The Roller Coaster

By Jack Riordan

June 27, 2018

I have been wallowing in an unhappy state, brought on by my concern for my beloved country which seems to be sinking into a land of hatred controlled by greedy people who ignore science for their benefit but our detriment.  Plus, kids shooting kids in their schools and no sign of legislators passing rational gun control or universal background checks, added to the doldrums. All this was on top of the realization that my aging body was deteriorating. Bright moments like the student’s nationwide efforts for gun control reforms, but then dashed by legislative hypocrisy. I hid rainy-day feelings with work, my pollinator garden, and the hope that the country will get better.  I concealed sadness with a happy face disguise. Sometimes, I even fooled myself. I hoped a visit to the Old Lady with Cats would bring sunshine to my hidden life. 

The first thing she said was, “Roosevelt died. Eleanor and I are still in mourning.” 

It took me a minute to recall they were the names of her two cats. It was not a good time to expose my problems. 

“He was an affectionate old Tom Cat even when mostly blind. He and Eleanor are my children; dealing with their problems filled a gap in my life.”


I remembered after my brother died I found myself often sitting in the woods along George Creek watching the birds and bugs and flowers struggling for light. It let me get focused on what’s important, my link to endless succession of plant and animal life. There is peace in that union.  For a few moments I thought I’d bring up nature to help Minerva, but she seldom left her tiny apartment she shuffled around with a walker. She gets Meals on Wheels, and a church group takes her shopping once a month.  I asked her if she enjoyed the outdoors and Nature. 

“Too many bugs.  I’ve suffered many losses and disappointments. I get over them. So, what brings you here today? The sorry state of politics? You still hoping a new Voinovich with local government experience will come along to save the Grand Old Party of Lincoln?” 

That was part of it, I told her. I found myself on an emotional roller coaster.

“I learned a long time ago that you can’t succeed if you don’t try. Hope, effort and perseverance are tickets to get off that roller coaster.  So, get out of here and get to work. Nothing lasts forever.” 

I left happier. Found my peaceful place along the creek. Some of my concerns no longer seemed important. Some of them I can address and started making a list of what I could do. First. Find out what the safety hazards are of keeping loaded guns in your house. Second, Help the Student movement. I’m still working on number three and four.

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