Sounds Of My Town by …JoAnn
It’s early morning, the sun is just starting to rise, and I am listening to the birds outside my window. They are very loud, but I adore their music. Happy birds, all singing a different song, waking up together, are my favorite sound in nature.
When I hear the birds, I know that my little rural town is also waking up. I know that soon I will hear cars being warmed up in their driveways as people are preparing to rush off to work. Next, I will hear the very distinct sound of the school bus coming down our street to pick up my neighbor’s children. Throughout the day, farmers will drive their trucks, or oversized equipment, up and down my road, making a big thump as they go over the bump directly in front of my driveway. That can get pretty noisy at times, but I have grown used to it now.
The sounds I will hear on Saturdays are children playing in their yards, lawnmowers working hard, and maybe a chainsaw in the distance. A dog will bark, and now and then, a cow will moo. Traffic in the neighborhood is heaviest on Saturday as people are out taking care of things left for their weekend.
Sunday is the quietest of all days. There is usually a rush of cars through town after church. We have many churches in my small town. It has always seemed strange to me as to just how many churches we have, with it being a population of around 2100. When we first moved here 30 years ago, I joked that there was a church on every corner. But there actually was more truth to that statement. Right off hand, I can count 15 churches in my town that are open for business every Sunday.
I left my home at 8:30 p.m. last night to do a quick errand to the store before they closed at 9:00. As with most small towns, I would imagine that all the sounds change drastically after the sun goes down. I have been here many years, and to this day, it still takes me by surprise when I drive down the road after dark, and it is so eerily quiet. It was like driving in a ghost town. Not one sound came from any direction, and of course, I was the only car on the road.
I spent a good chunk of my life in a big city. That is where I learned to drive. I was pretty used to the city being awake and active around the clock. It was nothing unusual to go grocery shopping at 10 or 11 at night while my kids were home sleeping. Their daddy was with them, of course. I loved going at that time because I knew they were home safe & sound in their beds. I could take my time and have a nice drive alone. It was awesome. I have not been able to do that again since we moved away 30 years ago. I miss it. I miss being able to run to a store late at night if I needed something like medicine for a sick child. I had to learn to keep both my medicine cabinet and pantry stocked.
I’m thankful for the quiet of the early morning with just me and the neighborhood birds. It’s a peaceful, pleasant way to start my day. It’s probably the number 1 thing that I love about living in a small rural town.
I would certainly miss it if I ever moved back to a big city. And I am also thankful for the quietness of the night and the safety that I feel here. But I do miss the sounds of the city now and then.
Wherever your hometown is now, l hope you too find peaceful and pleasant sounds to start and end your days.
Everyone Loved Lucy
I guess the most appropriate title for the jobs I have done in recent years is Home Healthcare Worker. That seems a little too proper for me though, as I am not formerly trained in this field. I fell into these jobs just by being at the right place at the right time someone was in need. And there seems to be an overwhelming need for people just like me!
My first “little lady”, as I like to call them, was Lucile. Lucy was in her early 90s and had Alzheimer’s in its later stages. Being in the situation where I not only needed a job but also a place to live, I had agreed to move into Lucile’s home to offer 24/7 care.
Lucile’s well-being had been in the hands of her two loving nieces for years. They took excellent care of their aunt! There was nothing that Lucy needed or wanted that she didn’t get. They adored her immensely. I was instantly welcomed into the family. I never felt like just an employee. They took good care of me too. They made sure I was well paid and had a comfortable place to live. They provided everything and more that I needed to care for their beloved aunt.
What a hoot Lucile was! She had story after story of her very colorful life to share with me and anyone else who was genuinely interested. And she always could tell who was genuine and who was not. She was an accomplished artist, and her home was sprinkled with her paintings. She could tell you a story for each one. She was one smart cookie, and I loved being around her.
For the majority, Lucile had no concept of place or time. What year, month, day, hour, all changed on the flip of a dime for her. When I realized this, I began to ask her each morning how old she was that day. Some days it would be 42, some 37, and others 16. The days she was 16, she also took on the personality of 16. She would ask me if she had overslept and was going to be late for school. I would assure her that she had the day off and could enjoy it in any way she pleased. This made her incredibly happy, as it would any kid. I would usually have a more difficult time keeping up with Lucile on her teenage days. She not only thought she was young but expected her body to react as such. This meant her trying to get out of bed without assistance. And that usually ended with a fall. Her legs were extraordinarily strong, but her brain could not convince them to react the way they should.
Lucy never learned my name. Her family and friends would tell her I was JoAnn. She would agree in the moment but refer to me later as “the woman who lives here”. But whenever she needed me, she would call out her best friend’s name, which was Kathy.
I would be stirred from a deep sleep early each morning to the sound of Lucy screaming, “Kathy, I’m awake!”. It was a rough way to wake up at 6 a.m. but it sure gives me a laugh now. It never bothered me that Lucile couldn’t learn my name. I knew she cared for and appreciated me. She told me so, and I knew it was heartfelt. Anyway, she thought I was her best friend, and that was an honor.
There were fleeting moments when Lucile would know exactly how old she was, and where her life was headed. She would become very solemn. Depressed actually. Things that she had spent years enjoying, she no longer wanted to partake. Her family had shared that Lucile enjoyed sitting in the front room of her home, where the front wall was all glass. She lived on a mountain top, and her view was beautiful. She would watch the many different birds fly all around her collection of bird feeders. Feeders, which I promptly kept filled in hopes to entertain Lucy.
But much to her family’s disappointment, and mine, she no longer wanted to sit in the front room. We even had a hospital bed delivered and placed in her sunroom facing the view. I would talk her into it, get her wheeled in there, and she would quickly depress. It was like watching a light slowly growing dim. I believe she remembered that room better than any other. It had been her favorite room. A place she admired the beautiful view, and the woods where she had taken long daily walks for years. Now it was a bold reminder of the things she could no longer do. It reminded her she was 90 years old. Sadly, she would always ask to go back to her bedroom.
I spent almost every 24-hour period with Lucy for around 4 months. I wonder how many years of friendship that would measure out to be. I felt as though Lucile was my friend, and I felt blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to share the last months of her life on earth. It was hard, for her, and for me. I guess the end of a life always is, no matter what the circumstances. You can never be fully prepared. It is impossible. But for the last months of her life, I hope that I made some sort of positive difference in Lucy’s world. We laughed a lot, the two of us alone in that big house on the hill. And we struggled on days that were difficult for obvious reasons. But I would not have changed a thing. Lucile taught me important lessons about life that I will hold dear forever. Lessons that only being in her presence could I have learned. What an amazing human being she was. Love and miss you Lucy. Until we meet again…. JoAnn
Waiting On The Sun… by JoAnn
June 20, 2022
Guest WoW, JoAnn
I’m sitting here at my computer listening to the many joyful birds outside as I wait for the sun to rise. I’ve been awake since 4 a.m. I can’t start my day until the sun is up. Or so my mind tells me. I have plenty that needs to be done, but my mind says I must wait till there is daylight. Why is that?
I am a night person by nature. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I were an Owl in another life. So why do I have trouble early morning when it’s still dark out? Owls hunt prey at this time. I have witnessed it. So guess I need to pick another animal to explain myself.
There must be something about the stillness that makes me think I need to be still as well. Everyone seems to be in their homes asleep. I’m sure that’s not completely accurate as there are so many who go to their jobs this time of day. But I hear no cars going by, no noise coming from anywhere except for the very happy song birds.
I have often thought that I would love to live in a town that never sleeps. Where I could run out for a bite to eat or groceries at any time day or night. So often I have wanted to live a life like many characters in the movies I’ve seen. Can’t sleep, so I go for a walk where streets are bustling with activity. Maybe stop in an all night diner for coffee and a burger. People in the movies always seem so happy being able to do those things in the middle of the night. I often wonder if life is really like that in large cities. It seems romantic I guess. But maybe not so much in reality.
My little town falls asleep early. Our only diner is called the Toot-n-Tell It. I don’t think they would be up for running a late night special as they turn off their grill at 9 o’clock sharp. Every place but two close at 9 o’clock. One of the two gas stations is open till 10, and the Dollar General also closes at 10 o’clock. So you better make your run with plenty of time to spare or the doors will be locked.
As the old saying goes, grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Maybe I am just deluding myself into thinking anywhere else to live would be better. I have so much to love right where I am. But my mind is always open for anything new the good Lord might may suggest. He has certainly taken me places before that I would have never dreamed I would go. Some, not in a million years. So who knows.
It’s now 5:39 a.m. and the sun is shining enough to call it a day. I will begin my daily rituals and hope to be successful in being productive. I will fight the sunset tonight in hopes to keep it from leaving. I always fail. But with it’s departure, I know I will be less than, and I will wait anxiously for it’s return in the morning.