Sam I Am Blog

My Newspaper of News, Lifestyle,Culture

Posts Tagged ‘Momma

Christmas Cash,Costs,Challenges of The Ozarks 1960s

leave a comment »

Christmas Cash,Costs, Challenges

of

The

Ozarks’

1960s

THE OZARKS OLD HOUSE_Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

The Old House

Of The Ozarks

This small house beside Missouri State Highway 176 in Stone County, Missouri in The Ozarks can go unnoticed by passing motorists. This Old House served as The DeLong Family Home in the 1960s. Birthday parties, Fourth of July, Halloween Trick or Treat events,Thanksgiving Supper and Christmas Day Dinner celebrations were held in the three – room house, which had a Laundry Room built on in the 1970s. There was no inside plumbing. Uncle Joe built an Outhouse down on the hillside. While the house did not have the social comforts of some 20th Century homes in The Ozarks; it always felt like “Home” to DeLong family members, who returned to Stone County and the Missouri Ozarks anytime of the year. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

christmas-tree-logo-photo-two-thumbnail_thumb[1]Home in my childhood was “The Ozarks.”

 

The Ozarks is one of the places in the world, where myth and reality live side by side.

 

You live your life in The Real World and sometimes it seems like you look up and see a wild,white-haired Mark Twain smiling down at you with his pen in hand.

 

The heavy snows of winter fall. The scene looks like a Currier and Ives lithograph on a china plate and then you feel the “bone chilling cold” enter your body. You see your breath. You trudge out of the knee-high snow into the warmth of your home.

 

You “warm” by the large, rectangular, dark brown “Warm Morning” gas stove and realize winter in The Ozarks means Christmas is usually just days away.

 

You get a hot cup of coffee and wonder why people think The Ozarks is “permanently stuck in an 1800s Time Warp.”

 

MV5BMTUzNzE1MjY0MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDE3MjU1MQ@@._V1._SX359_SY500_If you ever watched an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies” you may believe the fictional characters represent “Life In The Ozarks.”

 

You would be wrong.

 

I grew up in the Ozarks and I never ate possum.

 

I have ate squirrel.

 

Uncle Hobert DeLong was a “dead on shot” with a rifle. Every time he went into the woods, he came back with a “mess of squirrels” and sometimes “a mess of rabbits.”

 

Of course, no one remembers Jed, granny and the rest of the Clampett were supposed to have been from Bugtussel, Tennessee and the characters get associated with The Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks.

 

Cartoonist Al Capp made a large fortune drawing the comic strip of Lil’ Abner for 43th years that reached 60 million readers in more than 900 American newspapers.

 

Capp’s newspaper comic strip was one of my mother’s favorites. Capp put the characters in Dogpatch, Kentucky, but as a kid everyone though if you were from The Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, then, you must be like Lil’ Abner.

 

I never went to a Sadie Hawkin’s Day dance.

 

Dancing wasn’t allowed at Galena High School in the 1960s. It was an issue that came up with every senior class wanting a “Prom.” The Baptist and Pentecostal churches of the 1960s in Stone County were vocal in their objections and they kept the prom dance out of school.

 

I graduated in 1973 in a “Graduation Exercises” ceremony, but there was “No Prom” because the churches still didn’t allow dancing in school.

 

 

 

The Ozarks Hillbilly Stereotype

 

No matter how incorrect the “hillbilly” stereotype is about The Ozarks. Americans and foreigners seem to cling to the dumb hayseed and lazy cartoon and television stereotypes of “The Ozarks Hillbilly.”

 

The irony is that the Ozarks is pretty close to the center of the United States and it has always seemed like an “undiscovered country” to foreigners and other Americans.

 

My geographical calculations of “The Ozarks” begins from the southern city limits sign of Jefferson City to the southern city limits sign of Little Rock, Arkansas, which is what I always considered to be, “The Ozarks.”

 

Stone County, Missouri is in the southwest section of the state and borders Arkansas, which means, “reckon I grew up one of them thar’ Ozarks’ country boys.”

 

Missourians in the Ozarks joke, “If you don’t like the weather just wait 15 minutes and it will change.” There is truth to that joke. The weather doesn’t always change every 15 minutes, but in a 24-hour day, the weather can change several times in a day.

 

Pen To Paper

 

To put pen to paper and write a story about Christmas in The Ozarks, I will have to set the stage.

 

There are many famous Missourians from United States Army Generals of the Armies John Joseph “Blackjack” Pershing to “The Most Trusted Man In America” Walter Cronkite, but, usually the celebrities are known as Missourians and not necessarily, “Ozarkers.”

 

Neosho, Missouri’s Thomas Hart Benton put his brush strokes on canvas to paint pictures; I will try to paint a word picture of life in The Ozarks in the 1960s.

 

Tom Sawyer Childhood

 

Life in “The Ozarks” in Stone County, Missouri in the 1960s was like “Tom Sawyer on a tractor and in a pickup truck.” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Midwest buckboards and stagecoaches were replaced by 18-wheelers, Greyhound and Continental Trailways buses.

 

Rose O’Neill’s Kewpie dolls could be still found in toy stores in the Ozarks. Overall, Life in southern Missouri had not changed all that much since the days of Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose O’Neill.

 

The Tomato Factories” of Reeds Spring, Abesville, and Galena in the 1930s had been replaced with “The Garment Factory” in Reeds Spring and Crane and Crane had a “Casket Factory.”

 

Fasco in Springfield, Missouri employed several people from Stone County. In 1960, Silver Dollar City was just beginning operations. Branson, Missouri in 1960 was “no threat” to country music in Nashville, but, Nashville musicians would begin to head for Branson, during the 1960s. In the area of economics, “times were tough”, in Stone County and southwest Missouri in 1960.

 

Blood Out Of A Turnip

 

Every nation has an economy. Money flows around in the metropolitan and urban areas, but in rural areas the ocean of money flows into a narrow stream that sometimes becomes a dry creek bed. In Stone County, it seemed even the rocks in the creek bed were usually “bone dry.”

 

After The Great Depression and World War II, the United States economy was strengthening. In the rural areas of the Ozarks, being “poor” is still a way of life.

 

In the early 1960s, the local power companies were working hard to provide, stable and reliable electricity.

 

Stone County, Missouri had a reputation of being one of the poorest counties in The Show Me State.

 

Traditionally in Missouri, statistics reveal “Mining” is the major source of manual labor income for the state. Farming comes in second. There were caves in Stone County, but no working mines.

 

Farming is hard work. Even with good weather and the money to buy seeds, livestock and equipment, farming is a full-time job to make a living.

 

Gardening maybe a hobby; Farming is a job.

 

Grandma DeLong like to sum up an economic situation as, “I couldn’t afford to make a down payment on an old settin’ hen with all her eggs rotten.” The purpose of this country statement was to point out that someone was “financially broke.” It was a common financial phrase that you heard in The Ozarks in the 1960s.

 

By 1960s, some farmers in Stone County had had it with “life on the farm.” Some people sold their farms and moved to other states. Some people stayed on their farms, but tried to get a “public job” at Silver Dollar City.

 

When it came to money in Stone County, Missouri and The Ozarks in the 1960s “people minded their Ps and Qs” and sometimes the lack of money was described as “Trying to get blood out of a turnip.”

 

Ozarks Hills And Hollers

 

Corn and tomatoes were the big income producing crops in Stone County, Missouri in my childhood in the 1960s. There were always stories of some of the corn being used to produce “moonshine” and “white lightning.”

 

In the early 1980s, I was “home on leave” from the military and a family friend unscrewed the lid on a Mason jar and asked me if I wanted some of the clear liquid.

 

I thanked him, but decided not to drink the “white lightning.”

 

The geography of Stone County had some cliffs and bluffs in the landscape of the hills and hollers. When the soil was too rough, rocky or poor to raise any other crop, usually the farmer would sew cane and other pasture grasses.

 

Fertilize was not all that expensive, but, the amount needed to nourish the soil and get crops to grow was sometimes too big a chunk of money out of a farmer’s budget.

 

Uncle Richard had one field beside State Highway 176, that the family called, “The Cane Field” because it was too rocky and the soil too poor for any other crop. The cane was used to feed to the cattle in the winter time,

 

Spring and summer usually the crops grew well and there was plenty of pasture to feed the livestock. Farmers didn’t get rich, but they made “the ends meet.”

 

Deep Freeze

 

Winter in southwest Missouri in the 1960s was always Armageddon. Fields were buried under blankets of deep snow. The important contribution of the deep snow and cold temperatures is the weather would kill off chiggers, ticks and snakes as long as farmers burned the brush in their fields and hollers in the early falls.

 

Burning the tree leaves in the hollers that fell kept deep leave beds from filling up the hollers. In the winter time, chigger, ticks and snakes would burrow into the deep leaves to try and wait out the winter until spring.

 

Southwest Missouri’s picture postcard “snows” were efficient in freezing farm ponds, which stayed frozen unless you broke the ice with an ax for the cattle to get a drink.

 

The weight of a Black Angus, Polled Hereford, Jersey or Holstein cow would sometimes shatter the ice and a cow could drown trying to get a drink of water in the winter.

 

Later in the 1960s, someone invented a device to stick in farm ponds in the winter to keep the water from freezing.

 

The deep freeze of the Ozarks in winter would freeze trees. The weight of ice on the limbs would cause the limbs to fall and take down electric lines. If you were lucky, you would be without electricity for a day.

 

On average people usually went without electricity for two to three days usually two to three times,during winter from October through April. The worst case scenario meant you would go without electricity for one to two weeks during the winter.

 

A Country Mile

 

The strength of my childhood came from my family in the Ozarks. Momma, Grandma DeLong, Uncle Richard, Uncle Hobert, Aunt Mary, and Cousin Donna were my family in the Ozarks.

 

In Houston, Texas, I could step out in my front yard. Donna and Debbie Brinkley from the house next door only had to walk out their gate and a few feet to walk into my yard for us to play.

 

In the Ozarks, neighbors always seemed to live a country mile from your front door.

 

Thelma Thomas was my closet neighbor in 1960 and she lived about a tenth of a mile from my front door on top of a hill. Her kids were grown with families of their own.

 

The Galena School District usually included Jenkins and Wheelerville, Missouri, which was only a few miles from Crane, Missouri. And, Crane, Missouri was 10 miles from Galena.The district would extend south to almost Reeds Spring, which was about 15 miles from Galena.

 

Many of my classmates would have to do chores before catching the school bus in the morning. The bus ride for some of the kids meant they were on the school bus for two hours before they arrived at Galena Elementary or Galena High School. After school, they would spend two hours on the bus once it left the school.

 

You would see classmates in school, but the distances and the rural road conditions to their parents’ farms meant that “visits” and social interaction was almost impossible, except for possibly on the weekend.

 

Crane, Missouri was only 10 miles from Galena and we usually only went grocery shopping in Crane on Saturdays.

 

 

 

Life On Planet Earth Before Electronics”

 

Children of the 21st Century will think I grew up in The Dark Ages because there was no Internet, no facebook, no twitter, no computers, no X box, no play station and no cell phones.

 

Yes, there was “Life On Planet Earth Before Electronics.”

 

Fire had been discovered. My father always carried his Zippo cigarette lighter.

 

We didn’t have to use stone tablets and chisels because there was an archaic device called, a typewriter that used ribbons, bond paper and carbon paper that helped people put words on paper for future generations.

 

Telephones Come To Stone County

 

Telephones were being installed in homes, near Galena and Abesville, Missouri.

 

In order to have a telephone in your home if you lived near State Highway 176, you had to be willing to be on “a party line”, which meant when your phone rang, your neighbors telephone gave off a jangle sound,

 

There was one public telephone booth in Galena, Missouri. The phone booth was on the sidewalk by the US Post Office, next to Floyd’s Barber shop, which was next to Rose’s beauty shop, which was next to the Hillbilly Cafe and sat across the street from the courthouse. In 2011, that area is now a parking lot for The Stone County Judicial Center.

 

The reason why the telephone was so important in 1960 was it allowed Momma to call Daddy in Texas and he could call her from Texas. Grandma and Uncle Richard never had a telephone. DeLong and Warren family members, who lived in other states could call us and we could call them.

 

In the 21st Century, when it seems children own a cell phone as soon as they learn to speak; it may be hard to imagine the importance of a telephone in your home, but, imagine for a moment that you lived in the snow and ice of the South Pole and you were trying to make a phone call to your grandparents in the United States.

 

If your grandparents lived in a city like Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles or New York City, it would be easy for them to place a call. But, if you lived in a remote location at the South Pole, there might not be phone lines or cell phone towers, so you might not get the phone call.

Old Missouri Spring Photo by Junior Warren1

Old Missouri Spring

This old spring is on Warren Land in Stone County, Missouri. The Ozarks area of the United States has always been difficult for “people to live off the land” because the soil is poor and rocky. If you need rain; you will get a drought. If you need sunshine;you will get a flood. Nature seems to enjoy working against farmers. Wildlife and insect pest can have a negative effect on crops. The Old Traditional Ozarks Hillbilly concept portrays citizens as dumb and lazy. The truth is an Ozarks Hillbilly is one of the smartest and hard working people, you will ever meet because they use their elbow grease and common sense to work a “Miracle” on stubborn pieces of land to earn a living and raise their families. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

 

The Miracle Of Life In The Ozarks

 

When you think of “The Ozarks” in the 1960s; you understand the word, “Miracle” is a reality.

 

The Ozarks’ lunar style geography of cliffs and bluffs, poor soil, an over abundance of rocks, moody weather, predator wildlife like wolves and coyotes as well as insect pests; it is a “Miracle” that people were able to live, earn a living, and sometimes prosper in this section of the United States.

 

When you are a child, you open your toys on Christmas Day. Underneath the Christmas Tree, you begin to play with the toys.

 

As a young man, you can find yourself trying to decide if you want to go “Home For The Holidays.”

 

As a senior citizen you can sit back with a cup of coffee or a glass of egg nog and remember the toys and the celebrations. When you look back long enough at your childhood, you really begin to understand and appreciate the sacrifices that your parents made for you.

 

At last, you can understand, the challenges, costs,hard work and the effort that your parents made to make Christmas seem like a “Magickal Holiday” that simply happens.

Sam

thumbnail 1 old missouri spring

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 23, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Crafts, Current Events, Ecology, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Money, Nature, Opinion, Patriotism, Rocks, Stone County History, The Ozarks, Tourism

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Have A Green Christmas” by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

leave a comment »

Have

A

Green Christmas”

GREEN CHRISTMAS LEAD PHOTO_Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Have Yourself A Green Christmas !

If Christmas Day this year is “too close” to put the”green” in your stockings and brighten up the gifts under your Christmas Tree,then, a simple act of “saving” should be the shine on your Christmas tree and keep more bills in your wallet for next Christmas. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

I always got my “Letter to Santa Claus” request.

 

Regardless of the economic conditions at the North Pole and in “The Lone Star State”, Mom and Dad always made sure I had a “Merry Christmas.

As a child, I simply came to expect that I would have a wonderful Christmas. After all, both of my parents were workaholics.

 

My mother left “public work” to stay at home and “raise me.” I appreciate her decision. Throughout my childhood, my dad ALWAYS worked a second job. In 1960, momma and I moved to the farm in Missouri.

 

My mother was one of the few “Women Hog Farmers In The United States Of America”, especially in 1960. Momma raised hogs and used the money to provide for my every need from grade school through college.

 

Daddy stayed on the job in Houston, Texas to “maintain his seniority” and continue working toward a retirement plan.

 

Like most kids, I knew, the vast majority of my toys on Christmas morning came from the money in daddy’s wallet and the cash in momma’s purse.

 

The Big Picture

 

What I never saw was “The Big Picture” of earning a living on a daily basis.

 

The reason the wrapped, brightly colored boxes, sporting bright bows, under the Christmas Tree made my home look like Santa Claus’ North Pole Showroom and a Toys R Us store is because my mom and dad were “bound and determined” that I would have a better childhood than they had.

 

I did.

 

Dirt Poor Childhoods

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, was born in a small house in Peach Tree Holler, near Reeds Springs, Missouri. Opal’s mother, Martha, and father, Charley, loaded their personal belongings and their son, Richard, into the covered wagon and moved from Versailles, Missouri to a place, near Reeds Spring in Stone County in 1907.

 

All the rest of the DeLong children were born in Stone County. Richard began farming as soon as he was big enough to do the farm chores. The other boys: Willie, Hobert and Joe didn’t go to school very long.

 

Opal DeLong liked school and graduated from the 8th Grade. Every year, Martha, her mother ordered three dresses a year for Opal out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog to wear to school. She rode a pinto-mix horse, named,”Shorty” to the Wilson’s Creek School in Bear Den Holler.

 

Samuel E. Warren, my father, went to school in Perryville in east Texas. Joseph Samuel Warren, his father, was a tenant farmer, which meant J. Frank Couch, owned the land that “Papa” Warren farmed.

 

Dirt Poor” is an accurate financial description of my parent’s childhood years.

 

To add insult to injury, Fate unleashed The Great Depression around the time of their teenager years.

 

Daddy’s Short Range Financial Plan

 

Daddy adopted the policy of “Live For Today ;Tomorrow Will Take Care Of Itself.” The major flaw in his long-range financial plan is “In Order To Spend Money – You Have To Earn Money. The More Money You Spend, The More Money You Need To Earn To Keep Your Comfortable Lifestyle Going.”

 

Green Christmas Photo 2 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.At the end of the day, Daddy’s financial plan meant, “He had to be a ‘workaholic’, in order to keep earning money to spend. The irony is you spend so much time working,you never have “any fun” spending your money.

 

I remember, Monday through Friday, he would arrive home from work at about 4:30 p.m. He would sit down for supper and talk about his day. He could only relax a few moments and then, he would have to start getting ready for his “night job” as a bartender or bouncer.

 

His gray pressed Cameron uniforms would hang in the wardrobe beside his double breasted suits and neckties. By about 6:30 or 7 p,m,, the pickup would ease down the narrow driveway to take him to his “part-time job.”

 

Sometimes momma would wake me up about 2:30 or 3 am, so I would be waiting for daddy to come home from work. The headlight beams would dance down the narrow driveway and in a few minutes I would smell the aroma from a box of a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts, which daddy usually would stop and pickup on the way home.

 

Daddy did make a lot of money. But, he met himself coming and going.

 

Daddy always had “a wad of bills” rolled tightly that looked like a short, fat, pill bottle, with a rubber band around them that he carried in his front jeans pocket. In addition, to the roll of bills in his front pocket, he always had several bills in his wallet.

 

The roll of bills was one of those “Games Of Life” that when you take it out to pay a bill, people notice and they just naturally assume you are some kind of financial genius.

 

The stated “Big Picture” was daddy and momma were working to build their “Dream Home” on land momma bought in 1938, near her mother and father.

 

The Coffee Service

 

Daddy told me he offered the coffee service in his shop “at the plant.”

 

From 1960 until his death in 1978, daddy always made two trips a year to Missouri. One vacation trip always came for the Fourth of July. The second vacation trip depended on the vacation schedule at Cameron’s, which meant his two weeks began either at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

 

Whenever he came to Missouri, he would stock up on three-pound cans of Folgers coffee. He said it was cheaper to buy the coffee in Missouri. About once a year, he would buy a huge coffee pot that could make about 50 cups of coffee. Daddy wasn’t a shopper. He went into a store, picked up what he needed and paid the cashier at the checkout register.

 

However, if Sammy walked past Craftsman tools, he would stop and browse slowly at all the tools. Daddy loved Craftsman tools and bought all kinds of Craftsman wrenches, vise grips and other tools.

 

One trip each year, daddy would “shop” for a new coffee pot to take “to the plant.” He would shop around at the different stores and compare the features of the coffee pots.

 

I have, no doubt, there are people who bought bass boats with less research than daddy put into buying the right coffee pot. Despite his dedicated “shopping around for the right coffee pot”, he always ended up with the same type. And, he would buy a huge cardboard box full of Styrofoam cups to take back to Texas.

 

I remember the huge coffee pots because their shiny silver cylindrical design made them look like huge vacuum tubes that went into the back of a radio.

 

I get to the plant in the morning and I make the coffee for the shop. I have a coffee can with a slit in the lid. The guys know that coffee is 25 cents a cup. They put a quarter in the can. If they don’t have a quarter, then, they put in some change. I don’t really worry about it because the guys are honest. At the end of the week, I take the coffee can of coins home. Monday morning I always bring in a new empty coffee can for that week’s coins,” said Daddy,

 

In 1978, daddy was suppose to leave at the end of June for his Fourth of July trip to Missouri. He never arrived. The Houston Police Department notified momma of daddy’s death at home.

 

A few days after daddy’s funeral, momma and I made the trip to Houston. We found Folgers coffee cans stored in rooms around the house. Each can was filled to the plastic lid with mixed change from pennies to half dollars and a few silver dollars. The cans all had coins and none of the coins had been wrapped.

 

Momma asked Wanda Brinkley, a next door neighbor for help in wrapping the coins. Wanda had momma take the coins next door to her mom and dad’s house, Mr. and Mrs. Pete Pippins. Momma ordered the pizzas.

 

All day until after midnight, Momma, Wanda, Mr and Mrs Pete and I wrapped coins. Wanda’s two daughters, Donna and Debbie also joined the coin wrapping adventure. At this point in US history, American banks did not accept coins unless they were wrapped in bank wrappers.

 

Using the bank coin wrappers that daddy had on hand and some of the wrappers that Wanda had, we all wrapped coins all day and until well past midnight, It was after 2 am, when we finished.

 

Bank Robbery ?

 

The next day, Wanda, Momma and I went to the drive thru lane of the local Reagan State Bank. Wanda would put about 10 rolls of coins at a time up to the drive thru teller’s window.

 

You have a lot of coins,” remarked the teller.

 

My husband, Sammy had the coffee concession where he worked. He died recently. We just discovered, he never wrapped any of the coins from the coffee fund,” explained Momma.

 

The teller nodded. A bank guard showed up with a dolly. The teller seemed to slow,at one point, in tallying the amount of coins. We sat in the car at the drive thru for a couple of hours.

 

After about an hour, the bank guard emerged from a side door with the rolls of coins in the familiar purple bank sacks stacked neatly on the dolly. He pushed the dolly slowly across the several lanes of the drive thru into the rear entrance of the main bank.

 

The bank guard made about four more trips with his dolly from the drive thru to the bank.

 

A couple of days later Wanda spoke to a friend, who worked at the bank. The friend had heard about all those sacks of coins that came through the drive thru. The friend laughed and told Wanda it was not uncommon for people to drop of rolls of coins at the drive thru and she told Wanda the rest of the story.

 

Then, Wanda Brinkley, telephoned momma.

 

When we dropped those coins off at the bank. The bank got worried and called the local office of the FBI. They told the FBI why they were calling and asked the bureau to check for recent bank robberies because they could not believe that anyone would save that amount of coins.  

 

      FBI LOGO_resizedWhile we were waiting in the drive thru lane and the teller seemed to be taking the time tallying up the coins, they were waiting for a call back from the FBI to tell them if there were any reports of bank robberies where a large amount of coins had been taken,” Wanda explained and laughed.

 

We wrapped about 20 three-pound coffee cans of coins to take to the bank. Momma also brought about 10 cans of unwrapped coins with her back to Missouri. It was two or three years before I ever wanted to wrap rolls of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters,half dollars and silver dollars.

 

My father died at age 52. The Harris County, Texas Corner’s Report listed the cause of death as a “possible ‘double heart attack.’” Daddy had literally “worked himself to death” through the years.

 

Momma’s Big Picture Financial Reality

 

 

Momma would never be a “Victim Of A Global Financial Crisis.” She had a poor childhood and realized ”Money Has To Be Managed.”

 

Momma always put aside a few dollars to have when she needed it. “Save” wasn’t a word, it was a philosophy and a way of life.

 

People would tease my mother that she probably had the “First Dollar” she ever earned. Momma would smile and shrug off the comment.

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren was “never broke.” Maybe, she didn’t have a lot of money in her wallet or handbag, but, Momma was “never broke” financially.       

 

Momma loved to remind me “I bought the first car, your daddy and I ever owned. And, I paid cash for it. I bought the first home, your daddy and I ever owned. I bought the land in Missouri, under my own name with my own money, before I ever met your daddy.”     

 

All the claims were true statements. Momma’s message was not that she was a Green Christmas Photo 3 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.suffragette or a women’s libber, but that she knew “How To Spend And Save Her Money.”

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren is the woman, who went to the Reagan State Bank in Houston and arranged for the money to “buy the home in Houston at 313 East 26th Street.”

 

Stubborn Sammy

 

During World War II, US Army doctors had told daddy that he had contracted “malaria in the Philippines.” In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Veterans’ Administration wasn’t always able to convince Congress to provide medical care and decent pensions to veterans.

 

In the early 1950s, momma found out that daddy was eligible for VA medical care payments thanks to the hard-nosed efforts of Texas Congressman and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Sam Rayburn.

 

Daddy told Momma, Uncle Sam had sent him into World War II and, “I don’t want nothing else to do with the ‘Damn Government.’”

 

Momma reminded Daddy that some days it seemed difficult for him to get out of bed to go to work. Grudgingly, Daddy did the paperwork and accepted “Uncle Sam’s Official Help”, which didn’t last that long. By then, daddy’s health had improved and he did go to work everyday.

 

Momma The Family Banker

 

Martha Lou Marcum DeLong, my grandmother, kept her coins in a coin purse and her dollar bills in a sugar bowl in a plain white dish cabinet in the living room.

 

Everyone knew Grandma DeLong had worked hard all her life, but, Missouri’s “old age pension” provided her the money to live out her senior citizen years.

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren had the reputation in the DeLong Family, Stone County, Missouri, Upshur County, Texas and among neighbors in Harris County – Houston, Texas of “Saving For A Rainy Day.”

 

The Burial And The Banker

 

When daddy died in Texas, I asked momma if we could bring his body back to Missouri for burial. I went to the bank with momma. She told the banker, “I need money to bring my husband’s body back to Missouri for burial. I don’t know, when or how I will pay you. But, you will get your money back.” I watched momma tell the banker those words.

 

In the 21st Century, most bankers would find a polite way to show the widow to the door out of their office.

 

In 1978, the banker nodded, “Okay, Opal. When you know how much you need for sure, let me know. You’ll get the money,” I heard the banker tell momma.

 

I was already a college student, so I was impressed that a banker would listen to a widow without demanding various forms of collateral.

 

The banker was not going out on a limb. He knew momma owned her “80 acres” of land and owned the other “10 acres” of land that she lived on. He knew she still “owned her home in Houston, Texas.”

 

The banker wasn’t gambling; he was investing.

 

The worst case scenario would be the bank would end up with Missouri real estate and maybe Texas real estate. Real estate in a city is usually more valuable than farm real estate,

 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was an active real estate market in Missouri and Texas.

 

But, everyone from Stone County, Missouri throughout southwest Missouri knew “Opal Warren always pays her bills.”

 

Samuel E. Warren was laid to rest in Yocum Pond Cemetery, near Reeds Spring Missouri. The financial cost of moving daddy’s body from Texas to Missouri was $7,000. The bank let momma borrow the money. Momma paid the bank off ahead of time.

 

Momma used money she already had saved for the associated funeral expenses and the double headstone. Uncle Sam provided the “foot marker” that was placed at daddy’s grave.

 

Save And Manage Your Money

 

Through the years, relatives would have financial issues come up in their lives. When they had no one to turn to, they would turn to “Opal.”

 

If a relative was out to buy a big screen TV, then, they were on their own.

 

But, if it was a valid emergency like a mortgage, insurance, food for their kids or medical bills then momma would “loan” the money. A few of my relatives paid Momma back. The majority did not.

 

Momma had a better financial plan than daddy. Momma never invested in the stock market. I had the debate with her several times and she always told me, “Son, I hang on to my money.”

 

Momma quit farming around 1982. The only “risky investment,” momma ever made, other than her son, was in Land.

 

Land That Pays For Itself

 

But, she always said, “Invest in Land, that will pay for itself.” Her Land did pay for itself because she “rented the pasture to other farmers for their cattle to graze on” and “loggers would cut some trees off the Land every three or four years for lumber.”

 

The Other Land

Through the years, momma would tell me that people had called her and tried to sell her land in Galena or elsewhere in southwest Missouri. I asked momma why she passed on the offers.

 

I have the land I want. The land I have been offered isn’t land I would want to buy at any price,” Momma would answer. Momma lived on one parcel of land. She could open her front door and look across the road to see the land that she had bought back in the 1930s.

 

Momma is one of the few people in the world, I know of, where bankers would call her and try to persuade her to move her money to their bank. She would smile, “The Bank Of Crane has always done right by me. Until something changes, I will stay with my bank.”

 

At age 84, momma left “The Real World” in 2004. She had a double wide home that had central heating and air conditioning. She never went hungry and there was always food in the ice box and the pantry. She always had her coffee and cigarettes. When she went to the doctor or the hospital, she could always pay her medical bills.

 

Momma’s Financial Secret, “She Learned To Save Money And Manage Her Money.”

 

Momma and daddy made sure I always had a wonderful Christmas. I got enough toys to outfit a museum.

 

I was an “Only Child”, which meant I had to play by myself most of the time, but, I had a huge wooden toy box in the garage full of toys to choose from each day.

 

In Missouri, every other weekend or so, my Cousin Donna would be at Grandma DeLong’s and Uncle Richard’s. I would of brought toys with me or we would go off in the woods to play. In Missouri, the toys were in a big cardboard box in the garage.

 

Samuel E. Warren Jr., the senior citizen, realizes now, Momma’s ability to always put “The Green In My Christmas” came from her daily financial sense of saving and managing her money. Thanks to my mother, “My Merry Christmas” was always “A Green Christmas.”

 

Merry Christmas, Momma .”

GREEN CHRISTMAS LEAD PHOTO_Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 20, 2012 at 1:53 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Ecology, Family, Holidays, Money, Observances, Stone County History

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Momma Is A Welder

with 5 comments

My Momma Is A Welder_8534

My Momma Is A Welder – Opal M. DeLong Warren served as one of the welders in the Todd Houston Shipyard, in Houston, Texas, during World War II. Momma encouraged me to refine my welding skills when I took vocational agriculture in high school.  And, now, Ramon, in Leyte, is using his welding skills on the farm.   Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

My mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren was a welder in the Todd Houston Shipyard, in Houston, Texas, during World War II.

Today, February 28, 2012, is momma’s birthday. She was born on this day in 1920, the year the Show Me State gave women the right to vote.

Born in Peach Tree Holler, near Reeds Springs, Missouri. She rode a horse called, “Shorty,” to the Bear Den school.

She grew up on the farm in southwest Missouri. During World War II, momma and a friend got on a Greyhound bus and decided to see where it would take them. They did it on a whim. The girl got off the bus in Dallas. Momma didn’t like the looks of Dallas so she got back on the bus. When the bus stopped in Houston, she decided she liked the looks of Houston and got off the bus.

She knew no one in Houston.

She would often tell me the money she had in her pocket only allowed her to eat bread and drank water until she got a job about a week later. She saw an ad in the newspaper for welders.

She didn’t even know what a welding machine looked like.

First Day Of Welding School Story

Todd Houston officials sent her to welding school. “The first day of welding school all I had to wear was a white satin blouse. The sparks from the welding rod burned several holes in my blouse. I had to ride the bus back across town home. I was so embarrassed,” said Opal Warren.

Momma loved to tell her “First Day Of Welding School” story, especially years later when I took welding in vow-ag in high school.

She said she was proud of the U.S. Navy ships that she welded on, but admitted that it was sad when they launched because with the war on she knew “some of the boys that served on the ships probably wouldn’t be coming home.”

Momma would have been 92 today.

“Momma’s Boy”

But, she left this life Friday, June 11, 2004 in Springfield, Missouri. Being a “Momma’s Boy,” her spirit lives on. Today in Leyte, Philippines, my wife, Christy and I talked about momma to her brothers, sister, nieces and nephews. Now, The Legend Of Opal Warren will live on – on two continents – the United States and the Philippines.

In the United States, I had adopted the Filipino Death Anniversary custom to observe my mother’s passing each year. But, since her passing, Christy and I usually just talk about Momma and light a candle at 6 p.m., to honor her memory.

SANTA NINO_8550

The Death Anniversary Custom involves placing a favorite drink, a plate of food or a favorite food, by a candle.  If the person smoked a pipe or cigarette then the custom suggest that tobacco also be placed by the food.  This year, the candle burns, in front of a small Santa Nino and a larger Santa Nino.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

In her lifetime, momma always commented, “I’m too old to celebrate birthdays, so, I just quit having them.” Still,if it looked like we had forgotten momma’s birthday, then, she would get solemn. Of course, when the guests started showing up, a smile would come to her face. Regardless of what she said, momma did enjoy celebrating her birthday and she truly enjoyed friends and neighbors stopping by to share her day.

Beyond Birthdays

My mother was always important to me. She still is. And the lessons she tried to teach me, I now pass on in the form of Stateside wisdom to my nieces and nephews.

We went to the open air Tacloban City Public Market, the Palo Public Market and shopped in Tanauan today.

A LANTSA BOAT IN PEDRO BAY AT TACLOBAN CITY LEYTE PHILIPPINES_8121

A  Lantsa boat is tied up in the waters of Pedro Bay in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines.  The Tacloban City Public Market is in the background.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

TACLOBAN CITY PUBLIC MARKET FISH SECTION_8215

The Tacloban City Public Market Fish Section is located beside the bay.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

ONE SECTION OF THE PALO PUBLIC  MARKET_8277

Stroll along the corridors of the Palo Public Market to shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, rice and other merchandise.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

When we returned home, Christy, her sister, Marife, cousin, Pina and Ann Ann prepared supper : Pork sticks, pancit bihon,pancit canton, rice, sweet and sour fish, cake and ice cream. At dinner, Christy and I talked about Momma.

 

  PINA GEMPIS_001_8494

Pina Gempis

MARIFE SALDANA ROA SERVES THE CHOCOLATE CAKE_8548

Marife Saldana Roa serves the chocolate cake.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I’m convinced Momma’s spiritual presence showed up early this morning. Yesterday, we bought a welding helmet and Ramon rented an arc welder. Today, was the day he placed together pieces of pipe to weld a gate for his hog pen. In my childhood, momma raised 25 head of hogs on 10 acres and each one of the old sows usually had a litter of 8 to 17 pigs. Momma had Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc hogs.

Here in Leyte, Ramon has a Yorkshire sow that has six pigs, (or piglets as they are called in the Philippines). I can imagine that when Ramon was welding the gate today there was probably a presence looking over his shoulder and whispering, “Not so fast. Take your time. Make small circles with the molten metal. Concentrate and you can run a nice bead.”

After all, My Momma Is A Welder.

Happy Birthday, Momma.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Death Anniversary Ceremony Considerations

leave a comment »

Plans, Procedures, Performance

Death Anniversary

Ceremony Considerations

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

If you are interested in the Death Anniversary Ceremony there may be other sources on the Internet with this information. If you are fortunate enough to know a Filipino man or a Filipina woman, then, they might be willing to explain if their family observes this type of ceremony or tell you the procedures their family uses.

Annual Observance

I used the basics of a ceremony that I witnessed in the Republic of the Philippines in 1989. While the family explained that the ceremony is conducted every year for 10 years straight on the anniversary of the day of the death of the Loved One – they did explain that families sometimes do continue the ceremony for a number of years past the 10 year date.

The point is that the family conducts the observance to remember the Loved One who has passed on. And, even without a formal observance, the memory of the Loved One is kept alive by family stories of their lives that get passed on to the younger generations.

The Significance Of Ritual – Focus

I adapted the Death Anniversary Ceremony to fit my understanding and needs.

Papa Warren had been a Mason. Daddy had been a Mason. When I was 13, I joined the Order of DeMolay and learned the significance and importance of formal ritual. Ritual often becomes so rooted in tradition and history that people forget someone had to sit down and come up with the original procedures.

When I began to research Magick, it became apparent that even the old alchemist and ancient magickians knew the significance of ritual causes the mind to focus. The Altered State Of Mental Consciousness allows you to focus intently on the issue at hand and to ignore any petty concerns that aren’t important to the the matters at hand.

Another tactic of the ancient magickians is they would tinker with their procedures until they came up with rituals that they believed worked for them. Then, they wrote down the procedures and would use them as need. They had created their own rituals.

Candle Choice

In the article, Momma’s Death Anniversary, the candle in the photograph, is a light blue eight inch taper candle.

Blue Candle - In the Philippines, I learned that a candle lit to honor a Loved One is watched closely for indications of the Loved One's reaction of pleasure or disappointment with issues in the family at an Annual Death Anniversary Ceremony. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

There are books on candles that cover color and candle making. Candles are often associated with religion. However, candles share a long history of use in magick.

Some sources point out that the colors of candles suggest the use. White, basically is an all purpose color. Green is often mentioned to use for health or money. Purple is a color to set up to request or perform physic awareness. There are various sources that suggests various colors for various functions.

Some people who work with candles will have a preference of the material that the candle is made out of. Again, there are books and sources on the Internet to explain the various materials used to create a candle.

I used the light blue candle simply because I could not find Momma’s memorial green taper candle that I had put away last year after the ceremony.

I believe the Universe has dealt with people long enough to understand that often times we use what we have on hand at the time.

The Power Of A Candle - A candle is a light in the darkness. Candles have a long history of use in religion and magick. Visit a bookstore, a local library or surf the Internet for books on candles. Some authors point out that color should be considered in their use and explain the different materials that can be used to make a candle. Llewellyn Worldwide is one publisher of books that offers an assortment of information on candles. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Naturally, children should have parents set up the ceremony for them. And, if a candle is used then Mom or Dad lights the candle and makes sure it is watched until the candle is out.

The Time Factor

In The Death Anniversary Ceremony, you light the candle at 6 pm., and let it burn for an hour. The 6 pm, time is used, as it was explained to me, because of a cultural belief in the Philippines that when the sun goes down around 6pm, then, spirits have the ability to stroll about in The Real World. Thus, beginning at 6 pm, in the evening, it is considered relatively easy to establish contact with spirits. At sunrise, supposedly, spirits return to their own dimensions.

Spirit Communications

While Americans might consider only a day or two before of after Halloween as the time when The Veil Between The Worlds are thinnest to allow for Spirit Communication; in the Philippines, in the late 1980s, any day after 6 pm, was considered a good time to try for any type of Spirit Communication.

The cultural belief on Spirit Communication is easy to understand when you realize The Republic Of The Philippines is a devoutly religious country with also has centuries of belief and traditions in folklore magick in the rural provinces.

In the Philippines, the candle flame was watched for a response. Flickering candle flames were a sign that a spiritual presence had made contact. Based on the way that the flame reacted it was believed that the spirit was trying to convey either pleasure or disappointment at some of the family’s actions, during the past year. The way that the wax pools underneath the candle flame is taken as a sign of spirit communication, as well as, the manner in which the hot wax flows down the side of the candle is an indication of the spirit’s approval or disapproval of issues going on in the family.

Ritual Tool

In the Philippines ceremony that I witnessed, once the candle was extinguished it was saved for use the next year. In formal rituals in all ceremonies you have ritual tools that are kept packed away until it is time to use them and then they are carefully packed away until the next use in a formal ceremony. In essence, the candle used in the Death Anniversary Ceremony becomes a ritual tool. Thus, it is carefully put away and not used again until the next year.

Usually a candle will not melt away with only an hour’s use. Thus, a Death Anniversary Candle should last for a few years.

Candles have a long history of use in religion and magick. One magick belief is that basically a candle can be seen in other dimensions or to send a message to other spiritual realms. To 21st Century Americans this might seem like a quaint idea, but, if you consider how limited life must have been, even in the United States from the 1700s to the 1800s before electricity finally became commonplace – then, you can appreciate the significance of a candle. In rural America, when the sun went down you either went to bed or used a “coal oil” (kerosene) lamp until bedtime.

Fire Safety

Make sure your candle is in an appropriate holder that will allow a candle to sit upright and burn safely.

Always remember to watch your lit candle. Never, ever leave a burning candle unattended.

Your Procedure

Once the candle is in the holder and lit, you can sit and look at the candle. If you find thoughts in your mind are directed toward the candle, then, that is your procedure to perform the ceremony.

If you talk to your loved one in a chair behind the candle, then, that is your way to perform the ceremony.

If you want to look at the candle and pray silently or pray aloud, then, that is your procedure to perform the ceremony.

The point is whatever procedure comes to your mind is the technique that will probably help you to feel the most relaxed and at ease. One major purpose of the ceremony is to help you to feel at ease and to experience a sense of peace.

Candle Snuffer

If you use candles, then, you probably have a candle snuffer. Mine is a black bell shaped snuffer. The snuffer is a clean, safe way to extinguish the candle. In magick work, you do not blow out a candle.

Candle Snuffer - A candle snuffer lowered over the flame of a candle is a safe way to extinguish the blaze. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

When an ordinary candle is used up, people traditionally make sure it is cold and can be placed in the trash.

Expiration

Eventually, the candle will have melted away. Once the natural expiration occurs, then, you have to decide how to properly dispose of the candle. A ceremonial candle used in an observance: personal, religious or magick is traditionally treated with more concern than a candle used for a romantic dinner or for a power outage use.

A Death Anniversary Candle is a ritual tool and a symbol of a somber observance, thus, the demise should be appropriate. The candle remains, melted wax and any of the pieces can be placed in a paper towel and then placed in a little hole you dug in your yard and covered over. In contemporary America this is an easy way to recycle the candle remains into the earth. As a traditional magick belief, Earth as one of the elements absorbs the candle pieces to purify them and prepare them for rebirth and renewal.

Another option is to place the candle pieces in a nearby stream. Again, in contemporary America, placing the candle pieces into the water is a simple matter of letting nature do the recycling. Water is one of the major elements in Western Magick, thus, by placing the candle pieces in a flowing body of water like a stream, creek or river, you are allowing the earth to recycle and purify the candle pieces.

The Death Anniversary Ceremony is an observance that I witnessed and adapted to fit my personal needs to deal with the grief of the loss of my mother.

Your Personal Grief Ritual

If people feel they need some type of ritual to deal with a personal loss, then, by all means seek out a ritual. Keep in mind,

Rosary Beads On Cathedral Amethyst - Catholicism has a long history of formal rituals for use in worship. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

we all have daily rituals like shaving in the morning. We have rituals like what time we go to lunch and even rituals of – we eat lunch at our desk or leave the office and go somewhere for lunch. Everyone’s life is composed of a series of rituals that we perform so often that we don’t even recognize these actions as small daily rituals.

Holy Bible - Religious books are a source of inspiration in designing a ritual for a specific, personal purpose. Every photo has a story. When I went outside to use the Bible for the photo shoot, when I opened it - it opened to Second Samuel. After trying some different natural backgrounds, I tried this one and opened it to a chapter in Samuel. I had the Bible positioned on the TV snack tray table to take the photo. The sun shined and there were no breezes. As I snapped the shutter a breeze caught the page. I leave it to the reader to determine the meaning. Since the Universe had recommended Samuel when I began selecting natural backgrounds, it could be the Universe might have a subtle sense of humor at times. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Observances are usually formal rituals. Church on Sunday is a ritual. Every Faith has a series of rituals that begin once you step through the door and the rituals are designed to focus the mind on the matter at hand.

You can surf the Internet or stop by the local library to research the different types of rituals used for funerals, memorials and observances. If the chosen ceremony seems elaborate, time consuming, requires a lot of props and gear to carry out – remember: Adapt.

Pentacle In Spheres - My research into the Wicca religion suggests that it is a religion concerned with nature. Wicca, I believe, encourages people to try to live in the flow of the Universe, on earth or beyond. There seems to be a wealth of rituals that can be practiced or used for inspiration to create your own. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Use What Works

Spiritual Beliefs - Death of a Loved One is a Major Challenge to your personal spiritual beliefs. The Personal Grief might force you to look inside yourself and examine your beliefs in the smallest details. I sought out resources from the religious community and decided to try and find a spiritual path, which led to a ritual - The Death Anniversary Ceremony - which has helped me. Anyone should be free to search out a path that works in the time of loss and personal grief. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Use what works. Jot down the information on the ceremony that you find at the library or while surfing the Internet. Work a pencil to add to and take away from the ceremony, until you have come up with your own personal ritual that will be of meaning to you. We are all human, but we each have different needs, attitudes, personalities and life experiences – What works for Aunt Darlene might not work for you.

Use what works for you.

Best Wishes - Best Wishes In Your Journey Through Life. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 Sam

Momma’s Death Anniversary – Editorial – Opinion

with one comment

Momma’s Death Anniversary

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Friday, June 11, 2004 – The sun would come up. It did not matter to me.

The beautiful sunrise through the curtains of a waiting lounge at Cox South Hospital blanketed a new day on the world. I was numb. I had been shoved into my personal twilight zone. The hospital chaplain sat beside me at the table and tried to use words to comfort me. I have no doubt he believed them.

I wasn’t too concerned about my friend, God.

The most devastating event in my life had only happened a few minutes before.

Momma had died.

I had been at my mother’s beside and watched the gleam of life in her eyes disappear. The breath of life had been exhaled quietly for a final time.

I was truly alone.

The End Of The World meant nothing.

I had a front row seat at My Own Personal Chaos.

To me, The End Of The World happened Friday, June 11, 2004.

Floodlights didn’t flash on. News media vans didn’t roll up on scene and bust out their crews and cameras. Military helicopters didn’t land to secure the area and begin to set up a perimeter to get help to the suffering and hold back the looters. Humanitarian agencies didn’t respond in tractor trailer trucks and vans to set up portable soup kitchens to help the hungry and begin compiling lists of the missing.

Former President Ronald Reagan had died a few days before, thus, the American, Missouri and Springfield flags were still at half mast. I liked Reagan. Today, though, I decided the half-mast flags acknowledged Momma’s reassignment from The Real World.

Momma’s boy

My wife and cousin were at the hospital, by my side, but, at this moment, my body sat in a chair at a table and my emotions lashed out at the Universe to question and curse any entity that remotely resembled higher intelligence.

I am a Momma’s boy. I always have been. I still am.

The pain was my Ultimate Mentor had departed.

Higher Headquarters had issued the orders for her Eternal Permanent Change Of Station. She had no choice, but to comply.

Momma had earned her Earth Retirement Ceremony.

Death Anniversary

In the Republic of the Philippines, there is a custom that is not practiced in the United States.

On the Anniversary of the Death Of A Loved One. You prepare a plate of food and sit either at the table or on a family altar. You sit a favorite drink by the plate. If the person was a smoker you put an unlit cigarette in an ashtray. The place stays undisturbed until 6 pm Then, a person shows up to recite some vocal prayers to the Universe.

Once the Professional Pray Person (I don’t know the correct name) recites the vocal prayers, then, they leave. The family then decides to let someone eat the food on the plate or to let it remain until the next morning. (Naturally, in the United States, there would be all these health concerns of leaving the food out – but, the point is not necessarily to eat the food, but to make a spiritual offering and to allow the family to come together to remember the Loved One.)

Death Anniversary - A family observance to remember a Loved One on the anniversary of the day of their death in the Republic of the Philippines. I adopted and adapted the ceremony for an annual remembrance of my mother. Photo taken June 11, 2011 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

If a family member is a smoker, then, he or she smokes the cigarette. If there are no smokers in the family, then, the unlit cigarette is lit and placed in the ash tray to naturally burn and someone watches to make sure no embers land outside the ashtray and start an unintentional fire.

The Death Anniversary Ceremony, I am told occurs repeatedly without fail every year for at least ten years.

Bus Stop In The Twilight Zone

Moments after my Mother’s Death, I stood alone in The Twilight Zone of my mind. My body knew that necessary and official tasks had to be completed, but when The World Ends, who cares about dotting an I or crossing a t ?

The Major Concerns Of Daily Life, in an instant, had become insignificant.

Since I was big enough to appreciate reality – my momma had always been here. She was The Beacon Against The Universal Injustices In The Nights Of Humankind. No issue had ever been too small or too big for momma to appear in her battle armor and beat back the insanity of daily life. To say, she was my Rock is to bestow the highest compliment on one of the most common elements of nature.

Naturally, I had to appear to function in the so-called Real World around me. An Emotional Zombie is simply a Robotic Mannequin that moves through the World Of Men And Women to carry out the expected functions and perhaps someday return to Life as a human. I became the Zombie, who could function enough to handle all the asinine legal matters at hand.

I stood in the bus station of my Twilight Zone.

None of the activities going on around me, concerned me in the least. If Charon, the River Styx Boatman, had been dressed in a bus driver’s uniform taking tickets I would not of cared.

Arrivals and Departures did not matter. I stood in the middle of my mental bus stop and let life go on around me. At some point, I would have to walk out one of the doors, but for now, I stood in my mind and let Riders Of The Real World catch their buses along their roads of Life.

The Longest Day Of My Entire Life seemed to last for millennium

American Grief Counseling

I’m sure the experts like to think they have answers for everything – they don’t.

Death is still The Universal Mystery That Is The Sole Property Of A Higher Realm.

I know the chaplain had his job to do. I did appreciate his sincere effort.

I had psychology classes in college, so I know all the educational gobbledygook, brouhaha, pig Latin jargon rhetoric and professional terms that go with A Major Life Changing Event.

What the Freud types don’t realize is sometimes in Life your Soul become intertwined with another human being and there is no way to acknowledge the person’s passing without realizing that a piece of your Soul is no longer in the Real World.

Obviously, the intent of Grief Counseling is to help keep Survivors in The Real World.

Naturally, bills still need to be paid, the real occupation has to be performed for anyone to keep their job and family members in the Real World have to know that some part of you is still attached to The Real World. It is all nice and logical. But, that day all of the nice logic meant nothing.

I have no doubt that Grief Counseling does work for some people. This article is not intended to Declare War on Medical Authorities and Psychiatrists. In the Legions Of Humanity, there are those of us, who seek more than a medical diagnosis, traditional cliches, and want a personal understanding that might defy the logic and rationale of The Real World.

When did Death ever sign a document to play by the rules of

The Real World Of Humankind ?

A Candle To Light Your Way

The intent of the article is to recognize that Death refuses to be trivialized and categorized. Death strands in front of you and demands that you look into his or her eyes and come to your own personal understanding.

Each reader Lost In Grief, should seek the help of family, friends, loved ones and if need be, the professional medical community. My article states the traditional approaches did not work for me. I had to find my own way through the darkness. If you feel as helpless as I did, then, perhaps, my article will be the candle you can use to light your way.

The Dumbest Grief Statement Of All Creation —

The Dumbest Of All Statements To Make To Someone In Grief Is: “You have to go on.”

Naturally, people are trying to comfort you, but, the old “You have to go on” is one of the dumbest statements of all time to fall out of the mouths of anyone. Forget the statement.

For me, it would have been better if someone would of just smiled at me, patted me on the shoulder, squeezed my hand or said, “There are no words at a time like this.”

There are no words at a time like this,” is a true statement, which maybe a cliche and states the obvious – but that statement does not insult your intelligence or belittle and trivialize the life of the lost love one.

Land Of The Living

Naturally, Psychiatrists Of The Universe should have been happy – because in time, I did appear to Return To The Land Of The Living. But, I did it without, “Letting Go.”

All the so-called “experts,” with their framed sheepskins and years of professional experience always seem to parrot “Let Go.”

All the psychiatrists like politicians always forget One Distinctive Quality Of Human Nature – Every Individual Is Just That An Individual – and Generic Sugar Pills For The Masses Never Works For The Individual. I didn’t need a Placebo. I needed an Answer.

My Mother was too significant a force in my personal life to ever “Let Go.”

My Own Path In The Grief

Christians would have cardiacs because you are suppose to realize that someday something about being with your loved ones at some far off time in the future comes about. It is nice that some people can find comfort in their religions.

But, I’ve always Dissected Religions and could only come up with my own Spiritual Beliefs, so the standard religious cliches fell on my deaf ears. I tried to be respectful to the hospital chaplain and nodded politely. I appreciated his efforts. But, I knew I had to find my own path in the grief.

Ancestor Worship

In the Pacific, some cultures have customs of Ancestor Worship, that respects and recognizes the sacrifices of family members who lived before.

My personal method of dealing with Being Left Behind is a combination of techniques that I have accumulated from my experiences in life, researching books and surfing the Internet. In a Life Changing Moment – all ideas were on the table in my mind.

Vision Quest

My personal understanding of a Vision Quest means that it is a journey only you, the individual can take. Only you can find the answers you seek. This would not be a Real World ritual sit out in the boondocks that required physical survival as well as spiritual insight. This would be a personal Vision Quest in The Real World that would reach inside my Mind and examine the needs of my Soul.

Critics And Skeptics Be Damned!

In dealing with my personal grief, I pulled out all the stops.

If I could of stood in a Great Marble Hall In The Depths Of The Universe and stood before God Almighty and Satan and asked, “Why?”

It would have been enough to have an answer and risk whatever punishment would of come from my personal audacity and arrogance to have the strength to ask such a face to face question of the two most powerful entities in the Universe.

I might not find the answer. But, I had to arrive at some level of understanding for Life to continue to make any sort of sense. All types of information would be looked at and examined. My Mind and Soul needed something other than cliches, fairy tales and wishful thinking.

I knew I would not find any detailed commentaries of dead people who had come back and done in depth interviews. I had to find some type of information that would speak to my Mind and Soul and say, “Relax. There is a Method to the Madness of Life.”

The issue was not a Quest For Self Discovery – I know Who I Am. The issue was not Fear Of My Own Mortality. The issue was Life Beyond The Personal Grief – I demanded a clue that Momma’s Life did not end in a hospital bed.

I had to find some type of information that would give me the peace of mind to understand and believe that Life is not just A Flashbulb Flash In A Universal Night.

All ideas were on the table. No idea was too ludicrous. Whatever works – works. Critics and Skeptics be damned!

Religion deals with The Supernatural, or as people in the late 20th Century preferred the more scientific sounding term, The Paranormal. I tried to find answers – not cliches – not theatrics – not theories: Answers.

Born a Scorpio, the Universe had hardwired my appetite for Mystery and The Unknown and programmed my Curiosity into my first breath.

No Concrete Answer.

Wake Up The Old Gods And Goddesses!

But, there were ideas and techniques that helped me.

The traditional interpretation of God, Jehovah, or Allah is a single supreme male entity, who sits high above humanity and looks down upon the industrious ant-like mortals. I have never believed that God was simply an Immortal Kid With An Ant Farm or An Immortal Scientist Obsessed By His Collections Of Lab Rats Locked In The Perpetual Maze.

I’ve been exposed enough to modern religions to know that they come up short. The only current religion that ever held any interest to me is the Buddhist. But, I was not on a quest of Self-Enlightenment. I wanted some tangible assurance that Momma was in an Afterlife.

I appreciate anthropologists.

Humankind has existed for Millennium. Current Society usually shrugs off the contributions of Ancient Humans like a cold, rain through a leaky umbrella. But, the people who lived before left us had a wealth of knowledge from science and mathematics to funeral customs and recopies for beer and pharmaceuticals.

Ancient Men and Ancient Women survived droughts, floods, wars, and plagues in their daily lives so they had to be doing something right. Did they have any insights into an Afterlife?

I’ve always admired Native American cultures and Ancient Egypt, so I did review their beliefs.

Magick is usually seen as an entertaining pastime for children. You take a kid to a local magic show or they watch a magic movie about beings wielding wands and searching for magic cups. Society likes to ignore that some icons of science had an interest in different approaches to knowledge and understanding.

Thus, I could flip through my magick books or surf the Internet and study up on Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, Samuel Mathers and others for indications of any revelations of an Afterlife.

Ancient scientists, philosophers, doctors, astrologers, mathematicians sought answers and guidance – these people might have been in their imaginations or maybe they did go beyond the traditional confines of the Real World, but they had ideas of Magick that reveals a Faith beyond The Real World.

In 2011, people usually snicker at The Old Gods And Goddesses Of Mythology. One distinct advantage of the Old Gods and Goddesses – they were “hands on” with mortals. They had Real World issues, even on Mount Olympus, in Valhalla, in Asgard or Shangri-La. They had dysfunctional families and they lived like mortals.

Wake Up The Old Gods And Goddesses !

If you take away their bath robes, give them shaves, haircuts and send them to tailors for business suits, denim jeans and cocktail dresses – then, some of the Ancient Greek, Roman, Norse mythology suggests that an entity can relate to us mere mortals of earth.

The concepts of Wicca as a Nature religion suggests, as I understand, looking outside oneself into the Universe. The rituals serve to focus the mind to seek guidance beyond the Real World.

I accepted some of the ideas and rejected a lot. My quest was not to find a personal religion. Nor, was it to adopt a Personal Dogma Of Spiritual Beliefs. I wanted more tangible evidence of an Afterlife.

Spiritual Research years before had suggested: I give God a partner – Goddess. No one – not even a God should ever be truly alone in any exsistence called Life.

Work The Grief – Find Your Answer

After the funeral, I had time to devote to this Afterlife Quest. Whenever it felt as though I was strolling into my Twilight Zone Bus Stop, I knew I should pick up a book or surf the Internet to find some information. Working The Grief in The Real World is a personal issue, that requires you to put one foot in front of the other.

On a day to day basis, If I’m walking down a city street or through a field and want to talk to Momma, then, I do.

If I want to put together some personal ritual to practice across the road in the pasture to attempt to enhance communication – I do.

I realize my mother’s physical presence is gone from The Real World.

Life Can’t Be Pointless !

Life can’t be pointless. I have always rejected the notion that people come into this life to work like work horses, raise children and then simply die and disappear.

Lucky people leave tales of their lives as authors of novels or can be found in history books. By the late 20th Century, most people were fortunate to be recognized with an Obituary in a newspaper.

But, I believe the overall intent of a Human Life does not end at a Cemetery Headstone or a Funeral Urn.

Find Your Own Path In Grief

Society teaches people to bury their deceased loved one and then to get back on The Gerbil Wheel Of Life. After all, your absence is bound to affect the economic output of the Universal Work Force.

Nonetheless, as a human, you need time to live in your grief. If Society’s theories work, then, use them.

If you have to find your own path – then, find your own path.

No matter how Society At Large attempt to generalize the individual human life – the Universe realizes each individual is unique and makes their contribution in their own way.

Loved Ones will try to help. But, you live in your skin. You have to find your answer.

If you look for information or a path outside of what Society At Large considers – “normal” – be careful about talking to people about it. We all have different experiences in Life and people who profess open minds will sometimes seem confused, dumbfounded, skeptical, or, “at a loss for words.”

Loved Ones can provide Emotional Support. But, Mental Support, my definition, means you climb inside your head and look around. Of course, if you believe in professional counselors or psychiatrists, then, seek them out.

If you feel it is a personal journey that only you can make, then, do so, but do not retreat from The Real World or Loved Ones.

In the Practical, Logical, Rationale Real World, no one really understands the individual who feels as though the Universe has turned against you and brought Death to someone you do not want to leave your life.

Thus, whether you decide to Let Go of your Loved One or wish to keep their presence within arm’s reach the rest of your life – it is your decision.

Your Own Afterlife Procedures

If you wish to keep the Spiritual Presence of your Loved One near, then, you will have to come up with your own procedures.

I did not find any guarantees of an Afterlife. But, my gut instinct tells me there is one. Religion would call the instinct: Faith.

The idea of stepping, “Into The Light,” is poetic and provides for easy special effects on television. I can believe we step or pass into another dimension, but, I need to believe that I can send thoughts and feelings to that dimension.

I need to believe Loved Ones in that dimension can sense, feel, watch and find a way to send back love and guidance.

“Rest In Peace” on headstones to me, means beyond the reach of politicians, bureaucrats, power companies, cell phone services, telemarketers, satellite carriers and others who complicated our daily lives. But, I also believe, RIP means I can be with my Loved Ones in whatever dimension of Time and Space.

I will stand at a Cemetery Headstone and talk.

I see the Cemetery Headstone as A Supernatural Computer Terminal In The Real World. You speak your mind and believe that your words are being saved into a Universal Email that goes to the Person’s Spirit.

My gut instinct tells me Human Life is more than A Match Flame That Dances Briefly Against A Universal Breeze – each life has meaning that transcends the physical body – and, I believe, lives on.

More importantly, I do not accept my Mother’s Spiritual Presence vanished without leaving a Universal Call Forwarding Procedure or a Universal Email Address to maintain surveillance, communication, or the oldest of all procedures: – A Mother’s Love.

My Death Anniversary Ceremony

Saturday, June 11, 2011 – This morning, Momma was not sitting at the kitchen table with her cup of coffee and her cigarette burning in the ash tray.

But, tonight at 6 pm, I can sit a cup of hot coffee on the table. I can light a cigarette and place in the ash tray. I can even light a candle and place in a holder by her coffee cup. I don’t have the Filipino Professional Pray Person to call on for guidance. I can sit look at the area and think my thoughts or open my mouth and speak.

Momma will not magickally step from the ethers and sit in the chair to talk, drink her coffee and smoke her cigarette.

But, I can sit across the table for a moment and look at the empty chair. I can smile and remember, the countless times she passed on her advice without me asking for it I can sense those numerous times in childhood and adulthood that Momma “came to my rescue” and saved me from myself or reminded me of ways to avoid similar traps in the future.

Pity The Poor Psychiatrist

Pity the Poor Psychiatrist, who “Lets Go.” Do psychiatrists really believe that cliche ? Do they parrot, “Let Go,” because it is part of the accepted training ?

In my country boy opinion, Only a Fool Lets Go A Loved One.

Who would undergo Open Heart Surgery and ask a surgeon to cut away half your heart to “let go” a loved one. You accept the Emotional Sword Slash Into Your Heart and realize that you must live with the wound.

I reject that “Time Heals All Wounds” – it is a tired cliche, best left with dinosaur bones.

You realize that you must “Solider On In Life.”

For me, I had to find a technique or belief that would allow me to get out of bed each morning and step back into the petty cares of the insanity of The Real World. For now, I remain engaged in The Flow Of Life In This World.

In the brief moments of the Annual Death Anniversary Observance for me, Momma is alive again in the Real World.

Momma’s presence may only be in my Mind’s Eye, but she is Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Mother Teresa and The Virgin Mary all enshrined in the vision of my mother. She may only speak through a sensation of emotions in my mind, but the awareness of her presence somewhere in the Universe is all I need to know that I am not alone.

The woman who always smiled at my accomplishments and reminded me, “Don’t brag son.Noonelikes a braggart.” I never had to – Momma always took pride in my accomplishments and told the details to friends, neighbors and family members.

Momma would “lecture” me on issues: How To Know If A Member Of The Opposite Sex Loves You, Find A Way To Set Aside Money For Emergencies. Learn To Save Money. Family Comes Before Anything In Life: You Can Always Find A Husband Or Wife – But, Family Is Family And Above All Else. While I didn’t always listen, when I should of; momma’s advice keeps coming back in The Trump Cards Of Live – She is still Aces And Spades. And, still holds The Winning Hand.

Today, Sunday June 11, 2011, is another of Momma’s Death Anniversaries. I don’t know if my experiences will help anyone in grief.

It is not my intent to “lock horns” with the American Medical Association or to fire an opening salvo into the Legions Of Global Psychiatrists.

My country boy intent is to recognize in our rationale world of expert answers: Death Stands In Front Of The Veil And Smiles You Have To Find Your Own Way To Understand Me. I would hope that my article will help someone standing at the brink of The End Of Their World – lost in grief, will find a way to step back and find a way to recognize the personal loss and develop a way to put one foot in front of the other each day to continue their life.

For me, I will observe Momma’s Death Anniversary by adapting the Republic Of The Philippines custom to work for me. I will remember the stories and the advice that I learned from my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren.

I am the son of the six-foot-one, Missouri brunette, who spent her life sacrificing for me.

I am still a work in progress.

But, the hillbilly wife of a Texan, had stubbornness and determination hardwired into her Soul, so she still watches and finds a way to keep in touch beyond The Real World.

A little thing like Death, is a nuisance, but not even The Great Wall is nothing more than an annoying obstacle to a Mother’s Love.

Thanks, Momma.

%d bloggers like this: