Not for Just an Hour, Not for Just a Day

I sat alone by the pool, listening to the mix tape he had handed me at Detroit Metro, right before I boarded the plane for Florida.

“They’re just some songs I like,” he had said, in his usual flippant tone. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

I listened to the tape anyway. Belinda Carlisle sang, “Never-ending love is what we’ve found,” but The Pogues countered with, “You took my dreams from me when I first found you.”

He was right, I thought. It doesn’t mean anything.

I turned off the Walkman and headed back to my family’s mobile home. As I walked the path I had taken so many times as a child, the streets, homes and palm trees seemed smaller than I remembered, almost miniature.

They hadn’t changed. But I had.

I had just graduated from college and was about to start my first full-time job. The weight of responsibility loomed, and I wanted, needed, to relax with my aunt and uncle, my second parents, the people who loved me unconditionally.

It wasn’t a typical spring break for a 21-year-old. My aunt and uncle were Michigan snowbirds who spent the colder months at their mobile home in Lake Seminole Resort, a retirement community in Pinellas. Instead of keg parties on the beach, I visited the local flea market with my uncle, played bingo with my aunt at the community hall and caught early-bird dinner specials with their retiree friends.

After dinner we would sit on their screened-in porch, and my uncle would tell stories about their early years together. They met at the dime store where my aunt worked in downtown Detroit. My uncle, who managed a theater nearby, was immediately smitten and kept trying to get her to go on a date. She finally agreed.

“I found a million-dollar baby in a five and ten cent store,” he sang, with a big grin. They had been married 50 years, but it was as if they had just met.

Toward the end of my visit, my aunt and uncle surprised me with a trip to the Salvador Dali Museum. I was a big Dali fan and had no idea my 70-year-old aunt even knew who he was.

As we drove to St. Petersburg, I remembered the other tape in my purse, Patsy Cline’s “Always,” which I had brought to share with my aunt.

My love for Patsy began when I was a young girl living with them. A family friend used to sing her songs at parties, and I knew my aunt would enjoy reminiscing to “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

When she popped the cassette in the tape deck, my uncle took her hand in his and began to sing along to the title track:

“I’ll be loving you, always. With a love that’s true, always. When the things you plan, need a helping hand, I will understand, always…”

That’s what I want, I thought. I want it to mean something.

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40 thoughts on “Not for Just an Hour, Not for Just a Day

  1. I love Patsy Cline. Whenever I watch “Coal Miner’s Daughter” I hope somehow she will live, but of course…

    This is a sweet story and study in comparisons. You are much more insightful than I am. I would have been looking for the meaning in the mix tape, despite his assurances that there was none.

  2. Though I’m sure they had their ups and down, that is a relationship to aspire to. Beautiful story. I love the “it didn’t mean anything” tied up with “I want it to mean something.” Nice structure.

  3. What a sweet story! And I love how the ending scene was your answer to the conflict posed at the beginning of the story with Mr. X saying it didn’t mean anything. Great post!

  4. Your spring break’s sound about as wild as mine. Growing up in Central Florida, it was home for a few days with the family at the beach (when we were lucky). Music is a powerful trigger. All those songs brought up memories for me to. I loved the imagery of you walking the road to your aunt and uncle’s and when they held hands.

    • Thank you! It truly was a strange experience walking that path as an adult. As for the two of them holding hands: I was in tears. It was a perfect moment — one I’ll never forget.

  5. Love this love story. In high school my best friend’s mom listened to Patsy Cline all the time and turned me into a huge fan.

    • Thanks, Robbie! Isn’t Patsy the best? I sang her songs to both my babies. Thankfully, their dad is NOT the man mentioned in this blog post 🙂

  6. Beautiful, Kathleen. You’re so deep.

    And I hate to say it but I wish my mom liked someone as cool as Patsy. She dug Johnny Mathis, so I only hear him at Christmas time.

  7. oh, doll. I LOVE patsy. i was sooo excited when i read your post title. and of course, started singing the song while reading 🙂 Loved this line, too: “They had been married 50 years, but it was as if they had just met.”

  8. Great story. What a great relationship. It is so nice that they were able to be such a good example for you of what you wanted to find in a loving relationship.

  9. Ahhhhh, mix tapes. I loved how you tied this all together. And I agree, the songs should mean something. Otherwise it’s just background noise, not a soundtrack.

  10. What a good story!
    I think you did a great job describing their relationship, and I love the stark comparison between what you had and what their marriage was like.
    It’s hard to work with 500 words but I think you did a great job!

    • Thanks, Dawn! I agree about the 500-word limit. It’s tough, but I like that it helps you focus on eliminating the unnecessary or redundant.

  11. Oh my god, that Pogues song. You picked THE PERFECT LYRIC for it. I am all a-tingle thinking about it. And this post is awesome. It reminds me of how intense music was when I was exchanging CD’s or mix tapes with guys and erstwhile suitors. There was a boy who put a gorgeous Nanci Griffith/Adam Durnitz(sp) song on a tape and I still can’t hear it without thinking of a night in a motel in Ohio as the interstate was carrying me away from him. (Going back to georgia.)

    Oh. So good. Thank you!

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