The Gatekeeper

It used to be that we would send cards to remember someone on their birthday or anniversary. And though there are many advantages to the Internet and the connections we find in social media, it has also changed how we acknowledge those we love, or at least like a little. Maybe not for the better.

Facebook has become the gatekeeper for my greetings. It tells me when someone has a birthday, and that someone might be a dear friend or family member or merely some casual acquaintance in the diary of my life that is now represented by my FB friends list.

If in securing my private information from data miners and hackers, I neglect to post my birthday info, then I don’t exist—at least in the birthday world; whereas, other years when it was posted, I received greetings, well wishes, and dancing GIFs and cake emojis. Quite a happiness pill. Until you realize that you were not on anyone’s mind, let alone their calendar. And it’s so easy. You can even copy and paste the same greeting if more than one of your “friends” has the same birthday.

Easy peasy.

Queasy, sort of.

I am guilty of relying on FB myself; though I must say, I only send greetings to those names that appear if I have some reasonable relationship with them, either past or present. If it is a person I barely remember or one who tends to hijack my posts on food to make them political, I use the strength of my will to ignore FB’s reminder. They get no greeting, and certainly no dancing cake and candles.

I am not saying we should rewind the clock and go back to cards and stamps, though that would be nice. Texting, email, and even FB are quick and easy ways to stay “connected”—whatever that even means anymore. And as my hubby reminds me, FB is just a tool, no different that putting an important date in a phone or written in a notebook. Maybe.

And I’m not pouting . . . well, I am a little. But we have come so far down this technological road that it just might be too late to put this genie back in its bottle.

Beep Bleep

My life is full of beeps.

The toaster beeps, starting and finishing;

the microwave beeps;

the new dryer has a honking grating beep when done;

my phone beeps–even in the middle of the night, warning me to look out for a bad person driving a whatever (Excuse me, I was asleep, not on the freeway!);

the fridge that came with the house is grand, but it too beeps if I leave the door open too long;

our new van has all manner of beeps–the seat belt alert, the front and back warning (You are getting closer, closer, TOO CLOSE!); and even though a car is not in the lane beside, it seems to know that the car beyond is considering speeding up, so BEEP, don’t make a move!

Our toothbrushes, razors, and other little rechargeable do-dads beep when getting low on battery and when charging is complete, and

with all the troubles, I have come to feel like the whole world is getting ready to give one massive beep.

Under my covers I go.

Back Again . . .

I haven’t posted for awhile since WP logged me out somehow, and with all the craziness in our lives right now, I couldn’t remember my password! Oy!

We have dismantled our house and loaded a container in preparation for a move to Texas. Things are moving slowly with too many hiccups to count, so we are living bare bones.

But once we move, hopefully I will have new flora and fauna to fill up my pages.

Hope you all are enjoying the approach of summer and living covid free!

“Cats in the Cradle” and Other Untruths

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Sandy and Harry Chapin wrote a song in the 70s called “Cats in the Cradle,” which told the story of a parent too busy to be involved in his child’s life; then, when the parent is retired and free of obligation and wants to get together with the child, who has since grown up with responsibilities of his own, the parent is filled with regret because the child gives the same excuses that he once used for not spending time. 

I remember being impacted by the weight of the message; and though it in no way was the situation in my own home, I knew it probably applied to others who were so into themselves and their careers that they did not meet their children’s need for relationship and connection. And I knew that would be a very bad thing: tut, tut. So the lesson is a good one–to make use of the time you have because soon it will be gone.

Implied, though, is that if you invest totally in child rearing that the relationship with an adult child will not be distant and will be satisfying for all. Except that is not always the case. A parent can be totally present, involved, and committed with time, energy, and money; and yet, the adult child does not take the time and effort to connect consistently and stay close.

My experience: Even after a long, hard day working the fields, milking cows, and in the winter, driving the snowplough, my dad always took the time to watch cartoons with us or play a round of softball. Mom was a stay-at-home mom and was always present–too present sometimes because being present meant if you did something wrong, you got caught immediately.  They were our biggest fans–always at our performances or games or whatever we were involved in. They drove us on long trips to church camps and gatherings when it would have been much easier (and cheaper) I’m sure to stay home and rest. They were present and involved both physically and emotionally.

So when I, who had a bad case of wanderlust, thought going to college at a school much further away than my sisters and brother was a superb idea, they supported me and all of my dreams, though looking back, some were definitely a bit squirrely. They were in my corner 100%.

When I moved to California, even though I wrote and performed songs about them and our close relationship, I seldom called because it was too expensive for me. Of course, I didn’t write either, though there was nothing wrong with my arms. It was more a case of living life with zest and knowing my folks were there somewhere in the background rooting me on–though without any updates on my exploits, they had no idea what I was doing or whom I was with. (I didn’t either all the time, which is rather terrifying to look back on.) Sometimes, I would get lonesome and call home. I would let it ring, but then I would hang up before they answered because I couldn’t afford the call. Somehow that felt like I had touched home; but obviously, it was more than lacking on both our parts and especially theirs who had no idea what I was doing. Dad told me later when I confessed to that practice that I should have called collect. And yes, I should have.

Mom and Dad visited out here in CA once, and our family drove back to Canada every so often; but now that they are gone, I regret how much time I let slip by without contact. I felt close to them, but in many ways, I was living off old memories rather than creating enough new ones. They raised us kids to be independent, but for some reason, the busyness of career and raising a family crowded out what I see now as a lack in my devotion to my parents and my obligation to give back. They were always there for me, and even though far away, I could have done much more to stay connected.

So the “Cats in the Cradle” guilt trip may apply to some who neglect their kids and are not involved and present, but there is just as much guilt to go around for some of us who got it all and still went traipsing off, living life, without looking back–at least, not often enough.

Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. My parents would not have wanted me tied to their apron strings, and they were proud of my traveling music ministry, my family, and my accomplishments, but when I re-evaluate the “more” that I could have done to stay connected, I have regrets.