Archive for the ‘Life and Memories’ Category

Throughout my life, I have read striking novels and seen dramatic movies where a character is placed in an impossible situation and asked the question, “would you die for him?”. About the only people I can think of that would unhesitatingly answer “Yes!” to that question are parents. Of course, I hope none of us will ever be faced with such a horrific and odious decision as long as we exist upon this fair earth. However, several decades ago, my mother came close to forfeiting her life for me as I was entering the world for the first time and even that was just a portion of the love she exhibited toward her children as she ceaselessly dedicated her life to my sisters and I as we grew, and continues to do so to this day.

The earliest memories I have of life are predominately ill-defined images, but the early memories I have of my mother are crisp, clear and precise. The birthing process that allowed me to start the mystical journey we call life was only the precursory step I took with my mother. Whenever I was ill, frightened, in anguish, sad, joyous or proud, my mother was there by my side. She was there to give me succor, relief, a kind word or perhaps, simply silent encouragement. She seemed to always be there to share in my accomplishments as well as my tears. I still recall the words to the first songs I remember hearing. Those songs came from my mother’s lips as she would sing to me as I sat in her lap as she rocked me or at bedtime as she soothingly bathed me with her sweet, melodious voice while stroking my hair as my eyes grew heavy from the sandman’s visit after a busy day at play.

She also read to me as a child, opening up countless vistas of exploration of the world, the the universe and life as she would bless me with her words from children’s books, classic literature, stories from the scriptures and more as she attempted to instill in me the lessons learned from all those fantastic pages. She taught me practical lessons also. For instance she taught me to read, write and to count before I was old enough to go to school. She directed and educated me to be functional as I learned how to cook, sew garden and to fix things around the home. My mother did all this and more while suffering from ill health…for the first ten years of my life, she was in and out of the hospital while battling several anomalies including anemia and severe, lingering complications from a difficult, almost deadly, childbirth…yet, I never heard her moan, complain or cry and at no time did she mention her problems, instead she chose to concentrate on the positive aspects of life. Critical and essential lessons such as kindness, honesty, giving, sharing and personal responsibility were not only taught to me by mouth, but more importantly, she drove home all these lessons daily by her life and actions.

Growing up I considered myself a model child, but the reality is I caused my mother an endless assortment of agonies and woes, probably on a daily basis, but she loved as if I actually were a model child, instead of the hellion I most likely was. Even though I can’t at the moment recall any specific instances, I’m sure I was the source of a joy or two to my mother growing up, but even if I weren’t, I could never tell overall by her words or actions toward me.

Today my mother is in her seventies and she has had the pleasure of watching my sisters grow and develop, becoming loving mothers and wives themselves. She has also watched me grow into adulthood with children of my own and I can only hope and strive to be able to teach and instill at least a portion of the lessons the she taught me so well all those many years ago. Though I have not been as successful as an adult on the home front as my sisters, you could never tell, for my mother still demonstrates to me daily that she loves just as much as the day I was born…I love you Momma.

1998 written under the pseudonym, Richard Corey

 

Addendum…

My parents passed away peacefully in their home in the autumn of 2013, three months apart at the ages of ninety years for my mother while my father enjoyed ninety-two fruitful years. My father had been a successful business man, neighbor and WWII veteran and was well known and respected in the community, while my mother dedicated her life to her children and husband. Really, for her, the only thing that could be considered work outside of her home, was as a Sunday school teacher in their church, a role that she enjoyed for over fifty years, only stepping down and passing the mantle of responsibility for the children’s religious education to others while in the eighth decade of her absolved life, when she reluctantly acknowledged she was becoming too old to continue effectively.

During my parents funerals, I earnestly anticipated many people would come to pay their respects to my father, as he had been very well known in our community, and I was not disappointed, as a generous number of folks came to pay their respect to my father and his memory that he had shared with so many. However, what stunned me and caused me to revisit and re-evaluate my thought process on roles in life, was the enormous turnout for my mother’s visitation and funeral. Hundreds of people from several states came to pay their respects to “Miss Mable”, a person that they remembered as a role model and leader and teacher during the formative years of their young lives…memories that stuck with them for decades an the grew into adults themselves. There were almost double the amount of condolers and well-wishers that came forward to eulogize my mother, while consoling and giving empathy than attended my father’s funeral, and as I reflect and look rearward, I fully understand that this in no way, demeans the impact my father had on those he touched in his long life, rather it celebrates the gigantic impact my mother had on the all the children she loving educated and nourished, giving each one of them a small portion of the love she gave to my sisters and I every day until she passed. In retrospect, I feel my parents celebrated life as fully as they could and the most paramount and significant legacy they have left everyone was the life lessons they taught us just simply by the way they lived.

2018 Jim Bussell

“You wander down the lane and far away, leaving me with a song that will not die…”

                                                                                                                            Nat King Cole

In one of those chance encounters that can happen so unexpectedly in a person’s life, I saw her, my childhood friend and companion of so many years ago. I spotted her immediately as she entered the hallway just a few feet in front of me. I don’t really know why, but I desperately wanted to rush up to her and announce my presence…but I couldn’t. I’m not sure if simple shyness or fear of a cold reception held me back, but whatever the reason, I found myself silently walking along behind her, fearful of approaching. For reasons unknown, she suddenly stopped and turned around and my fears and uncertainties instantly disappeared in a flash as she walked toward me, a smile blossoming across her face.

“Ricky, it’s so good to see you!” she gushed as she unabashedly threw her arms around me, “how have you been? It has been so long.” I despise the name Ricky, having worn it throughout my childhood, but somehow, coming from her it sounded sweet and natural and fitting. We continued to hug like the long-lost friends we were and it lasted for a moment and an eternity and felt amazingly nice. I found myself not wanting to let go but people were beginning to stare, so I reluctantly let go.

I felt the same closeness and affection toward her as I did when we were children. In fact, some of my earliest childhood memories were created with her as we spent many of our formative years together. We sat next to each other in church and also at school, we played together, sang together, discovered the world together and cried together. We  had developed a bond that I have rarely felt with anyone since.

Eventually though, the inevitable happened. At the end of our third grade school year she moved away. I was totally distraught and it seemed like my world was collapsing about me. I still recall the overwhelming sadness I felt the day she left. Life moved on and I moved on with it and even though the emptiness and grief waned, I never quite forgot her.

Thirty years have passed and as we sat and talked, I perceived and experienced the same bond I had felt as a child. It suddenly seemed like only yesterday we were hopping and bouncing on her pogo stick, or playing with stuffed animals or discovering new things and treasures within our yards or walking together to her grandfather’s store to share candy or a coke. I’m not sure whether she felt the same sensations or not, but I suspect she did by the smile on her face as we spoke. Eventually we parted, promising to keep in touch.

This evening as I pause from catching up on work, I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if she had not moved away all those years ago. I know her life would probably radically different that it is now. She is a successful teacher and mother, happily married to a well respected physician. I am very grateful that I had the chance encounter to meet the grown-up version of my closest childhood companion and I am jubilant she has the wonderful life she has been blessed with. A person can never really know what extreme and considerable differences small changes could have made in our lives. However, as I sit here in the gloaming of the evening twilight, I still wonder though, what it would have been like if she had never moved away.

For Darlene

1996  written under the pseudonym, Richard Corey

“and the days dwindle down to a precious few…”

Frank Sinatra

It seems to become more apparent every time I open a statement from an insurance company, that they are blatantly becoming more fearless about raising their consumer rates, often from one statement to the next. In the not too distant past insurance companies would employ surreptitious and covert techniques in raising their rates, to the point we almost had to compare statements to even detect their ploy. They are still fluidly sleek and shark-like in their approach, but now they are completely and overtly informing us of the fact they are, once again, going to be dipping their hands into our wallets (or at least my insurance carrier is).

For example, I received a birthday card from my insurer a few days before my last birthday, which I thought was a nice touch. Their card had a nice, genteel look to it as had all the others I had received over the years…only this card was a little different. Inside was a poem instead of the expected generic greeting that I had come to envisage from my insurance carrier.

It goes as follows:

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you.

    I hope it’s great one, you that we do.

   Now that I have that out of the way, I’m raising your rates, effective today.

I’ve done you a service, (I’m sure you won’t mind)

By installing a syphon from your bank to mine.

Hard monthly payments and nasty old cash.

Won’t worry you now, there’s no time for that.

You’re no longer young, life’s passing you by.

So stop by and thank me, before you die.

At first I was sunned, mortified and flabbergasted all at once, by their audacity and boldness, then I sat back and slowly started to realize that they are no different than most any other company that I deal with today. I suppose, what really bothers me about this whole episode, is that they are forcing me to acknowledge the reality that I am getting older. If they hadn’t been so bloody audacious about it all, I possibly could have gone on several more years pretending that death’s winged chariot is not breezing past my front window on a slowly increasing schedule, and that I am still a young, virile, strong twenty-something year old, instead of the old geezer I am swiftly becoming.

It was a nice card though, I have to say.

1998, article written under the pseudonym Richard Corey

Half The Man

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Life and Memories
Tags: , ,

“…I’m going to be like you Dad,

You know I’m going top be just like you”

Cat Stevens

He was born beneath a shimmering winter moon in the old south during the infancy of the roaring twenties. He entered the world as the fourth of five children to his loving, hard-working parents who scratched a living from the rural Middle Tennessee soil. They named him Hubert after a close family friend and for the first seven years of his life he learned the ways of the county as he ran, romped and climbed after finishing his daily chores at his home that his God-fearing father had built by his own hands as a wedding present to his doting wife. At the dawn of his eighth year Hubert’s parent made the decision to move the family to the larger town in the area, to give them a chance for a better education than that which was available to them in the small one-room school house in the community. The family moved to town three years before the crucible of strife and hunger created by the great depression descended upon everyone in America like crashing wave, changing almost everyone’s life, virtually overnight. Hubert’s father was a carpenter and home builder by trade and with several homes owned by him, as well as a garden and a few chickens, their family fared better than others as Hubert learned to hunt and forage to assist in providing sustenance for the family. While growing up in this difficult time he quickly learned to survive by using his wits and his fists and was largely self-educated after quitting school in the eighth grade, he grew up street smart, tough and mean.

When he turned nineteen at the beginning of 1941, his love for animals and nature caused him to turn to the only institution where he could be outdoors and ride horses and get paid for it…he enlisting for a year with the local Nation Guard post, subsequently becoming a member of the US Army National Guard Horse Calvary. Ten months into his tour while relaxing at home on a ten day furlough, he was listening to the family’s Silvertone radio on a chilly Sunday morning in December when the broadcast was interrupted by the announcement the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He was immediately inducted into the Army and for almost four years following additional training designed to hone his skills as a soldier, he lived in the heat, stink and slime of innumerable South Pacific Islands, dodging bullet, bayonets and bombs. One bomb got too close and he spent the rest of the war traveling from hospital to hospital, finally receiving his discharge papers on November 19, 1945 from Walter Reed Army hospital in Washington, DC.

He finally arrived home to Cookeville, Tennessee to an almost non-existent job market, a young wife and a coping disease called alcoholism. He drifted from job to menial job until the arrival of a beautiful daughter forced him to start fighting the bottle and looking for meaningful work and sobriety, turning his attention and concentration toward providing for his growing family. Not long after the birth of his third and final child, a boy, he opened his own business while struggling to seek ways to balance his time between work and family.

With the birth of his children he became he became a loving father who taught his children independence, responsibility., self worth, strength and kindness. The lessons of life he passed to his children was readily absorbed by the two girls as they grew to become successful and responsible adults and parent. The boy, on the other hand…maybe no so much.

I am the boy and this man is my father. I have watched, respected and attempted to emulate him all my life without too much success, though I still try as I attempt to apply the I moral and social values he taught me. More importantly though, I have learned to fight for myself, fish, hunt, hike, write my name in the snow, (I’ll give you a minute to think about the last one) and how to laugh from him.

He is the foremost of my heroes and I love him. Watching my children grow and develop makes me realize just how daunting the path of being a father really is to follow. I try to view them through his eyes as I attempt to draw upon the lessons that he taught me growing up. If I can learn to be half the man he is, I will be grateful and happy, and I will also consider myself lucky, for I still have a tortuously long way to go.

Written under the pseudonym Richard Corey 1998

Dedicated to my father, Hubert Bussell

Jan 27, 1921 – November 9, 2013

When I was a child growing up in Middle Tennessee during the sixties, one of the things I really loved to do on a summer evening after supper was finished and the chores were done, was to go outside into the magical back yard of our neighborhood home and crawl up onto the white, wooden picnic table that ruled the middle of the yard and lie there on my back and allow the exquisitely dazzling night to envelop me. There was very little light pollution then in our small town and I would first watch the lightning bugs dance and flicker about as I would attempt to follow the trail of a particular one, endeavoring to guess where they would suddenly next appear in a flash of light in this secret hide and seek game we were playing together. Soon however, I would tire of that and turn my attention to the main attraction, the gloriously magnificent stars in the heavens! I learned early on that as I watched other thing at night, the stars would seem to grow brighter and brighter and many more would suddenly seem to start appearing, as if adjusting a light from very dim to dim to bright. All these beautiful celestial objects arrayed themselves from horizon to horizon while twinkling and dotting the inky canvas high above and were always a pleasure and joy to simply study and watch.

In this time period of my life during the sixties in Tennessee, life was blissfully lazy and safe. In our neighborhood, if the weather permitted, our moms would often kick us out of the house in the morning so we kids weren’t in their way as they went about their home-keeping duties, and we would have the day to romp and wander and play, always with one ear cocked, listening for the familiar sound of our mothers calling us home for lunch or supper. I also loved reading in these idyllic years, and ever so often, I might earn a dime or even a quarter to spend on candy or comic books that I could open and escape into far away countries or even space as a superhero or a fearless  adventurer. Usually sprinkled about throughout within the pages of these comics were ads and one of the ads, in particular attracted me, and I was allowed to snip out and write to was an advertisement for the American Seed Company. It just so happened, according to the ad, the American Seed Company would send me seeds to sell at a small profit as well as earning points that were redeemable from their catalog. The more seeds I acquired from them, the more point I accumulated, toward the wonderful prizes they listed in their catalog. Looking though the list of prizes in their big prize book, I quickly spotted what was the best prize of all…a telescope! Oh my…I imagined all the wonderfully, glorious things I could see with that marvelous device!

Momma loaned me the money to get started on this enterprise (15 cents a pack) and when my flower seed packets and the instructions for selling and marketing them arrived, I started canvasing the neighborhood, knocking on doors and touting the beauty of these seeds. I would find myself going back and looking in the prize book at that telescope as I continued to sell my little seed packets, afraid that it would somehow disappear from the pages, for with that telescope, worlds unknown would open up to me and ever-so-more increase my ability to explore the stars. I quickly sold out and ordered more and more seeds and even though it took me all summer, I finally had enough point accumulated to receive what I had been diligently slaving for, the telescope! The telescope ultimately arrived and even though it didn’t quite match the picture from the list, it was still a wonderful thing, for with that small, flimsy paper-tubed telescope, I discovered planets, craters on the moon, moons around Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, the milky way and so, so much more. I would sit or lie out on that picnic table gazing through my telescope and I was instantly out there floating among the stars. I recall staying out there for what seemed like hours evening after evening until Momma would eventually call me back from my adventures to reality, bidding me inside to get ready for bedtime.

Some of those memories came flooding back to me last night as I dutifully went down to the chicken yard located in the field next to the woods of our farm in rural Tennessee to secure the hens in their house. As I started walking back up toward my home, I paused at the edge of the woods in the moonlight and just stood there in the gentle night breeze gazing up and watching the lightning bugs flickering and flashing as they performed for potential mates, attempting to impress them with their aerial phosphorescent displays whilst the clouds and the stars high above were doing a hide and seek dance of their own. After a bit, I continued up toward the house smiling as I remember the old pleasant memories of a childhood long ago and started wondering what ever happened to the little telescope that allowed me to romp among the stars, night after night…

Jim Bussell

7-22-16