The brain is an amazing organ. It might not let me remember your name when I meet you downtown, but it frequently presents a parade of memories for no logical reason. Some are entertaining; others, not so much. I never know what will spur any given memory.
One recent Saturday, Larry and I made a trip to Macon and back. I drove; Larry slept. I set the radio to an oldies station and cruised on down the highway. After we turned onto Interstate 16, I cruised a bit faster.
“Hang on, Sloopy, Sloopy, hang on . . .” blared through my speakers and put me right back in the kitchen where I served as dishwasher for about a hundred years. I saw my teenaged self dancing all around that old-fashioned kitchen, popping a dishrag in time to that song. Only the ringing of the black wall phone pulled my attention away from my music. I’d turn the music down just enough to hear Donna talking via the phone line. We talked about everything and nothing for hours on end or until one of our parents interrupted. Usually it was my mother coming in the back door and discovering the dishes unfinished.
“Mary Ann, what on earth’s taking you so long?” Mama would ask impatiently. “It’s almost time to start supper and you haven’t finished the dinner dishes. Were you on the phone again?”
“Yes, ma’am, but Donna was helping me with my homework,” I explained.
“Since when do you need help with your homework?” she scoffed. “Now finish those dishes and I mean right now.”
I smiled at the memory. Why did I hate dishwashing so much back then? I have no idea. Mama did all the major jobs and I just didn’t realize it at the time. I pulled my mind back to the interstate.
Larry sat up and glanced out the window.
“You like the oldies, don’t you?” he asked sleepily. “I do, too,” he said and settled back into the seat to continue his nap.
Wilson Pickett came on next singing “Mustang Sally,” undoubtedly the most popular song on 3rd floor Church Hall my freshman year at UGA—1966, to be exact. When I left for class in the morning, someone already had the song blasting. When I came back, someone had the same song still blasting. Every body had at least the single 45rpm, and the lucky ones had the whole album. We danced to that song in the showers and down the halls all that fall. I never listened to it in my car though because freshmen were not allowed to have cars back then. I didn’t even own a car until my sophomore year when Daddy scraped and saved $250 to buy me a 1961 Plymouth Valiant. He made me practice changing a tire and taught me to check the oil before he handed over the keys to my freedom.
Again, I smiled at the memory. I realize now how Daddy sacrificed to give me that car. In 1966, $250 was a lot of money that he could have used for something else. Instead, he chose to give it to me.
That oldies station made my trip to Macon rather pleasant and I enjoyed the mental trip, too. I appreciate my parents so much more now than I did when I was growing up. We all have to learn for ourselves.
Just a couple of weeks ago before the grandchildren went home, 5-year-old Will said to his older brother Jakey, “I get so tired of Dad bossing me around all the time. I’ll be glad when I’m a grown up and can do what I want to.”
I said nothing, but I thought, “And the circle goes on forever.”