Pierre Fontenot Thursday, March 30, 2017 Comments Off on Change

I used to play with those little Matchbox toys, cars and dump trucks that I kept stored in a shoebox.  There was a patch of yard beneath a big oak, near the swing we had chained to a limb, where all the grass was dead from trampling, and it was here that I would use a Tupperware lid to carve out roads in the dust, build up humps of dirt for my cars to jump.  It was great fun, finding sticks to poke in the ground as pretend trees.

One day, I did as I had always done, grabbed the shoebox, went to the spot, made my little roads and bridges, took out a few toy cars and began doing what was fun only a few days ago.  After about five minutes a thought came to mind, ‘This isn’t fun anymore.’  I still remember the moment, all these years later.

Something had mysteriously changed.  I put the toys in the shoebox and never played with them again.

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I spent childhood thinking change was coins in the car ashtray, Tooth Fairy treasures, and being rich was having enough pennies to make a whole roll.

Adults didn’t tell me that Change was a bigger word, and that it would redefine itself again and again, once I entered the Land of Adults.


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Sometimes Change Is Growth

Good growth begins with a blah.  What used to be fun, now isn’t.  If you don’t listen to the blah – and who does – it will grow into discomfort.  I don’t know what noun you give to the origin, is it heart, or spirit, inner you or future you, but something makes What Is feel like something that needs to become What Was.

We were all designed to crawl before we walked, and in the same way, something within us presses us towards our full humanity, to be adults, to be well rounded, and ultimately to reach surplus, where we change from takers to givers, from runners to smell-the-rose-ers.

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Often Change Is Pain

My first big death was my grandfather when I was about 21.  I’d been to other funerals, but this was the first one where I sat on the front row.  He’d been old my whole life, and though I knew It Was Coming I had no experience with the change that death brings.

That was the first death, and it has a particular place, like a virginity that’s lost.  Decades later, many a funeral later, each death changes my life, makes phone numbers and addresses obsolete, a growing list of people who-would-understand who are no longer around to understand.

And that brings up a question; would my grandfather understand who I am now?  Change upon change upon change, and here I am, very changed, and not done with it…

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I remember my first little love heartache.  The whole flirt-to-infatuation-to-it’s-over lasting all of two weeks, no appetite, couldn’t get her out of my mind, and now I don’t remember her name.

That old Garth Brooks song, “sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers…” is true for so much of the people, places and things of our past.  So often we want the wrong thing, for the wrong reasons, in the wrong timing.  We pray for a ladder and God does us right by making it just long enough to say we tried, but too short to let us claim what is not for us.

So much of change is about realizing who we really are.  Ask me in my 20’s about money and I’d have told you that I expected to get rich.  After decades in adulthood I realized that I was pretty content with t-shirts and blue jeans, one good coffee cup, and a day without drama.  To get there cost me a lot of change, and the curious thing is that it turned out to be nothing but removing what I wasn’t to see who I really was.

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We Called Her Maw Maw

Dad’s mom was country.  She was born on a farm in Allen Parish, married a son of a farmer who lived just down the way.  Most of the days of her life were spent within a two mile circle.  She’d gone all the way to the sixth grade, and by community standards, she was considered educated among her generation.

She’d known life before electricity, and she’d watched a man land on the moon.  She’d rather you talk and her listen.  She believed that if you wanted advice you’d ask for it.

She was an old hand at life, and approached it practically.  If you asked advice on how to deal with change she’d say, “You have to change with the change.”  Not one word over one syllable, but I’ve thought about these words a lot, and sonofagun, the meaning changes as I change…

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where we wish you peace in your changes.

If you wish to change your will and leave Uncle P a roll of pennies you can let him know of the windfall at  Look for other Bedtime Stories on Eighty-one’s Facebook page.

P.S.  I still have my old Matchbox toys.  Like a falling leaf, they represent a season of life.

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