October 13, 2008

From the “road less traveled” category:

With all the financial free for alls, wall street four wheeling and political pandering out there it’s so easy to forget what really makes our own little worlds go ’round.

I was reminded of that in so many ways this past weekend. You see mom and pop are getting up there in years a bit (one a couple older, one a couple younger then dear J McC) and the wife and I try to get back to see them when we can. It wasn’t a planned trip per se. Rather we looked at my work schedule, her must do list and realized if we didn’t go now it would be Christmas before we’d see them in person. That’s when the “you’re/they not getting any younger” gene set in and off we went.

They’re still out on the family farm. The same farm they’ve been at since returning from the army tour. It’s mainly just buildings and the farm house now as the equipment long ago sold and the land now leased. But to my wife it might as well be Taj Mahal. She loves it out there. To me it’s mixed emotion, glad to be back but saddened by grandpa’s ghost and how the what was is now no more. But I digress.

The point is that even though it’s not the hustle and bustle of activity it once was, my Lisa’s just thrilled to be there. She doesn’t know the what was, she just knows the what is. And to her, that’s family, nature, peace and yes it’s crazy but just being out in the “middle of nowhere” on our own little patch of prairie.

The puppy runs free, chases grasshoppers, and butts heads with a rather obstinant turtle. Dad on his golf cart checking the grounds while the canines and felines ride along straight up and all noses to the wind. Mom in the house making up but another of her culinary perfections. This Friday night it’s fried chicken, mashed taters and corn made perfect not by some star numbered rating system but rather by plates being pushed away, the smile on the faces, and all thoughts to the living room for some classic viewing. (Thanks to their eldest son being a sappy sentimentalist, they’ve got a great collection of Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Carol Burnett and all the others from a time when television wasn’t just grand, it was good.)

After the traditional mother/son debates over breakfast (her way of teaching by the way?…don’t know a word, look it up, don’t understand something research it, the NEA could learn a lot from this woman) it was a trip to town for Oktoberfest (no beer though, rather weird I know but in the puritan way fun is best enjoyed in a sober way) and fresh baked kolache’s. (look it up, you’ll thank me later)

A tour of the “city” wide garage sales. (How a lot of people with a lot of not much manage to fill tables with a lot of who knows what to sell to who knows who is still a universal mystery to me.) Yet alas, what do I find, but a WWII first aid box that I absolutely had to have! To my wife, more clutter, to me a piece of history. Who carried it? Where did they go? North Africa, Anzio, Normandy perhaps? Or maybe nowhere but stateside tucked away in a supply clerk’s locker. If only it could talk what story would be told?

Back to the farm for Saturday grilling and before I knew it Sunday lunch was over and the long drive back had commenced. In my younger years that drive away was tempered by relief of being released from the chains of youth and heading back into my “exciting” city life. Each drive now though is tempered with respect and appreciation for how so much was done with at many times so little. Sorrow that the time shall come in the not too distant that I’ll be making the drive back with one or both gone. Driving then without the anticipation of the next trip, comfort coming only from memories of visits past and those passed on.

As I looked over at that little bundle of puppy curled up on the chest of the sleeping beauty that had become my wife, I realized just how blessed I was. That with all the turmoil around the world and my 401k taking a beating, in the final analysis of it all I truly was a very rich and lucky man.

I leave you today with a couple of motherly wisdoms that have served me well, my you find them useful as well:

You can always do with less if you have to, constantly yearning for more just leaves you empty with never having enough, and it’s not about what you want, it’s about what you have.

Thank God for each day, let love fill your heart, and peace you will have no matter what this way comes.

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