Sunday, February 28, 2016

Beyond the auction

The wagons were full. A house empty. Tables brimming with items. The last night in the house. The final farewell.

We love auctions. We go ready to find a treasure and to face the challenge of bidding. We dig through boxes. Sometimes we find something that reminds us of our youths. Sometimes we laugh at the items people keep. Boxes of pictures tossed randomly aside. Albums pulled apart. Items once treasured are tossed here and there as people rummage through them. There is little thought of those who said farewell.

I am an antique lover, and I love auctions. Not until the auction of our farm did I realize the true depth of what an auction represents. Not until the auction did I realize the finality of it all.

"I wanted to get something that belonged to Willard and Ruth." "I'd love to have your Dad's fishing box." Something for everyone and everyone looking for something yet to be discovered. Each item a memory to the three girls who lived back the lane. A memory of two people no longer in our lives.

I stayed at the farm the night before the auction. Perhaps I needed one more night in this precious home. Perhaps I was saying good-bye to my parents in the last place I had seen them. Maybe I just needed to be wrapped in the nest to preserve the memory as deeply as possible. The rest of the family showed up in the morning. Wagons were pulled into the yard and table set up. Soon the auctioneer arrived as well as the food cart. Friends, relatives, neighbors and the curious soon began to drive up that lane off Neff Road.

People we had not seen in years came to join us in this farewell. "We wanted to see you three girls one more time." They sat in lawn chairs and stood in groups talking. I sat by the old chicken yard with Carl Bucholtz who farmed with Dad for many years. We watched the people with a detachment that separated us who loved the farm from those who couldn't see the memories surrounding us there. As we said farewell to the farm, Carl was facing a fight with cancer that he could not win. We mourned.

Now when I go into an antique store or to an auction, my heart reaches out to those lived with these pieces and left them behind. The sadness with which they were parted is thick around me. The memories that linger wrap around each piece. I cannot purchase any of these things without giving them respect and love.

Yes, they are just things....aren't they? Gifts for special occasions, penny-pinched items, treasures handed down, homemade arts and crafts, treasures. Stories end and new stories taking their place. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Swing to faraway memories

My column today is for all of those many kids who played in the barn back the lane on Neff Road. And, for all of you who once flew into the air on a swing.

This week Carla Bucholtz posted a picture on Facebook of a a girl on a barn swing. The post brought comments from Janie Baker and Malinda Rhoades who were little girls who visited our home back the lane. (Sorry for the maiden names, but it is how I remember you.) Memories came alive and once more we were all children in a time past.

Every child who visited the farm ended up in the barn swinging from bales of hay and straw one side of the barn to the other. Imaginations came alive. Even adults loved to step into that knotted rope and push off flying across the barn. All of the neighbor kids played in that barn. Mom and Dad brought church youth to our house all the years from when my sisters were teens up to years after we had all left home. Those children when grown often brought their own children to play. Retired teachers brought their children. Past ministers brought theirs. People from all over the country came with their own. That old swing had a lot of use and brought a lot of joy.

We seldom had alone time with our parents. Mom and Dad were just that to other children. Later they would be Grandma and Grandpa to the next generation.  No one was ever turned away. Mom and Dad were never too busy for friends and relatives. Our home and our parents did not belong to us. They belonged to everyone. Perhaps that is why the few alone moments with Mom and Dad mean so much now. I remember the first time Dad sat me on that swing. And, Mom telling me I could not go to the haymow with a boy. (I couldn't figure out why back then. Hm.)

Memories are sweet of those days of swinging in the barn. For me, it was my place of solace and comfort. A place for imagination to soar. We all sat in the barn window and watched the world go by. Children, teenagers, adults took away sweet times to remember on other days.

We should all have a place where we leave the world behind and enter a place that brings sweet smiles to the lips and a twinkle in the eye. Ah, a place where we could swing high above before we walked back to the world we left below.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Round up your sheep

Hearts. They keep the blood pumping and, as the Greek once thought, they keep love alive. Well, over time the shape of the heart resembling our own certainly became a symbol of love. But, the heart can not love. Love comes from the brain. So why doesn't the shape of the brain show up on Valentine's cards? A thought to ponder.

Obviously, the brain sends out signals to other parts of our body to react to feelings of attraction and emotion. It says, "Wake up! Something new is afoot!" (I am taking liberties with what the brain actually thinks). Maybe if we concentrated on the brain first and the heart second, we would have less break ups and sad endings. But again, who wants little brain cards in their Valentine's box?

Here is something to put into that brain that picks up romantic activity this time of the year. According to USA News, over $19 billion will be spent on Valentine's Day this year. Those between 35 and 44 are will more than likely celebrate the day, while less than half of the people at least 65 will commemorate the occasion. Now we know who is spending the most money. The average person will shell out around $142. Guys on average spend around $190 on loved ones while women spend $96. I personally have never received anything remotely close to $190 worth of goodies and laugh at the thought of spending over half  the average woman will spend. Call me cheap. Or, call me a woman that thinks you should not put a price on love. Again, using that brain.

I liked Valentine's Day best when I was young. The shoe box was decorated with hearts. A slit was cut in the lid. One by one the Valentines were dropped into the box. (I always dug deep to find the one from Dickie Neff first). One Valentine's Day I remember most was back in 1965 when my then boyfriend wrote on the back of each card in a kid's valentine card pack, then hid them for me to find. No flowers. No candy. A little imagination and adventure.

At the end of this holiday, we who work in the card industry will take all of our left over stock (as we do each holiday), negate it out for store credit then toss it into the trash. Thousands of dollars going into landfills. The cards cannot be donated nor can they leave the store before they are destroyed. Card companies are not the only ones to follow this procedure. Again, a dollar sign. Seems that the brain could work better on this one.

I would like to say that we should go back to the roots of Valentine's Day, but in my research, I find that might not be such a grand idea. According to the first story, the Romans invented the day in the 3rd century AD. the pastoral holiday honoring the god Lupercus. Shepherds would take flocks to the pasture on the outskirts of Rome where pack of wolves would surround them in wait for stray sheep to prey on. They believed the Lupercus would protect them.  I found no statistics on how well the wolves dined. While this was going on, girls in Rome put their names in a box and boys drew to find their new girlfriends. They would be a couple for a whole year. Juno was the goddess over this event. Definitely a cheaper way to find a girlfriend.

All in all, I guess it is up to us how we wish to show our love....or protect our sheep....or find a mate. It all comes down to that brain in our heads telling us to love. The God over my event says to love one another. That doesn't cost a dime.