Bemidji Pioneer 

John Eggers column: Are you a sentimental old fool?


You may have heard a wife say to her husband, “Oh, don’t be such an old sentimental fool.”

The words are said with love, so we dismiss them. The wife realizes that sentimentality plays a big role in our lives.

The greatest western epic ever written arguably is “Lonesome Dove,” and it is full of sentiment. When Captain Call and Augustus leave the Rio Grande to head the herd to Montana, Augustus says to Call, “I guess we’ve seen the last of the dern Rio Grande. One of us ought to make a speech, Call. Think of how long we’ve rode this river.”

Usually the older we get, the more sentimental we become. That’s only natural, because we realize that may be the last time we see the Rio Grande.

My wife and I enjoyed a few days at the Northwest Angle. I’ve written about Minnesota’s northernmost treasure before. We travel there to relax, play a little Scrabble and read, and now it’s getting to be that we make the trip for sentimental reasons. Some day we will go there for the last time and drive away with a few tears in our eyes as we remember the good times we spent there. Everything comes to an end.

I’m reading my grandfather’s sermons he wrote when he was still preaching more than 50 years ago. He kept a copy of each one; typed on an old cast iron heavy Royal typewriter. I still have it — sentimental, I guess.

As I peruse through his sermons, I am sorting out the ones that he did for weddings. I hope to send them to the people he married (if they are still living) or to their next of kin. Won’t they be surprised to receive a copy of their wedding sermon after 60 or 70 years?

Our brain does have a mechanism for recording dramatic, emotional moments. This is why when we ask, “Do you remember when …?” we usually do remember because it was a sentimental emotional moment.

Our daughter was installed as the youth director at First Lutheran this past Sunday. Stupid me, I forgot to take any photos. I kidded her that the pastor should call the congregation together on Sunday afternoon for a reenactment so I could take some photos. There I go getting sentimental again.

I often tell beginning teachers to keep a scrapbook of their first year of teaching even if it means just putting some things in a cardboard box. Years from now it will be a good reminder of their first year of teaching — a very special time in their lives.

In 1944 Doris Day recorded the song “Sentimental Journey.” She did it at the time when World War II begins to turn for the Allied Forces. Soldiers could begin to think about when the war would be over when they could renew old memories. The first stanza of the song is:

Gonna take a Sentimental Journey,

Gonna set my heart at ease.

Gonna make a Sentimental Journey,

to renew old memories.

There are things I am not sentimental about. One of them is just getting older and all the things that go or don’t go with it like memory.

So this one old guy leaves a meeting and begins to look for his car keys. His wife always tells him to never leave them in the ignition, which he thinks is the best place for them because he can always find them.

After he searches his pockets and finds no keys he realizes he must have left them in the car. His worst fears are realized when he discovers that his car is no longer in the parking lot.

He calls the police to confess that he left his keys in the car and that someone stole it. He then calls his wife and stammers, “I, I, I left my keys in the car, and it has been stolen.” After a moment of silence, she barks, “Idiot, I dropped you off!”

When Augustus prepares to leave the ranch along the Rio Grande for the last time, he takes the gate off the fence and packs it in the wagon. On the gate he has carved in the Latin words “uv uvam vivendo varia fit.”

Although Augustus never really knew what the words meant, he thought it would be nice to have the only ranch in Texas with Latin words on the gate. The words mean “one vine becomes the whole vine” or “one grape causes the others to ripen.” Loosely translated, “we are changed by the lives around us.”

Yes, events and people do change us — sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. In all of the changing we go through, it’s those sentimental moments that don’t change. This is why as we grow older, it really isn’t all that bad. I guess I’m just a sentimental old fool.

JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.


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