Another Year Older

Seemingly random snippets of memory surface at odd moments, don’t they?  Or is it just me?

The bass-baritone stylings of Ernest Jennings Ford define the Sunday afternoon TV of my childhood memory.  I don’t remember what show he was on, but I do remember his deep, deep, resonant voice, and my introduction to the rapacious extremes of unfettered capitalism.  Of any unfettered power, maybe.

Another day older and deeper in debt.
16 Tons; Tennessee Ernie Ford

Some days this past year felt like that: a slow but steady backsliding, in matters both emotional and practical. Diggin’ 16 tons as the song says — or shovelling water with a fork, as we say in our house.

At New Year’s I usually find myself looking ahead to the year to come: a year to be defined by what I will accomplish. This New Year’s, though, I find myself looking back at the year past: a year defined for me primarily by my mother’s death in June.

Memories of her still surprise me at random moments.  Sometimes the memories are welcome, emphasizing the connection; sometimes they are rather less so, highlighting the loss.

What does that mean for the year that’s gone?  I don’t know, but maybe a TV show I hardly ever watched offers a reasonable answer.

If you think back, and replay your year,
if it doesn’t bring you tears of joy or sadness,
consider the year wasted.
John, Ally McBeal

And it’s kind of funny.  Although her taste ran more to poetry and actual literature, Mom loved quotations, and loved to write about them.  And just as I’m sure she never watched Ally McBeal,  I’m sure she never considered any year wasted.



  1. Tom Watson

    You introduced me to a brand new phrase: “shovelling water with a fork.” I like it.

    Happy New Year to you and yours! May 2018 be everything you wish it to be.

      1. John Whitman

        Isabel – Regarding ‘improving our past’. Could you please speak to all the people busily trying to rewrite history to make it more politically correct and inform them of that fact. I am thinking here specifically about Sir John A. MacDonald, Edward Cornwallis and so on.

  2. I heard Tennessee Ernie Ford LIVE sing that 16 Ton song. I was about 7 and we had to line up for hours (it seemed) outside a church in Long Beach, CA. The Church was busting — it had never held that many people. Ford was a real pop star. But I was too little to see him! All I saw were coat backs. It could have been recording for all I knew.

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