Jan. 30, 2002 – Historically, January 20 has been a bad day for me. Thirteen years ago it was a car wreck. Then six years ago it was a serious heart malady that manifested itself. The wreck almost got me, but I didn't really know it. The heart problem almost got me, and I knew it.
As for the wreck I had been to Holly Springs for a business meeting after leaving work at the University.
Driving home, almost to the Taylor turnoff on Highway 7, I was meeting three or four vehicles in a row. The last one pulled out to pass and there I was.
Fourteen months later I was back at work with the assistance of a walking cane, that I still use.
The heart problem came during a reception at the Clarion Ledger building in Jackson. The first symptom was a run away heart beat, which then slowed almost to a stop.
Arriving at the St. Dominic emergency room, Dr. Jimmy Lott, struggled long hours to stabilize the rhythm. He succeeded only after I had experienced the brilliant white light many associate with death.
The problem was finally, hopefully, resolved with a titanium heart valve a couple of years ago.
I am sure there are many good things that have happened on the 20th, but I don't remember them. It is probable that other bad things may have happened, as well. I don't remember them either.
However, I try to exert a little extra caution on the 20th, which I always remember because it is the day after the birthdays of my mother and granddaughter Samantha.
We celebrated both birthdays this year with a party at Samantha's house in Tupelo, and it was a stellar event.
On the 20th I essentially did nothing. Helped Jo Ann bring in several bags of groceries and after dark carried the sacks of garbage to the street, as I do every Sunday night after finishing my weekend writing.
I'm not a superstitious person. Friday the 13th, black cats crossing the road, spilling salt on the table (which I quit doing after being sentenced to a salt-free diet) doesn't bother me.
January 20, however, is a different matter. The third time may not be the charm it is sometimes reputed to be.
•I have helped bring in the groceries for years, and often think back to how much easier it was when I was growing up on the dairy farm near Coffeeville.
Every morning I helped my father with the home milk delivery, with the last stop usually being at Kennedy's Cafe and Grocery near the north end of the business district, making it convenient for the family grocery shopping.
It was usually a box of cereal or crackers, fresh fruit and, maybe, peanut butter.
Most of the other food was raised at home.
There was a pantry filled with canning jars from the garden, and later a deep freezer on the back porch.
Meat came from the smoke house, until the freezer.
Milk, a staple on our grocery lists, was never an item in those days, for if there was anything we had plenty of, it was milk — skimmed, high-test, cottage cheese and real butter.
Even the chicken and hogs, both frequent staples in our diet, got to pick through the whey after cottage cheese was finished.
My father sometimes purchased a package of "Model" smoking tobacco, a pipe of which he smoked every night with his feet propped on the wood box in what would now be called a "den."
Going to the grocery was a regular thing in those days, but we never came home with much.
Sometimes I think we have lost something along the way, but then I remember milking cows seven days a week, wading in boot-high muck to feed the pigs, and going to the smoke house to slice bacon.
Then I decide maybe we haven't lost all that much.
•There are some things we have lost, one of which I was unkindly reminded of by a recent e-mail story:
"Two elderly ladies had been friends for many decades.
"Over the years they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures. Lately, their activities had been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.
"One day they were playing cards when one looked at the other and said, 'Now don't get mad at me....I know we've been friends for a long time....but I just can't think of your name!; I've thought and thought, but can't remember it.
"'Please tell me what your name is.'
"Her friend glared at her for at least three minutes — she just stared and glared at her.
"Finally she asked, 'How soon do you need to know?'