The HAND

I couldn’t play my bass, guitar, mandolin, fiddle or piano for almost 8 weeks. Got a serious staff infection in my right hand and it stayed wrapped up in bandages for most of that time. Seems somehow I managed to punch a screw into my right palm working on a deck project and thought it was ok but sure enough, it really wasn’t. My hand got infected on the inside and swelled up as big as 3-4 hands. Pretty scary some of the time. But I prayed a lot and God helped a lot by sending me some good medical helpers and I’m healing day by day. It’s been over 4 months and still getting back my strength. But so thankful and blessed to be back playing music and able to type this story.

DR and I had planned to play and sing some Christmas music at Church with a couple friends, TC and Bonnie. We all go to the same Church and enjoy getting together to play music and sing sometimes. TC was playing accordion. I was playing guitar and mandolin and Donna Ruth and Bonnie were the singers. Well, we all were singing and it was going to be fun. But I wasn’t sure my hand was going to be ready by Dec. 20 to play mandolin and guitar like we had planned. We were thinking about “Plan B” but sure enough, the week before the Christmas social at the Church, I was moving my fingers and got to play for the first time in a couple months. Had to use my small amp for my instruments since I didn’t have my usual strength but boy was I glad to be able to be there and go along with Plan A!

Didn’t get to finish the deck project yet. It is ok but not complete and I will get back on that this spring. Reminds me to really be careful and make sure to treat even small cuts or wounds seriously since they can really become a BIG problem. Take that as a WARNING!

Anyway, lots of prayers from the Church folks, and some great medical folks, a hand surgeon and home health nurses and DR TOO! They all worked together and pulled me out of a pretty deep hole. Great to have all those support folks around. We would be in a real mess without good friends, good medicine, and good prayers. Thank God the HAND is looking up and working better. It was a close call.

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Elwood’s Garage in 2015

I guess part of the reason I haven’t been around here writing much lately has to do with me spending a lot of time out in the garage and down at the shop. It seemed to be a good year to get some of my vehicle building projects done and it has worked out pretty well. Mostly trucks this year, I guess but seems like I like trucks and station wagons a lot. Anyway, pretty much got my ’48 GMC panel truck together and running. Tagged and all ready take for a ride. We have to name all the cars and trucks so DR can keep track and we call him “Jimmy”. DR even helps some with the upholstery and interior stuff. She helped on “Jack” too. He’s a ’48 Chevy pick up truck and we cut up some old black denim jeans and made the door panels. Looks good and works good too with the hip and front pockets still working for storage!!! I think of “Jack” as my “Wrangler Edition” build. Still have some work to do on “Elvis”, the ’55 Caddy but he’s beginning to come around too.

Well, it does keep me out of trouble and is a fun hobby. Good for mental health too I think.  My son, Thomas often helps with the work and finding parts. He has been a good one for cleaning and restoring some of the old parts we needed to reuse. He still loves his ’56 Chevy Panel truck we built a couple years ago and we occasionally tweak a thing or two on it as well.

DR’s getting a CAR of her own this year I guess. She named her car “Bonnie” since it is a ’37 Chevy 2-door sedan and looks a little like a car from the “Bonnie and Clyde” era! Anyway, she has picked the colors and we have an engine and transmission ready to drop in so I guess we will have a car to add to the stable this year. Man, I’ve got to get busy!

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Donna Ruth’s Retirement

It’s been interesting having DR around the house more for the last year or so. She retired (well, semi-retired) in November 2014. Really doesn’t seem that long ago but sure enough it has been almost 15 months now. She’s been working one day a week at her ‘old job’ and that was good for her, not to have to leave ‘cold turkey’. But mostly her boss didn’t want her to go and leave him alone! She had been a good help to him over the years and he was glad she agreed to come around each week to touch base and make sure things were still working the way they should. After all, she had been there 37 years or so and nobody else knew all the history of the place.

It was good too for DR since she has had just ‘enough’ work to do to stay connected and not feel lost herself. Thirty-seven years is a long time to work in one place. And I think she would have felt a little lost just stopping all together. It has been good and she has enjoyed being able to garden, bake, watch some of her favorite TV shows, and ride around on the garden tractor to mow grass when she wanted.

We sure have had some good garden veggies and pretty flowers too since she has had the time to tend to that stuff. Nice too having her around for an extra cup of coffee and some breakfast too. Not having to rush off to work has been nice.

She’s a good’un, that DR. Can’t believe this year will be 48 married years for us and really more if you count courtin’ time. That would push it up to about 54 years….that’s a long time. But I sure would do it over without a thought. Sure there have been some hard times but lots more good times and fun times all along the way. Sharing and caring and working together.

It is nice to have the retirement time to be more ‘together’ that we had working. Lots more chances to do things together and get caught up on our ‘project list’!

Well, it’s been fun. Hope it can last a good long while.

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Liz’s Season Feb. 15, 2016

Well, it’s been quite a while since I visited here.  Lot’s going on I guess you’d say.  But today is significant.  Today we lost a good friend, or I guess we like to say she moved on to her home in Heaven.  Norris’s wife Liz left us before we had thought she might.  But we don’t have control of that, really.  God had a Plan.  We have a Season.  Liz had her Season and it was a good one.  She and Norris had been together over 40 some  years, married that is and had a couple good sons and a daughter and some grandkids.  We had all been together around Christmas/New Year’s to share some time and enjoyed some pickin’ on the back porch.  It was odd to be able to be outside in December, but the weather was unseasonably warm and inviting.  So after dinner with friends, we all ventured out to the porch and picked up to about 11pm.  It was nice, and it is my last memory of Liz and Norris together.  It is a good memory and one I will cherish.  Liz was firm in her faith and belief and I am sure that she is in a good place now.  It is really difficult to think about what the year will hold for those of us left behind.  We will be sad and struggle with our thoughts.  But mostly we will be comforted by God’s Unseen Hand knowing that It Is Well with her soul.  God Bless Norris and his kids and grandkids during this time of grief and loss.  God Bless us all with His LOVE and PEACE as this new year 2016 begins to unfold.

 

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A New Year 2015

Well, it’s been a year since I last wrote words here about life and times in Ruth. Doesn’t seem that long but I guess time flies when you’re having fun!…or maybe when you’re getting older like me. Still making some music now and then but since my good friend and mandolin picker, Bubba passed on, music has been a little different. We all miss him at the Blue Moon Cafe pickin and, well, things just aren’t the same. Winter has been pretty good to us this year with only a little snow and some milder days. Did get into the freezing area and Donna Ruth had to get the plants into the greenhouse and turn on the heater so it can stay warm. But a lot of days have been pretty nice and we could even work outside. But, it’s not over yet and we can always get that late February or March or early April snow and ice. So we aren’t packing up the winter clothes yet. We have just about packed up Donna Ruth’s Christmas decorations. She loves to put up 3-4 trees in the house and such and I sure don’t mind since everything really looks nice and festive.

We did get to have some folks over during the Christmas and Thanksgiving (and New Year) days and eat some good food and sing some music. Donna Ruth and I celebrated our 53nd Christmas together. That’s quite a ‘run’ I guess you’d say. And it was another good one for us and the family. Grant and Thomas were here of course and enjoyed Mom’s famous ‘taters’, dressing, prune cake and such…we never go without some good cookin’ when DR is around, that’s for sure!  Oh yea, DR decided to slow down the working some and ‘retired’ back in November…well started working ‘part time’ one day a week.  Sure is nice to have her around the house more during the week.

It was nice just having the family around and healthy and sharing some time. Going up toward Fergusson Friday night for some good music with our bluegrass friends, Lonesome Range, from Barbersville. Should be a good start to the year getting to see to boys again and hear some good music. Bluegrass always helps you feel better no matter what.

Well, I can’t really believe it’s been a year…but here I am again. About ready to tack on another birthday soon. But that’s good and I’ll get some of DR’s good cooking and maybe my favorite lima beans! Hope you all have a great New Year 2015. Wow…seems odd to say 20something….but here we are. Have a good’n. See you soon. Doc J.

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Ramblings of a retired mind

Well, it has been a while since I did much writing. After the passing of my friend Bubba, (Dr. BJ) things just weren’t quite the same anymore. Sometimes these days, I find myself wandering around as though I am living in history….I told Donna Ruth this morning. She wasn’t sure what that meant and I wasn’t so sure myself. But sometimes it does feel that way….disconneted, might be a word to use.  But writing is back on my ‘bucket list’ for this year and I thought I might as well get on with it.  Being a card-carrying social security recipient along with my Medicaid, has made me think more of that ‘bucket list’ we all joke about at times.

I still have my old cell phone and some of my family make fun of it…. a ‘flip phone’ they call it. Sometimes it gets more attention than I would like and my better days are ones when I ‘forget’ it at home and no one can reach me by calling. Goes to ‘voice mail’ or a text message. By the way, I really don’t like text messaging much. It’s ok for a one time note to someone but some people try to get me to go back and forth for 15-20 minutes or more. Might as well dial my number and say what they want to say or ask and get ‘er done! My phone doesn’t have a keyboard and I have to type using the numbers. Of course, that beeping noise begins to get on people’s nerves after a while or they say, “Dad, why don’t you get you a new phone?”  They think I could type it quicker and it would be better or the beeping would stop so I just turn off the volume and mind my own business.  It works fine for me – actually more than I really want.  So that is low on the list.

I plan to keep this phone until it fails to light up one morning.  I remember days we didn’t have anything close to this kind of technology.  I would head out in the morning on my bike and tell my Mom I was going to some place or ‘just riding around’ and she would say, “Well get home for supper” and I would.  She knew I wouldn’t miss supper or dinner as some people call it.  And all the time I was gone, she couldn’t call me, didn’t know exactly where I was, and trusted I would be OK and make it back for supper.  I always did.

We didn’t have a lot of the ‘convenient’ things of today: computers, internet, iPads, iPods, mp3 players, let alone cell phones.  We didn’t have our own personal cameras (in our cell phone) either.  We just had time and a bike or some friends to join up with and play ball or make up a game.  It was a much simpler time and we all survived, for the most part, except for the war (Vietnam) but that is another story.

SEARS is closing in our little town and that will be odd.  It has been around here since about the time I was born and I can’t imagine not having a Sears store in town.  Blamed it on decreased store sales and increased “on-line purchasing”.  That’s the way it works these days.  A good many of the ‘Mom and Pop” stores have died quietly away.  Antique shops, 5 & dime stores, drug stores with soda shops, bakeries, and my favorite, drive-in restaurants (not drive THROUGH) but ones where you parked and ordered you burger and a curb hop brought it out to your car and you could sit there and eat and enjoy the food and the experience – GONE.  Too bad.  I remember that was how DR and I spent many weekends and date nights – cruising the drive-ins, since back then there were several around.  Of course, we had our favorites.  “Chuck’s” was one of the favorites and they had the best cheeseburgers or at least we thought they were the best.  And we loved to get to “Boscoe’s” and “Beaver’s” as well since they all had something special to go along with the ‘atmosphere’ of parking outside and enjoying the day or night.  Lot’s of good memories with those thoughts.

Life is different now for sure.  It really doesn’t seem like it could be so far removed but I guess it’s ‘history’.   That’s kinda what I’ve been living, lately I guess, ‘history’.  Trying to keep some of it around but most of it keeps slipping away.  Young folks don’t have time or desire for much of that way of life.  Too slow, I guess.  But it was really a less stressful and more friendly time.  I notice how many of the folks I knew back in those days during high school and just after, seem to still be in touch today.  In talking with my sons, that doesn’t seem to be the case.   Only a very few of them ever connect to talk or visit.

Well, it’s raining today.  Has rained all day and may tomorrow too.  That’s good for the earth and we need some rain.  It did warm up some so it isn’t freezing like it could have last week when it was really cold!  Guess I will go check my text messages and voice mail.  Where did I leave that cell phone?  Don’t know what I would do without it!  It’s here somewhere.  Think I may have turned it off.

Happy New Year to all.  Get your ‘bucket list’ out and add a few things for the year.  Then get started.  They tell me it’s no good to just have a list…you have to ‘work it’.

Elwood “Doc” Jackson

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The PHONE CALL

“Call me up sometime”, she would say….most every day, even if I had just called and we were getting ready to say ‘Good-bye’.  “You made my day”, she would say….every time I called and it did seem to make her day.  Her life was built around making sure I was OK and then, later on, making sure her grandsons were OK and we (me and Donna Ruth) were OK as well.  She spent her time making sure others (mostly family and friends) but others too, were OK.  She was the world’s best at sending birthday and occasion cards to people who deserved them and were on the list…sympathy cards as well…and thank you cards.  I remember the year at her birthday (and actually years after) we bought her a whole pile of different cards with envelopes and stamps and pens so that she would never have to run out and get a card to send.  I remember that a local drug store was going out of business and selling all their cards in ‘grab bags’ for a few dollars a bag (can’t remember exactly) but I remember going through the table piled high with cards and getting several dozen bags that I could tell had some different cards inside.  She said it was one of the best gifts she had ever gotten.  We continued to replenish the stash from year to year when we found cards that might work for various situations and from other ‘sales’.  She loved to make life ‘OK’ and ‘better’ for others.  It made her feel better to make others feel better.  I understand that so much now as I play music for the nursing home on Sunday mornings and make trips to Kentucky with Yates.  Doing for others, is doing for yourself.  And that was all she ever wanted in return….just call me up, any day, any time, I’d love to hear from you, you made my day, just a call to check and see that she was ‘OK’.  Oh I wish that I could call my Mom, just one more time today.

Elwood ‘Doc’ Jackson
3-8-2013

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Happy Birthday MOM! 2012

Well, it’s that time again, August 30, that day we celebrated for so many years as your ‘day’…just like Granny told you it was all your life.  Then we found out when you retired from the mill and you had to have a ‘real’ birth certificate to prove your age, the date was August 31!  Well, that was fun and we did celebrate both days from then on.  We would do both days again if you were here.  You’d be 95 this year. 

I was thinking just this week how much you would love to be out here on the farm with me and DR.  She is such a gardener these days and boy did we have some tomatoes and okra this year…and squash too.  You would have loved some of that good cooking.  DR did lots of canning and freezing for this winter so we will all eat well.  I know  you remember us breaking out some good veggies and making homemade soup and you’d make the cornbread…with buttermilk.  DR does it that way now, just the way she learned from you. 

You would love to see my car I just finished up this summer.  Did this one in colors you like: aquamarine and sandalwood.  That’s what you would call it…a teal blue and saddle tan.  But I think you would like it.  We almost have Thomas’ van ready too and that little convertible he wanted.  Just like in the old days when I was young and you were hauling me around to get parts,  TJ and I went to a junk yard last weekend for some things we needed for the convertible. 

It’s been a hard week.  We lost a dear friend…a friend of your’s too, I guess  you already know, Dr. B.  A bunch of us got together and played music for the ‘celebration’ they called it.  That’s what he wanted and probably what I want as well.  Everyone said it made the sad part of the day easier to handle.  And I think it did too. 

Well, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mom – today and tomorrow.  We would sure grill a good steak again if you were around and eat out on the back porch looking up at the mountains.  That was always something you loved, seeing the mountains.  We sure have some beautiful sunsets these days and the mountains are just as wonderful as ever. 

Hope you get to have a good celebration with Dad and maybe cook some ‘yellow-eyed beans’ and cornbread.  He loved that…and some coconut cream pie or prune cake.  Grant often mentions how much he loved those coconut pies and wishes you were around to make one.  Me too, they sure were good.  If you should see Dr. B picking music sometime, tell him we miss him and hope the music is always in tune and the strings never break.

It has been cooler here but it is time for that and DR has the kale and turnip greens planted and coming up.  Peppers have been good too this year and Thomas has enjoyed that and the pickled okra!

Well, thanks again for all the love and support.  You did a great job being a Mom and taking over for Dad when he died.  I could not have had any better.

Love as always,

Your son

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Never Hurry, Never Worry

Never Hurry, Never Worry, my Father used to say.
As I remember back to then, he lived that every day.
Painted on a flower pot Aunt Doris sent his way.
But these few words reflected how he went about each day.

I miss him very much these days, he died at thirty five.
But I will never loose the words for by them he would strive
To live each day in peace and love and care for fellow man
And in his work to do more things than any three men can.

Never Hurry, Never Worry, words my Father used to say,
As I remember back to then, he lived them every day.

 Elwood “Doc” Jackson

8-1-12

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Bubba and his Mandolin

 Well, the nursing home church has been going pretty well for the last few months.  Hard to believe we have been doing this for over three years now.  I keep telling the folks there I’ve about sung every song I know.  Truth is, I’ve sung about every one twice or three times.  But they don’t seem to care.  They appreciate the ‘old’ songs.  I suppose some of them bring back memories from earlier years or even childhood.

 A week or so back, one of my long time friends joined us to help with some songs and I was glad to have some ‘new material’ and help for a change.   Being a professional counselor in real life you meet a lot of ‘professional’ people along the way.  Most of them are, well, just professionals.  But sometimes you run into one (of the ‘pros’) that’s just different.  My friend is one of those ‘different’ folks.  Sure, he’s got the fancy university degrees and all that paper on the wall, but he’s one of those unique ‘professionals’ that really has heart and soul.  He has spirit and joy and love in him that makes him different from the rest. 

Over the years, we have played some music and he’s taught me a thing or two.  Actually got me to do some writing like this along the way.  He’s a writer of sorts as well and a pretty good mandolin picker.  And that’s what makes the difference I guess.  He’s not all about ‘professional’ things…he’s a REAL person.  Sure, he is a great pro at what he does, all that ‘doctoring’ stuff.  But his kind of ‘doctoring’ is different from most of the people you might call a ‘doctor’.  His spirit and soul shows through the pieces of paper hanging on the wall and that makes a difference for the patients he helps along the way. 

 It was good to have him along to make some music.  Sometimes it’s hard to think of him as a ‘doctor’ when we were all playing.  We all call him different names to get around that:  BJ or Bubba mostly since that seems to fit and make more sense.  It helps him separate from the ‘professional’ thing too I think.  He said sometimes it is hard to ‘hide’ from the professional side and just be a person.  I can sure agree with that!  Folks always wanting ‘free advice’ when you are out with your family trying to eat dinner and enjoy some quiet time.  But we all have to deal with that I guess.  Most times, Bubba said he would just get out of town where not so many people knew him and it was easier to enjoy some quiet time. 

 We’ve had some good times picking and listening to music over the years.  I guess you have to lead two lives to manage that balance.  The balance between ‘professional’ and ‘person’ – that’s a hard one to get for most folks.  But, BJ (Bubba) is good at it and can step right out of one role into the other and be right at home.  Probably, if the truth were really known, the picking and music makes the professional side even more effective and more real.  Not may ‘pros’ ever make it to that level.  It is on up the ladder near the top as far as I am concerned – to be a ‘professional’ AND a person; a caring and human person.  I have sure seen lots of professionals that just couldn’t make that climb.  I guess for them it was easy to hide behind the paper on the wall.  But for Bubba, he will stand behind that mandolin and pick and sing with most anyone who will let him join in.  Sometimes it’s even better if you don’t know each other’s names and if someone asks “Who is that?” we could just say “BJ” or “Bubba” and that was good enough.  It’s when the ‘paper on the wall’ doesn’t count anymore.  That’s what makes him different and really better than most ‘professionals’ we meet along the way.  He’s found a way to mix the two and be REAL.  The folks he’s helped could see that too.  Many of them probably got better just because he was REAL with them, or they certainly got better quicker.  He would always talk a little music or maybe even play a tune for some and you know, honestly, that goes a long way to helping someone heal. 

 Thanks, BJ.  Thanks for all the good times as a professional AND as a person.  Thanks for all the music and the medicine.  And thanks for showing folks that you can mix the two and be a pro and a person in the same body.  It’s the CARING that makes the difference and not many pros ever really figure that out.  You have it figured out and it works good for you.  Too bad more pros can’t see that connection.  Sometimes I think they are really afraid to see the connection.  Afraid it will make them ‘less professional’ and the paper on the wall won’t mean as much.  I guess they think they have to ‘act professional’ to keep up that image.  But we know that’s not really true.  It really makes it all come full circle and makes the paper stand out even more.

 Music and medicine.  Person and professional.  Counselor and musician. I have felt myself sometimes how difficult it is to make that happen….hard to be both without taking the risk of being ‘real’.  But, if you can ever find ‘real’, kinda like that little rabbit my Mom used to tell me about, you have made it to the top.  That’s when you put away some of the ‘pro’ look and become a little more ‘homey’.  You wear casual clothes and a floppy hat instead of ties and white coats.  You aren’t afraid to be seen with ‘country folks’ picking music and you don’t worry it will hurt your ‘reputation’.  That’s when you are ‘real’ and that’s really all that matters in the long run.  Bubba has been REAL to lots of folks along the way.  And when you’re REAL, no one can ever take that away, just like it says in the little rabbit book.

Hope we can pick some more soon, Bubba.  It’s always fun.  Now how is it that one goes?….  OK in the key of A…. I always like A or D the best……

Elwood “Doc” Jackson   8-20-2012

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