Farewell, Summer

On a recent Saturday morning I had coffee with my girlfriends. We used to be neighbors when our children were small.

Now, Helen has her second grand baby on the way, Kathy’s only daughter is getting married this fall, and my baby is back to college for her sophomore year.

As we laughed and caught up on the news, we noticed 3 older women across the way. They were slow-moving, white-haired, and were also doing a lot of laughing.

Nodding toward them, Kathy said, “There we are!”

“Yeah, like in twenty years!” I replied.

Both she and Helen looked at me funny and then proceeded to remind me that those ladies were probably only about ten years older than us.

Momentarily, I was in shock. I couldn’t digest what I knew was true. There’s no way!

I laughed it off.

This led to a conversation about how we used to think our parents were ancient when they were in their fifties and sixties.

Which led me to think of how when I was Alli’s age I thought I was grown. When I was about nineteen,  I began to notice the swift passage of time. There was a necessity to have fun and enjoy my youth before it was too late.

My Mom used to sing a line from a Guy Lombardo song (lyrics by Herb Magidson) to me when I was young:

Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself; it’s later than you think

And my grandmother used to tell me, “The older you get, the faster it goes!”

They were both telling the truth.

Over the summer, Alli brought up this awareness she is feeling. Time is flying and she wants it to slow down. She’s beginning to think more in stages. Within the next ten years she and her friends will possibly be choosing mates, settling down, getting married.

That feeling of urgency, of wanting life to slow down is very much the same for me, but accelerated somewhat. I no longer finish a bad book. Life’s just too short to spend reading something that doesn’t float my boat. I don’t have time for false friends and hateful people in my life. (Thank goodness I don’t have too many of those!) I want to spend more quality time with my loved ones, the people who mean the most to me.  And I want to experience everything before it’s too late.

In my wiser age, I’m trying to re-learn the art of doing nothing. It seems to have left me years ago. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I just sat still and did zilch beyond letting my mind wander. It’s hard to balance the urge to do everything, see everything, be everything with doing nothing. I guess that’s why I do not slow down very often.

Every morning I sit in a little kid chair in front of our aquarium to put on my shoes. I’m always in a hurry. Well, the other evening I sat in that little chair and just watched Mr. Pooey, Mr. Whoee and Scary swimming in their waterlogged world. It was so relaxing and freed my mind of all the clutter I had accumulated during the day.

Mr. Pooey, Mr. Whoee and Scary (named by my great-nephew, Alexander the Great)

Part 2 of my mission to just do nothing, was hanging out on the deck with Bella Bunny today. I let the sun soak in and I watched the green leaves against the blue sky and the birds flying about until I dozed off. It was healing.

Anna Nalick’s lyrics kept playing over and over in my head:

♪  And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button girl,
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe, just breathe ♫

Labor Day was a week ago. Even though we had temps in the nineties last week, this holiday supposedly signals the end of summer.

It’s gone by fast, but I must say, it’s been fun.

I shall leave you with my little ode to summer:

A summer’s night in Tennessee

Crowds cheering at the local ball field

The crack of the ball against the bat

Dogs barking, children laughing

A whippoorwill in tune with a distant train whistle

Lightening bugs blinking in the thick, humid air

The scent of magnolia blossoms and white pine

Mingled with grilled burgers, fried chicken,

And ball park hot dogs.

Enjoy yourself and try to sit and do nothing at least once this week!

Libby Lu


A Bystander on the Observation Deck of Life

Observing life is one of my favorite pastimes.  I like to people watch, bird watch, and watch time unfold.

Does that make me a bystander to life instead of a participant?

Sometimes, I think it does.

I admit that I live vicariously through those around me.

For instance, today I stalked out about a half hours worth of photographs on Jesse’s Facebook wall. She and my nephew and their son went on a marvelous trip. They took trains, automobiles, busses, and even boats on this vacation. They played in the urban playground of Chicago, and swam in the waters of Lake Michigan.  For half an hour, I was with them on a mini vacation.

Last week, on the Fourth of July, Larry was playing on the General Jackson, Alli was out with friends, and I went over and cooked out with my brother and Dad for a tiny celebration with Mom and my sister-in-law. It was fun and I love being with my family, but I missed the fireworks. They were banned in Nashville this year due to the drought. But Larry had a front row seat to the huge annual public display of fireworks at Riverfront Park. He took and shared photos from the bow of the boat on the Cumberland River.  I feel like I was there.

July 4, 2012, from the General Jackson on the Cumberland River by Larry

In June, Alli attended The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee for the second time in her life.

I don’t think I would enjoy the dirt, heat, lack of a daily shower and the close tent living. However, I think I would like the communal feel and being surrounded by music and the energy of youth.  Where else can you see The Beach Boys, Bon Iver and Phish on the same lineup?

I keep threatening to attend Bonnaroo one year. For now though, I enjoy the experience through Alli’s stories and photographs.

Yes, those are flowers in the urinal in the port-a-potty

The photo’s that truly intrigued me were of this long wall which is actually a giant chalkboard.

 It reads;

Before I die I want to….

The Bonnarooians add their words to this bucket list of sorts.

This kind of outpouring of humankind moves me. Some entries were nasty, some were humorous, and some shallow, but most seemed heartfelt and almost painfully longed for.

Before I die I want to:

Have a baby

Love and be loved

Find truth

Let love in

Be truly happy

Talk to a girl

Know I lived


Be remembered for something great

 Some were more general, dreams of things to accomplish.

Before I die I want to:


Get a PhD

Live in Fiji

Drive Route 66

Make music my career


Live on a farm

Perform a heart transplant

Own a llama

Meet Morgan Freeman

Ride a giraffe


Some were downright funny.

Before I die I want to:

Be a Disney Princess

Fist fight Kim Stover

Poor Kim Stover.

I look at these photos of the wall and I wonder who wrote which entry. How old are they? What is their story?

In truth, many of these entries are ageless. Who doesn’t seek truth? Who hasn’t wished to be truly happy? We all want to love and be loved. Just the fact that these attendees were able to put their feelings in words is a wonderful thing.

While I live my life as a bystander, I am indeed still a participant.

Sharing experiences and love is what it’s all about. So, listen to other’s stories. Go ahead, stalk out those Facebook photos. Observe life around you. Sniff flowers. Read good books, (and walls). Watch good movies.

But don’t forget to share. It is our obligation as participants in life.

-Libby Lu