140. Replaced

every so often I’ll start a post that goes nowhere. So I have to delete the mess and begin again. This is the result of one of those cakes that did not rise or cornbread that tastes like Comet. ( the ingredients would be my brain cells; they just did not rise to the occasion. ) I mean the next post, this one, was born after a previous disaster had passed. So the thing that was, has been replaced. [Okay, it was about the poverty of FM radio stations on my local radio. The topic was so unworthy that I gave up on it in the birthing process.] It was not simply moved or displaced like refugees are herded out of war torn countries; it was eliminated and a new thing rose up where it had been. The displaced can return one day (except in Israel, where the right of return was blotted out for Palestinians who’d been shoved out of their homes in 1948); the replaced cannot.

I’m thinking back over folks’ stories of replacement. I remember the one fellow whose parents did not like him as a rambunctious young boy, so they went shopping for two orphaned sisters. These sisters took his place in the parents’ hearts and he was treated like a Dickens’ orphan peering through frosted glass at a forbidden holiday feast. He had to move along [Ishmaelishly] without anyone’s blessing; and bitterness rose up in him– a sandstorm in the desert. A really big sandstorm. It’s not right, but it happens after years of drought when there are no grass roots left to hold the soil together. One child replaces the other. A father remarries a tornado and  treats his step kids better than his own biologicals. Ouch, ouch, ouch! Like sand in your eyes at ninety miles an hour.

I knew a lady once whose father married her mother’s sister after her mother had died, but not long after. Weird?  Well, sure. Then her aunt/stepmother and father had her sister/cousin, upon whom they doted. This sort of thing does not just make one bitter; it tosses what’s left of cosmic sanity into the whirlwind. It is distilled like wormword absinthe, deadening the drinkers. Everyone available to speak to is unavailable because he or she is compromised by competing agendas. The horror reverberates with a telltale heart from the grave that makes one wonder about the circumstances of mother’s demise. Oh, but you can’t even think such things in the new world order. It’s a dust storm of apocalyptic proportions. A twister. “Dorothy, get in the cellar!” “Oh Aunty Em, I can’t. I’m blind and the wizard is molesting me.”

Oh what to do?  Displace/replace… here’s a twist. I saw a young man with a silver medallion around his neck. It contained a bit of his father’s cremains (cremation remains). How cool is that? Since there is no grave with cremation, the “grave” is worn as jewelry. It dawned on me that something new was happening in our super mobile society. No one goes to graveyards any longer. The former direct physical connections have moved on to electronic cyber connections.  Graves are like land lines and phone booths. You can’t move them around with you. So the grave jewelry thing makes a lot of sense to a nomadic culture. Actually in the Old Testament I think Joseph’s bones were hauled around until his ancestral burial site could be visited. So it’s not an entirely new concept of dragging one’s ancestors’ remains around with you, whether you are a nomad or a monad.

Then I thought of my own family and our mobility. I am not from Franklin County, PA. but I’ve lived here for 32 years. My daughters are from here but do not live here. None of us will be buried here. My parents are not from Fairfax County, VA. but they are buried there. Their parents were not from Boston, MA but they are buried there. Back in some village in County Cork or County Kerry, Ireland is a grave yard with my great grandparents in it. Doesn’t matter.  I’ll never see it. The great emigration replaced Ireland with the USA in 1848 and later. After WWII the minor migration replaced Boston with Washington, D.C. for my folks.  And then my wife and I migrated out of there into the calmer ruburbs of south central PA. Always away and never back to the point of origin. “Away” is not really a direction so much as a desperate plea to the horse at the end of your reins.

So many things have been replaced in my lifetime. I can’t even count them. Hubcaps were once metal. Like everything else they are plastic now. Cheap, and who needs things to last?  Tape players replaced record players/phonographs. CD’s replaced tapes. I-pods replaced CD’s. And who knows what’s next? Cell phones are doing everything anymore, so my guess is some app on the phone will do it all soon. And once again a former  technology will be buried in the landfill, which, when you think about it, is sort of like a graveyard for stuff. I wonder if one day our children’s children will wear little medallions around their necks with landfill cremains and explain, “Yeah, this was a DVD player in the early 2000’s in Atlanta, I think. And Wow! How about that bracelet on your arm?”

“Oh, this?  The guy at the recycle store said it was a melted hard drive from an I-Mac in Boston. 2009.”

“Yeah, I really like that. My hair band was a fender from a 1990 BMW.”

And way, way out there one day we will all be replaced permanently by the next dominant species. Just pick one– buzzard, cockroach, rat, fly, worm, moth. All of them work in the recycling industry, come to think of it.


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