Saturday, October 11, 2008

Poignantly Touching Songs

Today Carol posted the lyrics and a video of a song entitled Hello In There that deeply touched me. I played the video over and over again. The song is about growing older and I can more than identify with it. Please go to Carol’s blog and listen to it. Then come back here. OK?

With Alex curled up beside me on my desk, I sat quietly listening to the words of the chorus:

Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger, And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day. Old people just grow lonesome Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello."

I know that feeling—just grow lonesome—much too well. Thursday I had the first visitor to my house in over two years. She and I worked together when I was president and moderator of the Kentuckiana Association of the United Church of Christ. That was before my breathing difficulties and gimpy leg so limited my movement that I seldom leave home. It was so very nice to have someone say, "Hello in there, hello."

The song, Hello In There, reminded me of another song: Michael Smith’s The Dutchman:

The Dutchman
~ John McDermott

The Dutchman's not the kind of man
To keep his thumb jammed in the dam
That holds his dreams in
But that's a secret only Margaret knows

When Amsterdam is golden in the morning
Margaret brings him breakfast
She believes him
He thinks the tulips bloom beneath the snow
He's mad as he can be but Margaret only sees that sometimes
Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes


Let us go to the banks of the ocean
Where the walls rise above the Zuiderzee
Long ago, I used to be a young man
And dear Margaret remembers that for me

The Dutchman still wears wooden shoes
His cap and coat are patched with love
That Margaret sewed in
Sometimes he thinks he's still in Rotterdam
He watches tugboats down canals
And calls out to them when he thinks he knows the Captain
'Til Margaret comes to take him home again
Through unforgiving streets that trip him
Though she holds his arm
Sometimes he thinks that he's alone and calls her name


The windmills whirl the winter in
She winds his muffler tighter,
They sit in the kitchen
Some tea with whiskey keeps away the dew
He sees her for a moment, calls her name
She makes the bed up humming some old love song
She learned it when the tune was very new
He hums a line or two
They hum together in the night
The Dutchman falls asleep and Margaret blows the candle out.


I feel rather sad that I have no dear Margaret (to) remember for me. I am so glad that I have Alex, who allows me to pick him up and hold and cuddle him.


  1. Im so sorry you don't have more visitors- it's a bit of a melancholy post... or just sad.

    I shall come for a visit if you'll have me when I get back to Area 52; you should only be about a 4 hour drive from me, give or take.

  2. As long as we are living,
    no matter when or where,
    if you ever need me
    just call and I'll be there

    I'll climb a thousand mountains
    and swim a thousand seas
    anything to be there
    'cause you've been there for me

    Really I will!

  3. I have the John Prine album, and have Steve Goodman's version of The Dutchman. They are wonderful, moving songs.

    Another good song about lonliness is Johnny Cash's version of Hurt. Have you heard it?

  4. Awwww... Andi's comment really touched me.

    Hello in there, Nick!

    I'm grateful that you are in my life - even if it is from a distance.

    Thank you for sharing this song.

  5. Nick, that is such a sad post. I wish I were closer, I'd be over for coffee every day, like I do with Ken, Jane's father. I do plan to visit the States sometime and I'll call in...promise!

  6. I'm going to listen now. I'm in a contemplative mood.

  7. Nick you are breakin' my heart over here ((((hugs))))

    Although i live a million miles away, if you want to do a coffee one day we can msn it up ;)

    I know it's not the same, but it's the best i can do today.

  8. Alex is glad you are there to hold him. Take care of yourself.

  9. I've often thought about how wonderful the Internet is for lonely people of all ages. We can now easily "talk" to people from all over the planet.

    My Mum's just made friends with someone in Thailand. She doesn't know if this person's a male or female; one's a Christian and the other's Buddhist. They probably wouldn't have ever "met" if not for the Net, and now they're sending each other presents!

  10. Your peace globe has been placed in The Peace Globe Gallery.
    You are officially peace globe #1109.
    BlogBlast For Peace ~ November 6, 2008 is going to be awesome! See you there.

  11. Hey Nick,

    If I ever get out your way, I'll stop in and say Hi. Until then, Know that you're in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs to you and Alex.
    (BTW, how are his allerges doing?)

    Love ya,

  12. I think—since it’s a new day, I’m not certain—that this post wasn’t meant to be sad or melancholy or grumbling. I learned long ago from studying the works of Joseph Campbell that the aging process naturally includes losses that are physical, mental, and social. I recognize and accept those within my own life. OK?

  13. My dear Professor: I would love to have you visit me in Louisville! I can offer simple hospitality and good conversation and music as well as a glass of fine wine (there are still some excellent wines in my wine cellar).

    I want to explain a bit more of the reasons that I have so few visitors. As a pastor who have lived and worked many places, one’s life centers on the church. Ethically, one cannot make “friends” of parishioners; to do so would violate an important moral boundary. Thus, although I am acquainted with hundreds of people, my closest friends (who have never been my parishioners) are spread throughout the United States from New York to California, Michigan to Arizona.

    Where local clergy are concerned, they are much like bloggers who remember and visit other clergy only in response to being visited. In the past several years, as my health has declined and I have been unable to attend meeting (even worship services) they have forgotten about me.

    I am unsure if I have elucidated that well, but it is a truth that is reflected in the statement out of sight, out of mind.

  14. Andi, my friend: Those are wonderful words! Thank you.

    If you are ever on this continent, I would love to meet you and offer you the same hospitality I have offered to the Professor.

  15. My dear friend, Thomas: I don’t believe that I have heard the Johnny Cash song. I shall try to locate it.

  16. Carol, my friend and comrade: Yes, Andi’s words were quite touching. I shall remember and treasure them.

    Yep, I am in here! (At least I think that is me!)

    I am grateful that you you are in my life: there are so few of is INFJs that when we find another we must cherish the relationship.

    I first heard The Dutchman while visiting a very dear friend in Michigan years ago. It touched me, even though I was much younger then.

  17. My dear Puss-in-Boots: I so wish that you were closer, too.

    If you do visit this land, please place Louisville on your itinerary. If you come at Kentucky Derby time, you can enjoy two weeks of great fun!

  18. My dear Peacemaking Mimi: I hope you enjoyed the song. It is one that make me contemplate many things.

  19. My dear Xmichra: Oh! I hope I have not broken your heart! I so appreciate your hugs!

    Yes, coffee is good. Perhaps we shall someday.

  20. My dear Angelic Angel: You are so right!

    Alex is a special friend. He was persistently asked to be held and cuddled lots over the past couple of days. I don’t know if that has to do with his needs—or, perhaps, he recognizes my needs.

  21. My dear darlin’ Mary: Yes, the Internet has introduced me to people all over the world. And, through Alex’s blog, I have met cats and birds and even woofie doggies from around the world.

    It’s wonderful that your mum has made friends in Thailand! I rather wish that my mother would risk learning to use a computer.

  22. My dear auburn haired artistic Susan: Yes, if you are ever in my part of the world, do drop in. I would so like to again visit your part of the world. It’s been ten years since I have driven through Kansas.

    Alex and I both appreciate your hugs.

    The Autumn allergies are upon us. I’m sneezing lots. At least Alex isn’t licking his belly; I think the cortisone help him quite a bit.

  23. You've not had a visitor in 2 years? That is just so sad!

    If I lived closer I'd definitely come to visit you Nick, at least once a week. ((hugs))

  24. My dear Akelamalu: I suppose I need to further qualify no visitor in 2 years . I’ve had people come by—my sons, my sister, insurance agent, social worker, etc.—in the past two years, but no one until Ann came last Thursday just to see me and visit. Thursday was the first time in two years that I have shared a meal with someone (other than Tasha) under my roof.

    I hope that clarifies, for the 2 years bit does sound, to me, extreme!

    I appreciate your hugs and that you and other swould visit if the distance weren’t so great!