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red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?

Month

December 2017

“You weren’t old back then.”

Cooper is four years old, and she loves looking at old photos. She asks questions about the people in the photographs, sometimes she makes a statement about the photo. She’s done this since she was three, at least.

“That’s you and Lindsey when she got married”, Cooper, age 3.

“That’s you when you were a baby. With your grandma?), age 3.

Me: “Yes, and she’s your great-great grandma”.

Thanksgiving week, my nephew and his family once more made the

journey to North Georgia, out of Florida. As usual, sweet Cooper showed interest in several photos. But not the ones she had studied last time she visited. Once she’s learned a lesson, she moves onto the next.

“Who’s this, Diffy?”

Me: “That’s your dad when he was a senior in high school.”

Cooper, as she shows the photo to her dad, “Look at you, Daddy. Look at you”.

She brought more photos for inquiry. Her blonde curls fell around her shoulders as she moved about. After a while, she started toward me with another old photo, one in a shiny silver frame. Before reaching me, she stopped in the middle of the dining room, intently studying the picture. I could see her wheels turning, trying to figure out the identity of the people in the frame. Finally, she asks pointedly, “Who are they?”

Me: “Oh, that’s Garrett when he was two years old. And me”.

She stood in place, but raised her her toward mine, and let her eyes move slowly across it, coming to a rest on my hair. She looked down at the photo again, studied it a while longer, then looked up and locked eyes with me. And in a very sympathetic, but matter of fact voice, she said, “You weren’t old back then”.

Her mom may have wanted to cringe, but I laughed! I’m smiling now, thinking about her innocence. Cooper wasn’t being mean or insensitive, there was no malice in her words. She was simply stating a fact.

It’s a real life fact, that if we are fortunate, we live to be old. I remember when I was four, Cooper’s age, when 57 sounded like it might be the age of Moses. Now it seems so young.

The hardest thing for me isn’t age, though. It is realizing how I wasted time in the 53 years between 4 and fifty-seven.

Too many wasted years spent in a bad relationship…. years sitting in Atlanta traffic two-three hours per day… years wishing I had gone to law school, telling myself it was too late… years thinking I was not as gifted or talented as everyone else. Years of bulls$&¥.

So this is for you, if you’re living a life not exactly doing what you want to be doing… Get up and get going, change. It’s not too late. Do the hard work that it takes to make the change, and see it through. Reconnect with old friends. Tell yourself you are talented, gifted and something special. Because you are.

And then go do what you want to do. If the people in your life don’t support your goals, surround yourself with those who do. If you can’t find anyone to cheer you on, be your own cheerleader. Leave the self-centered, negative people behind. Because #aintnobodygottimeforthat .

Live your life fully. Live it now. For one day, sooner than you know… you’ll be on the other side of an old photograph.

The Thief

He snuck in quietly, unseen. No one in the house was aware of his presence. He hid behind familiar things, in plain sight, and stole from us. He took art and music, stories. He stole a little everyday, yet we didn’t notice.
We were all so busy with our own lives, seldom taking time to stop by the familiar white house. So busy. When we managed to find time… Christmas, Thanksgiving…. we were in the holiday hustle, and didn’t notice what was missing. We didn’t see the thief, even while he sat down at the table, and ate Christmas cake. We didn’t see him.

But she…. she had become aware of the thief. She tried to hide him, cover his tracks. She hoped he would leave, without taking more, for his sake…for hers. Ours. She didn’t want us to know he was there. She wanted him to go away, the thief. But he refused to leave. He stayed. He has moved in.
And it’s heartbreaking.

My brain doesn’t work right anymore “, he told her.
It’s as close as he’s come to acknowledging the thief.

Alzheimer’s, dementia…. may be the cruelest of all diseases. The body can remain healthy, muscle memory still remembers how to mow the lawn and split firewood. Drive a car. The face looks the same, but the brain has changed, memories shifted. The person no longer fully there. He has been stolen. Both people in the house… robbed of their golden years.

My dad had not played his guitar for many years. But on Thanksgiving, this year, he agreed to play and sing for us. And in a short span of time, mere minutes, he began to resemble the music man I grew up with. I was amazed at the transformation made by music, and I want to share the video here for you to see. I want to preserve it, so I can watch again, and remember.

NannyPoppy
Cindy Harter Sims took this photo of my parents a few years ago, as The Thief was moving in. At the time, my dad told Cindy, speaking of my mom, “I just feel better when I’m with her”. She is his comfort zone.

NP4
Photo taken by Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017

NP2
Photo courtesy of Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017

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