Monday, June 24, 2019

A story waiting to be found

A story once told. A memory captured on the page. The people who were once creating the story now gone and never forgotten. Why? Because it is a story once told.

Often it is difficult to pull something out of the air to create a column. So sometimes I need to wait until almost deadline time to find a story that is waiting to be found. Interesting words, right? A story waiting to be found. Now, realize that you are a trove of wonderfulness.  No matter what your age, you are full of stories waiting to be found. You might think what I do is difficult, but it is not. You must just open your mind. Look around. Allow the world to touch your soul. Then write it down.

We are nannying for the twins this summer. Most of the days will be filled with camps; however, there are weeks that we will entertain them. Or maybe, they will entertain us. This last week was an eye opener. I am not 30 anymore. Nor am I just a couple decades past. My knees rebel and my energy needs a swift kick in the....well, you know. But what an opportunity. We get to make memories that we hope will last forever. Will they? You and I are the memory banks for so many people, for so many events.

I picked up the kids at 7:30, fed them and then brought them to our house. "MeMe, you have a really cool house," said Nolan. Making themselves at home, the toys came out of the closet. A bucket was lowered over the upstairs gallery railing with a note for me and pencil and paper for return mail. They finally settled in with freshly made scones and morning TV shows. I settled into my morning computer time. Well, sometimes it is good to look up from what interests you. For when I looked up, the twins had turned Mom and Dad's old chairs around to see the screen. Emma rocked away in hers while Nolan curled up in his with a raspberry scone still warm from the oven. How could I look away? My thoughts carried me away. Mom and Dad received these precious chairs as a wedding gift. Back then, people often gave away something of their own. The Loxley girls have always cherished the chairs. We played on them, our children sat in them when conversation filled the living room, and when we cleared the house on Neff Road, my sisters had already decided to give me both chairs. Now I was looking at their great grandchildren filling a couple of hearts in Heaven.

Later Nolan walked over to the glass topped cabinet that holds the Native American stones from the farm. Each sister has the same. I opened the top. He picked up a small one. "This was used to shoot birds," he echoed from a past conversation. "It's my favorite." I knew what he was hinting at. Yes, he wanted it to go home with him. It probably will some day, but it is the one and only one I ever picked up in that field that ran along the lane.  I am not quite ready to part with it.

Stories surround us. They are waiting to be found. If we don't pass them on, they will be lost forever along with those people who were and are part of our lives. They are waiting. Each time you find one of them there will be an explosion of other stories that will find you. The stories are waiting.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Let there be love

This is a piece I wrote three years ago. I feel it is as important today as it was then. Maybe even more so. I hope you take it in and pass it on.

Let there be peace on earth with every person loving, not judging, not hating. Let every man, woman and child strive for understanding. Let cruel words dissolve and positive thoughts prevail. Let there be peace.
Let creativity flow from every person. Let them find joy in the gifts they possess. Let them dwell on ways to build together creating a universal canvas celebrating all humanity. Let us all raise voices full of hope and joy. Let there be beauty.
Let us embrace this earth that provides life. Let us work together to save trees that provide for every living creature. Let us protect and love each creature that wants life as much we do. Let us tend their roots as we must do our own. Let there be action.
Let us embrace our differences, the uniqueness we each possess. For in that embracing we experience the love of God. Let all cruelty, bigotry, bullying, oppression fade into oblivion. Let there be hope.
Let the sun shine on a world where unity and cooperation prevail. Let us all choose love over hate. Acceptance over judgement. Where color, religion, sexual preference, origin and circumstance of birth are accepted by all. Let there be joy.
Dear God, let us be what you created us to be. Let there be love.
By Pamela Loxley Drake

Sunday, June 9, 2019

A helping hand

Tragedy strikes, and we who live in the country know what that means. Neighbors step up. They don't need to be asked. They don't need to be called. They don't need to feel guilted into helping. It seems they just show up with tools, food, clothing and whatever it takes to make life easier for those who are hit by an unforeseen force.

Online I am seeing posts of people finding things on their properties that do not belong to them. Pictures, toys, even a pet seemed to have ended up far from home when the tornado hit. They are all symbols of the power of nature; those things picked up and carried for miles. They are items seeking their owners by the grace of those who find them. This is what neighbors do for one another.

There is such a pride we have in this unsaid love and concern. It is a way of life we grow up learning by the actions we see by our family and friends. We are part of it, and it is part of us. You can take the girl out of the country, but you cannot take that neighborly love out of the girl.

None of us are immune from extreme weather conditions. A storm takes out a neighborhood, and we who live far away hold you all in our hearts. Even Loren asks if the farmers are in the fields yet. Yes, rain or shine, we care.

There are garage sales all over the Painter Creek area on June 20 from 9am-6pm. A list of the sales will be available at each residence. Forty homes are participating, including Pleasant View Church. Go. Go see what the farmers are doing. Enjoy a drive in the country. These are my good neighbors. They and their relatives are the ones who pitched in when our family had scarlet fever, when June had rheumatic fever, when Dad lost his herd of cattle and helped us care for our parents. I wish I were there. Gotta love a sale!

So while attending the garage sales in Painter Creek, remember to look for items that might go into a goodwill basket for someone needing a boost. Remember the less fortunate. Take used clothing to a clothes closet in a church or other organization that gathers good, used items. One of those things you look over might just be a plus in someone's life.

Yes, we are all a community. That desire is born in us from Neff Road. I could go back today and ask anyone of them for help, and they would embrace me with all they could give. Remember to think of those who have lost so much. They are family.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Old lady tug-of-war

Message from my granddaughter Gabby: Grammy, when were you born? Reply: 1947. Gabby: So you were alive during the 50's and 60's. Reply: Well, it would seem so. (Where is her head!) Gabby: Well, two of my friends have to do a report on someone old (There she goes again!) who lived then, and they are fighting over you. Reply: Hm.

Anabel won the 'old lady' prize. I set up the deck so my yearbook and other items from my ancient years would be in view. I played 50's music, hoping to set the mood. Admittedly, I was nostalgic as I gathered up old cut out dolls and old 45's. Still in love with Frankie Avalon. Soon I was dancing to the music of my elderly past. I had pictures of the wedding styles from my grandparents to my own. It was quite a stretch. West Side Story and Peter Paul and Mary albums looked on. I even had my old curls that were cut when I was about 3 or 4. I wanted to toss the blonde ringlets, but Loren wouldn't let me.

Gabby came along with Anabel. I sat on the hot seat. Gabby sat with chip dip and chips in front of her, and Anabel had a thick tablet that had 15 questions in it for me. The first thing she asked me was what would be my most memorable event. I started to tell her about JFK's assassination, and much to my surprise, I began to cry. This is an event I have talked about with friends many times over the years without this reaction. What was wrong with me!?!?!? Was I really an old broad losing it?

No. No, I was not. As I sat there with these two beautiful girls about to go into their senior year in high school, I was struck with the fact that I was their age when it happened. Suddenly the fear and confusion I felt back in 1963 was as raw now as it was then. It wasn't about me. It was about so much more.

I turned the table on Anabel and chip-munching Gabby. "Do you read the newspaper and follow news?" Both girls said 'no'. It was too scary. They didn't want to know.

When back east I was asked why I was missing the Today Show so much. I watch it faithfully every morning here at home. I watch the news and read about what is happening in the world. It is my duty as an American, a mother, a grandmother and a woman trying to help a world in distress What I saw was disturbing and sometimes made me angry and feeling helpless. But I watch. I cannot have an opinion if I do not know all the information. Yes, I am a Democrat. But it might surprise you, I do not follow any sites posted by the Democrats and do my own research on all parties. I try to keep an open mind and a level head. This is the responsibility of parents and grandparents. We are the examples who need to open doors to clear thinking so that our young ones know how to make their own decisions. How could this father and grandfather have opinions if he was not opening his mind and changing the world for those he loves? As far as I was concerned, if you don't open doors, you will remain locked behind them.

Anabel and I continued our little interview. I rambled about playing with paper dolls, twisting to Chubby Checkers and occasionally making out in an old Chevy. I laid it all out. They could ask what they wanted. I learned long ago that you can't fool teenagers.

As we finished, I had one question to ask them. "If you don't know what is happening in your world, how can you protect it? You will be going to college. We have not left you with the same world I had when I graduated. You are the future. You are the ones who will make a difference. How can you not be interested? I challenge you to step up to the task. I am trying and would like your help."

Yep, Anabel won the old lady tug-of-war. My guess is the she got more than she bargained for. In fact, the chips and dip seems to slow down with the conversation. Maybe, just maybe, a new page was added to my history.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ironing the wrinkles

We do it, don't we? Yep. We look at everyone else who might possibly be our age and wonder if we look that good, or maybe that bad. Age. We seem to be defined by it. How do I know? Well....

There has been a change in my visits to the doctor. For some reason I don't seem to get the same attention to my concerns as I did before. "It is just part of growing older." Hm. Well, I don't really buy that. I know my body pretty well and know that some of the changes have happened quickly. All of a sudden I seem to have red spots that pop up over night. They are the size of a dime. If I was thirty, I would be sent to dermatology. But for me, "It is just part of growing older." Another hm.

I notice that my son treats me differently. Not necessarily in a good way. Just because I can't jump down from the bleachers as quickly and could use a hand, he doesn't need to say "Hey, need a little help, Mom?" Of course I do. I just don't need his chuckling as he does it. My grand twins even inform me that I am old. Hard to understand since I sit on the floor to play with them. I play basketball with them. I will try most anything to keep involved. I'm not old!

On top of everything else, I keep getting AARP info wanting me to join and get oldster benes.  I'll get there. Just not feeling it yet. I get ads for wheelchairs, first alerts for when I tumble over my own feet, hearing aids, life insurance, walk in bathtubs, all sorts of 'old' ads. Not interested! If I am, then I will check it out. Anyway, how did they know my age?!?!?!?

We aren't old. No. We are all on a path to finding out what we will be when we grow up. We are full of adventure and eager to learn new things. We can contribute because, believe me, we have learned a few things over the years. We are a walking encyclopedia on life. We have made the mistakes so the younger generation will not need to. We have seen the worse, so we understand what is the best. We have suffered through wars, drought, flood, death and broken hearts. We know that nothing is gained without change and new ideas. Yes, we have much to offer.

I no longer compare myself to others. I applaud everyone who has leaped over adversity and survived pain. Each age is beautiful. And, the faces that accompany them are precious.

Here's too long life, lovely faces, new adventures....and wine.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Get your daily paper

On each corner. Yep, on each corner of the city, a newspaper boy was hawking papers or there was a newspaper stand. I know, I'm showing my age. There were also shoeshine boys, buses on electric cables, policemen walking a beat and people wearing their Sunday best. Dayton was a different place back then. Most of all, I remember the newspaper boys and their cry, "Get your paper! Get your daily paper!"

The newspaper has always been an important part of our society. Besides the radio, it was the only source of news. Local news was only carried in the paper (and on a party line). I remember a newspaper was always lying around at our house and in those of my grandparents as well.  Dad always headed to the mailbox first thing in the morning. He and Mom read the paper from page to page, column to column not missing a thing.

We took the Greenville Advocate, the Arcanum Times and the Dayton Journal Herald. Our household was up to date on all the news. We grew up hearing Mom and Dad talk about the news. And, it is where I learned to read the paper and to take an interest in local, regional and national news. I read the comics: Orphan Annie, Blondie, Dick Tracy, Lone Ranger, Nancy, Pogo, Li'l Abner. My favorite was Brenda Star.  I followed it to find out who sent the black orchid. Could it be Basil St. John? Every week I waited to see if the identity would be revealed. Well, yes, that was the drama in my life when I was little. Alley Oop came in for the comedy. What fun! Yes, I grew up on the comics. Every Saturday it was a battle to see who would get the color comics first. 

When my kids were small, I was clipping newspapers for major events for their scrapbooks. In looking back through family papers, I find obits tucked into the Bibles. News items important at the time were saved, recipes filed away and newspaper birth announcements tucked into birth announcements sent to our home. Each part of the paper was important.

Things are changing with online news not to mention all the other sources of news, i.e., TV, computer and phone. (Oops, I guess I just mentioned them.) My oldest granddaughter Sydney and I loved to watch the Today Show together. Even apart, we both still watch it. Our favorite part is the news. I learned about our political world through the news and more about which party I wanted to belong to. I watched our government in action through the newspaper then progressively through other media. But nothing has replaced the rustle of the newspaper and the familiar warmth of reading the paper as I have all my life.

Newspapers give us a broadened view of the world. We can hold it in our hands and reread it. We hold our newspapers to a high standard expecting unbiased views and truthfulness. We learn about our neighbors and find out what events are happening in our areas. We are drawn closer through those paper pages. 

In preparing to go home, I will go through the old picture trunk and look for old news clippings. I will bring home pieces of the past. I can't do that on the TV, my phone or computer. Sometimes progress isn't nearly as good as the past. 

Get your paper! Get your daily paper!

More precious than diamonds

Take me home, Country Road. To the place I was born. The place that holds my heart, my roots, my past. Well, really I just lied, because Oregon holds my heart and the roots of my grandchildren. I have been here since 1978.

I remember when I was newly married and living in Wisconsin raising two small children, we found that every holiday was spent on the road going back to the farm. I resented not having the holidays in my own home. Then when we moved to Wisconsin, we found that our big trips were those back to Ohio. In Oregon, we found our trips were few. My roots called me home by way of guilt. I felt I had to go home. Yep, guilt is a mighty power that grabs you by the suitcase and points east.

Over the last couple of decades, I have lost many people. Most of them have been family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends who were as close as family. I know I don't have to explain this as you have found this to be true. We cannot go back and add to those times we missed. And, I mourn those times when I could have sat with all of these people, knowing the questions I would ask now. Absorbing their essence and tucking it away for when I would no longer have them with me.

I love hearing from you who also live away from home. It feels rather like making a quilt with all the threads that tie us together. The patches of lives woven by joy, sadness, faith, love. So many of us passed by one another and never knew it. Now we can be in touch and feel as though we have always known one another. We can reminisce about church, county fair, Bible school, driving the circle in Greenville on a Saturday night and, sometimes, tobacco fields.

Growing up, I was the youngest in my family. Hanging out with older people was normal to me. Now as one of those older people, I realize what my visits meant. I realize how loved ones watched over me and followed my life. Perhaps I am a better person now for understanding the gifts of love and recognition. Maybe I can pass on an understanding of the fragility of life and write about the past for those 'young'uns' who will someday, many years down the road, understand how I feel now.

Yes, I am going home. A suitcase is packed. Summer clothing for Key West and St. Augustine then layers and sweaters as we meander our way north. When I asked the twins what they wanted me to bring back, the combined answers were shells, crystals, diamonds and that order. Hm. I intend to come back with stories more precious than diamonds. I will absorb every bit of the earth, the sky, the towns and the feelings I left behind. Watch out, Neff Road! We are on our way. See you all May 4 from 1-5pm at Turtle Creek Country Club.