I am always intrigued at what people turn to for that special, soul food comfort of the heart. There are always photographs and scents, meals and places, but for me, music will always top the chart. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s there was always a radio or record player to bring the air alive, and in our car, Dad often sang songs of his youth, starting around 1915. A particular favorite was I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover, and to this day I smile and sing along whenever I hear it…words or not.
As I aged technology progressed, and our white station wagon and later blue Sport Fury became the proud owners of tape players. Looking back at those quick clips of music with the loud Ca Chunk when they switched channels, I remember the price we paid for portable music, but nevertheless, still treasure my 8 track memories. The playlist of my life continues to evolve, and currently as MP3 files they reside on my phone, in a folder appropriately called The 8 Track Tapes. It is there where Tom Jones, Andy Williams, Engelbert Humperdinck, George Jones and many others still live, along with Jim Nabors. It is in many ways a therapist I turn to in the darkest night, finding a lost security like no other.
Jim Nabors, for many of us, was also U.S.M.C. Private First Class Gomer Pyle, and the day he showed he could sing shocked the world. The prat-falling, comedic genius inside a handsome young man, had also successfully hidden the voice of an angel, and his later albums of gospel music validated his talent. However, as life moved on, so did Jim Nabors, with all his talent and charm…which brings me to the point of my nostalgic babble.
We all come into this life outwardly the same, and in my era with about the same expectations for survival and security. There are always some who appear chosen, rising to stardom in their selected fields, and even though we all came from similar seeds, they bloom brighter and more memorable for the seasons they exist, and we applaud accordingly. However, one day they just aren’t there anymore, gone from the current harvest where others have taken their place, and along with that, their accolades. It appears when we notice this crop rotation, it is because we too have aged, no longer among the blooms of our generation, and facing mortality.
I have read that Mr. Nabors is alive and well living in Hawaii, and I am sure, doing what makes him happy. That being said, in the current eyes of the public he exists no more, only through old tapes and albums, television reruns or an occasional Youtube video. His time and fame were served, and he stepped away for those yet to follow, and none of us really noticed until he was gone. It could be viewed as having class, not holding on beyond the expiration point with plastic surgery, body doubles or embarrassing moments; however, I see it as evolution of the life we are all meant to live. You see, he had his fame, shared his talent and wisely knew when he was done.
Obviously, most of us never have a media infused stage to showcase who we are, but in some way there is a platform where we offer the gifts we brought into life, and the reason why we are here in the first place. When we have finished, there are others are waiting as well, and we move on, not changing who we are, just who appreciates us. Yes, we’d all love fame and fortune, living forever in technology after we leave, but the trade off is that some of the most profound memories we leave will be with those we love, and they are our difference.
Closing out my day, listening to a personal bump or groan, changing tracks in preparation for another day, I know I have had more than a few profound moments, some published, some televised and others recorded. In my life I was referred to as that woman or mom, and I hope I did it wisely and made a difference for someone. It was a fun ride, and even though it was in a station wagon, not a limo or across the big screen, I know I accomplished why I came into this life, and think I did okay.
So the next time I open my playlist and decide to take a stroll down memory lane, I will more than likely select Wichita Lineman. There will be humor, knowing that Linemen have also gone the wayside, but I’ll find solace in knowing that like Jim, I was a good neighbor and member in life, and that alone means I left something behind in the field where I was planted, along with fireflies and the very green grass of home.