One day over a year ago, we were up at the day shelter with our friends, wrapping up a meal. Only a few folks remained, and we were hanging around visiting. One of our friends, whom we love dearly, but who can be a bit eccentric at times was talking, and then he said, “I hear voices.” I looked at another of our friends, who almost spit his food out, trying to hold his laughter in. Our eccentric friend continued, “Yeah, I really like that song. It’s by Chris Young. It’s a good one. Have you heard it?” He and Aub then launched into one of their many, many conversations about country music.
Well, okay then. I am sorry. I was going in a “whole ‘nother” direction on that one.
It is a good song–about the voices holed up in his head, giving him advice. If you haven’t heard it, or if you love it and want to hear it again like I did tonight–here’s the link to the video.
The lyrics are here. A really good song.
So today I’ve been hearing voices in my head.
Our princess has been affected by the unseasonably cool weather. I mean we’re barely hitting 90 the past few days. This girl is ready for a picnic. Today on our various adventures with the Zoo Crew (aka the littles and Aub), we have passed by cow pastures, complete with cows and calves and a pond for cooling off in, a manicured yard of an apartment complex, and a couple of other beautiful lawns with trees and flowers. Each time, “Mama, let’s pack up a picnic and come back here and have one, okay?”
And each time, I said, “It’s not your property. We can’t have a picnic there.”
Tonight as we passed one more beautifully landscaped area on our way to the library, she responded with a little bit of a whine, “Mama, how come every time I see a beautiful place to have a picnic, you say ‘it’s not your property’ and we can’t have a picnic there? I want to have a picnic. We haven’t had one in the longest.” And she’s right, we haven’t. But there’s a time and a place…..and if it ain’t your property, it ain’t the place.
Two years ago, after Daddy fell and broke his hip, he fought hard to get back up on his feet. Unfortunately the lymphoma was affecting large motor skills, and he just wasn’t able to get up and about like he had hoped. I spent a lot of time sitting in the living room where his bed was, visiting and talking. One day I was telling him about how disgusted I was with the builders in this area.
“There just won’t be a single tree left when they get done, Daddy, I mean it. I’m sick of seeing all these little copse of pines disappearing. They could at least try to work around them.”
He listened. And I continued on my rant. “Just like there’s a lot down the road from us–and there’s this little pine sitting there, not even three feet tall. It could grow big and strong, but I bet you anything they’re going to just run right over it. You know what, Daddy?”
He shook his head. “What?”
“I think I’m just going to go over this evening and dig that little tree up and rescue it. Don’t you think that’s the thing to do? Poor little tree is just going to get destroyed when they start building, I am SURE.” I was getting warmed up but good.
Daddy shook his head again. “Don’t you do it.” What? “Is that your tree? Is that your property?”
“Well…..no sir, it’s not but…..”
“But nothing. It’s not yours. It’s not right.”
“So Daddy, are you saying I need to ask the builder if it’s okay?”
He shrugged and then nodded. I kept looking for a loophole. Some of my people used to say I missed my calling to be an attorney, but that’s a story for another day.
“So Daddy, what if I can’t find him. I don’t even know who it is. What if they’re about to run the tree over? Just let them?”
He looked down at his hands. “It’s not yours to do anything with.”
And he was right. So I set out to watching the lot up the street. And as luck would have it, one afternoon when I was leaving my house, there was a man walking around on the lot, talking on a cell phone. I got out of my vehicle. He looked a little uncertain, excused himself from his caller for a moment, and said, “Can I help you?”
“Yes sir, are you the builder?” He nodded. SCORE!
“Well, I was just wondering, see, there’s a little pine over here on the side and I was wondering if I could have it–I mean if you aren’t going to leave it for the yard or anything–it looks like it might be where a driveway would go, but I can’t be sure…..”
I don’t know if it was to hush me up or if he really wanted to get back to his caller, but he looked and scrunched his face up in thought, looked at the sky, and FINALLY said, “Yeah, sure, you can take it.”
“Oh thank you sir, thank you so much.”
That afternoon I told Daddy my story. He shook his head in disbelief and laughed. When I was in first grade, each day after school he would ask me if I had told my teacher that my Daddy wasn’t old enough to have a daughter in first grade. And each day I would reply “no sir.” I was too embarrassed to tell her. Until almost the end of the school year. And when he asked just as he had everyday, and I answered, “Yes sir, I sure did,” he laughed and had the same expression as he did when I told him about my pine tree. It was fun to know I could still surprise him.
And so that evening my crew and I rolled our wagon and a pot up the road with a shovel and I dug out our little pine. He is still growing in a pot on my front walk, but I have a feeling he’s about ready for his new home out at Blackberry Flats, where I grew up. He’ll have a lot of family out there.
So today, as I told my princess why we couldn’t have a picnic at the cow pasture or in someone’s yard, I heard Daddy’s voice and laughter in my head just as I have so many times in the past two years. It’s just not our property. End of discussion.
I also heard Mama’s voice today. Growing up, whenever we got to scrapping with each other or complaining or in general being sassy, Mama would often sigh and say, “I’m sure you’re all really very wonderful.” This was a line from a children’s play at Wesleyan many, many years ago. I don’t remember much about the storyline, but I do remember there was a good witch, much like Glinda from Wizard of Oz. When all of the characters got to bickering, she would exclaim in her high-pitched singsong voice, “I’m sure you’re all really very wonderful.” Mama loved it. If I had a nickel for everytime she said it over the years…..well, you know.
Yeah, I so outgrumped him today
Anyway, today I could have won a grump contest with Grumpy Cat. I have been frustrated, disappointed, upset, grief-stricken, madder than an ol’ wet hen, and…..this is how bad it was…..I almost replied to someone spreading foolishness through social media. *gasp* I know. Just walk away from the keyboard, Tara. And I did, but I’m still itching to leave a good one-liner. Only problem is, I know it wouldn’t end there. So I leave it alone.
If it weren’t for three wise women guiding me today with conversation and truth, with their love and kindness and compassion, I probably would have really and truly lost it today. I was headed straight for ugly. And then I heard Mama–“I’m sure you’re all REALLY. VERY. WONDERFUL.” Ahem. (That was her clearing her throat there. ‘Cause she would do that too after she said it. And that’s when you knew it was serious.) This was her code for step back, regroup, and act like you are somebody. Yeah, that was another line of hers. Very important. Not act like you’re better than anybody–EVER. But act like YOU are SOMEBODY. The end.
So tonight, like Chris Young and his co-writers Chris Tomkins and Craig Wiseman, I give thanks:
Turns out I’m pretty dang lucky
For all that good advice
Those hard-to-find words of wisdom
Holed up here in my mind
And just when I’ve lost my way
Or I’ve got too many choices
I hear voices
Call me crazy, but I’m thankful I hear those voices. Some days they’re just what keeps me sane.