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Chuck Hinman: IJMA 181 - The Old Gray Mare (She Ain't What She Used To Be)

It's Just Me Again No. 181, 18 June 2009 : slightly edited. The Old Gray Mare (She Ain't What She Used To Be) .
The next earlier Chuck Hinman column: Chuck Hinman: IJMA 309 - The Party

By Chuck Hinman

Hi Ruth and Joan (and others)

I didn't realize it showed -- my self-imposed "exile from the world" -- that is. But with inquiries from friends like you two (and some others) hopefully I am on the way back from my "funk."


I better explain that so you won't think, "Oh, it's worse than we thought."

No. 1 -- I think I am suffering from an accumulation of frustrations brought on by my vision problems. It's strange that as hard as I try to not let it "get me down" that it does get me down, and when I'm down on my hands and knees patting the floor looking for a dropped hearing aid (that doesn't work anyhow) that I lose it and wind up in tears -- ME, unflappable Chuck Hinman.

No. 2 -- It's an emotional letdown after viewing the DVD of "my big day" and to be exposed to the truth that I am a fat old man -- whose hands shake, who can't see, and because he can't hear he has to set the registrations on the organ so low they sound like mud to normal people.

Wonderful as it was, 200 old friends gathered to see me do something I can't do anymore. How unfair to them!

In the days shortly after the DVD viewing I made probably some pessimistic decisions about my worth in my surroundings. I hastily decided to "cut back," "hole-up," and not "share myself with the world." And I don't like that decision at all. It ain't me and never will be me!

I stopped writing; I rarely played the organ; I found easy excuses for canceling out of things I love doing, like playing bridge, going to church, etc.; I have given away all my music; I'm trying to get Paul and Kasi to hasten the day when they take my organ and piano, etc., etc., etc.

But what is getting to me is when people like you say, "Hey -- we have been missing your writing; is something wrong?" Or as on the crowded lunch-time express elevator, a concerned lady said, "I've been missing your organ playing -- is something wrong?" I tried to change the subject with "Don't you get tired of those same old songs?" To which she responded, "Not if you don't mind playing those same old songs for us same old people." It brought tears to my eyes when I made eye contact with all the white-haired smiling people on the elevator and they were smiling their approval.

Yesterday afternoon I returned to my bridge club after a few weeks hiatus from sensing I was a burden to card playing because of my vision problems. I guess someone knew I needed something and guess what. I won first place over 6 tables or 24 players. Now I have an old problem of arrogance to deal with. J_ Oh me -- oh my!

In conclusion -- I'm back and I have a better feeling about myself. Now, aren't you sorry you brought it up?

-Chuck HinmanWriter's Note: The above is an actual personal email sent on 6-18-2009 which I am re-releasing as a story with the title "The Old Gray Mare."

Editor's Note: The above is slightly edited. The DVD is of Chuck's farewell organ concert. The title here is referencing an old folk song:
Oh, the old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,
Ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be.
The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,
Many long years ago.
Many long years ago, many long years ago.
The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,
Many long years ago.

The old gray mare, she kicked on the whiffletree,
Kicked on the whiffletree, kicked on the whiffletree
The old gray mare, she kicked on the whiffletree
Many long years ago.
Many long years ago, many long years ago,
The old gray mare, she kicked on the whiffletree
Many long years ago.


This story was posted on 2012-05-20 07:06:14
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