.

Back to the day I received two copies of the March 1973 edition of the magazine: I hadn’t heard back about my submission until the day I received the copies. My little story was on page 11 (my birth path number in numerology). I looked at the printed page in wonder (I later received a check for $9.00). What it did for my self-esteem was unimaginable. As if it confirmed to me that I was still alive. And I still marvel at the change it made in my life, which is too much to go into here. But the latest thing that’s happened regarding the outcome of the story of The Log Train may be hard to believe. Although I saved the magazine for a while, during several moves and interruptions it disappeared. I had lost track and forgotten how important it had once been in my life.

Click image to read the story

This July (2019) 4th my daughter Teresa, her husband and two of my grandchildren went to Des Moines to celebrate the 4th with my son-in-law’s family. On the way home they stopped at a place called Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Altoona, Iowa, and were browsing. They came across some Good Old Days magazines and Teresa called me to find out what year my little story The Log Train was published in the magazine. I can’t believe it took me awhile to remember (I’m getting old so I had to dig deep!) but I finally timed it because I suddenly remembered that when I began studying Astrology I learned I’d had a progressed New Moon that began the very same month the story appeared in the magazine, which was March, 1973.

Teresa learned someone on eBay had the Good Old Days magazines for that year. She bought them for me. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hold the copy with my story in my hands. I hadn’t realized fully until now how such a “small” thing (in many ways) had changed my life for the better. It’s also amazing that Teresa, who was only nine years old that year remembered that pivotal time and that she sensed how important it was to me. I am blessed in so many ways.

Is The Me Too Movement Over?

Is the Me Too Movement over?  Is it too late, or is there a place where I can sign on.  I recently entered his name on Google and learned he died six months ago.  No, he wasn’t the one who did it to me but he was the one who changed his mind and finished destroying my self-esteem.  His obituary said he was 86 years old and had a full life.  Well, bully for him.  Although I’m not quite 80 I’ve had a full life too.  I had no choice but to go on.  What else do you do?  You pick up the pieces scattered about, grin and bear it.  Roll with the punches.

We had met and he’d romanced me, making me feel so loved!  Treating me like a lady. But we double-dated one night with his friend.  His friend told him.  Later I noticed a change, asked what was wrong.  He told me.  The friend had recognized me.  He had arrived at an alumni party of fraternity brothers and their dates.  I was passed out and they were searching for my panties.

Humiliated?  You bet.  All I remembered was arriving with my date, having one drink and waking up the next morning, sleeping bodies scattered about.  I woke one and asked him to take me home.  What else could I do?  It never occurred to me something had been in that drink.  I’d never heard of such things.  I assumed I’d had too much to drink.  As usual I blamed myself.  I’d learned early in life that anything that happened to me was my own fault.

I’d like to blame him, even though he’s dead.  Kick him in the gut for assuming I was trash, not the “nice girl” he had believed me to be.  But instead I hope he had a miserable life, married a girl who was actually a hooker, found out on their wedding night (since she wouldn’t let him before) that she was not a virgin.  I wish all kinds of evils on him for the time I suffered, licking my wounds until, on the surface I healed yet went on to make a few more bad choices.

But you know what?  I wouldn’t change the results of those later choices.  Because I’m a survivor.  I learned to love that innocent, naïve girl that I was.  Welcomed her into my life.  Along with the one who at age fifteen successfully fought off an attempted rape. I hit him over the head with my shoe and threatened him with my brothers.  “By God,” the asshat said.  “I never thought I could get a virgin!” and begged me to marry him.  The answer of course was ‘Hell no.”

To Think That We Saw it on Maplewood Drive!

Today I dare to express a little sentimentality to all those erstwhile dwellers of the old neighborhood, who allowed us into their lives, as they brought their love and blessings to the blue house.  Which began as white and changed to gray, but still remains blue within our memories:

     ODE TO THE BLUE HOUSE

    A little magic wrought

As sight unseen and ears unheard

A tiny tear escapes, without a word

T’was only yesterday

The children ran

Waving stop! stop! at the ice cream man!

An Old Concept: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

After posting the following in a comment on Facebook,  I feel motivated to repeat it here..

“If the “pro-life” people are really serious, if they really believe all life is precious (human lives, that is) why do they not build communities where single mothers-to-be can birth and rear their children. Providing them with medical care, nutrition, education, all the needs of the growing child. The world could be a different, and better, place.”

I hope the thought will appeal to others who are conflicted by the desire to save unborn babies and yet, at the same time, realize the disadvantages most of those unfortunate babies are born into.  Talk is cheap, as the old saying goes, so let’s put our money where our mouth is.  Truly save the children instead of just talking about it long enough to get them born and then deserting them.  Why do their lives cease to be precious after birth?