Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #270

Journal of a Living Lady #270

Nancy White Kelly

Our son, Charlie, recently celebrated his 26th birthday. Ten years ago he got his driver’s license. I remember the apprehension of allowing a new driver on the road. That driver was the baby I had wrapped in swaddling clothes...yesterday. Charlie gradually worked his way from an old junker vehicle to a fairly decent one, certainly more than his dad and I had at his age.

Charlie is a new father and drives a van to accommodate his wife, son, the car seat, diaper bag, stroller and other necessities. Micah celebrated his first birthday last month. It has been an eventful year. The baby was diagnosed with one medical problem after another. Jaundice. A heart murmur. Three months later a growing skull circumference suggested fluid around the brain.

The pediatrician has concluded that Micah has mild cerebral palsy and possibly even muscular dystrophy. Little Micah has been x-rayed, MRI’d, and CAT scanned more than most senior adults. He already has had his adenoids removed and tubes inserted in both ears. A neurologist recently ruled out muscular dystrophy to our great relief.

Everyone agrees that Micah’s mind is sharp. For that we are grateful. We have been and still are hopeful that the initial cerebral palsy diagnosis is incorrect. How thrilled Buddy and I were when Micah took his first steps last week. Praise the Lord. Wheel chairs aren’t the vehicle of choice for anybody, much less a child.

But, back to our adult child who is now a school teacher. Charlie has long been pining for a Mustang or other sporty vehicle. Alas, financial realities have set in. Tori, a teacher herself, needs to stay home with little Micah. Charlie is the chief bread winner. In this economy, teacher salaries don't buy a heap of dough so dreams often give way to priorities.

I never thought Charlie would follow me in choosing education as a career. Yet, since the week following his college graduation, Charlie has been teaching as well as serving on a church staff. Even more surprising to me is that Charlie has taken up writing in the last year or so. The more he writes, the more I recognize a familiar style of writing. When I read Charlie’s latest blog entry, I asked his permission to share some of what he wrote.

Last week Buddy gave Charlie the family truck. While it isn’t a muscle car, it has been well taken care of…babied actually. Along with several pictures of the truck, Charlie posted this account, slightly edited, for his friends and former college roommates:

“Well... here it is. But then again... there it always was. This is my new truck. It's my new truck, yet I have been riding in it since I was 8 years old. My dad bought this truck new for about $12,000 in 1988. I remember the first time we met…the truck and I. Dad came to pick me up from one of those camps which give parents a reprieve one week of the summer. Holding my suitcase and a plastic bag of soggy clothes, Dad and I walked toward the camp parking lot. I was looking for the pukey- brown, F-150 that he owned. Instead, Dad walked me up to this blue and white steed. It was pretty awesome at the time for an 8 year old boy.

A brand new truck!It sure beat that ugly brown one. I remember when we got that other truck too. It was second-hand, maybe third-hand. Dad paid cash for it in the parking lot of some restaurant. I had to ride home in the truck bed along with several rusty, smelly beer cans.But this new truck was nicer. Much nicer. I have ridden in it for the past 18 years. It is definitely part of the family. Lots of fond and funny memories include Ford Truck Kelly. It was transportation for a vast menagerie of creatures, including rowdy boys, a hundred cockatiels in a make-shift cage and several goats.

And now, the memories will continue. I was planning on getting a Mustang. I got the 302 V-8 part anyway. Micah's medical bills put a kink in my 'Stang’ plans. But that is how it goes sometimes. In some small way I'm glad it happened. It is no hot-rod, and maybe, as one fellow commented, it is an "old-man truck.” But you know what? It is my old-man's truck. And I'm proud to have it.

Today, for the first time, Micah sat in the truck that I first sat in when I was just 7 years older than he is. What was old is new again. Maybe, one day, Micah can have the new Ford Truck Kelly too.”


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #269

Journal of a Living Lady #269

Nancy White Kelly

When I was five, I asked Santa Claus for a pony. I didn’t get it. When I was six, my Christmas list was more realistic. I wrote PIANO in large letters on tablet paper.  Alas. I didn’t get that either. I assumed at the time that both were too big to get down the chimney… even if we had one.

In retrospect, I am certain I didn’t get the pony because we lived in the city. Why I didn’t get the piano I do not know. I suspect it had something to do with money. Putting groceries on the table for five children must have been a greater priority.

Not that I didn’t have good Christmases. I did. My favorite gift came in my early teens. It was a turquoise-colored, manual typewriter from Sears. My dad typed a note on it: “Go write the great American novel.” I honestly thought I could and would.

Now that I am in my sixth decade, I find myself still pining for a pony, well…actually a horse. And, I would like to have a piano. Not that I can play well. I only had a dozen lessons in my lifetime. It is just that I miss piano music. I do amuse myself with an accordion occasionally.

Our son, Charlie, a natural pianist, was playing music by ear when he was just three. He had to sit on telephone books to reach the keys. He later took lessons and even chose to continue them in his high school years. When he married, he took the glossy black piano with him. The emptiness left behind is more than physical.  I can still hear his vibrant version of “Victory in Jesus” in my mind. Nothing will ever erase that memory, Alzheimers bedamned.

While Buddy would have little use for a piano, he would most certainly vote for a horse. I suspect he was the original horse whisperer. He and horses talk a language that only they understand. It is eerie.

We used to have horses in our young married days. In fact, we…I mean I, used to ride in horse shows. What happened to those blue, red, and white ribbons and brass-coated trophies, I don’t remember. I suspect the old cardboard boxes that contained them were thrown out years ago. Funny how important those ribbons and trophies were at the time. Vanity of vanities.

Perhaps a compromise is in order. Buddy could get a horse. We already have a small pasture. I know just the right spot in the den for a piano. A horse would keep Buddy occupied while I got reacquainted with those white keys and confusing black ones. I think they are called sharps or is it flats?

Is this a whim that will soon pass?  Perhaps the Shadow knows.


PS: If you don’t know who the Shadow was, ask somebody who was born in the imaginative dark ages of radio.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #268

Journal of a Living Lady #268

Nancy White Kelly

The generation gap is real. If this is the day of the X or Y generation, then I must fall around letter M on the alphabetical time line. Our sons, in their teen years, would have classified Buddy as an E, one notch beyond the dinosaur age.

Nothing shows our age more than our conversation. While growing up, my own mother used puzzling phrases that dumbfounded me.  What did she mean when she said you can’t get blood out of a turnip? Everybody knew that turnips didn’t bleed.

Most of her maternal sayings or proverbs eventually became a part of my language. No doubt these strange sayings confounded my own children. How would they have known that when a dog doesn’t hunt, something doesn’t fly? And that we weren’t talking about birds.

There were, however, bird phrases. How could a child understand what “a bird in the hand" implied or why one bird securely held is worth more than two loose tweeties in a shrub bush? Did our boys actually believe that a little birdie told us secrets? I doubt it.

Drop in a bucket. Fish out of water. A sow’s purse. The list goes on.

How did my dad know that Job had a turkey or that he was poor? What was an ace doing in a hole? New brooms sweeping clean? No wonder I grew up linguistically dysfunctional. Being saturated in southern culture probably didn’t help either.

Mash a button. Cut on a light. Fixing to go. Wanna come.

In the scheme of things, language evolution is minor in comparison to culture change. Can you imagine our war era parents getting a preliminary glimpse of 21st century with its torn jeans and backward baseball caps?

If alive today, what would our conventional parents say about nose rings, tattoos, carnival-colored hair and raunchy hip-hop?

“No problem?”  

Sure. When pigs fly or hell freezes over.