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Me and Neil Diamond

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A little story by a little man just along for the ride in the journey of forever.

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“Where are you going,” she said with a bit of anger in her voice. “You're not going to work, are you!?”

“I'm going somewhere. Do you need help getting to the car?” Said while finishing getting dressed.

Fourteen hours in labor, wife, husband and Neil Diamond emerged from the labor room and shortly were introduced to their daughter. Soon Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show came and went. Dreams of Forever in Blue Jeans, faded.

Fast forward thirty-three years. Alone in his truck, ringing in his ears, “Where are you going. You're not going to work, are you!?” Driving through the night, toward his Mother's homestead, Neil Diamond came along for the drive. In the wee small hours, busy filling bags of memories lost, all the prophesy of Neil Diamond came back. Solitary Man, indeed. Alone with a space filled with treasures for one. A solitary life, away from family, by her own choice.

Filling bags of memories, and dragging them to the front. Green Environmental would be there with a dumpster on Wednesday. Photo albums, loose photos and photo collages, with random push pins on the walls. Jars of whole walnuts on the shelves of the pantry. A 1960's mod breakfast bench, pink patterned stared back from his youth. 'You Got to Me,' playing on the CD player.

Sweet Caroline, invaded his thoughts as he packaged up China with a familiar pattern. Seems both grandmas had the same patterned China. But it was 2 a.m. So his eyes could be fooling him.


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The night was pitch black. No city lights distorting the night. It belonged to the animals of the night. Cats prowled their bountiful hunting ground. A jack-rabbit as big as a dog, strolled across the lawn at dawn, wondering just who put all this stuff on his property. He stopped and stared his, Mad Hatter stare. The trash container was dragged down the three steps held up with cinder blocks to the waiting dolly. Cracklin' Rose announced the start of the work day. The wasps were on patrol near the flowers by the porch.

The rusted Cadillac sat at the end of the drive. An ornament now. Song Sung Blue played, the shed near the Cadillac leaned noticeably, his passage to the mountain disturbed its occupants. “I am I cried,” rolling the dolly past. “I'm coming for you,” he called. At midnight the thought came, that with a chain we could pull that Caddie out of the way. In the shed the next morning, a chain was the first thing he saw.

Longfellow Serenade, played as he poured the stones and pebbles found along her trails into a bigger container. Every stone thrown at her she picked up and saved, he thought. Do we all do that, he wondered. Such were the plans we made, Longfellow Serenade. With callous abandon, these containers of pain and joy were tossed aside. Small carafes of feathers were also present, perhaps for every stone thrown, there was also a softness delivered. The bags of memories filled.


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Through the night memories filled bags, a Beautiful Noise rose from the CD. From the penny arcade, if you know what I mean... Watch out for snakes and rats, he had been warned. But the memories, no one had said, watch out for the memories. They were everywhere. He worked until the night became a brand new day. Neil Diamond by my side again. A big life event.

Cupboard doors open now. Years of eating and drinking from these cupboards brought to an end. If there was laughter it had long ago stilled. Contents of pantry filled more than one fifty gallon bag. Filled, dragged down the front steps and over the brick path leading past the peach tree to the shade of the Walnut. More bags, filled with pieces of paper, that had his name on them, This is Your Emergency number. Call and his number. On the fridge, on the table and in folders.

With the paper out of the house, Forever in Blue jeans played. “Toss the cinder blocks that held up, somehow, the bookshelves – toss those blocks out the window. Then gather them with the wheel barrow. Blue jeans getting their workout, as cinder blocks flew. “Look there are walls. He reached walls. Eureka. Money talks, but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk.” Running on empty. Storage sheds yet to be seen. 'How bad could they be?'

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He began putting things on the parkway. They came at night. “Hi, there are some trunks, on the parkway. Are they free?”

“Yes, hang on I will help you load them.”

“Hey, what is the story about the items on the parkway?”

“Take whatever you want.”

They came at night. They poked and turned. They inspected and asked questions. The only answer was take it. I'll help you load. I am I cried, I can't even say why. Maybe a dumpster full was carried away by the scavengers, blessing their good fortune. Free items in the parkway, and free labor to help them load.

“You waded ashore under heavy fire, just six days ago,” he told himself. “And look, the tides have turned. You have seen the enemy and it is us. The cavalry is due, the second wave, reinforcements. The rest of the unknowing recruits will arrive.”

“Now we are four,” he thought. Then a young man arrived. And we were five, but he worked like three so it seemed like more.

With the second wave came the administration, management if you will. We should do this, we should do that. Again, Longfellow's Serenade, ride, come on baby ride. I sang my song. Time to find a storage shed, 'How bad could they be?'

The crew in the second trailer sang shanty songs as they attacked the work, the rats fought gallantly for their home. His phone rang, 'Finding anything of value?' he was asked.

“Sure, if you are a member of the Swiss Family Robinson, this place is a regular Walmart. But otherwise not much.”

It was packed with the memories of her lifetime. A beautiful noise, begging for a tune. He told his oldest daughter. “She is us.” We just never realized it.

For the siblings this journey brought us close. 'Now we are four.' Do you hear it babe, do you hear it babe, it was another time another place. We gave it away for the sake of a dream.

This ends the story of Me and Neil Diamond.


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Neil Diamond - Longfellow Serenade

Neil Diamond - Beautiful Noise

Comments

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 25, 2020:

Mike, I can’t believe I didn’t read this before. Neil Diamond made a big impression on me and his songs left indelible memories in my teenage years. I remember too well both my parents passing within one year of each other and having to sort and distribute all their belongings. One of the saddest times in my life. I hope you are back writing regularly soon.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 16, 2019:

Thank you Shauna. It was a tough assignment. All the siblings are permanently scared. Ninety-one is a long pull. She led a rough life, bitter and scared by the hands she was dealt. Her fought the world to a draw, as I see it. She did what see wanted, and fought 'City Hall' at every opportunity. Thanks for the visit and condolences.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 09, 2019:

Mike, I'm so sorry to learn of your loss. I know it's not easy, but 91 years of life is a pretty good track record. I can only imagine the memories that churned about as you went through the house.

Bless you my friend. This story is beautiful and touched my heart. I imagine your keyboard was left a little damp as you typed this.

I know she's gone to her forever happy place. Nuelle and Griffin saw to it!

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 19, 2019:

Hello Nellleanna - Thank you for your comment. Seems so many of us have gone through this. A loved one passes and the family is left to sort and sift through the memories left behind. This makes the task even greater when carrying the grief of the loss.

Hope you are doing well.

Nellleanna Hay on July 18, 2019:

Been there, done that, Mike.

I didn’t know about your loss. Still don’t, except as gathered from your story and the comments. My heart goes out to you. The story is a good way to communicate it.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 15, 2019:

Hello Pamela - Sorry for your loss. It is a difficult time for family when a love one passes. We all bear the grief as best we can. Thank you for your beautiful comment. Best wishes from our family to yours.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 15, 2019:

We hear your pain, Mike. I just lost my mother a couple of weeks ago, and no matter what age, it is painful. I like the Neil Diamond comparison, and I am slowly trying to get rid of things I simply do not need. Life is difficult sometimes, and we must endure during those times. The memories will never leave us, thank goodness.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 13, 2019:

Hello Martie - We all have our burden. One of the many lessons here is not to leave our burdens to our loved ones. (Or just our relatives, as the case may be.) Hope you are well.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on July 13, 2019:

This post of yours urges me to get rid of all the unnecessary stuff in my home, keeping the next occupant in mind. Let everything I leave behind be of value for him/her. I'll do the cleaning with Neil Diamond, my Nr.1 Favorite. Take care, Mike ♥

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 12, 2019:

Verlie - The memories were everywhere. Time stopped. There were even revelations, that no fiction writer would ever try to get away with. Some mysteries solved, and some remain.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 12, 2019:

Hello Verlie – Thank you. It was a Herculean task. Maybe Jason and the Argonauts also. It was in the very early morning hours that it occurred to me that I had spent the hours waiting for our daughter's arrival listening to Neil Diamond over and over. I brought him along with me along with some other CDs with sixties music. I knew being there alone would drive me nuts (more) and have learned from Maria and Genna the importance of music. It took me, brother and two sisters 15 days to clean the place out. I was there ten of them. They spent five days. A clean up crew came after we left to fill two more of those big dumpsters from the stuff piled on the lawn.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 12, 2019:

Hello Paula – Life certainly is full of surprises. There just seems to be in a storm, but I know it will pass, and I am managing to stay dry. I am strong, life is going to have to kill me to get the better of me. Actually 'life' has even tried that. Haha. I do appreciate your friendship and support. I even recall some heavy teasing. What a nice salutation you use.. Hugs, Mike

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on July 12, 2019:

Dear Mike, A Herculean task completed, and pictures to prove it! Thank goodness there is Neil Diamond along for the journey! I feel like you've ripped a page from my journal for this story, as I've been sorting through the remnants of friend's, and family member's lives for some time now, and it is ongoing. It is indeed emotionally draining. Kudos for writing about it!

Suzie from Carson City on July 12, 2019:

Mike........Those "memories" you speak of, will stay with you forever, even as some of the color fades and the smiles weaken. In fact, expect to recall yet more and more of them as time goes on......My heart is with you, Mike.....I can even relate to the seeming lack of a break between life's cruelties. You're strong and will survive, please know you have "us" when you need a subtle boost to ease the heaviness. Ruby is right you know, we all love you.

How wonderful you were able to put this all down, even while going through the storm. This is what is meant by dancing in the rain....you've done what's best in the moment.

Please keep taking care of Mike.....It's trying times like these, that strengthen that "good stuff" that makes us who we are.....even that we never knew we had............Peace, hugs & Love, Paula

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 12, 2019:

Hello Audrey - You hold dear many memories. This world can be cruel, those with tender hearts suffer most. Friends and music are a true source of strength as we travel life's highways. Sharing kindness is a salve for many pains.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 11, 2019:

When I lost my son, all that was left were memories. I was able to recover 1 t-shirt from his wardrobe. Everything else was confiscated by family vultures. I'm so sorry to learn of your loss.

Without friends and music, what would we do?

Thank you, dear Mike, for this beautiful story and for sharing with us. I love your writing and hope more is on the way.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hello Ruby - Thank you. My life is much richer from the friends found right here on Hubpages.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 11, 2019:

Thank you Mike. Life sucks sometimes, but that's what friends are for. We all love you, and your pain is our pain. As you well know, I put my hurts on paper and it always helps relieve the stress. Looking forward to some beautiful poetry. Hugs...

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hello Ruby - I will send you a short note. I don't want people crying all over me. Good to see you. We all have suffered great loss. I am no exception. The second day at the homestead, I sent a message to my brother and sisters asking that they post to Facebook a note that said, "Do yourself a favor and throw something away today." Good advice for those of us believing our memories need a trinket to survive.

Hugs

It is so nice to be among friends.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hello Genna – Thank you for such a nice comment. My mind snapped to attention, with your, 'that other things that left at the curb are soon taken, often in the night,' must be the fiction writer in me. I thought I was prepared for the memories. You have seen movies were a boxer is caught in a corner another boxer landing lefts and rights at will. That is how 2018 and 2019 have presented themselves to me. Luckily they don't know hitting me in the head is going to do them no good. (I am laughing.) I'll try to write more.

Hugs

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 11, 2019:

This was so like the times in my life when I was thinking, " Do I want this. is that old thing important? Baggage will only slow me down, but where am I going? George Jones was always there to make me cry. Mike, what was your loss? I feel soo out of the loop. Did you lose someone dear, have you had an illness? It is so good to see you writing again. Losing Jackie took the desire to write away. Fill me in, what has happened! Back to your story, funny how memories pill up and the songs seem to mark the time and place. I must say they still do. Hugs my friend.

Genna East on July 11, 2019:

My thoughts echo Maria's..." Music carries us through the good and the bad times for sure." Thank you for sharing this journey with us, along with Neil Diamond. We are all so sorry to hear of your loss, and hope you are getting the rest you need. I also learned from experience that other things that left at the curb are soon taken -- often in the night. And you are so right about the memories -- they are everywhere. Beautiful story, Mike. We miss your words. Hugs.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hi Peg - I like that and do agree.

hugs

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 11, 2019:

We should change the saying to, "Writing is good for the soul."

Hugs.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hello Kaili - It is a big task. Sorry you went through it alone. I did not mention the 20 lbs of staples for the staple machine. I sighed numerous times. Yes, she also survived the Depression and I think that is part of the 'never get rid of anything cause you might need it' issue our generation is dealing with. I appreciate the visit and sorry for your loss also. We carry on.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on July 11, 2019:

Hello Mike,

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Great to see you here again, but sorry to learn of your loss.

I was lucky, I suppose, in that I am an only child, so I got to do these things alone. Nobody telling me what "we" should be doing. So hard sifting through all those memories. What the heck do you do with a lifetime of stuff saved by someone who lived through the Great Depression? "You never know when you'll see another piece of cord this good." Mountains of plastic bags, stuffed into every available crevasse. Drawers of elastic bands, paper clips, bits of paper with names and telephone numbers on them. Stuff, everywhere. Birthday cards from folks long-dead. Christmas wrap that had been reused numerous times, judging by the amount of tape still on it. Her prized collection of bottle openers, sourced by friends who traveled here and there. What do you keep?

And yes, thank goodness music is always there to help us through these events.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hello Peg - Thank you. There was heartache and grief as the songs all say. I thought I was steeled from the memories, but that was not entirely true. I appreciate you nudging me to write something. It always seems to help.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 11, 2019:

Beautiful way to make the labor go faster to the tunes. I loved it. And I can certainly relate to the collection of odd and strange things found in someone's lifetime collections.

I've wondered so many times what Paula's "family" did with all her precious treasures. We had so many memories wrapped up in collecting them: her vintage dishes, her Christmas decorations, her bric-a-brac. All out by the curb.

Luckily, one person's trash is another's . . .

I loved this line, "With the second wave came the administration, management if you will."

Bless your heart for having to go through all these things in the aftermath of loss.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hi Bill - Neil Diamond was/is something of an icon with me.

I don't normally listen to gospel, pop, rock, but when I do........haha

Thanks for the visit, that was quite the chore. Maybe the title her should have been 'Muddy Memories'

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 11, 2019:

During a time when rock n roll flourished, the songsmith found his own path. Thanks for sharing his/your beautiful journey!

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 11, 2019:

Hello mar - Music certainly does leave a mark on us. It is a coincidence that Neil Diamond was instrumental in both these major events in my life. I thought I'd share a little something, as 'big events' seems to have been scheduled way to close together to suit me. It was nice to write after such a long pause.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on July 11, 2019:

Dear Mike,

Music carries us through the good and the bad times for sure.

Thanks for sharing the influence that Neil Diamond has had on you.

Hope you are getting plenty of rest - always good to see something from you published.

Have a peaceful day. Hugs, Maria