When I was younger I couldn't imagine the world going on without me. I guess I couldn't imagine that I would actually die, either. But if I ever did, I figured the world -- or at least the world as I knew it -- would end along with me.
Of course now I'm older and wiser. I'm still in denial about my own death (okay, you can stop laughing). But now I can imagine the world going on after I'm gone. Maybe seeing our children as adults gives us some glimpse into the future -- a future without us.
I don't mean to burden you with a morbid or macabre post. But the thought entered my mind during a July 4th celebration at our local park.
There was a bike parade, a tug-o-war, a cake walk, a dog exhibition, as well as plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers and snow cones and cotton candy. There was also a music tent featuring a brass band playing patriotic songs and a husband-and-wife team playing old Irish ditties and American standards from Steven Foster, George M. Cohan and others.
Then the duo sang "Oh My Darling, Clementine" written in 1884 and attributed to one Percy Montrose. It's such a familiar song, although not one I'd heard in years. In decades. Not since I was a kid. B and I wondered why the song is so ingrained in our minds. Was it a song we learned at camp? A lullaby sung to us by our mothers? We didn't know. But we listened to the lyrics as the duo sang . . .
Near a cavern, cross a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Lived a miner, forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine.
Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine.
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.
Drove she ducklings to the water
Every morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter,
Fell into a foaming brine . . .
Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas, I was no swimmer.
So I lost my Clementine . . .
In the churchyard in the canyon
Where the myrtle doth entwine,
There grows roses and other posies
Fertilized by Clementine . . .
How I missed her, how I missed her
How I missed my Clementine,
Till I kissed her little sister,
And forgot my Clementine.
Of course, the audience laughed at the end, as the banjo player winked and said, "Betcha don't remember that last line, do ya? Or maybe you just never got that far in the song."
The song sounds like a lullaby, but is actually a parody of the usual sweet, sentimental song. And we sang it to our babies?!?
Now it makes us laugh. It also reminds us that one day we, too, will be lost and gone forever, off to fertilize roses and other posies. But life continues, people forget, and the world moves on without us.