Monday, November 24, 2008

Ups and Downs

Today has been a bit of a strange, off-beat day for me.

Church this morning was excellent. Maya was in the Children's Choir and the kids sang my favorite hymn - "Children of the Heavenly Father" -the words to which I had been working with Maya for the past 2-3 weeks to help her learn the first verse in English as well as in Swedish.

The kids in the choir ranged in age from Maya being the youngest at 5 years to some of the older kids -a couple in their early teens. My neighbor's daughter, Kylie -who is 14 now (Wow, where did THOSE years go as it seems like just yesterday she was a baby!) came by our pew and got Maya, walking up to the piano and positioning Maya directly in front of her. Then, while the kids sang, Kylie held Maya's hand firmly -a good move - and that helped to keep Maya on task and focusing on the song.

I was so proud of Maya as she stood there, singing -and yes, she remembered the words in both languages -or at least the majority of them anyway. She looked so doggone cute too in a really pretty little dress of a white fleecy type fabric dress, long sleeves with a round neck and a pink heart appliqued in the middle of the front and trimmed with pink fleecy fabric on the sleeves and hem. Looked like a little angel she did, for sure!

My neighbors and good friends, Shirley and Bo, Kate, Jim and their younger daughter Susan, were all seated in the pew directly behind us. Mandy had arrived at church before me as Maya had to be there 15 minutes before the service for a last minute practice session so they were already seated when I arrived -along with my son!

Yes, Mandy and I guilted him into going to church with us today. He's had an attitude about church more so than religion itself for several years now -one that doesn't sit too good with me, but I know if I try to argue and push him, he will just dig in his feet that much firmer and resist going to church with us. But about 3 weeks ago, when it looked like he would be working at a new company, having different hours with guaranteed weekends off, I had told him if he was going to be home on weekends now, he could mark his calendar for today to go to church. He gave me -and his sister too -a bit of a black look and asked just why that was that I felt he should have to go to church today and I told him "because your niece, Maya, is going to make her debut with the Children's Choir, that's why!"

Immediately, his look, his demeanor changed and he answered me softly, saying "Yes, I can do that." Yeah, I knew he could and also that he would try his level best to be there today too because you see, he absolutely adores that little girl -as well as his two nephews too.

So, when we walked in today and as I started into the pew to join Mandy and the children, I leaned down and whispered to neighbor Shirley as I passed her -"Don't faint now." And with that I gave a quick backward glance towards my son. Shirley looked up, saw him and laughed as she knew what I meant there. After church, Jim -our other neighbor told Clate that when he looked up and saw him come in and sitting down, his first reaction was to look up and check the ceiling to make sure it wasn't falling in or anything. Thankfully, Clate does have a good sense of humor and knows these folks well enough to know when they are just poking a little fun his way and didn't take offense to any of this friendly teasing.

The nice thing -along with Maya and the children's singing to day -was that a goodly number of fellow parishioners spoke directly to Clate, telling him how nice it was to see him in church today. I'm sure at least the warmth from those folks greeting him like that made him feel good about the whole occasion.

This morning though -at church and after -I felt fine. Not tired, no other problems until mid-afternoon when I got so darned cold -just felt like I was chilled clear through to the bone. And I couldn't get warm no matter what I tried. Then I got really tired, couldn't keep my eyes open, and my back started to ache. I had put a roast in the oven and had set the timer but told Mandy that after the timer went off, it would still have to cook an additional amount of time -probably close to another hour so for her to fix some scalloped or au gratin potatoes to go with the meat then once the timer went off and then to wake me up too. I figured if maybe I napped for an hour or a little better, it would help me get warm, give me an extra jolt of energy perhaps and rest the back a bit. But when I got up, she had supper completed and I found myself still freezing while eating supper.

I tried to do some blog reading but found I couldn't sit comfortably at all as my back was just throbbing with this dull ache, added to the cold feelings and still being really tired and sleepy so to the couch I headed, covered up with a heavy blanket and fell asleep for another hour or two.

I was awakened though around 8 p.m. by Mandy handing my the telephone, saying the call was for me. Geez! I hadn't even heard the phone ring, that's how soundly asleep I was then.

The caller was an old, very dear friend of mine who I've known for close to 30 years now -a retired truck driver I met back when I first started waitressing at the big truckstop down in Snow Shoe -Max's! He and I have kept in contact over the years -even when he took a transfer with CF from the Poconos to their terminal down by Jackson, Mississippi for the last years that CF was in business.

Gerry and I have always loved to pick on each other, playing practical jokes whenever, wherever we could but he's always been like a big brother to me too. Just a very good, close friend -someone who knows me, my kids too -and always a lot of laughs involved when we get together to talk -whether it be in person or on the telephone.

He was calling to tell me that he had been to the CF trucker's reunion lunch today over in the Poconos and had to let me know which drivers were there, who's still around, in good health, not doing too hot, as well as who has passed away in the past year or two as well.

His main issue tonight though was he wanted to know if it was okay if he gave my phone number to one of the old drivers I had always been good friends with, back in the day. Heck yeah, Gerry -give him both numbers here at the house, was my response to that! I'd love to hear from Walter, AKA Jumper (CB handle) again! What a hoot he was along with his running buddies, Stanley (Happy Man) and Bobby O, aka Zero!

Gerry told me that Walter had written his phone number down for Gerry -on the name tag Gerry had on at the reunion and as things were breaking up -only about 5- 6 drivers still left hanging around, Gerry said he realized there was this phone number there on his name tag but he couldn't for the life of him remember who had written it there.

So, one of the guys he was talking to told him "Here, take my cell phone and call the number and see who answers." Which is what Gerry did and that's how he found out that Walter was the one who had written his phone number there so he wouldn't lose it, wouldn't forget about it that way either!

I can just imagine the thick Brooklyn accent of Jumper's as he told Gerry "That's my number you stupid &8#*())&^#!"

It was so much fun tonight though talking to Gerry, hearing him tell me about all the different drivers he'd seen today and for both of us, remembering some of the crazy, zany things that went on back then when I was waitressing as it was usually a contest, daily, to see who could outprank each other.

One of the guys that Gerry used to run with -Phil, a really nice, generally mild-mannered guy but with a great sense of humor -sadly lost his life a few years back now. He'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, had treatments, surgery and was considered to be "cured" but then, something went awry with the electrolytes in his system and the doctors were never able to get that regulated so that is what ultimately caused his death.

In telling me about that, Gerry told me what happened to Phil the last week he lived. He and his wife had gone to Florida where they spent their winters after they had both retired and in the hospital there, on "the machine" a team of eight doctors had told Phil's wife there was nothing more that could be done for her husband and it was their recommendation (7 out of 8 agreeing with this) that they "pull the plug." Then, these same doctors went into Phil's room and told him, to his face, that was what they recommended. Phil was very weak, very sick -yes, but still able to comprehend what was being said to him. His response was to very slowly garner enough strength to lift his arm and then, to politely give these doctors the finger! How choice! And so typical of Phil to have done something like that as his final gesture too!

As we talked tonight, recalling so many of the funny things that took place at that restaurant during the seven years I worked there, I've been thinking since our conversation about how thankful I am that I had that time there, met those drivers and forged some great friendships too in the process.

There were many days when I hated the thought of going to work there, knowing it was going to be a busy shift for one reason or another. I loathed having to work there on the Monday after Thanksgiving which is the first day of deer season here in Pennsylvania. Deer season in central Pennsylvania is like a celebration of another holiday, one that in some hunter's books ranks above Christmas, New Year's, The Fourth of July all rolled together too, ya know! I hated working there on midnight shift too on Saturday nights when the drunks would roll in and would have loved to have rolled almost every one of them up and right back out to whatever bar they'd just evacuated! Hated, waiting on drunks, just hated it! Something that caused a lot of teasing from the truckers who knew me too because, as they liked to point out, I was known to toss a few back from time to time and wasn't I being totally unreasonable then in my dislike of drunks? Not really, I used to tell them because "Drunks do not impress me and sometimes, when I drink, I don't always impress myself very much then either!" Makes me really glad that these days -well for several years now as a matter of fact -I don't feel any pressing desire to go sit and drink anymore. I do still like a beer every now and again, but not anything in excess and I'm perfectly happy to sit at home, crack one open and enjoy it while watching tv or relaxing. That, right there, is really something to be thankful for that with age I guess I finally came to me senses, didn't I?

Before I end this little (?) piece tonight now though, I do have to apologize for something here. I had said the other day that I was going to take my camera to church with me today and click it over to the video setting so as to do a little video of Maya and the Children's choir singing today. Well, as you can see there is no video here. No still photos either, unfortunately. Why? Well, because this morning my senility factors took control and I forgot completely about my plans to take my camera with me to church today!

I'll be kicking my own behind for a good while over that gaffe, you can bet your bottom dollar on that one!

And, after talking to Gerry tonight, I'm thinking I'll have to stop sometime and put the crazy things I still remember that we did back in the days I slaved at that truckstop -the things that kept me from going totally bonkers and depressed about the sucko things of that job and gave me -and many others too -lots and lots of grins, giggles and often, out-and-out good old belly laughs.

Yep, the job may have been the pits, but the people I met there, friends made and such -it wa a great run while it lasted.

Ten-four, good buddies!


Jocelyn said...

Do any of those truckers have fancy Iphones...or just get on the they could keep up with you through this blog? What a fan base you'd have!

I love that church finally offered something for Clate: seeing his niece sing. For me, when I was a teenager, I had a moment of realizing that church felt kind of hostile, as our congregation had some families who wouldn't speak to other families in town when they ran into them at the grocery store--because they went to the wrong church. So reading about a place of genuine community is so nice.

I hope your back is feeling better!

SuperCoolMom said...

I hope you gave them your blog address! I bet they'd love to keep up with your life that way!

So sweet that you got to see Maya in the choir and even toughened old Uncle Clate showed up!

Keith said...

I'll forgive ya for forgetting the camera ;-)

Glad to hear that Maya did so well and really glad to hear that your son went.


SnoopMurph said...

I am so glad that Maya is singing-music is wonderful for all children, but there is something special about how music connects with children who have autism. It's great that her uncle was there to support her too. That's great.

I do hope that you are feeling better!

Debo Blue said...

Wow JE, if your back is hurting and you're able to write this much you've got some stamina hon.

I'm glad Clate came to church, that's so sweet. Pity about the camera though I suspect you'll be able to coax Maya to give a rendition fit for the Queen.

Maggie May said...

So glad that Maya had such a success with the choir and that she really enjoyed it. You must be so proud to sit and watch her.
Many thanks for your helpful comments on my blog. Helpful email addresses have come my way, but like you said, there is no "this is the way to go about it " rule! Children are all so individual, so many of my questions will go unanswered I think. Just a question of wait & see.

Lifecruiser said...

Oh, I bet Maya was cute as candy! I'm impressed over the Swedish though, since I can imagine that it's not that easy to learn.

Love the attitude of your friend there, to give the finger the last thing. I wanna go that way too :-)

Sounds like you got some really good friends there. Humor and laughing is such important ingredients in our lives. Makes life worth living.

Linda said...

I wondered where all of the pictures were! It sounds like Maya did just beautifully and I can only imagine how proud you all were. Bravo to her!

My back has not been happy with me at all today but that's probably because it's been raining cats, dogs, and a couple other assorted critters all day! I'd love to curl up on the couch myself but there was some Thanksgiving baking to be done as well as laundry and now it's too late to take a nap - darn!!

I hope that you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving if I don't get back around before then!

terri said...

How wonderful that you can maintain connections with all the truckers that made your days a little brighter while you were working. I loved your descriptions of each of them. It gave a feel for each of their personalities; especially the one giving the finger to the doctors. I hope they got a laugh out of that!

Sandi McBride said...

I read this this morning, then Mac came in and dragged me out to the bulb beds and I didn't get to leave a comment. I am so glad you enjoyed your "reunion" and met up with all those old friends but you never said what was wrong with your back and whether you're still feeling wonky and undone! Hope you are well

Danielle Says Hello said...

Just stopping by to say hello and to thank you for being such a faithful reader and great blogging friend!!! I haven't read The Shack yet but I have heard a lot of positive feedback about it.

I hope that your Thanksgiving is all that you hope for - filled with family and friends.

Julia Smith said...

I hear you on the memories of dreading to show up for difficult shifts, while having made some of the best friends of your life. I used to work retail and hated every minute of it. Meanwhile, one of my dearest, lifelong friends worked with me in the department. I call her my war buddy.