Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Sometimes, life just overwhelms a body. It happened to me last month, and it's still running at about 300 percent!

My wife's mother died July 26th, in Ruston, Louisiana. We made some hasty plans to attend the funeral. Before we could leave, however, I needed to get a flat fixed (one that I'd been putting off repairing for about three weeks), and change the front disk brakes. That's when things started going downhill. First, the driver-side caliper assembly was so rusted the braking cylinder wouldn't retract. That meant buying a new caliper. It's not wise to have a new caliper on one side and an old one on the other, so I ended up buying two. Then I couldn't get the brake line to seal. Finally, I took it to a mechanic who had the proper tools, and he fixed it in about 20 minutes.

All this delayed us leaving by about three hours. In the meantime, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to go to the funeral, along with my granddaughter. So off we went, five adults and a teenager (me, my wife, my oldest daughter and her daughter, my youngest daughter and her fiance), in our Dodge Caravan.

It's a LONG drive from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Ruston, Louisiana, and any way you go it's flat and uninteresting for most of the trip. We've made it so often we know the route we usually take by heart: down through Trinidad, over Raton Pass, across New Mexico to Clayton, and into Texas to Dumas. From there, it's down to Amarillo (taking the northern bypass - never driving downtown!), across to Wichita Falls, down to Decatur, then across the northern edge of Dallas to I-20 around Tyler. From there it's due east through Shreveport, Louisiana, to Ruston.

I've got a pretty bad case of arthritis, as well as some other problems, and driving straight through wasn't an option. I HAD to have at least seven or eight hours' sleep, just to be able to move the next day. That makes it a two-day trip. Even then, I was exhausted by the time I got to Ruston.

The funeral was nice, as such things go - not overly mauldin, yet not crass, either. My wife's mother had Alzheimer's, and hasn't been "Mom" in a long time. There wasn't as much of the sense of loss one experiences at most funerals as there was the sense of relief, that the pain and frustration she experienced, and that her family felt FOR her, was over. This was also the first time the entire family (with only a very few exceptions) had gathered together in a decade or more. As my wife said, nothing could have been a more fitting tribute to her mom than everybody getting together and enjoying each other's company. That's what Mom had always promoted in her home, where most of us celebrated every Christmas and Thanksgiving we could.

Of course, the evening before the funeral, my car decides it's time it needed a new battery. At least it did it in Ruston, and not on the highway somewhere, like the last time we had car trouble. That's another story, for another time.

The trip back was pretty much like the trip down, only in reverse. Two days down, two days of non-stop rushing in Ruston, then two days on the highway coming back. By the time we got home, I was ready to collapse.

Just before we left to go to Ruston, I found a bunch of material that hadn't sold on Shayne's bidboard. I offered him a price, and he accepted. When I got back, it was time to start sorting it down. There were also chores to do, like mowing the lawn that somehow had grown at least eight inches while we were gone. We also had some financial matters we had to take care of that took a large part of four or five days, not all of them consecutive. Work, too, was waiting. Apparently they hadn't held up on setting aside material for me, and there was a small mountain of material to sort down into lots when I returned.

Today's the first day I haven't felt either rushed off my feet or totally exhausted. Right now, I've got about 50,000 stamps I've sorted down by country crying for my attention. I need to catalog them and mount what I need from them, then get the rest into my duplicate stock. There's plenty! For all of you that didn't bid on these items when Shayne listed them, thank you. I appreciate the used 40pf Berlin first-series Bell (Scott 9N79), the used 8c US Pan-American Exposition (298), the 5c Hawaii #32, and the hundreds of other nice items I've discovered, sorting this material down. I also have about 800 stamps from Columbia, out of which I MIGHT mount five items. There's also a huge quantity of Nigeria to go through, and stamps from about 300 other countries.

I love boxes and bales, bags and mixed lots! I enjoy the thrill of looking for a "find" - a single stamp that makes the entire purchase worthwhile. I also like to fill holes in my collection, whether it's a single stamp from a country where you don't usually find anything, or to find a stamp or two that complete a set for me. Now that I can finally get back to sorting and playing with my stamps, I'm sure I'll feel much better.

Of course, there's the trip next week back down to Louisiana for MY family's annual reunion...


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