Progressives

We dress like students, we dress like housewives,

Or in a suit and a tie

I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,

I don’t know what I look like!

“Life During Wartime”

The Talking Heads

Lyrics by David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth

1979

 

 

Now we are six……plus 41

 

They’re called progressives nowadays

But, let’s not delude via euphemism

They’re still bifocals

Bifocals

Thanks, Ben Franklin

Bifocals

Biflippingfocals

The glasses of the old

No more optical lines of demarcation visible in the lens though

And, now, I have to wear them

Presbyopia

From the Greek

Presbus meaning old man or elder

Ops meaning of or related to the eye

Eyestrain

Headaches

Refractive misfiring

Aging eyes

Tired eyes

Slowing eyes

In the last few months, I have tromboned newspapers, iPhones, grocery lists, deposition transcripts, pleadings, orders, pleasure books

“I think you need progressives,” said my bride

Like other folks of a certain age, I would place glasses atop my head to read fine print and press my nose into the paper

For decades, I’ve worn glasses to correct myopia

Insert joke here

Contacts came later

First diagnosed by our family’s ophthalmologist while I was in Law School

I probably muddled through for years prior

In fact, I know I did

One of those students who always sat on the back row but should have sat on the front

I leaned over test papers, exams, notes

One teacher in high school recommended an eye exam

So, I went over a break

The eye doctor made me read Snellen’s chart from the elephantine E all the way down to the puny PEZOLCFTD, which I memorized as I sat in the waiting room

Passed with flying colors

But, I didn’t

I cheated

The only time I ever cheated on an exam

Vanity, thy name is teenager

Vanity, thy name is forty something year old

Since donning my first pair of glasses in 1995, I’ve been through several pairs as prescriptions gradually strengthen to compensate for weakening eyes

I’m partial to tortoise shell or acrylic frames

I try to buy the hippest, youngest frames I can get in a futile attempt to keep looking as young as possible

In our youth obsessed, narcissistic age, why wouldn’t I?

Stuck in a hipness that exists only in my own mind

Warby Parker

Robert Marc

Garrett Leight

I try to avoid that Milanese Monopoly Luxottica

Optical Oligarchs

One of my favorite makers recently sold out to another company

The local vision store on King Street that’s been a staple forever, Jackson Davenport, always does me right

Their knowledgeable folks scour high and low for good frames

They ain’t cheap

One of their folks is heading to Paris as I write to go to the largest trade show in Europe

Luckily, they had a few old school frames from my favorite designer

Half price

“Their quality has gone straight to hell,” one of the owners told me

“Yeh, well, apparently, so has my vision,” I replied

“Stop it. We have practically the same prescription. It’s just aging, which certainly beats the alternative”

She had a point

But, bifocals

Really

Putting on the progressives, I didn’t see waves or blurry lines

In my head, I saw, pun intended, weakening optic nerves, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, blindness, darkness

And, then, ultimately, the grave

“A place where nobody knows” as Mr. Byrne and crew sang

I’ll continue to fight the aging process just as his guerilla warrior fought in a dystopian America

I’ll fight with my progressives, youthful raiment, sunscreen, dressing like students, or in a suit in a tie

Truly Middle Aged

Middle Aged AF, as the kids would say

 

Too Old to be Young; Too Young to be Old

We have been married for twenty (20) years

We’re pretty proud of that

Twenty years of ups, downs, highs, lows, sicknesses, healths, richers, poorers

Forsaking all others

Some twenty years ago we were in the thick of weddings almost every Saturday between Lent and football season

Getting married in the fall in the South is almost sacrilege due to our other religion’s dominance, college football

As we have aged, the invitations for weddings have slowed

Recently, we received a lovely invitation to a young couple’s nuptials

Engraved

From Arzberger’s in Charlotte

Which we adore

Our favorite stationer as expressed many times

The wedding will be at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church here in Charleston

Same church where we were hitched

The replaced and rehung bells rang for our wedding for the first time since the Big Gun Shoot

The reception to follow will be at an expected venue here in Charleston

What is unexpected is that we were invited

The bride’s parents came to our wedding

It seems an honor to be included

But, dadgum, things have changed in twenty years

Wedding websites

Registry links

Hash tags for the event, e.g., #smithbecomesjones

Via the links we have purchased an appropriate gift to be delivered to the home of the bride’s parents

A gift of something chosen by the bride and groom

For the table

On the website, the retailer asks a question or two

“Would you like to include your home address for a thank you note?”

Of course we would

Plus, the bride and groom should have it

They sent us an inviation

As we clicked and entered card numbers, I asked my bride, “Is it so tacky to do it this way?”

Her reply, “Everyone else does”

I don’t think that makes it any less tacky

Three clicks later

Gift ordered

Note included via registry that the item has been purchased

Wants 12; Purchased 2

Confirmation email

Seems so impersonal

No need for our enclosure card

There are stores in Charleston and Beaufort that still have our cards on file for gift giving

Guess we should ask for those back to use for, well, upcoming graduation gifts

That’s the season of life in which we find ourselves mainly

No need to strike through the name and add a handwritten note on the back for the bride and groom

Guess the bride can send us an email

A pithy text sometime in the next year should be fine, too

Something like this

TYVM 😘

((HUGS))

My reply would be something like this

🤢

OMG

I’m using emoji’s

Make it stop

We’re just too old

The world moved on to less formality

I did not

At wedding receptions, I still go get drinks for ladies

I still never make a plate, either

My parents told me that

A Charleston lady agreed with me one time when I told her that I don’t make plates at receptions or parties

“Dahlin, nice people never do”

Everyone does these days

But, being our age, wedding receptions are always interesting

We’re too young to hang out with the parents of the bride and groom and their friends

We’re too old to hang out with the bride and groom and their friends

We hope to find another couple our age with whom we are comparable, can sneak out early, go to supper, even in our black tie and fancy frocks

The last wedding we attended was a couple years back, and we did just that

Early in

Early out

Supper with friends

Everyone in the restaurant staring at us, but, since it’s Charleston, it’s not uncommon to see folks dressed for supper out on the town

The days of shutting down the reception and then going out are long gone

Long

Long

Long

Long gone

Those days were epic

Back when that email thing was just catching on in offices around the country

Back when that man from Arkansas was President

Back when people still smoked

Back twenty years ago

I love weddings

I love to be invited to weddings

I will have a wonderful time at this upcoming wedding

Even as my wife and I stand alone at the reception looking for other folks our age

Just like all the other sixth graders

Hurrication 2019

That little low pressure off the coast of Africa turned into a Cat 5 storm that decimated the Bahamas

Dorian

Not a picture of which I’m fond

Then, it set its sights on us here in the Lowcountry

A week ago, we watched where Dorian would be headed

We refreshed Mike’s Weather Page, Shea Gibson’s forecast, and Facebook feeds where amateur weather enthusiasts indulge their inner Al Roker

I sent a message to some Charlotte pals that they might see us

Hope that they would not

I checked to see if the Southpark Marriott had availability

As we gathered with friends over Labor Day weekend to watch football, have a cold end-of summer beverage, and lament the re-start of the school year, His Excellency Henry McMaster, Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, came on the news to announce that mandatory evacuations of all coastal counties would begin at noon on Labor Day

Well, durn

He really does sound like Foghorn Leghorn

There goes the weekend

Immediately, I made that hotel reservation in Charlotte

I sent another text to our myriad Charlotte pals

Immediate response from one of them, “Good! You’re coming for supper. :)”

Some down the street neighbors were over at the time

We all had to scatter as there were hotel rooms to book, calls to make to family, limbs to remove, furniture to bring inside

From Sunday at 6 p.m., all of us were on heightened alert

The next day, being Labor Day, made for a less than relaxing end of summer

Lanes reversed starting at noon

Franking out

See, e.g., Franking Out, supra

My parents called

Mary Perrin’s parents called

“Yes, ma’am, to Charlotte, if we go anywhere”

Had it just been me to consider, I would have stayed home

But, with two teenagers and a dog, if the power goes out and there’s nothing to do and no one is home, then, it makes for a long slog

Monday dawned hot and bright

We went to the store

A lot

We ran errands

We went to King Street

We ate lunch

We made supper reservations with pals

We talked to friends

We waited

We watched forecasts

We exercised

We went to the office and set out-of-office reminders and did a little work

I was the only one there

We went to supper, pre-storm, at a local Italian joint, which was proud to tell everyone it was STILL open in spite of the mandatory evacuation

“We have a limited amount of Parmesan”

Damn, if this storm isn’t taking an early toll

Tuesday was an even longer day

We turned over the portable basketball goal

We secured as best we could

Dorian was still a powerful Cat 3 and not moving very fast

We moved cars to higher ground

The updated forecast was for 10.3 foot tide with 10-15 inches of rain. That would have caused Hugo style flooding, the worst

A pal who works for CNN sent me a message advising he was heading our way. Not cool. The only thing worse would have been for Jim Cantore to be coming this way, too

All day there were updates and comments

We made the decision to leave on Wednesday morning

Early

Our children were spending the night out, going out with friends, getting together with pals to combat boredom

We helped move generators

We checked in on each other

The one good thing that these storms and evacuations produce is the innate sense of community kicks into high gear

Charleston goes back to being a community instead of a commodity

“Y’all stayin?”

“Y’all goin?”

“Wanna go get a drink?”

“Does the Pope wear a funny hat?”

The Blind Tiger, in existence since 1893, becomes re-populated with local types, even kids from off like me.

We went there on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. with some other local folks. As we were leaving around 6:00, more of we people began to show up, ages 21 to 81. Really. Some wonderful older folks were coming to the watering hole to commiserate over the latest updates

“Oh, I nevah leave unless it’s a Cat Fo”

“We nevah flood”

“Hell yes I’m leaving. I ain’t sittin round the hewse with my wife and chirren all week”

Cold beer

Warm smiles

Lot of ice

Lots of love

From there to the house of friends in the ‘hood

A farewell drink or two or three

“Oh, we aren’t going anywhere”

“I took a page from your playbook and am roasting a chicken”

Always a good plan to roast a chicken, storm or no storm

As we returned home that night, we confirmed that we have the nicest friends

We just do

Friends here, there, and everywhere

We won the friendship lottery

We planned to leave on Wednesday morning after a spend the night for one child and cross country practice for another

We packed the car

The dog food

The dog bed

In 1999, when we evacuated for Floyd, we took silver and artwork with us

This trip, we took bourbon and vodka with us

With age comes wisdom

On Wednesday morning, we went through the first couple of outer bands with dumping rain. Tide was low, but winds were already whipping

Fifth year in a row with named storms hitting us

2015 Joachim

2016 Matthew

2017 Irma

2018 Florence

2019 Dorian

It never gets any easier. See, e.g., Tenuous, supra

We left for the Queen’s City around 9:30 and pulled into the Shake Shack at the Park Road Shopping Center at 1:00 p.m.

Dogs allowed outside

Shack Burgers, Fries

Heaven

Wish we had a Shake Shack in Charleston

Text to our hostess for supper

“When you want us?”

“6?”

“Perf. Comin at ya”

To the hotel we went, where they could not have been nicer about waiving the 48 hour cancellation policy and the pet deposit

It’s always good to be in the Old North State where this lady greets us in every elevator:

We took our pooch for a long walk, then, it was off to Capitol

If you’re ever in Charlotte, go by

You don’t have to buy a thing, but it’s so pretty and the ladies who work there are lovely

It does help when the owners are pals

It really does

It also helps when the same owners happen to be at their house preparing our evening repast. It was they who stated we would be coming for supper days before the storm

It also helps when you can just stare at the garden wall in a moment of quiet contemplation

As I chatted with one of the lovely ladies who works there, I heard, “Is that Hamlin O’Kelley’s voice I hear?”

Guilty as charged, Ma’am

I have to apologize to our Capitol pals, as, usually, I am more of a conversationalist

I kept refreshing my phone’s weather app to check the radar

High tide at 1:30 p.m.

All was well

So was the mother of a super famous b-baller who was in there trying on a mauve Grecian goddess get up

She rocked it

After a couple of hours at Capitol, a few purchases, an alteration appointment, and a great time, it was time to leave that high touch experience and go to….Southpark

Nordstrom

Neiman’s

Anthropologize

LuLu Lemon’s

Yes, I call it LuLu Lemon’s

I might add “the” in front of it from time to time

All the usual mall rats

As we walked through that dying shopping medium, our eldest looked at me and said, “It’s hard to go from that immersive experience to …well…this…” as she swept her arm left to right in a gesture reminiscent of Loretta Young entering a room

We looked at everything

We walked a billion steps

We bought nothing

Recon only

We said we would be back the next day

We drove to Whole Foods for some snacks

From there, it was back to the room for another walk of the dog

After refreshing, it was time to head to supper where our host and hostess and their daughter welcomed us as only they can do

Thirty plus years of friendship really does help

I highly recommend it

There are always

Laughs galore

Shared side glances

Amazing foodstuffs

Beautiful tables

Hyperbolic conversations for effect

Snippets

Bon mots

Side jabs

Golden nuggets such as

“I told one of my friends that I was going to Capitol. She said, ‘All they have there are statement pieces’. I told my friend, ‘What do you know? You only wear shorts and t-shirts.’ Really, I said that to her.”

High fives on that one

“I think there are like 5,000 students at her school”

“[So and So] says it’s the most soulless place on earth.”

“Lizzo? You like Lizzo? Oh, yeh, that makes since, you love Posty.”

“It was $94 worth of salmon. I had to check the balance in our account before I bought it”

“Do you give everyone from Charleston that accent, Hamlin?”

“You know I don’t let anyone help in the kitchen”

“I think these are a little frost bitten, but I think you’ll love them”

“Red or white?”

“How about a little brown?”

“I like the way you think”

“You know, we entertain the same way”

Duh

Literally, there is only one person I bro-hug, and he happened to be our host that night

On such evenings, usually I’m the one to keep the wine flowing, but not on a school night with potential Cat 3 about to strike the Lowcountry

More water, please

Hydration is important

Water served in a silver goblet remains one of the highlights of human existence

Putting said goblet against wrists and forehead also remains one of those highlights

We reluctantly said our goodbyes and bid each other adieu

“Send me that list of places to eat”

“Gimme thirty”

“Love y’all”

“Love y’all”

“See you shortly”

“Can’t wait”

Thank you

Literally

Thank you

Then, it’s a 5:30 a.m. wake up call from the dog

Walk down to Co-Cola office with said canine

No one is up that early in that part of Charlotte

Not even the paper delivery man

At least it was cool

No humidity

Back to the hotel and a couple more hours of sleep

So louche

Then, I drove to the Starbucks at the Taj-Mah-Teeter on Colony Road

So many wonderful conversations overheard

“Y’all know the [So-and-so’s]? They have a house at Deb-ah-doo and it’s probably going to be destroyed!”

“Ya’ll know the [So-and-so’s]; we hope their Kiawah house is o.k.”

“We just LOVE Charleston”

“[So-and-so] just came home from [The College of] Charleston”

“Well, if he’s at [The College of] Charleston, then he’s gonna come back at Christmas wearing Redwing cowboy boots, kahki’s, Johnnie O’s”

“We just LOVE Charleston”

“Y’all, Charleston is great”

“We just LOVE Charleston”

Yeh, so do we

While we got ready, I checked the radar all morning, especially right before we went to breakfast

We drove over to The Little Spoon on Selwyn for breakfast

Pretty good in spite of its hipness

Highly recommend

The two men behind our table were discussing their respective houses at “the Beach”. As though there were only one beach. One had a house at Kiawah. One at DeBordieu.

Duh

Little Spoon satisfied everyone, especially with that big bowl of coffee

When I was growing up, no one would have named anything “little spoon” due to a specific connotation.

I’m not talking demitasse, either

From there, it was over to Tabor, Capitol’s brother store

Another old-home-week-immersive experience

A few purchases for Dad, an hour of great conversation with the folks who work there

Another customer called “Ham”

What are the chances?

More laughter

Purchase of a couple of books at SoCo Art Gallery next door

My children are trying to get us to be a little bit more hip

One accoutrement at a time

We hated to leave those folks, too

Driving through Charlotte’s nicest neighborhoods, we noticed a lot of white paint over brick, large copper lanterns, big leaded windows

Did Sir Edwin Lutyens’ Ghost design all of these renovations?

I think this architecture has had its moment

But, may be not

Then, it’s back to Southpark, and over to the Container Store

“I think we definitely need that,” I say pointing to something

In response I get a wide eyed look of shock

“We got to get out of here, Dad. This place is dangerous for us,” said the youngest child

From there, we took our eldest to meet a friend so that they could be found at fine stores everywhere all over Charlotte

Meanwhile, texting with friends, updates on social media, checking the radar

“Think the storm’s going to come in with the wind out the good side to keep the water out of the harbor”

“Less rain than forecast”

“Starting to blow”

“Gonna be bad between 11 and 2”

“Trees snapping”

“There goes that crappy water oak”

The worst trees ever

Back to South Blvd. area that is up and coming

Coming Soon: West Elm! Sephora!

There goes the neighborhood

Wherever Warby Parker establishes a beachhead, other stores will follow and the funk will depart

We decide on lunch at Superica, Tex-Mex goodness

It being the South, we run into a lovely lady whom we know and her children who have evacuated from the coast, too

One of the best

She has cousins in Beaufort

Hugs all around

“LOVE this so much, seeing y’all”

“They let anyone in this place, even kids from Beaufort, SC”

“Such a treat”

Pretty tasty Tex Mex indeed

Especially that salsa

And that cold unit

We go back for one more round at the mall where purchases are finalized

“O.k., I’ve had enough Southpark”

“Me, too”

We then go and have an extended rest period

We run into some Charleston folks who tell us they went to this super nice store called Capitol

“Do y’all know it?”

May be

May be

They recommend another store

We go there

Should not have

More of an extended rest period

More updates

More news

And, then, this guy. He lost the hurricane for sure

More updates

“How’s the neighborhood?”

“Messy, but dry”

“Not too many trees down”

“Your house is fine”

Off to supper at Bar Marcel

So many Charlotte Moms there

It’s a trope to be explored in full at a later time

They don’t look like our Charlotte friends

But, they look a lot like each other

Stepfordesque

Good supper, but we’re ready to go home

Really

It’s time

Storm has already moved on

Thought about driving after supper

Up early the next day

The Governor had not lifted the evacuation order, but we’re fighters

We fly down the road as fast as we can

We pulled into our own driveway by 10:00 a.m.

Only a little bit messy around Orangeburg, SC

Everything is a litte messy in and around Orangeburg, SC

Obviously, we weren’t the only ones to leave Asheville, Greenville, Flat Rock, Charlotte, Atlanta, Columbia early

Glad to be home

Glad to have power

Glad to have no loss of life in the Palmetto State

As the old saying goes, “September, we remember”

Snark notwithstanding….hurricanes are existential crises for those of us who are privileged enough to live on the coast. Port towns. River cities. We’re all bonkers, but we send all our love, sympathy, prayers and donations to our friends in the Bahamas.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril [who leave near] the sea

Franking Out

Back when Hurricane Matthew was headed our way, I sent a text to some folks who live in our neighborhood.  My fat fingers stumbled over the digits, and I wrote:

These people got to quit franking out

I meant freaking

Another storm is headed our way and people are franking out already

FRANKING

I am not taking hurricanes lightly

We who are blessed enough to live in kingdoms by the sea deal with this every year

September we remember

See, Tenuous, supra, from about this time last year

Some five days out and people are franking out

Way ahead of the arrival of any storm, people are already in panic mode

And, yes, we are at perigee with King tides

img_0032
Dry day flooding; perigee; king tides; stop; don’t pass go

Not to storm prep, but, because we needed some victuals, I went to the grocery store earlier

At the grocery store, I ran into a lovely Charlestonian who has taught generations of children to dance. She’s an accomplished baker.  My daughter works for her

We spoke and hugged, as we do

We walked through a couple of aisles together

When we noticed the shelves bare of water, she said to me in her Lowcountry cadence, “Son, can you believe this sto’. It’s like no one’s evah bun through a hurrikin”

Well, duh

So many folks from off probably haven’t been through a hurricane

As our friends from Public Enemy used to sing, “Don’t believe the hype”

Don’t frank out

Have a plan

Keep your powder dry

Keep your insurance papers dry

Where’s the turn?

Where’s the Bermuda high?

Where’s the flashlight?

Where’s the battery operated flashlight?

Where’s the free sandbag pick up point this year?

Do we have water?

It may not matter, because we’re days away

But, even some days away, the shelves are as bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard

img_0031
“Water water everywhere/Nor any drop to drink”. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

“We don’t know how this hurricane will impact the Lowcountry,” states the nice lady on the news

All schools will be under normal schedules for now

Until they aren’t

And, now, they are closing

No evacuation order given

And, now, there has been

I have a dear friend who works for a national news outlet.  As I write, he is in Florida.  I sent him a text asking if he was going to be in the eye of the storm

He replied, “I may be your houseguest in four days”

Come on, Bubba

If there’s an evacuation order, he can have the whole house. Now that there is one, he may have it

Then we might frank out

If His Excellency Henry McMaster, the Governor of South Carolina, gets on the tube and tells us in his inimitable Foghorn Leghorn voice, “It’s time to pahk ya cah on a hill”, then we might frank out

No hills around here, Son.  I said, Son

His news conferences are hilarious

Until they aren’t

Like right now …. when he’s telling us that there’s a mandatory evacuation

Not enough to frank out about, though

I ain’t leaving

I’m just not

Plus, while the Cape Cod chips are still buy one get one free at the Harris Teeter, we might just hunker down

We will fill up the tubs so we can flush toilets

We will buy some more water

A highly cynical friend sent me this:

img_0035
Think of the turtles…

Really, think of the turtles

Their nesting beaches might be submerged yet again

That might be reason to frank out

And, now, with all the lanes being reversed and the texts flying

It might be time to frank out

Before

img_5372
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Genesis 1:26

 

Before the angels wept

Before the rivers salted

Before the aquifers dried

Before the cities on the Atlantic flooded

Before the islands vanished

Before the glaciers melted

Before the last queen bee died

Before the turtles stopped laying eggs

Before the frogs quit croaking

Before the dust storms blew east

Before the water wars between Israel and Jordan

Before the water wars between the US and Mexico

Before the water wars between Switzerland and the rest of Europe

Before the water wars between India and Pakistan

Before Bangladesh returned to the sea

Before the forests turned to sahel

Before the sahel turned to desert

Before all the fish became toxic

Before the last coral bleached

Before the Big One sent half of California into the Pacific

Before the Mississippi swallowed New Orleans

Before the last of the apples grew

Before the wheat crop failed

Before the Exclusion Zone expanded to Moscow

Before Charles III fled to what was left of New Zealand

Before the Pope retreated to Capri after one final blessing

Before ebola consumed most of Africa

Before the ladybugs all died off

Before the Chinese required sterilization

Before the last of the Amazon burned for farms

Before the Nile ran dry

Before the oil wells gasped their last black liquid

Before the forests refused to grow

Before the yearly Cat 4’s and 5’s hammered our coasts to nothing

Before the last untamed space became tame

Before melanoma was as common as a cold

Before the migrations changed the politics

Before the EPA disbanded

Before the palm oil plantations burned

Before the final gigatons of fossil fuels were released

Before the methane of the ruminants required gas masks

Before the Great Extinction in ’46

Before each month brought new record highs

Before the last school child futilely planted that last tree

Before Malthus giggled in his grave

We had quite the run

 

 

Preplanned

I grew up across the street from the Aimar family in Beaufort.

Dr. Charles Schley Aimar, Sr., and Jeanne Sams Aimar were another set of grandparents to me and my brothers and an adoptive Uncle and Aunt

I called Mrs. Aimar “Memar” and Dr. Aimar “Dr. Memar” as Aimar was too hard for my wee wittel tongue to say back in 1970sumpin

Dr. Aimar died in 2012. His funeral was on June 11, 2012, at the Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort, South Carolina

Communion included for all believers

A true celebration

img_9959
Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy saints

 

Memar lived until June 16, 2017

Her children asked me to read Scripture at her funeral at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, also in Beaufort, South Carolina

Memar never switched her membership from St. Peter’s even though she attended church with her husband and children for years

Once a member of the Roman Catholic Church, always a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

Their people are my people

Back in 2012, on the weekend following Dr. Aimar’s funeral, I sat down and wrote a letter about faith, church, hymns, Christian heritage, service to our fellow man, and adherence to the Golden Rule to my Godchildren.  It was a long letter.  I mailed the letter to all seven (7) of those young people

Seven of whom I’m entrusted with their spiritual growth

Six of whom are girls

Five of whom are not named “Virginia”

Four of whom live in Charleston

Three of whom attended the same school in downtown Charleston together

Two of whom are named “Virginia”

One of whom lives in London

That same weekend, I pulled out a legal pad, the Book of Common Prayer, my Bible, and my iPad with my church’s hymnal displayed digitally.  Next to those was my copy of the order of service from Dr. Aimar’s funeral. Obviously, I have kept that for years

Within twenty minutes, I had planned my own funeral

At the age of forty

That plan has been sitting in the Bible that I keep by my bedside

 

img_9964
Notes on a funeral

 

I have not changed it one bit since that hot weekend in June some seven years ago

Really

Not one thing

This has been a summer of many funerals

As I attended them, I silently compared them to my own

When certain hymns were listed, I smiled knowingly

When Martin Luther told us that God is a mighty fortress, I smiled knowingly

When there was no Communion offered, I smiled knowingly

When there was Communion offered, I smiled knowingly

Where there was Amazing Grace, I smiled knowingly

When there was a lengthy homily, I smiled knowingly

When there was no homily, I smiled knowingly

When we were told to lift high the Cross, I smiled knowingly

When the 23rd Psalm was read, and, let’s face it, it was almost always read, I smiled knowingly

When families recessed to “Onward! Christian Soldiers”, I smiled knowingly

Some or all of that may be in my funeral plan

Planning my funeral made me smile and weep tears of great joy back in 2012

I don’t see my funeral as anything but a party in the Praise House

I don’t see my funeral as anything but a way to come and thank the Lord

I don’t see my funeral as anything but joyous

According to the Rites of the church I attend, a funeral service is an Easter service

Alleluia!

I highly suggest planning your own funeral

It’s the most liberating thing I have done

I have a couple of friends who have already put me in charge of their services, provided I outlive them

That’s a bit much, but I got you covered

You know who you are

And, yes, you can have “How Great Thou Art”

And, yes, you can have “Morning Has Broken” so that you can relive your mildly hippy leanings from high school

And, yes, you can have “All Things Bright and Beautiful” because you loved those James Herriot books

And, yes, we will make sure to skip “Amazing Grace” because you think it’s over used in the South

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Not my favorite hymn, but if it worked for Dr. Aimar and you want it at your funeral, well, then, as the hymn says, then sings my soul, my savior God to thee

 

I am not being morbid or maudlin or morose

I exhort you all to sit down and take the time to pick out the Bible verses, the hymns, a poem by your favorite author, a song by your favorite band, or anything else that you would want to have

If you don’t believe as I do, then plan it anyway

It’s one thing your loved ones will love you for in the chaotic days following your death

I will be sent off in such a Rite One way that even Thomas Cranmer himself would have been comfortable

His Prayer of Humble Access remains one of my favorite parts of the liturgy

We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy Table

It will be prayed at my funeral

As for the 23rd Psalm, I think it’s too hard to say at a funeral.  Just too hard. We’ve all heard it so many times.

As soon as we hear “The Lord is my shepherd” most of our eyes well up with tears

I could barely listen without streaming copious tears at a cousin’s graveside funeral this summer

Instead, at my farewell, those assembled will sing the 23rd Psalm in the form of “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”

…and, oh what transport of delight from thy pure chalice floweth

So much prettier than “my cup runneth over”

And, it doesn’t end in a preposition

I’m not kidding when I say that this summer, I have attended a funeral at least once a month since May

Some months more than one funeral

During those funerals, I took comfort in knowing that my funeral plan sits in the front cover of that Bible by my bedside

My funeral will be in a church, but my family loves a graveside funeral, too

All of my grandparents had graveside funerals

A couple of my great aunts and uncles did, too

We had a full service with Communion for a great aunt in Savannah. She would have loved it. I know I did

My father has requested Amazing Grace on bagpipes at his funeral

Whew

That’s a killer

As is Highland Cathedral on said bagpipes

That initial inhalation and Cetlic whine before the stirring chords reaches down the throat to rip out the beating heart of all who hear it

Whew

That’s a killer

My father has also requested Eternal Father Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn) which is also the Marine Corps Hymn with the Corps being a part of the Navy

Dr. Aimar was a proud Marine.  He fought on Iwo Jima in World War II.  With their wonderful old Beaufort accents, pronounced “wonnaful ole BEW-foot” accents, the Aimars always had stories about “EEE-woah” and their reunions with the “EEE-woah” Marines and their wives.  We sang the Marine verse at Dr. Aimar’s funeral

We will sing it at my father’s, which I hope is eons and eons from now

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Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee

Eternal Father Strong to Save always gets me

Whew

That’s a killer

I say it must be allergies as my eyes well up, but, we all know that is a lie

So, even though I hope I live for many more years, I have my notes inside the copy of the scribbled in Bible that sits by my bed

This was the required Bible translation for my year long study of the Good Book at Chapel Hill

Old Testament, First Semester

New Testament, Second Semester

Read the whole thing cover to cover from that first “In the beginning” in Genesis to that last “Amen” in the Revelation to St. John of Patmos

Alpha to Omega

The Good Book will always be by my bed

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I skipped the Apocrypha

 

So, if you have not put pen to paper and planned your final send off, I would urge you to do so

None of us are promised tomorrow

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

If the Lord wills

A mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes

It’s always much later than we think

When a good friend was in her final illness during the time we all knew her end was not far off, she informed me that she had planned her funeral and told me that I would have a speaking part

I told her that I had planned my funeral in 2012

Her reply, “Well, I mean, of course you did”

 

 

 

The Old Dominion

So they continue, college tours

This trip involved our heading to Mr. Jefferon’s academical village, his words, not mine

Located in the rolling hills of Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia, UVA is in her bicentennial year, still basking in its men’s basketball national championship. Damnit

Wa

Hoo

Wa

(But, really, Go Tar Heels!)

 

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The Rotunda and the Lawn all part of the Grounds

 

And, we’re off

Up and at ’em to C’ville by 7 a.m.

Seven hours in the car

Stop north of Fayetteville, NC, for gasoline where there’s a family eating Subway a little after 10 in the morning

Lunch discussions

“I don’t care where we eat, but not there”

So, as we pass through Wilson and Rocky Mount in North Carolina, no decision as to lunch

So, as we pass through Emporia and Petersburg in Virginia, no decision as to lunch

Then, we stop at the most crowded Chic Fil A in the world in Colonial Heights, VA

Sic Semper Tyrannis

We’re actually still stuck in that parking lot to this day

On up I95 to VA 288, which is an amazing way to get around Richmond

As we peel off, we see a wreck immediately to the north

Richmond traffic always stinks

We cross over the James River, into the rolling hills of the edge of the Valley

Ancestral lands for me and my bride and our Yancey, Coyner, Randloph, Isham, Perrin, Clopton, Hopkins, Flowerdew, Via, Maupin, West, De La Warr, Yeardley, Crowshaw kinfolk

Not the slightest interest from the children in tales of same as we pass the exit for Manakin where our Virginia Huguenots settled

“Anyone want to stop and see?”

“Um….only you, Dad”

Press on to Charlottesville

Off of I64 at the Monticello/Charlottesville exit

Through Belmont and Fifetown off of Monticello Ave

At a stop light on the way into town, I look over and see a barbershop

“Look, y’all. It’s the barber of C’ville”

Dad jokes

No one laughs

To parking garage and the Downtown Mall where I don’t think I lost anything, even in the cool used bookstore

Back in the car and over to the University and the Central Grounds Garage and University Bookstore

Some UVA swag for everyone

“Really? A national champs t-shirt?”

Traitor

The familiar “V” in orange Virginia t-shirt

I think I had the same one 30 years ago

T-shirt with a picture of Edgar Allan Poe on it

Underneath his visage

Dropout

“We sell a lot of those, Sir,” says the clerk who sees me laughing

We stop by his room on the West Range

Then a short walk over to the heart of Mr. Jefferson’s experiment, the academical village itself

Ranges

Pavilions

 

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Student Housing c. 1819

 

A swing around the Grounds

The Lawn

The Rotunda

The West Range

The East Range

Serpentine walls

So much gorgeous brick

Sneaking through a garden behind one of The Pavilions

“Dad, you can’t go back there”

“What? Why not? The gate was open?”

You can take the boy out of Beaufort

“Dad………..”

“Look, there’s someone’s grill. It’s fine”

There’s a big police presence in town, even around the Grounds

It’s been two years since an ugly tiki torch crew marched through the streets

To paraphrase The Blues Brothers, “I hate Virginia Nazis”

A quick drive around town, down to The Corner and through a more collegiate part of the western end of Main Street neighboring the Grounds

Cohn’s on the Corner

Bodo’s Bagels

 

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Emmet St. N  location

Coffee place based in Seattle

Mincer’s Sportswear

The Virginian

The College Inn

Corner Juice.  Eureka! The juice bar spotted for lunch the next day, which will be perfect after our tour and before heading on up to Mr. Jefferson’s Little Mountain

To the Boar’s Head Inn, if only I could get there

Really

How in the world do I keep turning into the wrong place?

Ivy Road should be a straight shot

It’s not

Metaphor for life

So many U-turns, illegal and legal, made during the trip

It’s the leitmotif of the trip

The U-turn

Finally, check in

To the room with its own porch

Straight to the pool

The Adult Pool at the Spa that is due to a private function at the Sports Club

Back to the room for a drink and a snack before supper

To the Aberdeen Barn, the self-proclaimed finest steak house in Virginia

It has not changed one iota since I was there in 1989

Not one iota

Derrick, our wonderful waiter, has been there since 1981

The same famous cheese spread with bread sticks and rolls

The same salads with a trio of house made dressings

Blue cheese, ranch, thousand island

The same inordinately large slabs o’beef cooked to perfection

The same baked potatoes in foil jackets dripping with butter, sour cream, and crumbled bacon

The same decor

The same satisfaction after the meal

The same regret, too

Back for another lap around The Grounds

Everyone asleep by 9:30

The next morning, bright, early, cool

Reading on the porch of the room with coffee, no humidity, the mid-60’s

Heaven

Breakfast at the Mill Room

We will crush a buffet breakfast, especially with added waffles

We are a hominy people, but we love a breakfast potato, too

“I won’t need lunch”

“I’m not going to be hungry”

“Oh, I ate too much”

“That juice place will be perfect”

Famous last words

Back to the Central Grounds Garage and Bookstore

And, it’s the Grounds, not the campus

And, it’s Mr. Jefferson, not TJ

I was corrected

More than once

Sorry, I’m just a Sandlapper from the other Mountain of Conceit up here in Ole Virginny

We hike up Rugby Road to the band building

Forty-five minute info session from self-effacing admissions officer.  Not all millennials stink

This guy’s really funny

He was proud he was in the Bob Barker Appreciation Society, which gathered regularly to watch The Price is Right

Wa Hoo Wa

Lovely young lady tour guide

Pre-med

Joiner of clubs

A wee bit of a signaler of virtue

Tour all over campus, including the Nekkid Room in the liberry

UVA is beyond pretty

Really

Beyond

Formally Southern

Formerly Southern

A little bit stiff because of it

Texts with one of our favorite UVA grads to ask about involvement with IMP, Z, The Seven with no comments back from said grad

We will study rings on said grad’s fingers when next we are together

I did ask the tour guide if students still streak the Lawn and kiss the backside of the Homer statue on the south Lawn

Her official response “No Comment” as she shook her head up and down and smiled

Glad some things don’t change

We veered off at the end in order to head on over to Monticello

We were expected for dinnah, served at 3 p.m., natch

I got the car while the family ordered smoothies from Corner Juice as planned

Up to the Little Mountain

Parking and jumping on the shuttle

“How many steps do we have?”

“Almost 9,000”

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From the Flower Walk

 

Walking around the house, down the Mulberry Lane, by the fish pond, around the Flower Walk on the West Lawn

Passing the air vents for the Privys

Mr. Jefferson was a genius

Taking the North and South Cellar Passages

Hangry

Combated hunger with root beers and cookies from The Farm Shop

Smoke House

Kitchens

Store rooms

Ice house

Wandering to the garden Folly where we sit with a breeze coming in from the North

 

img_9867
A view from the Folly

 

In line for our tour as directed ten minutes before scheduled departure

Spying an older lady wearing an anklet

When in the course of human events we forget to have standards

We the People don’t look so great

At least she painted her toe nails?

 

img_9868
We can do better; we must

 

Behind the scenes tour

Highly recommend it

Small group

More time

A two hour tour

A two hour tour

Additional spaces to see

Up to the 2nd floor

Up to the 3rd floor

Incredibly steep stair case with 9-10″ risers

Form followed function

Mr. Jefferson never went up stairs

Stairs had no function for him

Everything he needed was on one floor

The stairs are so steep that only Mick Jagger could race to the top, according to local lore

On our tour, there was a fellow tourist with his hat on the entire time

Take your hat off, Sir

You’re in a sacred space

Wanted to say that

Didn’t

This was the same man who asked his wife, “Why do they talk so much about Sally Hemings?”

Well, Sir, if we have to explain, it’s probably better if you go on back to the hole from whence you crawled

Mr. Jefferson’s descendants are legion

White and black

It’s America

It’s the South

It’s Virginny

It’s similar to my family’s own history

So, let them talk about the Hemings

Please tell us more

Our tour guide asking where we were from

“Theodosia Burr Allston’s husband’s town”

“Well, how is everything in Charleston?”

I’m team Jefferson not team Hamilton

Jefferson’s bust continues to look across and down the Hall at Mr. Hamilton’s bust in death because, well, Mr. Jefferson was Mr. Jefferson

 

img_9863
Reflections of greatness in the fish pond

 

Up to the 3rd Floor

The Dome

The Cubby in the pediment used by the grandchildren

Mr. Randolph’s room on the 3rd Floor

Mrs. Randolph’s room on the 2nd

Cousins of cousins who slept separately

Yet, they had twelve chirren, so something must have been fairly cordial

The widowed sister’s room

Aunt Marks

Can’t escape her watching, prying, annoying gaze

Doesn’t every family have an Aunt like that?

Oh, and since we’re in Virginia, it’s pronounced “Oughnt.”

Not “Ant” like in South Carolina or “Ain’t” if you’re lucky

But, yet, the nearby town is pronounced Stan-ton even if it’s spelled Staunton

My great-grandmother grew up between Waynseboro and Staunton

There’s a Yancey Mills named for her people

As they say in our family, she was from Virginia but she never got over it

Take me back to Old Virginny

Can we even reference that song anymore?

 

img_9875
(((HUGS)))

 

So we bid adieu to our distant kinsman with whom we shared cousins but no direct blood, unlike those complained of Hemings

Back to the hotel after a stop for some major snackage

“We don’t need all of that”

Yet, we ate all of that

Dip in the pool

“I like the adult pool better”

Well, of course, you do

Back to the room for a quiet time

Weather is on point

Upper 70’s

No humidity

Perfect to sit on the porch and read

Except for the loudmouths two porches below

Loudest people on the planet with the loudest children

I can tell you each of their children’s food allergies

Of course they have food allergies

Time to clean up for supper since dinnah at Monticello never appeared

Leaking shower in the bathroom

Engineering will be up shortly

Not until after we’ve gone to supper, please

Mill Room supper

Same family with loud children

Wonderful meal with a wonderful waitress

“I’ll have the fish, just for the halibut”

Again, no one laughs at the Dad jokes

Because

He’s just fishing for something with them

Again, no one laughs

Back to the room where engineering has spread towels on the floor to deal with the leak

img_9877
You had one job

 

Jam up there, engineering

Jam

Up

No one sleeps well in hotel rooms in our family

Why should tonight be any exception?

Up and at ’em again bright and early

Breakfast at Bodo’s Bagels on Emmet St N by the 250 Bypass

“We got here just in time,” as Chad and Karen are wont to say

Down 250 to 64 to 288

Temperature climbs as we head south

A descent into hell

On I95 through Virginia, and North Carolina, and South Carolina

Discussing essays, short answers, the common app, direct apps, more standardized testing

I don’t think I ever discussed any of that with my parents since I was away at school

Stop for lunch at the Smithfield Barbecue in Lumberton, SC

We love a Smithfield BBQ in North Carolina

We love the people watching

“I have to take your tray to the table, Sir”

“Y’all need any mo’ tea?”

The “Blessed To Be Called Nana” t-shirt will be all the rage this fall

Spotted a Lumbee Homecoming t-shirt for the People of the Dark Water

I’m sure there were some Locklears, Oxendines, Chavises, Hunts, Jacobs, Dials, and Lowrys in there,

Back on the road

More talk of applications, deadlines, release dates, Early Decision, Early Action, schools without the Common App, what’s a reach, what’s a safety, disappointment in life

More talk of the Old Dominion as we cross into South Carolina

Dum Spiro Spero