When I was a kid there were still a lot of the old-folks who were born in the eighteen hundreds. Back then not too many people got into their seventies…. my parents donated some time with the old folks as volunteers with ‘Meals On Wheels’. So I met a number of the old folks. They usually liked to speak of the old days when our area was open range… they’d speak of taking wagons to the beach to pick up the boards and planks the ships would throw overboard. Our local tow didn’t have a wharf or harbor… just a long beach curving along ten miles of coast. So with no mooring for offloading, all cargo had to be rowed to shore (a VERY dangerous undertaking on our local beach) or simply chucked overboard if it would drift to the shore.
They’d speak also of the horse races they’d have up and down our main street every Fourth of July, or how the horses got spooked when the first cars came to town…. and how eventually the streets got paved making riding a horse more and more difficult.
I recall this one old fellow who always drove a rickety bike up and down some of our roads…. he was so unsteady on his bike that everyone worried he’d swerve into the path of their cars… I never spoke to him because he always seemed scary… and I was a kid… there was another house in a nearby wooded area that had an old man who had a chain attached to his ankle and the porch post. He had dementia and would go wandering off… the people of the house had work to do, woods to hunt and fields to plant… they couldn’t afford to have him wander off and get hurt. A friend of mine once told me the old man often peeled his clothes off and sat naked in the sun. One day he found the old man wandering down the road naked, his pants caught in the end of the chain dragging from his ankle twenty feet behind him.
So sad that the life and hopes and dreams and experiences of a person should disappear upon their demise… and even sadder when it should become locked in the vault of the mind… irretrievable except on those rare moments when some door opens and allows cognition before it slams shut again.
I am glad I took the time I did to listen to old folks…. but now that those people are gone… I know that I didn’t do nearly what I now wish I had. Old folks seem to like to sit and speak of the past… perhaps that is because they have more of a past than they can perceive of a future. Kids don’t think about past or future… they just are ‘now’. I guess like much in life, it is the middle that seems the logical place to go. A little of the past without dwelling on it… a little of the future, because if you don’t plan your route who knows where you’ll end up… and a whole huge amount of ‘Now’, because that’s where you are now, along with all your family and friends and the myriad creatures we exist alongside.
There’s something about old folks, kids and old animals…. young animals too… what would life be without puppies and kittens.