The Rustic Beauty of Boondockville

        This town is a dot; a very small dot. There are bigger dot cities, and then there is that marvelous blue dot-globe called the world. I moved here not willingly, and learned a few things. The more space between people it seems the less privacy there is, because gossip is entertainment since there isn’t a lot of anything else. The most amazing part is that what goes on in this dot seems, and is the most important thing in life to its residents. No place exists, no people matter but what happens in this tiny world. These are good people, and like the badger in Ice Age the locals say, “I was born in this hole, and I am going to die in this hole.”  I think I paraphrased a bit, and speaking of death the one question besides where do you live is that all-consuming question of, “Where are your relatives buried?” It is true people. Now I understand this, and it took me some time. It is a matter of security, keeping the dot in order so it doesn’t branch out and became an oblong shape or something. These things I don’t take personally, but look at it from a distance, (since that is where I am located in conjunction with the dot, :) ) as a read on human nature.

      Hopefully, this is not in me, wanting to only see it my way. I hope and feel that I am all-dot inclusive as long as the dot is not criminal. Which brings me to crickets! The big talk now since the crime rate is zero, almost, is the cricket invasion.  Business owners are pitching a fuss against mother nature because it involves dollars and cents; and the locals are talking about the nastiness of killing the critters or the option and disadvantage of letting them stay. It was front page news! I love this town. I was reminded of a guy that tried to start a store in a beaten  downtown area, and all the old dotters sat on a bench and laughed. Said he would never make it! That was only his first store. I don’t know how many Sam Walton has built since then,  and his family. I know at one point at least fourteen (?) years ago they were building one store a day. See, little can see big things. You never know! Maybe inside these cricket ridden shops is a tycoon just waiting to happen.  

     Personally, I love the best of both worlds. I could hardly wait to move from concrete to the green space of the tiny place, but now I could enjoy the electric commerce of the city, live that happiness, and then swing right out past the suburbs into the countryside and watch a spider web glisten in the sunlight as it waits in-between the corners of the porch and do so with just as much happiness.

     But since I live here an occasional visit to metropolitan glory will have to suffice. But I have never seen a billboard as big along this country highway as I did yesterday, and not in any city.  The bright yellow background with the XXXL grandma smiling down at the drivers as she held a plate of “homemade country meals,” caused me to nearly drive off of the road. I pride myself on not being manipulated easily by commercials, but the thought of a meat market closer to home and less gas to spend set me off to the address.

    Now this place is located a tad deeper in the country of “where might your folks be buried?,” than normal. So I had to be extra friendly. Too bad I had to order because my lack of extreme southern twang was a sure sign that I was an alien to this land. Sure enough, there was an old dotter complete with overalls standing in line. “How are you doing, Sir?” I said softly. He said his name very fast and started quoting an old poem about foxes jumping over the fence. His daughter led him to the door and apologized. She leaned in close and I could tell she was very stressed. “He has dementia,” she whispered.  I told her I understood completely because I take care of a loved one and I gave her a big hug. She wanted to talk some more. This is so difficult she said, and I could tell that she was new to this trouble. “Only an angel could do this job perfectly,” I told her. I thought, but there is nothing easy about it. She smiled worriedly and left.

    I wanted to tell her, so life would be easier, that it will always be difficult.  That everyday you will say hello and goodbye to what is less and less of the person you love. It isn’t a farewell like the family that stands around the hospital bed knowing that this was probably the last day to see the object of your love responding to you. Every day will be the last day. But accepting that not anything, not even love, not hard work or a strong will can give you back the person that you understood….accepting this will help so much. It isn’t up to you to fix those neurons, and that disease that hollows out the inside leaving the outside to finally wither and cave to what had been going on for so long. Acceptance ends the strength of the frustration.

    When you have done the nurturing enough, you grow up to it and you can respond with simple love. Not the kind that longs for things to be better and tries so very hard, but the kind that sits in the rocking chair soothingly knowing that it isn’t going anywhere and will only be a salve for a time. A salve that will not heal, but create a thin paper like dignity to wrap around  a world that has diminished at no fault of its victim. Since you will be stronger, when you hear the question, “Who are you? What is your name?”  The tears don’t have to flow. They can be small and you can say, “I am your daughter.”  And she can say, “I didn’t know. I am glad. A daughter is a special thing to have, ” as the night lights of the local fast food place zing into your car and hamburgers are a fine meal. For a moment, she can say hello.

     So, up to the meat counter I walked, and ordered some turkey thinly sliced for sandwiches. Wouldn’t you know it? The guy finally asked me, “And where do you live?”  I told him, and said the yellow billboard was difficult to miss. I got a turn to ask a question, “How long have you been in business?”  Since, 2003!  I really do live out of the loop of it all. And the answer to that burning question of who is buried where…is yes… I do have a close relative buried right in the dot. There was no sense in answering to the affirmative; I am way to un-dot like anyway to be accepted. People there is a whole globe out there!  I love the good people that I have known, but I feel the concrete calling me back to freeways and smog. Maybe someday!

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14 thoughts on “The Rustic Beauty of Boondockville

  1. You managed to connect two very big themes here, Terri: the need to belong and the need for permanence. Sometimes we find ourselves in a strange place where our outsider status brands us forever. And if we’re especially unlucky, we no longer recognize our loved ones — or they don’t recognize us. What’s needed then is something solid to hold onto, something that isn’t going to tear loose and slip away. I hope you find it in your present dot, or in some future one. This is a beautiful post.

  2. Gosh Terri you did it gain, you bring tears to my eyes for so many reasons. I know what you mean when you talk of being that little dot in the world. We moved to our 3.5 acres of a dot in the country, 45 minutes from town in the mid 80’s. Our towns population was 304. I think we were the 4. I know what you mean about small town entertainment and if you are not a member of a long time dweller you are nobody. Because I have long hair, my husband has a beard and we grewour own food, I am an artist, and we did not partake in local polttics we were knwn as the “Hippies on the Hill”.
    Then I had the culture shock of moving from a small town to the large downtown city of Seatle. Arrggh!
    I think sweetie you gave this womean you met more tender advice than you think.
    “Only an angel could do this job perfectly,” is the greatest advice that anyone could give a caretaker of someone who is terminal and/or sufferring from dementia. I wish that these few simlple words had been shared with me during the almost only 3 months that I took care of my mom while she was dying from lung cancer. In the last couple weeks she did not know where she was, she kept thinking I was her sister and that she was young again. I had never been in that kind of situation before. In order to keep her at home where she wanted to die someone had to be with her 24/7. I’m her only daughter.
    It was the not the best time of my life of course but it was the most gratifying, I’m so grateful I was able to do it. But I did not know what I was doing and I was so afraid of her dying. If only these few simple but so powerful words had been shared….

    I needed to share this so I could explain whyyour post hit me like a ton of bricks. In a very good way. It’s easier looking back, yet today I am finding I am still grateful for your words. ~
    Only an angel could do this job perfectly,”
    Thanks so much my friend, you always seem to manage to pull my heart strings with your writing.

  3. What a lovely post, Terri. Boondocks or not, it’s a special little dot! Living in the middle of so much excess as I do, I must say that I yearn for some of what you have in your more rural setting. I think small-mindedness is pretty much everywhere, but you can’t mask it as well in a small town. You will continue to be a stimulator to more thought for the people all around you. I think you’re there for a big purpose! Debra

  4. Thanks so much for the comment. My introverted self doesn’t really mind at all. I just find myself and others a bit funny at times in how we react to life and treat each other according to groups or other requirements. I am a tad like the little creature in the story about the tar baby….who didn’t want to be thrown into the briar patch. I am ok with it all! And the comment was beautiful!

  5. If it is any consolation, I made myself cry. What is wrong with hippies on the hill? NOTHING! People slay me sometimes with the lines they draw in the sand over silly things like hair, and whatever. It is the high school cafeteria it seems…. magnified….:) But it is life and what a gift you gave to your Mom taking care of her at such a terrible time. I think that is so wonderful, and I promise next time to put out a tissue free post! :)

  6. You are right on the money with your comments. If I had not been here, I could not have taken care of my Dad during his leukemia. I would never take that back. My Mom happened to have a crushed knee, and that was going on as well. By the time she could hobble around withing a few weeks he was gonhe The physical things were awful, but I can say that I learned more from and laughed more with my Dad than I ever had before. That was a big purpose for sure. It is funny that I thought it would be more private in a small town….whew!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the visit. Terri

  7. Thanks for reading. I don’t think the people here are wrong at all in their views. I think it is perfectly natural, but I think they miss out sometimes. Now, in my case they haven’t missed out on much.:) :) :)

  8. I have reread this post a few times over the past couple of days. It certainly strikes a cord with me about not belonging. Of course…it made me very homesick and emotional. I spent several years caring for my adoptive Mother in a nursing home. I came to her as her daughter later in her life, when I was sixteen. When the dementia took hold she had no distant memories of me to draw on. I became the kind lady who came and did her nails every day. It was the least I could do for the kind lady who gave a sixteen year old a home.

  9. From your photo you exude confidence and seem to me like you could belong anywhere you wished. I was humbled that you would share what you felt about the post. What a wonderful person your adoptive mother had to have been to share her life with you. How kind of you to take care of her! It seems to me that her goodness toward you made a big difference in your life that came back to her. It really bothered me every day since that I wrote the post; it is such a wrenching topic. I hope in the future I can write something that causes only smiles…no tears. I cried myself. It is wonderful that you finally had a home, and you gave her “home” as well with your loving attention.

  10. Dear Terri,

    What a fine writer you are, and what a beautiful person. Your post struck me deeply too, as I left Seattle and moved to my mother’s house in Detroit to care for my mother in her last months–a nursing home was out of the question. My husband understood, and we hadn’t had our children yet. I was so exhausted and sleep-deprived all the time–my sister and I took turns sleeping in a cot by her bed, but I always felt so inadequate. That was in 1989, and sometimes I still feel bad about it–wish that I could’ve done more to alleviate her suffering. It helped to hear your words.

    I wish you the best of everything. You are surely stand out as a heart-shaped dot in the middle of your world.

  11. Your comment means so much. I remember your previous post about your Mom and how special she was…I told my daughter about your post. She was moved also by your words. You gave all you had ….what a precious gift!

Thanks

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