Gilligan, Tom Hanks, and That Deserted Isle Thing

As bedtimes were backed up this evening, and the children abandoned the street, and balls and bikes were tossed aside in anticipation of school starting in the morning, all the quiet was way too loud this evening.

It had me remembering another time that the quiet was bothersome.  When our Princess was eight days old, it was Thanksgiving Day…..and we were living in Japan.  Our little family had been invited to our friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, but the wind was whipping, and the cold was biting.  We decided it was best not to take our newborn out in all of that, even briefly, so I sent my Fella and Aub on without us.  We both would probably sleep most of the time they were away anyway.

As it turned out, only one of us did.

And it wasn’t me.

So I turned on the TV.  We got some channels from the states, so I flipped around and landed on a movie that, to this day, I cannot tell you why I kept it on.

“Castaway.”

Oh my land, I wasn’t crazy about it when I saw it in the movie theater–why on earth I thought I needed to watch it on Thanksgiving day while my sweet baby slept and the whole rest of the world was celebrating without me and I was miles and miles away from my Mama and Daddy…..well, I have no idea.

And yet I did.

I’m sure I flipped away from it a time or two, but let’s face it–putting on your best shows is not a programmer’s priority on Thanksgiving Day.  So Tom Hanks it was.

And then Wilson.

I canNOT bear that scene.  Volleyballs in stores send me back to that moment, and I will tear up, no joke.  Fortunately, that’s not something you see a lot of at the getting places around here.

This summer it finally hit me why I LOATHED that movie so much.

It’s not because of Tom Hanks either.  I LOVE him.  #SleeplessinSeattle #YouveGotMail #Big #Splash #andalltheOthers #except Castaway

It occurred to me on one of our OutandAbouts.  Sometimes I’ll let the crew watch something while we are traveling in the car.  This summer they’ve watched (and I’ve listened) to more than our fair share of “Gilligan’s Island,” including one of the followup movies.  (Tina Louise wasn’t in that one–it troubled me to no end, and I was only listening.)

I grew up with Gilligan and crew.  I KNOW how deserted island life is supposed to go.  I KNOW how much people pack to go on boats even when they’re only going to be gone for three hours.  I KNOW how much food is on an island, and I KNOW that others happen upon the “deserted” isle from time to time, so there’s NO WAY AT ALL that someone would need a volleyball for companionship.

And so I’ve decided that’s it.  That’s why I cannot tolerate “Castaway” and all of its suggestions to the contrary.  I’ve seen Gilligan.  It’s ruined me for any other shipwrecked or plane crashes and the like where you wind up on a deserted island type of shows.  Once you know the truth, fiction just won’t cut it.

Tonight I’m thankful that my littles love Gilligan as much or more as I ever did.  I’m thankful for their giggles and that the sound of their laughter was the soundtrack for this summer.  As we stir ourselves in the morning and pull out the sharpened pencils and pristine notebooks and turn the crisp pages of new books, I hope that the spirit of the folks of the S. S. Minnow will prevail–love, friendship, ingenuity, loyalty, and togetherness.  And I hope that none of my children ask to play volleyball this year.

It’s still too soon.

Love to all.

Bob_Denver_Gilligans_Island_1966

By CBS Television (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for the Great–Shaker’s Story

Today went pretty well, despite its little quirks here and there.  Then this afternoon, I guess someone flipped a switch, and I was ill.  As a hornet.  I’ve spent the week with things and situations weighing on my heart and making me sad, and this afternoon, I got mad.

Mad that there are children and families being persecuted for what they believe.  Chased out of their homes and villages or murdered where they stood.  All in the name of religion.  I’m mad that I don’t hear about the missing Nigerian girls who were kidnapped at the end of April anymore.  The fact that a young woman with a unique disease that alters how she looks has been bullied and labeled “the ugliest person on earth” raised my ire a point or ten.  If one of mine ever…..well, you know.  I worry over the lonely people I see at the grocery store, seeking even there to find a connection, someone who will listen.  The families who are trying to hold it together and do the right thing by their children, with little to no support from their community–I am mad for them.  I am angry that there are people starving in our own community and half a world away.  I am mad that one of our cats not showing up this morning has broken our Princess’ heart.  Most of all, I’m mad that I cannot do a blame thing about any one of the things that makes me so mad.  That is what hurts most of all.

It’s as though my hands are tied and I just have to sit back and watch all of the pain and suffering.  And do…..nothing.

Today was Shaker’s first day of school.  I texted both Leroy and Mess Cat this morning, excited for them as their boy makes his way on the path of learning once again.  The past two years the first days have been hard, so I was eager to hear how it went.  I called and left a message, and then I got the call.

“Hello?”

“Hey,” I knew his voice immediately.

“Hey!  How was your first day?  Was it good?”

“It was great,” he replied, emphasizing the GREAT.

He talked about seeing two of his friends in his classroom, his new teacher, his new friend he made, and how he saw his first grade teacher three times.

“Did she say ‘hey’?” I asked.

“Yes.  THREE times.”  The happiness in his voice caused my eyes to well up.  Precious.

He even got to play with his best friend at recess, even though she’s in a different class this year.

Joy.  Sheer joy.  That’s what I heard in his voice.  And in his Mama’s, who was relieved and thankful that today was good.

Wait.  Make that great.  There’s a difference, you know.

And just like that.  My anger dissipated.

Do I have the answers now?  Did the things that upset me just disappear?  Did I stop caring about them?  No, no, and definitely not.

But I think Shaker helped me figure something out.

In the face of things I cannot change in the here and now, I can do something.

I can love.  Every single chance I get.  As hard and as much as I can.

And I can look for the great in every good thing and sing a song of thanksgiving for each one.

‘Cause when you’re joyful, everything’s better with music, right?

It’s not that I’ve forgotten or let go of the things that upset me, but I figured out the anger isn’t going to do anyone any good.  But love?   In the absence of knowing anything else to do at this point, it’s a pretty good backup plan.  Don’t you think?

Tonight I’m thankful for a phone call from my favorite almost seven-year old, who set me straight by focusing on the joy-filled things in our lives.  Like seeing someone who cares about you and saying hey.  Three times.

That’s the good GREAT stuff right there.

Love to all.

Full of Hope and Possibilities

Yesterday my BIL Leroy called and asked what I was up to.  “Cleaning up areas and stuff that no one will notice at all.  And it’s looking worse before it can possibly look better,” I sighed. Leroy replied, “Well as long as you notice that’s what counts, right?”

True.

Still, it’d be nice if SOMEONE would say, oh wow, the way stuff’s not pouring out from under the desk–yeah that–that’s pretty awesome.

Not meant to be though.

So as I was wrangling dust bunnies big enough to choke a horse out from under my desk, I found this little guy.

Rescued this little guy from the attack of the dust bunnies under my desk

Rescued this little guy from the attack of the dust bunnies under my desk

He really doesn’t have much left in him, poor thing.  Once you start sharpening the labelled part, well, it’s getting close to time to start scrambling for a new pencil. It reminded me a of a boy I went to school with–we’ll call him Buck.  We were in school together all twelve years.  In the early years, we had all our classes together.  I remember him writing with pencils just like this one more often than not.  How he did it, I do not know.  But he did.

I thought about the short pencil, wondering if Buck always had to use the short ones or if it was his preference.  I knew children who often seemed to be short on school supplies.  At the time I took it for granted that I never lacked the pencils and notebooks and paper and other supplies required by my teachers. If I had to borrow paper or a pencil it was because of my lack of planning, not because we didn’t have it.   Today I realize that my parents made our education a priority, and though we didn’t have a lot of extras, they did make sure we had what we needed.

The end of summer meant picking up packs of paper and pencils.  I even remember the year I got to pick out a Trapper Keeper because it was there was a big sale at the KMart.  It had a horse on the cover.  I was on Cloud Nine.  Decisions were made about whether a new lunchbox or lunchbag was needed each year.  We made trips up to my aunt’s in Griffin, so Mama and my aunt could go to the Sock Shoppe.  New underwear and socks also marked the beginning of the school year, because well, you know.  No I’m not really sure, but why not?  It was as good a time as any, I guess. I loved the shopping trips because it meant playing with my cousins at the house while the shopping was done.  (And yes, I loved my new aforementioned items too.)

We got new bookbags as needed, but the one I remember most was one Mama sewed for me–two-tone blue denim with all kinds of pockets.  Mama did not find much pleasure in sewing but she was an excellent seamstress.  That bag held up for quite a while.

Today I am thankful for my parents who made choices that assured I was never without what I needed for my education.  That was a precious gift because I know there were times that were hard, and they had to cut corners.  I am lucky that I never had to worry about how I would get the posterboard for my projects or if I had enough notebook paper to finish the school year.

The public schools here start in the next couple of weeks.   After finding the pencil yesterday and thinking back over how fortunate I was, I have been thinking about the children who won’t have it so good.  Those who will start the school year without the things they need.  They start their year already two steps behind.  That breaks my heart–the children whose families are affected by the furloughs or whose breadwinners have lost their jobs or who are moving from place to place without a real place to call home.  We have the power to change at least this need for them.

Many stores have dropboxes for supplies that will be distributed to children in need.  Local programs that work with homeless families or spouse abuse shelters, Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Rescue Missions–all of these have children in their midst who could use a hand up as school starts.  If you were lucky enough to have what you needed or if you remember what it was like not to have those things readily available, and you are able to pick up a few extra things in the next couple of weeks, will you join me in helping change their future?  Let them know someone cares, and send them off on their big day with all the things they need.

Nothing opens up possibilities like a fresh box of crayons–so much one can create and do–so full of hope.  (And remember the boxes with the sharpener built in?  Fabulous!) Let’s show them they’re loved.  I know it’s a cliché, but these young people whom we have a chance to help today are our future. Let’s make it a bright and hopeful one.  We can do it.  One pack of paper or box of pencils at a time.

Full of hope and potential, just like the children who need our help.

Full of hope and potential, just like the children who need our help.