|January, 2008 - I started this several weeks ago, but it somehow got lost in my computer. I think
it contained some good ideas. At this time I don't remember most of them, but when things are
lost and never found, the best course is to begin anew. Do you know anyone who just refuses to
let go of an idea or a person or a fantasy that has caused grief from day one? We don't like to
admit that we are wrong, or that someone or something is gone, or that we are incapable of
completing a fantasy, even when all of the indicators seem to point in that direction.
In December of 2007 my mother's sister, Catherine Collins, died in Reedley, California, at age
94. Catherine was my favorite aunt - but that was not always the case. She moved away from
Texas when I was still in elementary school, and I had very little contact with her for over forty
years. As a young man I spent a lot of time with her sisters, Edith and Hattie, who spent most of
their lives in Texas. Of the two, Edith was my favorite for many years, because she had a very
friendly demeanor and qualities of beauty and stability that were admirable. Hattie was also a
very attractive woman and kind to me as a young man, but she longed for many things that her very
hard-working husband could never provide. This longing was apparent in her manner and in her
constant effort to appear worth more than she could ever hope to be.
I will give Hattie credit for one very good thing. For several years following the death of
Catherine's husband, she traveled to California by Greyhound bus many times to show family
support. At the time of her last trip she was already experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer's,
and it is remarkable that she was able to get there and return without incident.
At some point after Hattie's death I decided to become the family contact for Catherine. We went
through many stages from just visiting and seeing the sights to selection of an assisted living
facility and then, shortly thereafter, the selection of a nursing home where she spent the last ten
years of her life. Catherine loved music and loved to sing the old hymns of the church. At her
funeral I played the accordion and sang two of her favorites. I think other members of the family
were quite amused (or perhaps horrified) with my contribution to the service, but I know that
Catherine would have appreciated every single note.
January, 1979 - The Channel 5 reporter interviewed a woman who wanted only one thing for
Christmas - her gas turned back on. The gas company declined, saying that the house would not
pass inspection. The wheels of bureaucracy took over and offered the woman public housing, if
she would leave her home. She reluctantly agreed to accept this wonderful gift in exchange for the
one thing she had left in the world, her pride.
1979 was a banner year for C. F. Boone, who at that time published souvenir booklets about great
weather events such as "The Lubbock Tornado", "The Johnstown Flood", "The Kansas City
Flood", etc. 1979 was the year that Wichita Falls had a terrible tornado that took many lives and
destroyed much property. It was soon added to Mr. Boone's "greatest hits".
RHYME FOR OUR TIME:
Just the other day I was standing in line - waiting to pay my utility bill,
when a woman came up and asked the clerk about getting a ticket to the landfill.
A ticket to the city dump? I thought it was public land.
Have they started having a pre-dump show with a singer and a junk-rock band?
When I was young the local landfill was just a place where folks dumped trash.
Civic-minded people could use it for free; it didn't take a fist full of cash.
Somehow the idea of paying good money to get beyond the landfill fence
is like buying a ticket to go to church - it just doesn't make much sense.
Of super-inflation and Uncle's regulation we haven't seen anything yet.
The fate of each new generation is surely anyone's bet.
Someday when we're up to our ears in garbage, and the trucks have long stood still;
we'll remember the time when we could afford a ticket to the local landfill.