Monday, September 11, 2006

Trying to take NOTHING for Granted...
...I may not know WHY I'm still alive, but I am, after all...

Probably a weird title for a blog posting, but then again, this is a weird blog, so it's apropos. One of my fellow bloggers (lady blogger), Cis (the "word tosser") had sent a comment to my gloomy previous entry, about the death of my classmate. Essentially, she said that people are here to teach us things; some people comprise a chapter or two in our lives; others are brief footnotes. Cis, I think you made some heavy-duty sense there. So I left her a comment on her November 6th blogpost that said something to the effect of, I continue to marvel at how good people are taken from us, while those who ain't so good manage to live on. In cases like this, the old adage, "God works in mysterious ways" is true indeed.

So, when I woke up Sunday, I felt myself wanting to emerge from my self-imposed cocoon of gloominess...and as usual, I meandered down to City Park. It was definitely a day not to be taken for granted; the sun shone warmly, not HOT, but "just right". The crystal-clear blue skies were reflected in the waters of Coeur d'Alene lake; the haze from the fires in Washington State dissipated, for Sunday, at least. It was one of the most PERFECT days I have ever experienced in my 40+ years in this locality. I've made it plain in best "feeling-sorry-for-myself" manner, that I can't do the things I used to do. I used to run, and actively partake of the scenery around here. And I still love to be outside, breathing the fresh air, gazing at the birds in flight, watching people do what they do (as long as they don't drive me crazy in the process). I even felt good enough to do 3 walking laps around the park, and my back seemed to be in less pain. How about that!

To cap off the day, I had 'soft tacos' for dinner; Taco John's has them on special every Sunday. But I "augment" my tacos. I order refried beans and then I put some of them into my tacos. MMMM! It was the kind of day in which everything just looked great, felt right and tasted really good; I am sad to see the sun set on days like this. An author might refer to this day as "idyllic". A "Utopian" day, perhaps. But with every sunset lately, comes the gloomy feeling that "well, this is another day that is GONE FOREVER." That's a little hard to cope with sometimes. Especially with the sun setting earlier and earlier. And as I look back on how great yesterday was, as I sat by the lake, I was thinking about a whole lot of things, including the memories of those I've known who have passed on to 'the other side'.Those memories zoom through my mind in fragmented, haphazard fashion; they rush past, and at any given point in time, I'm going through a virtual cascading of jumbled memories...

I could see Gloria, the lady singer whose band I drummed for off and on; she was almost like a second mom to me. Gloria was probably the only senior-citizen Panamanian Country singer on the planet. I played in her band off and on for over 10 years. We had a good relationship; if she needed a drummer, she'd call me first; if I was booked with another band, I'd tell her. But if wasn't, I'd join her band again for a while, finish all the gigs with her, and when she found herself gigless, I'd tell her I'd be drumming for someone else again. But I'd always end up drumming for her for at least a portion of the year. She appreciated my honesty and I appreciated her friendship. I also took her seriously, (something a lot of area musicians didn't do) and she counted on me to set a comfortable tempo for her songs. Our band played Eagles, Elks and VFW clubs, mostly. And we always had a good time.

I can see old John, the grizzled old drummer who was responsible for people calling me "Lefty". Once I walked into a club where he was at, and he yelled out, "Hey, LEFTY!" (I played drums left-handed), and the nickname stuck. Though he was 20 or 30 years older than me, he'd show up when our band was playing, and he'd always tell me, "I'm studyin' ya, Lefty". Whenever he showed up at our gigs, I'd always get him up to play a set with our band, so we had a sort of musician's kinship. He passed away in the '80s. I went to his grave one year and laid a drumstick on his headstone. John was evidently an old hell-raiser from way back when; he'd tell me about the time he was riding choppers across the Arizona desert and his hair was down to his waist. Quite a wild character, for sure. And I still remember him every time I drive past Forest Cemetery.

I remember my exuberant classmate, Ron, who passed away earlier this year; I'd seen him at our 30th reunion, and he had such vibrant, positive energy. He told me at the time he hadn't been in great health, but he was very vibrant at the reunion, and I sure thought he would live longer than he did. I remember Ray, who was a true friend of mine. In all the years I knew him, he was one of the mildest, most peaceful people I'd ever known. I guess heart trouble was hereditary in his family, and that's what 'got' him; all of us missed him when we went out for Pizza at the 30th reunion. just like old times. I hung around with a bunch of guys in high school who weren't genuises, nor were we hoods; we were just average people, a little goofy, and we had so many good times together, cruising on Sherman, going to Pappy's Pizza way back when. I was amazed at how natural it felt to be around my old friends at the last reunion; I hadn't felt that great in years.

Another good friend of mine, Ron (another Ron) stays in touch; he and his family live nearby. When his Dad passed away back in the mid-80's, I was honored that he asked me to come to the funeral. I'd gotten to know his family quite well. Although we don't associate much anymore, there are so many memories. Ron introduced me to archery, and I actually joined an archery-shooting league with him back in the '70s. We'd go bowling, swimming, have snowball fights; I guess he was my best friend. I would've gone crazy without him; I was having bully problems at school when I met him. He has always been a good friend. His house was a great place to escape the tensions in my own family, back in ye olde high school days.

I think of my crazy friend Steve who now lives in Colorado; he was a high school, and later, college, classmate. I still laugh, at some of the goofy things he did way back then. And he hasn't changed a bit. For that, I am thankful. Once, at the University of Idaho, in the dorms, I heard this "ROAR" from the far end of the hallway; I went down there to see what was going on, and he was cranking his guitar thru a 6-foot SPEAKER as loud as it would go! I think of my other crazy high school friends, Bill, Mike, Guy, Tim, and all the others who meant so much to me. (I was way too shy to talk to girls back then!)

I think of all my former co-workers when I worked at Buttreys' store in the '70s. I still see a few of 'em around town, and without exception, I can tap into old memories when I'm talking with one of them. And each time one of those former co-workers pass away, I feel like I lose a little bit of "me" somehow. And maybe that's what happens; when someone we've known passes, a bit of us goes with them. Interesting thought...anyway, of the store managers, Bob, was a good friend of mine. In 1972, we rode our bikes all the way around Coeur d'Alene lake. Exhausting! Last time I saw him and his wife, was back in the '90s. He and she are long-haul TRUCKERS, would you believe. They're traveling and getting paid for it. And he'll always be a good friend of mine, no matter how many years pass by.

I remember old Eben, who passed away at 84, back a few years ago. He was swimming a MILE 3-times a week at age 75! He taught me the bi-lateral swimming stroke at the YMCA; a bunch of us would go in for "rec swim" at the "Y"; we'd all swim for a while, then touch bases with each other. It was always a good, mellow time. At his funeral, his wife said, "he wanted to live to be 100, but his body just gave out on him." He was kinda like a father figure to me. My Dad never had anything nice to say to me. Yet Eben, who was about the same age as my Dad, treated me with dignity and respect. And his passing was hard for me to cope with.

I think of my little sister (who is now 47!), and the great times we had growing up. I'd take her and one of her friends swimming with me and my friends; she was just like "one of the guys" and we all had a good time. Other times, Sis and I would go record-shopping in downtown Coeur d'Alene back in the '60s. I remember once, when our parents were attending a dinner in another city, my sister was making hamburgers for dinner while I was at work. I came home, and found out she'd cut her finger while trying to cut not-quite-thawed meat; I took her to the hospital; she'd sliced a capillary. In an e-mail this week, she thanked me for not yelling at her when that happened, so very long ago. So I guess she has memories of me, too. I remember, once when we'd gone swimming, she was scared to swim in the deep water, so I threw her off the dock, not knowing how she'd do...and I was right there on the edge of the dock, ready to go in after her, but she surfaced, and yelled at me, and I knew after that she'd be all right. My little sister. Yes, I have a lot of good memories of her. She has a husband and a son now, but we still communicate via e-mail. I guess it's important for her to hear from me.

As I look back upon what I've written here, the only sense of continuity holding this haphazard collection of paragraphs together is the title...I'm "trying to take nothing for granted". All of these experiences, past, present, and yet to be experienced, are LIFE itself. I don't know what the purpose or rhyme or reason for all of this is. All I know is, we are here. NOW. I am here. NOW. I don't want to miss anything. When my time comes, I'll fight and fight, until I can intellectually realize "it's time", and I'll "let go". But hopefully that won't happen for a good long time. So, I have the memories of the beautiful day Sunday. I have memories, recent and distant, of those who have meant so much to me. And with God's grace, I'll get up tomorrow and have a good day. And if it's not a good day, hopefully I'll survive it. And perhaps I can make it a goal to focus on the good things when bad occurrences or memories arise.

There are places I remember, all my life, tho some have changed
Some forever, not for better...some are gone, and some remain
All these places have their moments of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living; in my life, I've loved them all.
----John Lennon, "In My Life", 1966




This is a color rendering of an old photo, taken probably in the 1940s, of "somewhere" on Coeur d'Alene lake. Sunday was like the view on this card. Warm, rich, and just NICE. I'll try to hang on to that memory.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

Seems to come at a certain time of year - and a certain time in life. Autumn maybe; later years. Reflections. We're slowing down a bit, maybe actually smelling the roses. Reflecting on times past and friends and family too soon gone.

Seems to be a lot of that going around just now. Beautiful post CDA.

1:34 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Thanks, Ms. Dogwalker...I worked almost two hours trying to get that post to come out exactly the way I wanted, and for the most part, I succeeded. Maybe it's time to end the "pity party" though, and so I'll try to do that. I find, though, it takes me a week or two to "move thru" a situation. And I am looking forward to the nice days the rest of September and thru October. Thanks for the kind comments.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Word Tosser said...

Very well said, Dave...

1:00 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Hi, Cis...I guess I get to the point where I have to regurgitate whatever it is that I'm going thru; "defragging" the mind. Well, life goes on...cheerio, I guess...

7:39 PM  

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