My Grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.

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Dec 22, 2014 No Comments ›› admin

By Lynn Woolley

“Time goes on and on. It never stops for anyone.”

I wrote those words in a song several years ago in a song called “Restless Soul.” Nothing to it really, except the writing of a song. It’s one I’ve never performed in public, but perhaps I should. This time of year, I get to thinking about what has come to pass, what hasn’t, and what is now dead and gone.

I have an ivy plant at my house. My mother, sick with cancer, sent it as an anniversary present. She passed away soon after, and I have somehow managed to keep the ivy alive for more than 28 years. I see it every day, and every day I remember her and my father. It is a gift that has stood the test of time.

Time.

The one constant in our lives is that we cannot stop time. Change is eternal, brought about not just by presidents and dictators, but by technological advances, changing tastes, new life, death, and God. My mother and father both passed away in 1986. Audio CD’s had just come out but they never saw one. They never sent or received an email. They died with the Southwest Conference and the Soviet Union both intact. They would not recognize today’s world.

Great nations change too. Like the Roman Empire, no nation, no empire is guaranteed to last forever. America is an exceptional nation and has been so for 238 years. Our current president has changed it and has weakened it. Our next president very well may restore it to strength. Still, it will not last forever.

The great poet Carl Sandburg wrote about a great nation that later became the home of rats and lizards in his poem about the “woman named Tomorrow.”

Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
Carl Sandburg, 1878 – 1967

The past is a bucket of ashes.

1

The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.

2

The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

3

It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
… and the only listeners left now
… are … the rats … and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, “Caw, caw,”
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest
over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,”
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.

4

The feet of the rats
scribble on the door sills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

###

So let us take pride in America and work to preserve what we have for as long as we can have it. Current politics aside, we are still a great nation…nothing like us ever was.

Restless Soul
By Lynn Woolley, circa 1994

Time goes on and on.
It never stops for anyone
I am just a man.
And time is a thing
I don’t understand.

And I know that I have a restless soul.
That time may never make whole.
Cause there’s just so much to do.
I think about me and I think about you.
(Sometimes) I think about growing old.
But that’s all right for a restless soul.
Lately, there’s times – that I think about time.

Life is just like time.
It can pass you by,
Or treat you fine.
I am just a man.
And life is a thing
I don’t understand.

And I know that I have a restless soul.
That life may never make whole.
Cause there’s just so much to do.
I think about me and I think about you.
(Sometimes) I think about growing old.
But that’s all right for a restless soul.
Lately, there’s times – that I think about life.

Love can change your mind.
It can help you see.
Or make you blind.
I am just a man.
And love is a thing
I don’t understand.

And I know that I have a restless soul
That love may never make whole.
Cause there’s just so much to do.
I think about me and I think about you.
(Sometimes) I think about growing old.
But that’s all right for a restless soul.
Lately, there’s times – that I think about love.

© by Lynn Woolley. All rights reserved.

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