Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Musings, 18 October 2014

Good evening,

Other than a couple of planned hiatuses, today marks my first failure to write my musings on Saturday morning.

I can almost recapture the mood which inhibited me.  Unsettled; reluctant; agitated.  I slept long but not well, tortured by dreams drawn from the fears which lurk in the murky recesses of my mind.  The interplay between self-pity and the "suck it up, Buttercup" attitude that my friend Ellen urges me to adopt stymied me.

Ellen and her children and grandchildren, churchfolk and relatives, bade farewell to her husband Charlie today.  I barely made the visitation, under-estimating the drive-time to Plattsburg.  I slipped into the funeral home, past the smokers on the lawn, and found myself enfolded in Ellen's arms as though I were the mourner and she the comforter.  That's Ellen.

I eased my small body into a chair between two older couples, and watched the people fill the aisles.  Finally Ellen and the rest of her family, both sides, took their seats and the preacher stood to open the service as the sounds of Amazing Grace surrounded us.  Later, between the prayers, we heard James Taylor and Pink Floyd: 

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

 Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here 

I never meet Ellen's husband.  He stayed mostly at their place at the Lake these last two or three years, and Ellen lived primarily on their farm in the northland.  I'd seen photos of him; heard stories; and listened to Ellen describe his tenderness, his bull-headedness, and his gentleness.  I know he had his troubles.  He reminded me of my father in many ways:  A man you love; a man who plagues and fascinates you; a man who lives life without restraint, who loves without hesitation, who lights a room.

His son and two of his grandchildren, as well as several friends and his first mate, Bubba, stood to speak of the man whom they had lost.  When his granddaughter Elizabeth, small and solemn, said, "I am sorry my grandpa died,"  I suspect every strangled tear burst forth around the room.  The catch in his grandson's voice, as the boy leaned forward to the podium microphone, stabbed my heart.  And the tall, strong, and shaking sight of his son, so much like the father, telling us that Charlie taught him to be a man, took my breath away.

Afterward, at the Stony Point Presbyterian Church in Trimble, the counter in the basement kitchen fairly sank beneath the weight of all the food laid for the dinner.  I knew only two or three people besides Ellen and her family.  I'd been to church there once, with Ellen, on an August Sunday.  I'd met some of the ladies, and their husbands, and the minister.  I found myself surprised to be remembered. A half hour later, Ellen drew me to the family table, and I had a lovely conversation with a fifteen-year-old, the daughter of a Carnie cousin.

Eventually, I made my way back to the city.  As I traveled south on 169, I thought about my failure to write Saturday Musings.  I realized, suddenly, that the musings waited to be written until I had had a chance to spend several hours with Ellen and her family:  Her family by blood, her family by marriage, and the family with whom she surrounds herself each Sunday.  I felt their love.  As I descended further, on 71, and then west to my home off 63rd Street, I thought about Charlie Carnie.  I never met Charlie Carnie, but today I met his legacy.

As I parked the car in the gathering gloom and walked to the house through the chill of autumn, I felt that Charlie would have been pleased at how he was honored today; and I felt grateful that I got to be a part of those gathered in his memory.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

The best online version of the song that I found can be heard here:

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

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The Missouri Mugwump™

My photo
I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.