Monday, September 19, 2011

Time Flies and Life Changes

For three nights last week, I enjoyed the large moon hanging high in the sky above me as I drove home to Woodsong from Marion. How could it be time for a full moon already I wondered. Is there anyway to keep time from passing so fast? I’d been warned that time seems to pass more quickly as we age, but I thought somewhere in my distant past I had also heard about time dragging for the elderly. Well, we take what we get, don’t we? Somehow the week passed as rapidly as the past month, and I failed to blog midweek.

Just as pleasant as the great moon was driving to and from Marion yesterday in gentle rain. It continues to be wet this morning; and although we have only accumulated seven-tenths of an inch thus far, we are grateful.

When I returned to the farm from Katherine’s last evening, our son-in-law Brian’s truck was in the driveway. He was down to check on the upcoming harvest, and we will see him again soon. He will not be renting a combine this year. His first combine is on the way and will arrive Wednesday. There is a smile on his face when he speaks about it. How many good memories this brings to us of the excitement of a new combine. Down through the years, we have observed that the price of a combine is usually about equal to the price of a new home, so it is a major purchase filled with new technology and the pleasure of a sparkling clean interior with good smelling seats. (Often the new technology on farm equipment means the farmer must expend considerable effort to get any bugs worked out. I hope that is not the case for Brian this year because he has a contract to fill very soon.) Moisture and the weight of the sample he collected indicate a good harvest.

Jari Jackson and I traveled to John A. Logan College Thursday night to attend our monthly Southern Illinois Writers Guild meeting. Jon Musgrave has been working hard on collecting information on venues for group book signings for the Guild. Since he will voluntarily provide the news releases for the group, this sounds like a wonderful opportunity for our many individual authors to get their books out there to the public and to promote our Guild anthologies.

I came home with Lois Barrett’s newest novel Shuugh, God and Lulu and started reading it but made myself quit and go to bed. I did not do as well Friday night when I stayed up to 1 a.m. to finish. Wife abuse and women who return to chance it again and again is a puzzling problem in our society, and Lois was trying to help us better understand it. Many times these women don’t believe in divorce, and neither do I. Divorce is a sad ending to high hopes. But once the vow to love and honor is broken by brutality, I don’t think true marriage exists anymore. Divorce is just a legal piece of paper acknowledging the reality that the marriage vows were destroyed. That is simple common sense to me. However, Lois’ book shows a more complicated look at some humans’ ability (perhaps addiction?) to accept flawed relationships and to risk physical danger to enjoy the times between abuse. Forgiveness and loving in spite of injury and insult amaze me. Newspaper accounts of murdered spouses concern and scare me for those in abusive situations.

The next morning before I left for routine blood work after the mandatory fasting, Gerald, who had been able to enjoy his daily coffee and newspaper, told me the sad news on the obituary page of two friends’ deaths. I don’t remember ever going to two funeral visitations in one day before, but on Saturday I did.

One in the morning was for the mother of one of Katherine’s best friends, one of the teenagers who used to frequent our lives. Although it has been many many years ago, it seems only yesterday that Bernetta Hill and I stood outside a high school graduation ceremony in the Crab Orchard gymnasium, and Bernetta shuddered at the thought that in a year or two, our daughters would be on that gym floor with caps and gowns on.

Katherine said Bernetta, a secretary who worked in the high school office for 28 years, was the “school mom” always ready to quietly and discretely help anyone with a needed band-aid or safety pin. But neither Katherine nor I knew that Bernetta was a poet. Among the many photographs displayed at the funeral home were some of her fine poems matted and framed, and one grandson read one at the graveside service. He told how she wrote him every week while he was away at college—even when arthritis reduced her to typing with two fingers. Katherine related to that since in recent years she also can only type with two fingers and much effort. (The ability to play the piano was one of the first losses that multiple sclerosis brought, and eventually her handwritten journals of poetry ceased.)

That night I drove down to Goreville to the funeral home. Jim Terry was born and stayed his entire life in this small town working at the family business and devoting much time and energy to voluntary service to its residents just as his parents had before him. His parents lived down the street from mine when my parents returned in retirement to Daddy’s roots.

Jim and Dixie, both only children, also lived down that street and reared their five children there while Dixie had a child care center in their home and attended to countless Goreville preschoolers. (This was before their move to nearby Lake of Egypt to a big house that eventually was three generational--a home to their parents and a returning kid or two.)

In recent years, they moved back to town to a home built to accommodate Dixie’s excellence as a cook and her extraordinary organizational abilities where she entertained not just their large family at a multitude of gatherings but also frequently catered tea parties for women’s clubs and groups of friends. Through all of their lives, Dixie was writing for both local, regional, and national publications. (At one time I was aware that she was doing six columns in addition to constant feature and news stories.) Jim was right there with her supporting her efforts just as Dixie went to the many area sports events that Jim never missed.

When Jim received a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis in April, they made a decision to live the remaining time to the fullest. Together they spent their last summer attending family outings, Cardinals and Miners games, concerts, picnics, and making daily drives through Ferne Clyffe park to see the deer. And they read the Bible.

Wanting good things to last forever, I have never liked change. But Bernetta’s son Jeff reminded us that his mother, who had not walked in over a year, was now pain free and dancing in heaven. The Bible in Jim’s hands at the funeral home and the many memorial donations given to charities in addition to the abundance of flowers demonstrated that people can die well just as they lived. Change and time passing more rapidly than we like is the way life on the planet is ordained to be. Wise people adjust to that reality. I am working on it.

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