A Stolen Moment

I found this 1968 snapshot, burnt around the edges and smoke damaged by fire, in a box of my late mother’s photographs and memorabilia. I was there, not in the shot, but there in the kitchen when this photo was taken by my dad. We were young, they were young, even the world was still innocent, well at least for children. Another sister held up a towel as a backdrop behind our precious gift, the golden boy, our little baby brother who was mothered by six adoring sisters. He turned out to be a well-liked man, so as far as we can tell no damage was done. You’d have to ask him, though.

From the shadows, my mother ponders while my younger siblings help give the baby a bath. From a December 1968 snapshot.

But what I found remarkable and intriguing in this picture of my brother, was my mother…there in the background resting her cheek on her hand. I had seen her tired and exhausted many times, but rarely did I see her contemplative. She really had no time for that! It looks to me, that while my younger siblings were playing along with the baby, my mom was lost in thought; deep thoughts.

Now, I grew to know my mother very well and listened to her story often over the span of her 80-some years. In retrospect, I know what my mother’s life was like at that moment in time. Even on the surface, raising eight children ages toddler to teenager, making ends meet on a teacher’s salary in a house bursting with life and laundry, dishes and meals to cook; even the least sympathetic of people would concur that life must have been pretty crazy for my mom. Add any relationship issues, broken promises, lists of dreams and plans shoved back into her housecoat pocket for another day, the loss of loved ones, and her hometown of Detroit on fire with racial tension; one wonders how she didn’t lose her mind.

Well, she did from time to time, though she always managed to find it again with remarkable grace.

I know people, a few too many, who align themselves with the Native American notion that a photograph ‘steals a person’s soul.’ Of course, you can see and understand that thinking in the broken souls and weathered faces of ancient Native Americans. The people I’m talking about are simply uncomfortable in front of the camera, for whatever reason, and most of them aren’t Native Americans.

In THIS photo, and in my mother‘s case, the camera did indeed ‘capture’ my mother’s spirit and personal pondering; her face rather sweet and vulnerable and yet disenchanted or is it dreamy? She had already experience more than her share of joy and grief for a woman in her late 30s. What was taking her away?

Raised in Detroit’s heyday, my mother came from a well-kept stately home and was one of only two children of a Detroit City Police Officer and an orderly, warm mother who happened to be the first female agent in the Royal Neighbors of America Life Insurance Company. Though they lived through the Depression and WWII, they were resourceful hard-workers; my grandparents created a good life for their two children. Mom had lots of pretty clothes, a cute and vivacious personality, tons of friends, and she, too, was very traditional and a devout Catholic.

Her life changed drastically over the course of the first 15 years of her young marriage.

For any of us, husband or wife, that have seen our lives evolve in ways we didn’t expect during marriage, we could deduce that what she might have been thinking could involve regret, sadness, even hopelessness. She had wanted to be a nurse. She wanted to go to college. She wanted to drive her own car. She wanted more, perhaps, of what she wanted before dutifully bearing eight children.

My mother, even to her last days, proclaimed that she found her greatest joy and satisfaction with her babies and raising her children, and there is no doubt in my mind that that is true. It was her main occupation for most of her adult life. BUT, the two thoughts, happiness and joy with a warm baby in one’s arms, and regret and sadness over unrealized dreams and ignored plans can be simultaneous thoughts. Women, at least, can hold complicated conflicting thoughts in their minds at the same time, and THAT might explain that ‘far away’ look.

It’s not an empty look but one that is heavy with private dilemma.

I’m sure my more witty siblings would insert a smart joke here or just laugh-off the tough realities of our mother’s life. It’s over; let her rest in peace.  But I’m one of the ‘sensitives,’ and can’t help but empathize with my mother’s situation, even years later. We all perceive things from our own experiences and perspectives, and maybe I see too much of myself in my mother.

To me, my mother’s face expresses a disconnect from the lovely though exhausting family scene before her on the kitchen table. She is ‘somewhere else.’ Perhaps she was thinking about her future, maybe another effort to get herself into college. Or maybe she was thinking about her children, or just one child, and how she can help them with something. Maybe she was planning a party, God knows we had basement parties every time another of the Currie Clan was baptized or confirmed in Christ, or celebrating another birthday! Maybe she was angry with my dad and just tolerating his enthusiasm for family life, or the opposite, enjoying the break his involvement offered.  Maybe, she just wanted the ‘kid day’ to end so she could enjoy her FIRST hot cup of coffee and read the stack of magazine by her bedside, which was her custom by night fall. Maybe she was missing the crinolines and gardenias of her youth. For all we know, she could have been in prayer.

I have my own thoughts about ‘where my mother was’ in this picture, but since a camera can’t REALLY capture or steal a person’s soul or spirit, we simply don’t know for certain what she was experiencing.

And THAT, perhaps, is the beauty of the stolen moment in photography. The mystery behind the smirk, the intrigue of a glance, the sadness in smiling eyes; it’s the story that lies hidden behind the subject that makes a picture worth a thousand words.

All I know for sure is I didn’t see that expression when I was sitting next to her. I was a young child, naturally consumed with my own immediate needs. I doubt the teenage sibs saw her, for we all know teenagers think nothing of the woes and dramas of others, especially their parents. Maybe my dad saw her lost in thought and was uncertain about crossing the line into conversation; regardless, now that I’ve been ‘far away in thought’ myself, I can ‘see’ my mother and understand the daily grind and personal challenges she faced.

For that, I’m glad the camera was the thief that captured my mother’s spirit during that stolen moment, and the print gave it back to me this many years later. For that is all we need in this harsh and unromantic world, a little understanding, to not be so easily dismissed or judged, and to not feel invisible or so alone when facing the tasks that life has sprawled out in front of us on our kitchen tables.

Escape to ‘The Third Coast’

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” ~Kate Chopin, “The Awakening.”

I could live there, on ‘the third coast,’ if I had a million bucks!

The property prices are pumped and primed for real estate investors and the chosen few, from what I understand. That ain’t us. Then again, there’s always ‘the beach bum’ option. Hey, I was raised by Depression Era parents. I know how to make my underpants into rags and a turkey leg into soup for 10!

But instead, I’m another escapee rolling down the well-worn Interstate to Port Aransas, Texas, on Mustang Island, affectionately called Port ‘A,’ for a dip in a dreamy rest-bit from the maddening realities of our busy urban lives.

Five grand can get you a guarantee of family time, fun in the sun, wading and diving through the white-capped waves, and the novelty of island life, if just for a week. It was worth every penny.

IMG_5434With a rented resort house for 12, decorated in monochromatic hues of sea green, ocean blue, sand, white, and weathered with a bit of salty wind; we were in Heaven. Fresh white linens, coral and shell table accents, fragrant lotions at every basin, and an inviting living space…spacious and filled with natural light…graced our lazy day-to-day.

A private pool? Of course. Peaceful swim time and playful grandkids floating on noodles and diving for colorful rings; we had the luxury of both. Cha-ching!

A golf-cart ride through town…on to the beach with the other beach buggies, Coppertone wafting through the gulf breeze, pelican and seagulls riding the air stream above, bold-colored kites whippin’ in the wind, the smell of grilling southern spices and beach fires by night encircled by warmed summer smiles laced our laziness with adventure.IMG_0005

Rows of Creamsicle-colored cottages calmed our screen-stressed eyes, picket fences with crooked gates led up sandy paths of wild roses and sea grass to sleepy porches, a wicker chair, and an easy read in the soft afternoon.

Salty air and sandy flip flops; a sun-kissed glow and flowing clothes reminded me that I’m not just an aging work horse, but a woman…soft, free, sensuous and wise…beneath my wide-brimmed hat.

Beachy boutiques, artist’s pottery, sea glass, mermaid watercolors, and sizzling bar & grill restaurants…shrimp, flounder, fried-fish sandwiches…invited the tourist in all of us.

The trusty Coast Guard station flashed me back to my northern coastal life. It was familiar, the fishing boats and massive freighters passing through Aransas Pass into Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Their lights, horns, bells, in natural agreement with the coastal geography whispered of the 18-mile barrier Mustang Island and Port A’s rich history, of Harbor Island’s seaport industry exporting cotton, the fishing industry, the cottage life, and the smart move to tourism that saved their economy. I could see it’s ghosts, the nomadic Karankawa tribe gathering oysters and spear fishing, the Civil War soldiers entrenched in violent battles, the hardy, daring people who fought, struggled, and settled the island now buried there along with pirate treasures and fish bones.

The lights of the harbor, sail boats in the bay, bent-legged, rutty-old fishermen on the seawall throwing out their nets; the town lives on.

IMG_5526Alone…buoyant, light, held freely in the amniotic fluid of the crystal clear pool where I floated on my back in the late afternoon into the water-muffled evening; my view: the clean lines of our yellow house, stark blue sky, bright white trim and picket fences subtly strung with starfish. An occasional seagull flapping by and palm tree leaves that swayed in and out of my view accepted all my physical and mental stress and carried it away on the cool, nightly sea breeze. Beautiful, nurturing emptiness was its returning gift.

IMG_2854As one of my granddaughters said as she 81650splashed and glided, “This is the most beautiful yellow house I’ve ever seen! I’m having the best vacation ever.”

Tarpon’s Bar & Grill, Victoria’s On the Bay, Fin’s Restaurant & Grill, The Phoenix Restaurant and bar, and Coffee Waves; the flavors of the island served by easy-going, laid back islanders. Can’t go wrong.

Ghost crabs clicking across the path, dolphins almost within reach, and blue heron like city officials standing around the marshes, seagulls hovering, and sea shells in our hands added to our discoveries.

Tanned, weathered beach people, artsy-fartsy folks, young and old, bikini babes, neon-suited toddlers, glistening-muscled boys, your classic ‘Jimmy Buffet’ old men, tourists and locals…mingled into one big happy family.

IMG_2791Plunging into the foaming waves and running out getting toasty in the warmth of the sun; a cold beer, skin sizzling and heads shaded under canopies, a packed cooler, beach chair dozing and the long walk up from the beach left footprints on our days.

Even the merchants seem to be having fun ‘Flamingo Flocking’ each other! For $25 paid to the local 8th grade class for a school trip; the students would plant dozen of pink plastic flamingoes outside a business. Potters on Cotter had been ‘flocked’ the morning we were visiting and the artist said the business owners in town were having a ball flocking each other. In the meantime, the 8th graders were filling their fund-raising coffer.  Seriously, what a great idea!

I could live like this forever…float, tool around in a golf cart, get my island coffee, and wear nothing by a bathing suit, big hat, and loose-fitting shawls….and never miss my house, all my dusty ‘stuff,’ the chaos of pets, cars, traffic, and, well, just the caged, motionless chaos.

Calmed tempers, lazy days, coloring, board games, naps; our coastal vacation was reminiscent of those ‘up north’ days in my northern youth of cabins, lakes and rivers, and quieted paths. Some days I never even turned on my phone, and my laptop was never opened; we all just ‘talked’ and rediscovered each other.

It shouldn’t take five grand to do that.

Even the long lines of traffic leaving the island and boarding the ferry didn’t dampen my island spirit. I was amazed to see so many cars, for most of our days were quiet and unfettered by crowds with limited wait time for tables; people were there, but busy with their own alone time and family gatherings, under their own canopies and porch lights.

IMG_2786Locals and tourists alike were easy-going, music kept in their own ear-shot, exchanging neighborly pleasantries; civil and polite. I think there’s magic in the water.

The coastal sun, salt and sea, and ‘change’ from the monotony of our daily pressures seemed to bring out the best in folks. I’m sure more than a few of us think about chucking it all just to live the island life, as a tired but jovial waitress at an open-air bar and grill shared. She moved from Austin and was living in little fixer-upper, working double shifts just to make it there. She said she couldn’t even afford to buy the coconut cream pie she was serving us, but she wouldn’t change a thing for she loved her life on Port ‘A’ so much. Imagine. We bought her a piece of pie. She cried with gratitude.

It was just that kind of place, you know, like towns one sees in Hallmark movies but one thinks doesn’t really exist.

IMG_5514Many Texans know about ‘Port A’ and have traditionally rented beach houses, RV’ed their way down, camped on the beach, and have histories in that endearing get-away resort town. Even my own kids have vacationed there, gotten engaged amid the sand castles at sunset, have their favorite hang-outs, and can hobnob with the locals.

Where have we been?

I think the days of living by our mantra ‘pay now, play later’ have finally shifted. It’s time to play now as much as we can, even if we don’t have bronzed beach bodies and a cooler full of Lone Star beer! As they say, it’s never too late to live the life you were meant to live. Senior living on ‘the third coast’ might just be our paradise.

Port Aransas filled my senses and won my weary heart. She’s good for my skin, my spirit and my soul. The piggy bank for our next ‘week at the beach’ is starting to fill again. After needing to pull on a sweatshirt in the middle of a Texas summer night because the breeze coming off the coast was as cool as a Michigan morning, my 20-some years of southern summers suddenly looked promising!

We may be past the energy and dedication of a fixer-upper, and nowhere near financing a beach house of our own, but…I’ll be there again on her beaches as the calendar pages are torn away, embraced by her waves, and lost in the ‘the voice of the sea that speaks to the soul’ on some little porch with a sandy path to her salty shore.

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The Gentle Art of Napping

My mother was a napping aficionado. With eight children, several in diapers at the same time, the woman had to have a rest time plan. Predictably, by mid-afternoon of any summer day, the babies would be laid down to sleep, venetian blinds would be pulled down to the partially opened windows, the TV shut off, and the kitchen was closed.

Everyone from babies to teenagers laid down for a nap. During my formative years, my five sisters and I shared one big bedroom, the older sisters separated from the younger ones by an archway. I can still see my older sisters through that archway reading quietly, pony-tailed, glasses on, and their faces buried in their books. One of us younger siblings may have had some small toys, toy soldiers or some trinket that she played with quietly, and another sister and I usually talked quietly with our stuffed animals until we fell asleep, or we, too, read while the babies and my mom napped down stairs.

The reading of a book would suffice for the older kids, but ‘naptime’ was sacred. If anyone would ask me to define summer, the soft flow of sheer curtains in the summer breeze, the rhythmic tick of the clock, a lone caw of a blue jay in the sleepy yard, and the soft sound of baby’s breath in slumber would be the sweetest part of the picture.

As my mother’s daughter, this apple hasn’t fallen too far from that tree. Napping was essential, and my children went through the same training.

I tried to make our home a sanctuary of peace and order, balanced with playing pretend, music, art, magic shows, and old-fashion activities like playing board games, coloring, and constructing elaborate buildings with Lego, Lincoln Logs, and ‘stuff’ from around the house. If they weren’t playing freely outside or constructively in the house, then we were ALL quietly napping as the trees sizzled with cicadas in the triple digit heat of the late afternoon.

Taylor napping

Oh, we had our occasional outings and trips to the coast and state parks as a family, but ordinary summer days were lazy and hazy, and far from crazy. It may surprise you, but I didn’t hear, ‘Mom I’m bored,” very often.

My two children were very different in nature and age, yet I was able to get both of them to nap. It always baffles me when mother’s remark with disapproval, “Oh, we don’t nap,” (as if it’s a bad thing) or “Oh, no one makes their kids nap these days.” According to the National Sleep Foundation, taking naps, regardless of the research that supports the benefits of napping, carries a negative stigma:

“While research has shown that napping is a beneficial way to relieve tiredness, it still has stigmas associated with it.

  • Napping indicates laziness,
  • A lack of ambition, and low standards
  • Napping is only for children, the sick and the elderly
  • Though the above statements are false, many segments of the public may still need to be educated on the benefits of napping.” https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping

Napping was never an option in my (or my mother’s) house, like chores and respecting adults, it was an expectation that started before the children could protest, with a consistent follow-through during their early childhood years and modeling; we did it, too. Like boundaries and rules, such as having to stay in their car seat, napping is teachable if you begin early and consistently hold to your expectations; children will adapt.

Everyone seems to be going, going, going somewhere, addicted to busyness, another fact sited by the National Sleep Foundation. It’s exhausting to watch today’s young parents constantly dragging their kids from amusement parks to zoos, from here to there, all in the name of ‘hands-on’ parenting! Really, it’s okay and good for your children to have ‘normal’ home days, and ‘home’ is the best place for them to learn that not everything in life is dazzling and over-stimulating. “Hands-on” parenting also means teaching children how to calm down and entertain themselves.

It’s not that hard to teach your children self control, which is essential in napping. I remember sometimes napping with my mom and a couple of my siblings. We were not allowed to move, like not at all! If I had an itch or was uncomfortable, my inner voice would talk me through it. It was in our best interest. No one, if they were smart, wanted to get my tired mother angry when she was trying to rest!

I learned to calm my body down ‘myself,’ which in many ways was ‘training’ for life! It taught us how to listen to stories and lessons without squirming around, to patiently wait one’s turn and in long lines, to quietly watch for birds or other wild life to emerge in their own time, and it taught us how to consider other people’s comfort and not wake them up without thought of how they would feel.

I believe napping taught us SELF CONTROL and CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS, something I’ve witnessed as sorely lacking among today’s children who interrupt adult conversations and demand a constant change of venue and attention. This is due in part to the misguided propaganda that children only have a 15 minute attention span, that they must be entertained, that they are ‘smarter’ than previous generations, and teaching ‘self control’ is old-fashion and too restrictive.

Now, I understand there are exceptions. Some children have different needs, medically diagnosed syndromes, and may not find it easy or even possible to lay their heads down for a 20 minute rest or ‘wait’ for anything. I get that. But, unfortunately, too many other parents of children with no special needs have adopted this excuse because “Johnny is too active.” If Johnny is too active, than more than anything he needs to be taught, again from the get go, how to calm his body down.

Too often the parent thinks that because Johnny is too active to nap, that he must be brilliant, easily bored by common things; exceptional! Yeah, I think not. Johnny lacks self-discipline. Miraculously even the smartest of children, prior to the 21 Century, managed to take naps and attend in school. They were taught to control themselves, and napping was one ways to a means.

Parents aren’t doing their kids any favors by letting them run themselves down to exhaustion so they will sleep at night, or allowing them to dictate the course of the day or rhythm of the house. Instead, what parents are doing is setting-up those same beloved children for failure because everywhere in life, except in their own house, there are boundaries, rules, regulations, expectation of certain behaviors, and other people (like classmates) to consider.

Far too often, people just don’t understand the meaning of the world ‘discipline.’ They equate discipline with punishment (spanking, time out, a whippin’) which is actually an after effect of the cause of NOT disciplining. The word discipline means ‘to instruct.’ When we teach our children how to sit and stay in the chair at the table during dinner, we are ‘disciplining’ them in how to behave at school, in restaurants, in church, and in most public arenas in life.

It’s trite but true, children learn from example.

When we expect and teach our children how to watch a movie without talking or playing on some kind of hand-held device, we are teaching them how to be attentive when listening to a teacher and when having a conversation. But while your children are young, the parents have to do the same thing because, well, your children are watching you.

It’s the old ‘do as I say, not as I do’ dilemma.

Shutting off the electronic in order to create an environment so your child can ‘discipline’ himself to stay focused on an activity or quiet himself to nap requires diligent, mindful parenting. At some point, hopefully before their child is confused by inconsistency, parents have to shift their priorities away from trying to pacify their children, please their children, or win their love by always keeping them entertained, to providing order and routine in a well-balanced, adult run home.

It’s a challenge, I know. Like my peers, I was not raised in the digital age, but I surely enjoy those advantages now, so I understand the conflict of interest.

Just the same, as a child raised without excessive electronics, I can see the benefits of not having such distractions through my formative years. I know we would have lost out on so much if our parents were constantly on their phones and computers. It’s addictive because it’s a distraction from the tasks at hand, but the ‘task at hand’ IS parenting! Somehow parents have to shelf their own preoccupation with technology in order to consistently model conversation, engage in activities with their children without stopping to text or tweet or check their Facebook status, and illustrate the behaviors that they expect from their children.

Parenting is hard work from the minute your child takes his first breath to YOUR last breath. It always has been. But it is not a ‘reactionary’ business (they cry, scream, demand and you react). Parenting done well is a planned-out, strategic business, where you are in charge and you hold the decision making power, so you can run a smooth and manageable home and your children can learn the skills needed to be successful students and adults.

Teaching through modeling behavior is the best way for your child to learn how to nap, read, watch a movie, and attend to other learning experience without ‘getting bored.’

Try to picture your house calmed down. It’s quiet and you can think. Nothing is blaring with the sound of cartoon characters yelling or video game gunshots and military commands. Maybe your cat is purring at the end of your bed, or the dog is curled up in deep afternoon slumber at your feet.

You are unplugged.

Now imagine your children seeing you quiet yourself.

Like generations of parents before you who practiced the gentle art of napping, shut off the ringers, click off the TV, lock the doors, lower the shades, and don’t take food, your iPad, iPhone, or any other hand-held device into the bed. Don’t bribe, just DO what you want them to do. Reading a book together works like magic, for you and them. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to get your little ones to nap, especially during these long summer days.

The benefits of napping from a needed rest to learning self-control outweigh the negative stigmas and temporary disengagement from the global world. They’ll thank you someday, mine do; and you’ll also get to hang up your super mom hat and rest yourself. It’s a win-win deal and good parenting!

Summer Again

picmonkey on the dock“And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in. How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care.~JD

When you are empty and so set-apart, open your eyes, and soften your heart.

Think of us sitting at the end of a dock, feet dangling in the water, not alone on a rock.

We are young and excited; no sense of alarm, my swishing hips and your muscular arms.

Our senses are heightened and acutely aware of the quaking aspen and pine in the air.

The billowy clouds fluff the blue northern sky; the smell of the earth is ripe and alive.

The lap of the lake swallows up our strong knees, no aches or moans; we’re as wild as we please.

Sweet fragrance of sweat glistens on our summer skin, in the wild of the forest, the water, and the wind.

Something is stirring, sensation and ache. It’s easy to be silly and sleepy and wide awake.

Not yet armored by disappointments and hurt, our hearts gladly open, we tease and we flirt.

The sun on the water mirrors the light in our eyes, and laughter comes easy, we giggle and sigh.

Soft kisses, near misses, come close and then run; we splash and we dunk in the afternoon sun.

We dive and we swim, float at near flank. There’s a chill in the air as we race towards the bank.

We scurry to gather our blankets and loot; flannel shirts, suspenders, blue jeans and boots.

A campfire is built as you wield your fine axe; wild violets, forest lilies grace our table of snacks.

Our poles find perch at the end of our lines. It’s late, but on time, as crickets sing and rhyme.

In the breath of the forest, no one’s right, nothing’s wrong, as evening settles in and the shadows grow long.

Quiet talk at our camp fire of constellations and bears; your fingers entangled in my gossamer hair.

We lie on our backs, hear the cry of a loon, we stare up at the stars and the wax of the moon.

Not a penny to spare, we can’t leave home, get married, buy a house, or backpack and roam.

Weightless and free, no child or great plans; aging ills or more bills, no regrets or political stands.

Nothing binds us, except the love of life, and our fire-lit gaze, sun-kissed hands held tight.

We are both each other’s listener and new best friend. There’s magic in the moment, feeling love with no end.

If I were to ask for a couple of things, in the drab of daily details, routines, and worn rings.

It would be for you to see me as sweetly as then, in need of your smile and a prince among men.

We could take an adventure; make a few stops; walk hand-in-hand as we dally through shops.

Forget that we’re older, return to the woods, no caution or worry, no ‘we can’t’ or ‘we should.’

But regardless of everything, more than anything, my old friend, I’d ask you to bring back the summer again.

59 and Holding…

best3…my bladder. The railing. My tongue!

I never liked the saying, “39 and holding.” I felt it was just one more slap in the face of older women and a high five to the glorification of youth. We ought to be proud we got this far in life. We are the wise women of the world even if we are pretty much ignored.

The reality is that no matter how many inspirational posters we all share of crazy older women in big red hats and gray-haired grandmas driving around in convertibles while sporting oversized sunglasses with their laughing gal pals, ‘the world’ doesn’t see us, nor think of us as glamorous, or viable, or even intelligent. Unless, of course, you’re Christie Brinkley and your whole life has been spent on the profitability of looking beautiful. Even 60-something Cindy Joseph, the new spokeswoman for ‘older women’ in the glam world, has the classic square-cut jaw and the body of a highly maintained young woman. You can put gray hair on it and sprinkle it with a few cute dimpled wrinkles, but a model is still a model; not the norm. Normal women in their 60s are pretty much invisible.

Even the most educated and accomplished women are looked over to spy the bulbous asses of empty-headed babes. If you’re an intellectual ‘older’ woman, you’re on a hag list or not acknowledge at all. You may have some buying or political power and the luxury of a big veranda overlooking the ocean, but words out of the luscious plump lips of a young mouth still draw more attention, regardless of how idiotic they are. The rest of us, at best, are someone’s loving grandma or a doer of good deeds. Loving and being loved is enough for most of us.

Many people would say, “Hey, get over it! You’ve had your moment in the sun; quietly move out of the way, lady. It’s not about ‘you’ anymore.” Of which I would generally agree. It’s hard work to keep up with perfect celebrities who still look airbrushed and sexy, or the young women filtering into your hard-earned career in their yoga pants and digital language. I don’t have the energy to compete with that ridiculousness.

But, it’s something else we grapple with, something more elusive that we try to hold on to: TIME.

Beauty may be fleeting, but TIME moves as swift as freakin’ flood waters! One minute you’re driving down the road, the wind in your hair with your skinning arms glistening in the sun, your teeth white as pearls, your face still distinguishable from your neck, listening to America’s ‘Ventura Highway …” feeling badass and beautiful. Then you change the station and you can’t understand the music, you can’t read the road signs without your tri-focal lenses on. Someone is talking to your through your car radio and you sound like your grandma as you try to figure out how to talk to the dashboard; you just want everything to slow down. One day it IS all about you, and then the next the flood waters of time sweep you into a weird kind of warped no-man’s land where you don’t belong anymore.

It takes tenacity to not be drown-out!

But ‘time’ stops for no woman. It doesn’t even slow down. In fact, everything changes faster and faster as the years go by, and if you’re on top of things, one can do okay navigating through those swift flood waters, for awhile. It helps to have kids. They teach you things and tell you to change your clothes when ‘you look old and frumpy, mom.’ It helps to remain a part of the work and social world. It keeps one sharp and alert, especially as everything just keeps getting more and more unnecessarily competitive. It helps, but it won’t save you. “Oldness” creeps up on you in the middle of the night when you turn and your back goes out or when you can’t seem to get up that long flight of stairs.

It robs you of the ‘right’ words, in a kind of half-joking way.

The other day I was driving with my daughter behind a very slow vehicle, and I yelled at the car in front of us, “Hellloooo, its 65 degrees, dumbass!” Apparently, my old wires got tangled and I blurted out the wrong term of measurement! It was great for a good laugh. We’re still laughing about that, but I’m not so sure it’s funny. It’s scary. What will I say next?

With time goes flexibility, upper body strength, mental sharpness, sex drive and performance. Your bladder weakens, your internal organs start messing with you, “Heartburn, again? What did you eat, honey?” Every day it’s something else…a new wrinkle, hair in places one never thought hair would grow, and diagnoses of syndromes you’ve never even heard about before you got old!

Of course, one does the best they can to keep living! Very few of us just want to roll over and die, though at the worst of times, like when you’re coughing incessantly and pissing yourself at the same time, I’m sure it seems like a reasonable option. Just take me now, God.

As a newborn with my mama

As a newborn with my mama

I loved talking to my mother. She was as funny as Hell about these things, though I know how much she suffered on many levels. She taught me stuff, though, important ways to look at all of these cruel changes. Mostly, she taught me to savor the present moment, to take it all in, to run while I could still run and ‘doll myself up’ as long as my lipstick wasn’t bleeding into the wrinkles around my lips.

The changes of getting older are not really teachable, though. It’s like telling a man what it’s like to bear a child or a civilian what it’s like to crawl through the jungles of Vietnam. Until one does it, whatever it is, they’ll never really know.

I usually take stock of my life and make resolutions on my birthday, much like one does on New Year’s Eve. Tonight I found myself making a list of things, dreams and plans that I know will never happen in the years I have left. Kind of an acceptance speech on reality.

Big dreams like buying a vintage house; won’t happen. Living in a small town again; can’t move without the hubby and he’s not budging. Thick voluminous hair; it’s only getting thinner. A perfect figure; it never has been, well except that one year in 1986. I was HOT that year! World travel, a move back up north, wild nights of sensuous romantic love; nope, nope, and nope (damn!).

Circumstances, health, finances, and, yes, aging, have all pretty much closed down some roads.

But what I do have isn’t so bad. I’ve worked hard so I can live more freely on my modest pension. The kids are in the beginnings of their marriages, so grandchildren are a reasonable expectation. I can still walk, talk, sing (well, not as good as I used to), joke around, read and drive (with the right corrective lenses), and generally connect with others. If not, I’ve learned how to ‘nod and smile.’ Thanks mom.

I generally get along with my husband of almost 30 years. We’re the same ages as Aunt Bea and Floyd the barber on the original “The Andy Griffith Show,” for God’s sakes! He (my husband, not Floyd) opens my jars and keeps me in conversation. We don’t always see eye-to-eye on politics and movies. He doesn’t like loud music; I can’t hear music unless it’s loud. He likes dark rooms; I can’t function without natural light. He grumbles and gets pissy when he’s mad; I just disappear for a few hours. We both talk to our pets like they’re children and love being around our real children, so it all works out. We share some laughs, some affection, enough to not give up on each other or plot the other’s death.

A long marriage, like aging, just isn’t something people can tell you about until you’ve lived it. Unless one wants to be alone or angry their whole life, you make it work and muddle through together. There’s a lot of muddling.

Time keeps racing along, even as we muddle and scramble to keep things the same. One day you realize no one wants your ‘highly experienced’ expertise at work anymore. You’ll want to have dinner with your kid, and he’ll be leaving to have dinner with someone else. Few people will want to hear your precious memories (again?), and the face looking back at you in the mirror may become unrecognizable.

Our bodies start to give out, even as we do our yoga, water aerobic, and daily walks. You notice a spot where there wasn’t one, you can see the tracks of your veins through your thinning skin, your lower arms are flapping more than before, you can’t crap; it happens.

You’ll survive, of course; God willing you’ll thrive. But, ‘holding on’ isn’t an option. You just have to live the Hell out of the moment you’re in. There’s no getting anything back; time marches on.

My mother was a great example of someone who didn’t let time or aging get in her way. Wherever her

Me and my mom in the 1960s

Me and my mom in the 1960s

children and grandchildren lived, she got there, even if she had to wear Depends, ride through the airport terminal in a wheelchair, pack a week’s worth of medications (my God that woman had pills), a patch over one eye, a bum leg, whatever, she went!

One time she was driving her little car along a country road up north, and she looked like a 12 year old kid with a mop head of gray hair and a lead foot, hugging the steering wheel with crazed determination on her face. I thought, “Who the Hell are you? You’re not my mother!” She was hilariously bold. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was skillfully navigating those flood waters of change, adapting, morphing, whether she wanted to or not, into a survivor of time.

Mom in her 80s

Mom in her 80s

As for me, well I still have a few more doable dreams in me. I can still look presentable, though more Aunt Bea-ish than like Christie Brinkley. It’s important to me, though; it’s significant to keep trying. Once one doesn’t care, doesn’t try, is convinced ‘no one cares what they look like,’ or ‘no one is listening,’ or they ‘think’ they can’t do something because they are old, then they are definitely ‘old.’

At 59 that’s my birthday wish to myself, to courageous navigate the flood waters of change….even if I have to learn some new fandangle app, or I use the wrong words here and there. There’s no ‘holding;’ there’s just making the most of the moment. No crazy red hat that proclaims, “I’m a wild and wise woman” or super model’s lip balm is going to make a difference or stop the hands of time. One just has to stay the uncertain course of rocks and waves, even the still lonely waters, until there are no more birthdays left to say,

“Hey, I’m still here. Let’s eat cake!”Cindy's bday 1962

Write It: Your Story is Everything

There is something about cold autumn days and gray skies that can transport me to my ‘life at home’ years ago in the 1970s. Not in a sad sappy way, but a gentle remembrance of running home from school through the woods behind our house, the trees naked with mystery, geese in formation honking their way south, and that crisp cold air that filled the lungs with energy and opened the nose to a plethora of aromas like wood smoke and damp decaying leaves, the leather of boots, the smell of books, and even the oily-metal smell of the inside my flute case.

In just a flash, I can see my father, mustached and still so young getting out of the station wagon with a hint of burnt tobacco still swirling around him. I can hear someone playing the piano, the house bustling with the sound of teenagers talking about basketball practice or musical play try-outs, with the warmth of home-cooking simmering on the stove, dishes clinking as the table is set, and a chocolate cake waiting on the counter; life was full and alive with busyness and sensory delights.

It is in stark contrast to what I come home to now, my nest empty, no dinner cooking or music coming from rooms upstairs, no voices full of possibilities…and so far from the landscapes of my own youth. Interesting, that’s all, just interesting how life evolves into worlds that we land in through circumstances. I’m not sure that I ‘miss’ that time in my life, but am quite sure it is only a brief turn of the page, like all things, and one needs to snap a picture of it in their mind before it is gone. Those everyday moments are a part of the intricate fabric of who we are.

More and more, especially as the seasons circle around so quickly now, I feel the need to share my stories with my children. Fortunately, they are good listeners, though like so many aging people who want to relate the now to then, I often get the preverbal, “We know, we know, mom, you don’t have to tell that story again,’ response when I am particularly reminiscent.

That’s where the benefit of writing down our memories, the times of our lives, comes in.

I was a sensitive child, and gratefully so, able to see and feel things even amid all the noise of life. That early, keen awareness gave me much to write about, even if no one reads it. That is what I get from writing; a travelogue of memories….a review, a sorting out of things, a sense of continuity and order, a reminder of who I am and where I came from, even as a new chapter begins to reveal itself, even if no one else remembers it the way I do.

Second to youngest, with my sisters on the lawn in Roseville, MI, later 1950s.

Second to youngest, with my sisters on the lawn in Roseville, MI, late 1950s.

Maybe there is some truth in the idea that everyone wants to be remembered, and somewhere down the line some curious child will open a book about their great grandmother and be….interested… in her ancient school days running home through the autumn woods. That would be enough for me, knowing that I might inspired that child to be aware…to be present…to even write her own story. Better yet, that she may see a bit of herself in me and come to understand some of her own mysteries.

But what if that never happens? What if my typed pages burn up in a fire or my CD of memoirs melts, floats away, or gets thrown in a trash heap of what is deemed ‘junk’ by some less sensitive person? So what? The act of writing has become a form of therapy for me; it’s cathartic and transporting, as well as a spring board that propels me forward. I’ve often wondered why people are so afraid, or timid, about writing their memories early enough in life that they might still have clear recall of the voices of people that mattered, of places they could still smell and clearly walk through in their minds. If I am anything, I am an advocate for the memoir of everyday people written BEFORE they are too old to remember.

Sure all the movie stars and celebs have already started to write their tell-all books, but that is not what I am advocating. When talking to older people, or even co-workers and people my own age, I’m amazed at the varied lives they have led, tours of duty, Peace Corp adventures, childhoods with dirt floors on Indian reservations, a year spent on the road with only a backpack, or a full career in some market that failed and brought someone to a new station in life. Their painful losses and proudest moments and how they moved through the changes that crippled some and inspired others, is worth the telling. Surely we can learn from each other, feel supported (and not so crazy), as well as empowered by theirs and our own stories.

Whether it was the damp autumn woods of Michigan, rows of cotton fields in Texas, or corn fields in Iowa that each of our young selves have run home through, our stories link us as human beings and are like an out-reached hand to help us along. We are not so alone. In sharing we become united in our commonalities and uniqueness. In writing we define and learn to embrace who we are, why we laugh the way we do, why we fear what we fear…or love with a cold, bitter bite, a sincere kindness, or warm lusciousness.

There was a time when I was intimidated by others proclaiming that they were ‘writers.’ I’d throw up my guard and rattle off my academic and work credentials like a badge in a battle of words. But, I have since met and read the works of countless everyday ‘writers’ whose words read from idealistic to sarcastic, from trite to profound, from simple to highly philosophical, and each not only have the right to call themselves writers (because, after all, that is what they are DOING), but I welcome the words of wisdom and whatever I can gleaned from their thoughts. They are a voice that needs to be heard, and I’m a willing listener…a warrior on the same side.

My father wrote his memoirs in the last year of his dying life. I was left with a pile of fragmented thoughts smeared with tears, some pages poorly ripped from notebooks leaving only half the story, some, I’m sure, were lost to no time left to tell. But, oh how I fell in love with the boy who became my father just through reading his stories. I learned things about him that he never spoke of, as if the pen was a secret key that finally opened up the book of his life. My mother, on the other hand, had twenty more years and despite my prompting, left me only a handful of little notes. She was a talker, so I learned to absorb everything our conversations could yield. I knew someday I would feel the need to write her stories for her.

My father was well-educated, scholarly, and well-versed in literature and history. My mother was, well, my mother. Her stories were sentimental and simple, even jokingly crude, yet just as important as my fathers. Even ‘the way’ we tell our stories reveal so much about who we are.  In both cases, I got an in depth picture of who they were and how they became the parents I knew and loved.  Though we are all bound to vanish from this earth, there is some comfort and satisfaction in knowing our stories may continue long after even our children are gone.

Maybe that’s not important to you. But if it is, than ask yourself, “What is it that makes me remember who I am?” Ponder that for a while and then start scratching out your thoughts. Pay attention to everything, but mostly to your senses and what memories they trigger. When you’re at football game, does the energy of the kids, the cheers, the announcer, the band, or the lights take you back to your days in high school? When you’re in church, does the light streaming through the stain glass, the smell of incense, and the hymns find you once again an eight year-old fidgeting in your seat or veiled on your first communion day? A cup of fresh brewed coffee, a walk along a river, the smell of a new car, the oil and grease smell of a gas station, catching fish off a dock with your grandchild, the sunrays streaming through the windows on a winter’s morning, or the sound of a screen door closing; at every turn there is something that triggers your memories, and you know this! Why not share where it takes you? Make a mental note, if no one is around to listen or too busy to care. Stop…and write down what you recall.

Don’t try to sound like a ‘writer,’ just use your own words and descriptions the best way you can. Remember the details; take yourself back into the scene. If it is sentimental, than let yourself weep. If it is painful, then bleed and heal. Pound out the demons, strike up the band, and be in the arms of your first love once again. Writing can do that all in a safe, almost magical way.

If it’s not for money or fame (hard to come-by in the writing world), than write just for yourself, and who knows, maybe someday…somewhere down the line…some great grandchild will open up your journal, your cookbook, your old work briefcase, or your hardcover published book….and read your story. Maybe they’ll find themselves in those same woods and see you there where your spirit still lingers…under a golden canopy of leaves on the same foot bridge where you had your first kiss.

The story is everything. Think about it. Without stories there would be no books, no movies, no poetry, no news, no song lyrics, nothing to listen to, nothing to tell, no conversations, no inspiration, and no reason to remember anything. Life IS just one story after another. Why not include yours?

Singer/composer Joni Mitchell wrote in her song, Hejira, “I know no one’s going to show me everything.
We all come and go unknown. Each so deep and superficial, between the forceps and the stone.”  Surely, none of us can be completely known and remembered for all the complexities that we are. But in writing your story, you have nothing to lose, except the memory of you.

Your old aunt’s string of pearls are nice to touch. Your grandfather’s pocket watch a treasure in the glass dome on your shelf, but what of your aunt or grandfather? Who were they? Who were you? Believe me; someday someone will want to know. Summer field or autumn woods, antique treasures or a stack of old love letters; it’s all in the story. And it’s in the story, your story, that someone might find themselves. Write. Find yourself and leave your story. It’s a powerful legacy to pass along.

Written by Cynthia L. Currie, November 2015

“Crawford Road, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan,” Photography courtesy of Craig Goodrich

One Perfect Day at the State Fair

“I wanted the music to play on forever. Have I stayed too long at the fair?
I wanted the clowns to be constantly clever. Have I stayed too long at the fair?”

The Minnesota State Fair, courtesy of Minnesotafarmguide.jpg

The Minnesota State Fair, courtesy of Minnesotafarmguide.jpg

Every now and then a perfect day comes along in a person’s life. I’ve had a few of those, I’m happy to say, but one seems to stand out more than others. Perhaps it was due to the spirit of hopefulness, the time of the season, the natural and playful elements all aligned and in-harmony, or maybe it was because of our new beginning after but another of life’s struggles. We were at the fair, crafted in a fairy-tale kind of American spirit: lights, balloons, streamers, music, with carnival food wafting through the air, and we were in-love. I’m sure that was an essential part of the moment.

“My state fair is the best state fair…’ was the featured song on my internal soundtrack, as my husband and I strolled through the archway of the Minnesota State Fair one rainy day in 1989. The soft summer showers made for a light crowd, punctuated by black umbrellas and yellow slickers, people rushing to take cover in sudden downpours and relaxed in the intermittent rainbows when the rain would cease. The lack of patrons created an easy walk along the midway and into the barns, with no long lines for funnel cakes or in the way of the beeline to the bathroom. With a baby in the stroller and no particular agenda in mind, the light crowd and gentle rain set the scene for ease and immersion into the carnival scene. We couldn’t have been happier.

Married only two years, our little girl not yet independent and demanding; tension was low, neediness was light, everything seemed magical and care-free. We had just moved out to our small farm west of Minneapolis, so our interests in blue ribbon preserves, small farm animals, sheep and wool products, and farming equipment was genuine and passionate; it drove us with eagerness to each of the barns in wonderment and a sense of ownership. Both from different neighboring state, this was now OUR state, our fair, our farm life and family, and we felt like we belonged.

Not unlike others who have gone off to a state fair, I’m sure, who experienced the same kind of thrill and amusement with the unique aromas and offerings that only a state fair can offer, yet this time is was different. Love was still a fresh new second chance, our baby an unexpected blessing, and my dream of living in rural American on Laura Ingalls’ prairie was literally on our doorstep. We seemed to be in want for nothing and awash with gratitude.

I recall the simple joy of picking out our favorite flavors from the rows of carnival colored, salt-water taffy, watching our daughter play with the fuzzy baby chicks and her talking endlessly in her Minnie Mouse voice, as she was an early talker and was in full sentences before the age of two. We sat at checkered-clothed tables with mouthfuls of amazement at the rich taste of Minnesota sweet corn smothered in butter that dripped down our chins, and joined in our little girl’s thrill at watching the massive hoofs of the work horses clump by, the shining brass of the band, and pom-pom glitz of the cheer leaders marching by in parade. These were simple things, joys we’ve all experienced at times in our lives, but on THIS day the joy seemed complete, unfettered by money questions, a fussy baby, or the tension of a love grown cold.

There is something illuminating about a rainy day, particularly in the north. The greens were rich, the whites glowing, the shadows sentimental in an old-fashion, tin-type way. The freshness of the moist rich soil, even the smell of animals, cowhide, and the leather from saddled horses seemed to penetrate my senses creating romantic illusions of a simpler time. There was even a strolling barbershop quartet singing the old vaudeville songs, which made me a bit teary-eyed thinking of my father hundreds of miles away. “Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie; meet me at the fair…” I probably would have called him, if we had cell phones then, but we didn’t nor did we think to take pictures.

Walking up to the carousel, alive with music box melodies and prettily painted horses, I could almost hear Gordon McCrae singing his “Soliloquy’ from the 1956s musical ‘Carousel’ ….”My little girl, pink and white as peaches and cream can be….” And on the ride, the only one we rode, holding on to my agreeable baby as she looked around in wonder, I was deliriously happy, the swirling colors and lights creating a dream-like state of mind that I just didn’t want to wake from. That perfect day seemed to make up for all the hard-hearted parts of life, the disappointments and bad decisions; I felt like I had made it to my perfect world, I guess; all was good and promising.

We stayed the whole day, from the morning’s parade until the closing hours. Not one baby fit, no grouchy husband, no physical discomfort or conflicts; we were in the prime of our lives on the precipice of everything we both seemed to want. The fair seemed to capture and encapsulate our happiness.

As the night waned into closed exhibits and the empty grease vats of vendors closing up shop, big electrical lights and carnival rides began to shut off their high volts of electricity that gave them life, leaving only a sizzling hum lingering in the air. Along the quiet walk from the park even the night birds joyfully peeped and sang in the shadowy branches of the trees that lined the walkway. A clown happened by with a full load of colorful balloons. We wanted to buy one as we were walking out of the fair grounds, and taking our dollar, the painted smile of that gentle stranger handed us the whole bundle, saying they would just be thrown away anyway. Could we have had a more romantic ending to a perfect state fair day? We felt charmed and full of family love, strolling arm-in-arm through the almost empty parking lot through puddles with our giggling child, with at least two dozen balloons attached to her stroller.

I had a dream that night, long after the baby was deep in slumber from her no-nap day, my husband snoring contently as balloons floated around our farm house in the shadows. I dreamt that my daughter was lifted out of the stroller holding on to that bundle of balloons, and like Curious George she left us on the ground scrambling, powerless to help her, and screaming in agony and fear as she floated further and further away over the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. She was laughing with pure joy, her little fingers waving and Minnie Mouse voice calling, ‘Bye bye, mama,’ as I was sobbing in pure grief. I woke up screaming before she ever came back, and I spent the rest of the night looking at her sound asleep in her crib, the moon light shining upon her through the tips of the Norwegian Pines that stood guard around our house like soldiers of love. The emotional dread of that dream stuck with me just as much as the simple beauty of that perfect day, never really scarring it, but perhaps reminding me that, in time, everything changes and floats away even in joyful bliss.

One perfect day doesn’t a marriage make. We’ve had our share of heartbreak and sorrow, disappointments and hateful arguments. We had to sell the farm after a company lay-off and ended up moving to Texas on my daughter’s fourth birthday. It was a struggle and loss that left me a little angry and jaded for many years, as I had to settle for life in an urban suburb with the daily grind of traffic, demanding people, with so little of nature and the beauty of the four seasons to enrich our lives.

Though we enjoyed our share of country fairs in smaller towns over the years with our kids, year after year I saw the advertisement for the Texas State Fair with ‘Big Tex,’ a 55-foot-tall statue and icon of Texas overseeing the fair. And year after year I suggested we go, pack up the kids, get a room, and take the long drive from San Antonio to Dallas to relive, perhaps, the thrill of our once perfect day at the Minnesota State Fair.

My husband never wanted to go, and I guess I never had enough desire to push the issue. I knew the weather, for one thing, would not be nearly as pleasant; we’d be sweltering in the heat. The kids, all seven-years apart, would all want to go in their own directions, and we’d spend more time worried about where they were than enjoying the simple things we had years ago. Maybe subconsciously we didn’t want to ruin what already was, a perfect day at a state fair. In 2012, when the 60-year-old ‘Big Tex’ caught on fire and quickly burned to a crisp, I was, strangely saddened. I remember feeling like we missed our chance to enjoy the Texas State Fair when our kids were little. We lost out on seeing that little piece of history, too, and at feeling ‘young’ and hopeful again.

Life is a lot like a fair, don’t you think? In the iconic movie, ‘Parenthood,’ at the end of the film, the grandmother offered some wise advice through metaphor, suggesting that life is like a merry-go-round or a roller coaster, and we have the choice to ride and enjoy either, to make our lives as daring or as predictable as we want. I found that life is a little of both, some years are as constant and monotonous as a circle, spinning around-and-around with the same laughing horses, colors, and songs. There is safety and security in those moments. At other times, we willingly or not ride the roller coaster, feeling the thrill of the drop and climb, the fear of the unknown, and the anxiety of danger on the edge that makes us, in a weird sadistic way, feel more alive.

Traditional fair foods like cheese curds and corndogs, and the homespun goodness of farm-ladies’ quilts on display, the sexiness of white-shirted, rugged cowboys at the rodeo arena, the wholesome sweetness of FFA girls with their little lambs, the masquerade of clowns, the fixed games with the carnies that cheat you out of money, crowded midways, bright lights and long shadows on the dark path to the port-a-potties; all of the carnival scene mimics life. Wild rides or not, it can be a perfect life or one that falls flat with disappointments and a painfully silent drive home.

I read in the news that the newly constructed ‘Big Tex’ will once again grace the 2015 Texas State Fair this

The Texas State Fair

The Texas State Fair

week, which just happens to fall on our wedding anniversary. Maybe we’ll go… just the two of us. We’ll get a bag of salt water taffy, visit the barns and peruse the shelves of preserves and blue ribbon pies, and maybe even take a ride on the old familiar merry-go-round. I think we’ve had enough of the roller-coaster for one life. We’ll wax nostalgic for our lost farm and our babies who have floated away to big cities and other loves, and their own perfect days.

We may even reflect on that soft, rainy day 26 years ago at the Minnesota State Fair as we stroll along the sticky path ways and hide our sensitive, aging eyes from the blinding sun, and how we’ll always remember it. For it was a perfect day in every way; a delightful, sweet memory of our beginning as we celebrate 28 years of marriage, gray at the temples, sagging in all the once pretty parts, and tired from life’s twists and turns, but remarkably, like those carnies’ games of chance, still together along the midway of this carnival called Life.  Maybe we’ll even buy a couple of balloons for old-time sake.

The merry-go-round is beginning to taunt now
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
The music has stopped and the children must go now
Have I stayed too long at the fair?”