As I was driving down the road the other day, Cracklin Rosie came on and I found myself wailing to Neil Diamond 😊. Yep, it was just me and Neil. And just like that I was taken back to my youth and those long hours listening to music. When I went through the two Johnny Cash albums Tom and Neil was all I had left.
Tom Jones and Neil Diamond were two of my mother’s favorites. Along with Johnny Cash those were the other two albums that I grew up on. In fact, it was all we had when I was really young, that and KKJO on am radio. I can only assume that mom & dad agreed that they both got to pick two albums each. Life was pretty lean in their youth as they tried to make a life for themselves and raise four kids.
And that really got me wondering and thinking what life was like when this song came out in 1970. She would have been 32 years old. She had been married for 14 years at that point in her life. She had four kids and sadly had even lost her first son at birth. She always told me that dad wanted a son so bad that he kept trying till he got one. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have a big brother but then realized if he had lived maybe I wouldn’t be. . . ☹
In 1969 mom and dad had built their forever home. When the song came out in 1970, they probably still had dirt for a yard with little to no landscaping and for sure the basement of the home was one big open space. Dad hadn’t built it out yet and it was one big open space for us.
I had just started school and mom had or was just going back to work. She worked at City Hall for a number of years.
I can’t help but wonder what life was like for her and dad then. I mean, I know what our life was like, I was part of it. But what about their life? Mom had gone to nursing school but gave that up to raise her kids. What was her hopes and dreams? What did they both aspire to do? Mom a nurse and dad always loved cars. In fact, for a short period of his life he owned Bracken’s Stateline Mobil in Elwood Kansas. As I understand it, the money and benefits were too good at Seitz foods so he gave up the garage to ensure his family was taken care of. Kind of makes me sad that he gave up on a dream of us. And that leads me to wonder what heartaches they suffered. What disappointments, pain, and long-lost dreams did they go through? As kids it’s always about us and we seldom if ever think about our parents and the challenges that life throws at them.
Disappointment, crushed dreams, and a broken spirit is part everyone’s life, even parents.
We as people tend to forget this. You know, even the homeless guy on the corner, the immigrant worker who takes care of your lawn and the busboy at your favorite restaurant. Yep, they’ve all dealt with the curveballs that life throws at them. We’re so focused on self that we fail to realize this simple fact.
And what about that person who doesn’t share your belief structure or your political convictions or your outlook on society in general? And what about that person who doesn’t look like you, doesn’t dress like you, and doesn’t have the same skin color as you? And what about that person who grew up in the hard part of town? Yep, even they’ve dealt with the crushing blows that life can throw at us.
As I was listening to Cracklin Rosie and driving down the road it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe we should all learn to look at people through the lens of our own lives.
In doing so maybe our perspective will shift as we look at people while considering the hard blows that life has thrown at us.
Maybe then we will learn to be a little more compassionate and understanding.
Maybe then we can show a little more love to our neighbors.
Maybe then we will feel a little more empathy and understanding for those who are different than us.
Maybe then, just maybe we will all feel a little more love, tolerance and acceptance. Our country needs it now more than ever. We as people need it now more than ever.