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

the petals on the ground

on this first day of spring
I remember vividly another beautiful spring day
walking beneath the towering cherry blossom trees
dressed up in their pink finery
so full that they blocked out most of the sky
that was a brilliant blue with only
a few of the fluffiest clouds

I held the hand of the girl who walked
and he carried on his shoulders
the girl who was quite new
in six short months she’d filled our hearts with joy
and our lives with stories

these two girls who were and are my world

the little one looked up at the blooms above her and laughed
that deep gurgly laugh of the very small ones
and to this day I wonder
if that is why she so loves the pink

this one born in the land of the rising sun
all those years ago
as she rode on her Daddy’s shoulders
smiling down at the one whose hand I held

and our feet landed on the petals on the ground
as step by step we made our way to this spring day
half a world away

Cherry_Blossom_(4524817941)

By THOR (Cherry Blossom) [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

A Masterpiece in Gold

Today I had an appointment in Macon, and I found myself driving down one of the old streets there a little ways from the downtown area.  As I looked down the street towards my destination, the sight before me took my breath away.

Ginkgo trees in all their golden glory lined both sides of the street.

Beautiful.

I remember the words my pastorfriend quoted from “The Color Purple” about how God must feel if we go by a field of purple flowers and don’t take notice.  If that is how our Creator feels about a purple field, I can’t imagine it’s any less important for us to notice that beautiful gold that fairly glows in the afternoon sun.

I’m in love.  As I drove on, I thought about my oldest asking me in the past week what I want for Christmas.

I think it might just be a ginkgo.  Or ten.

Well, that and a weeping willow or two.  I have my Bradford pear (that has yet to catch afire with the flaming red and golden leaves–seems late to me this year for some reason), and I have my heavenly smelling tea olives.  I even have a couple of magnolias.  So yes, I think a ginkgo would be just the perfect addition.

As I sat at my appointment thinking about all those lovely trees whose leaves were dropping to make a golden carpet beneath, I remembered seeing just such a sight at my home away from home–Wesleyan College, where I made such wonderful memories and where my oldest calls home for now.  They also had them in Japan which we enjoyed seeing while we lived there.  The ginkgo is another tree whose story is interwoven with mine.

Our roots are bound together now.  And I love that.

What tree or plant shares in your story?  Which ones bring you joy just at the sight of them?

Loving this time of year when, quite frankly, so many of the trees are showing off before crawling into bed for the winter.

Love to all.

Showa_Kinen_Koen_golden_gingko

The gingko trees at Show Park in Japan–a place that helped ease my homesickness while we lived there. I didn’t get a picture today because I was taking it all in and didn’t think of it until too late. Japanexperterna (CCBYSA) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Universal Language of Magic

For some reason I started thinking about old TV shows and how good I used to think they were.  Maybe it’s because I’m feeling nostalgic or maybe it’s because my Cousin came by and we were talking about the movies we grew up watching.  He loaned us Superman and Superman II, so we were talking about those and movie ratings and how that’s changed and so on.

And I thought of Bewitched.

I’m not sure why.

But I thought of it, and just like every other time in my life, it gave me comfort to think back to that show.  I wanted to be Samantha, sure–but when Tabitha was born, I wanted to be her with almost every fiber of my being.  She was adorable and had magical powers and well, yeah, isn’t that enough of a reason to want to be her?  Oh and Aunt Clara.  Of course.

When we lived in Japan, we had channels that we could watch American programming on.  We could watch channels like Lifetime with about a two-week delay.  (This really made me happy as I was watching Christmas movies well into January–AS ONE SHOULD.  Obviously.)  We also got Japanese channels.  We really liked watching sumo matches and enjoyed the ceremony and regality of it all.  We even had our favorite wrestlers.  I haven’t watched a match since we moved back, but those are happy memories.

Somehow while we were there, I heard about the release of “Bewitched in Tokyo.”  I don’t remember if I read about it in an English paper or saw a preview on a Japanese channel.  Either way, I set the VCR (yes, VCR!) and recorded the first episode.

Adorable.  A brilliant adaptation of a classic.

Sorry, was that too much?

Still, it was really fun.  Two adorable Japanese young people, living in a high-rise apartment in Tokyo.

But everything else was the same.

So much so that they used the same story lines.  For each and every episode I got to watch.

The only difference was I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.

And yet I knew exactly what was going on.

The beauty of knowing a story well and enjoying something despite the differences.

I recently saw an interview with a woman about polygamy.  She was no less than vehement when she said, “It’s wrong.  I hate them.”

Hate?  Really?  THEM?

I mean, you might disagree with how they are living and what their choices are, and you are allowed that.  But HATE them?

Oh me.

Tonight I’m thankful for the memory of “Bewitched in Tokyo.”  In a country where things were so very different and life was not at all familiar, I found that we are more alike than different.  That someone in Japan loved the story of “Bewitched” enough to share it with their fellow Japanese friends and family and strangers alike–that is beautiful to me.

And that I could understand it, even though I spoke “skoshe” amount of Japanese–well some things are universal, aren’t they?  They need no interpretation.

As we go through this weekend of remembering and aiming for peace in the world, may we all take a moment to remember, that despite all of our differences–

we all like to laugh at made up stories about magic.  Among so many other things.

Wishing you peace and love for all.

Just a little glimpse into the wonderful show that brought me great joy…..

 

Silent Night in Japan

Christmas of 2004, our Princess was five weeks old.  We were in Japan, and besides the four of us (Cooter didn’t arrive until a little over two years later), the only family we had there were the folks who had wrapped us up in their arms and hearts and called us their own.  This special family invited us to go to Christmas Eve service with them at their church in a small Japanese community.  I was thrilled.  Christmas Eve service has long been one of my most precious moments of each Christmas season.  I was very happy that we would be continuing the tradition.

It was even more beautiful than I could imagine.  By the time we got there, having ridden in the van with our friends through the dark Japanese countryside, the dimly lit church was a lovely setting for a quiet evening of reflection about that first Christmas.  When we arrived, our friends introduced us to the only other “foreigner” in attendance.  He was an American around our age who had traveled there years before and married a Japanese woman.  He was fluent in both languages, and he offered to translate the evening’s service for us.

I was so thankful for him that night, but tonight as I sit here where I have no problem understanding what anyone is saying, I am even more appreciative.  He gave up his quiet evening of worship to share with us, so we could feel a part of things.  And understand.

It was a beautiful evening, and when the minister spoke of the baby Jesus, he gestured toward our own baby and wondered aloud what Christmas would come to mean for her.

I am teary-eyed as I remember it tonight, and I think about how her being down with the flu took something from our joy this season.  She is one who truly carries Christmas joy in her heart.

IMG_6565

Silent Night

 

That evening years ago closed with a singing of Christmas carols.  The last song of the night was “Silent Night” complete with the sharing of lighting the candles.  The lyrics were spelled phonetically in Japanese on a screen so that we could sing along to the song and the tune we knew by heart.  But in a new and beautiful way.

And it was one of the most moving moments in my memory.

The faces of those around us, people we had just met and some we had not, glowed in the reflection of the light.  Their smiles were contagious and the Love in the room was palpable.  Just as real as the newborn baby whose life we were remembering and giving thanks for.

Tonight I found a video of “Silent Night” being sung in Japanese, and it carried me back to that wonderful night.  And a wonderful part of our journey, spent with beautiful people who didn’t discount us or look down on us because we were in the minority and quite different.  I remember the young man who interpreted and shared the message so unselfishly, so that we could hear it as well.

I am thankful for the Christmas season and for those who share the message of Love and Light so graciously, not just one day but everyday, so that we can all feel included and loved.  I give thanks for our Princess who finally started feeling better today–I have missed her light and laughter.  And I am thankful for a beautiful song, sung halfway around the world in a foreign dialect and yet made me feel at home.

That’s part of what I love about the magic of Christmas.  It can bring the memories of home wherever you are.

Wishing you all someone to step in and share with you so that your day is even richer and for a song to lift your spirits and carry you home no matter what language it is in.

Love to all.

 

Take Me Home, Kermit

This afternoon the crew and I were over at Leroy’s and Mess Cat’s house for a bit.  My littles were playing with Shaker, running through playing some game that kept them entertained and getting along.

*Win*

At one point, our Princess came running through carrying something and the boys were chasing her.  She stopped next to me, poised the bundle she was carrying just so and said in this special little voice, “It’s not easy being me.”

I looked over and laughed.

She had taken the Kermit the Frog that Shaker got for Christmas and wrapped his arms and legs all around him until he looked like what she deemed “Baby Kermit.”  She has played with this little critter every single time we’ve been at their house since Christmas.  It made me smile that she has such a fascination with him.  I think maybe it’s because of the movie trailers for the new Muppet movie “Muppets Most Wanted” coming out on March 21.  My crew wants to see it because “Daddy loves the Muppets.”

As I was thinking about Kermit and all of the Muppets this evening, my mind wandered to John Denver.

Yes, Rocky Mountain High.  That guy.

He was a guest star on The Muppets and then had two television specials with them.  He developed a lifelong friendship with Jim Henson, you know, the Muppets guy.   I think John Denver’s version of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” with the Muppets is the best one ever.  Hands down.  (I heard that song referred to as the “100 Bottles” song of Christmas, and I nearly laughed myself silly.  True.)

I started thinking of John Denver and his music and his untimely death at age 53 in 1997.  He was born the same year as my Daddy.  I grew up with his music.  When we had the awesome backyard Barbie Wedding about thirty-something years ago, my Aunt had a tape of “Annie’s Song” that we played during the wedding (or maybe as the Wedding March?  the brain’s a bit foggy).  That was a great day, as evidenced by the ease with which my mind and heart travelled back to it, with just the mention of John Denver’s name and legacy.

As I played through his other songs in my mind, I thought about Japan.  Yes, Japan.  When we were preparing to leave after our two and half year wonderful, awesome tour there at Yokota and Fuchu Air Bases outside of Tokyo, the Fella’s cohorts from the Japanese Base–Fuchu–threw a Hawaiian themed get-together for us and the other family moving away.  It was at the home of one of the Japanese officers.  All of our friends were decked out in their Hawaiian finest–shirts, leis, and the like.  Our greatest surprise, however, was when they gathered around and our dear friend began to sing, in his best, only slightly broken English, “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” which, bless him, came out something like, “I’m reabing on a jet prane, don’t know when I be bock again, oh babe I hate to goooo.”  Bless.  Him.  That’s another great memory.  I will never hear that song and not think of our good friends  and great times in Japan.  And the gift they gave us by singing that song and making the night and our whole time there so very special.

And then, as I thought a little longer about John Denver, I naturally started thinking about my Mama.

Oh take me home, country roads.

My Mama loved that boy.

As I write this, I have “Take Me Home, Country Roads” playing.  Only it’s not John Denver’s voice I hear singing it.

It’s my Mama’s.

She LOVED. That. Song.

It was maybe about twenty years ago that she got a CD of his.  Maybe his greatest hits?  She loved to play it.  When she was mopping, when she was cooking, when she was doing whatever, she loved his music.  But when she loved most to play it was when she was rocking her first grandbaby to sleep in her chair in the living room.

The CD player sat (and still does) on the corner of her big desk in the den.  Around the corner was the door to the living room, where she and Daddy each had a rocker/recliner chair.  Mama would carry our baby girl in there and if she’d forgotten to press play, she’d call out for me or Daddy to do so.  And she’d start singing.  Right along with Mr. John Denver.  Sometimes she’d sing louder to drown out the cries of a tired baby who never wanted to go to sleep for fear of missing out on something.  I might be wrong but I think that “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was the first song on the CD.  I remember Mama would measure how long it took her to get Aub down for a nap by how many songs it would take.  “She was out before ‘Take Me Home’ was all the way through!”  That was a triumph indeed.  I think my baby girl loved her some John Denver too.  John Denver a la her Maemae.

And that’s where my thoughts landed and stayed.  With my Mama.  Not that a day goes by that I don’t think about her.  It’s just interesting the twists and turns my brain takes each day to travel back to be with her again.

So today I’m thankful for Kermit and my Princess’ fascination with him.  I’m especially thankful for Mr. John Denver who has been on this journey with me most of my life.  I’m thankful for friends who used his song to remind us we were loved and appreciated.  Most of all, I’m thankful for his song that let me hear my Mama’s voice once more.  How I miss her and her…..well, every single thing about her.  Even the way she’d call me on stuff I’d rather not be called on.  Yes, every single thing.

Tonight as I was reminiscing and listening to his old songs I love, I came across a new one I’d never heard before by “JD” as Daddy sometimes called him.  (He also called him by his real name Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.)  In it I heard words that touched my heart and helped me feel Mama’s hug, to hold her hand, one more time.

From “The Wings That Fly Us Home” by Joe Henry and John Denver:

The vision of your goodness will sustain me through the cold.
Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone: you are never alone.

 

Amen.