Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The 40-Year Plan

The College has a reception for retirees and service award recipients each May. Retirees are asked to speak for a couple minutes if they desire.

This is sort of what I said:

Three months ago I never expected to be here. I was on the 40-year plan. I wanted to know what the award would be for 40 years of service. [Someone in the audience said "a new car."]

My grandfather worked for 50 years for the U.S. Postal Service. He started in 1912, and was a rural letter carrier in Cumberland County, Illinois. He delivered the mail on his route by horse and buggy.

Grandpa was a "people person," and he enjoyed talking to people. Sometimes he was the only person the families on his route would see that whole week, and he exchanged news from town and among their neighbors with the folks he delivered to. He didn't gossip -- men do not gossip -- but he would tell them stories.

Later he became postmaster of his small town, and he enjoyed conversing with the people who would come to the post office to pick up their mail each day because there was no home mail-delivery in their town.

I think it was the people that my grandfather enjoyed most about his 50 years working for the USPS.

And I think "people" is the thing that kept me here at Parkland College for 38-and-a-half years ... because I am really going to miss Parkland Library's subscription to People magazine.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dream A Little Dream Of Mom

Last night's dream:

My mom was living alone after my dad died.  We siblings had been watching over her, and she felt like we were telling her what to do too much so she ran away.  We eventually found her in a small town in Indiana – somewhat like GC or her childhood hometown.  I went to see how she was.

I found her along the main street “working” at a diner.  She wasn’t actually employed there – just that the owner-grill cook (a sort of Aunt Jemima-type person altho I never saw her and she could have been a man) kind of looked out for her and let Mom help.  There were cafĂ©-type tables for the customers to sit at on the sidewalk in front of the diner.  Mom stood outside near the door holding a tray filled with cheeseburgers.  They looked really delicious: tasty, greasy, melted-cheesy burgers.  I guess Mom was sort of serving the hamburgers altho she wasn’t waitressing and I never saw anyone take one.  At one point Mom did pick up a triple-thick cheeseburger (3 meat patties) and take a big bite then put it back on the tray I suppose for someone else to select.

She was happy as a clam.  Pretty oblivious to anything going on around her, at times kind of flighty but able to focus on whatever it was we talked about.  At some point Mom removed a bunch of silverware she had stored in her pocket.  She took two forks and intertwined the tines together to straighten the ones that were bent.  I got the impression that she was familiar with the priest and church in town – that they watched out over her.

She told me she worked at the hospital, too.  I think she just sort of hung out there and they were used to seeing her around and treated her like a likeable stray dog, come and go as she pleased, everyone pleasantly greeting her.

We must have gone to her “apartment.”  [Reminded me of Harrison Ford’s apartment in The Fugitive – the one in Chicago that he rented from the Polish woman – altho Mom had only one room.]  I remember Mom pointing to her green rocker-recliner and saying Susan had given it to her.  She mentioned Susan a couple other times in the context that Susan had told her something or given her something.  And this made me wonder why Susan had never told us that she was in communication with Mom and where she was.

There was also something in the dream about Mom being barefoot and walking on stones along a railroad track.  I don’t quite know what that was about, but it reminded me of the train tracks that run through the center of her childhood hometown.

Basically, Mom was daft but happy.  She giggled and brushed aside anything that could be worrisome.  And everyone in the town looked out for her.  Kind of like Alfie Landau in GC.