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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beat Up Old Things

Today was "Pot-Blessed" at church. Plus I have been asked to be one of the "counters" for the offering.
When I got up, my sister asked me where my car was?
I forgot my friend had told me last night that it was still "apart" for a new thermostat. He had gotten one that seemed to let the car (beat up old 1983, painted purple, Toyota pick-up that I have had since it's birth) run on the "too hot" side and wasn't satisfied.
I called him, "How am I supposed to get to church today?", I kindly chided.
"You sound like a damsel in distress. You better call someone for help."
"I am. I'm calling you."
We had already talked last night. He knew I was going to church, I knew he was on his way to Sierra Vista for the day. I don't know why I thought he could help. I guess I just needed to get the statement out there.
My sister had already offered for me to drive her new old beat up Mitsubishi truck.
"Why don't you take my truck. I want you to see how it drives anyway? I'm not going anywhere. I'm gonna walk the dogs, exercise..."
We settled on that idea.
"You just need to go easy on the shifter and really push the peddle in hard to get it into reverse."
Off I went, driving her new old pride and joy.
Somewhere in the middle of the sermon, Pastor Lupe brought up a story about driving some 1962 beat up old car to pick up another Pastor friend on their way to an event. That friend had made a statement about Pastor Lupe's congregation "keeping him humble."
Up to that statement, Pastor Lupe had been quite content to be free of debt for a car, have lower than low insurance and registration fees and be able to navigate his daily chores and responsibilities unencumbered, without that stress hanging over his head.
(There were so many other, better things to worry about and spend money on.)

I used to come out to visit my sister, before I lived here. As soon as I got any time off from the drudge of work, I would drive my, then cream colored, old beat up 1983 Toyota pick-up truck across the desert to spend the time out in the boonies with her.
If that truck could talk... boy the stories. I could write a book. For the most part, Bartholomew (my faithful friend) got me through safely. Me and my 260 air know "roll both windows down and drive 60 mph".
(I'll tell more of those Bartholomew and me stories  eventually.)
I don't know how anyone lives without a truck.

I would arrive at my sister's gate and out would fly several dogs to greet me. All of them barking their hellos. The one that touched me the most (before Bungee Cord came along) was Princess. She was a beat up old thing. She could barely see. She was lame, but she came flying out there too, with the crowd, with her little old lips pursed like as if to form an "O" and she had a bark that told that time was getting behind her. She was sweet. And she had had quite a life... When my sis had lived in "the big city" her neighbor had fallen in love with Princess and wanted her. He kept her for many years and loved her up. Eventually he got so old himself and was going to Hawaii to live out his days. They wouldn't let him bring her unless he quarantined her. It was too cruel for his love of her to imagine, so he asked my sister to care for her again.
Princess had a lot of issues. She was kind of stinky too. But you just had to love her and the stink was just a part of her package. I loved her old-lady bark and her old worn out sniffer. She had such wisdom in her foggy old eyes. And so much love too.

Old things remind us constantly of not giving up.

I have been a designer most of my career, working in people's homes, helping them to make their spaces what they want. I can't tell you how many very old customers I have had who were some of my best because they were gonna make there homes exactly what they wanted til the day they died. I was always inspired by the oldest ones.

One lady wore a mask to keep bacteria from her lungs and lived in housing with her husband who was dying of cancer (though you'd hardly know it). His bed was in the middle of their one room. She had messes everywhere, piles of papers, just accumulations. It was dirty and fussy. But she was determined to have those "purple drapes" she had always wanted. She had a huge front window. We designed a set of soft pastel purple-y blue sheers under a dark purple-y blue satin over-drape. Her old neighbors all filed in to see what she had picked out. She couldn't wait for them to arrive once we got the papers all set. She was in her 90's. I think the curtains were 1,000 of her hard earned dollars or so. It didn't matter. She wanted them.

People live until they die. Cars run until people give up on fixing what ails them. Old dogs bark as long as they have it in them to form their little lips around an "O".
"Oww, oww, oww", Princess would say.

My old beat up purple truck sounds like it is grinding to a halt. But I'm gonna do all I can to stop it from happening. I'm not giving up. It moans. It groans. The windows struggle to grind their way up and down. The dash is burned off from the sun. There is a hole where the radio used to be. The peddles are bare medal, they need new tread. Someone in a big motor home backed up into my hood recently and drove off with me waving my hands in the air. It has a new pushed up nose now. Kind of snooty. Some of its original cream color paint has been exposed and the metal is starting to rust. It has an old camper shell on it that doesn't really fit. When I was up in Northern California trying to make a "camping adventure" work out, to get out from mildewing sleeping bags, I had had a local man spend a day of conversation with me, fitting it to my truck. I heard his whole life story while he rigged me up so my two dogs and I could sleep in it while it continued to poor down rain. He was kind of an old thing too, a very good looking old thing, married though, for about the 4th time I think. But he loved his camper shop and he was gonna make that shell work for me. And he did. It cost me about $150 and a day of listening to charming stories.

I love old things. They tell the story of not giving up. Of continuing to try. Of loving life and holding on.

Sometimes I think I am old. Sometime I don't. I forget that I have lived since 1954. My sister and I go walk the track at the school yard across the street from my house  and then we swing for awhile in the elementary section and talk and reminisce. When we walk by the classrooms it is eerily similar to our own elementary school memories. Some happy, some sad.
When we get up off of the swings, me a little sooner than she because they make me feel "sea sick", we creek a little. Our hips hurt from the pressure of the swing strap. We both agree we need to bring gloves next time to tolerate the chain.
I can remember running in the gravel with bare feet when we were little. I can barely step out front where a couple little pebbles need to be swept away from my walkway. Baby feet still have fat on them. It diminishes with age.
I need tread like my old truck peddles do.
But we both get along. I just have to remember to grab a pair of flip flops before racing to the gate to bark hello to my friends or out to turn the water off. Otherwise I walk a tightrope getting there and back.
Walking life is a tightrope event. The best hope is to get old in the process. I love old things. They have charming stories to tell.
I hope I can get really, really old and that there are always old dogs and beat up old purple trucks going there with me.

"Bartholomew lived on the brighter side of life, unruffled, serene, cheerful."
"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"...
"Here is a man in whom there is no deception." 

There are some Twinkies that aren't as old as others, and one that just gets better with age. <3

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