Musings of a Matriarch

Percale sheets, casino winnings, much more

Sharon Kennedy, Journal columnist

I think it’s finally time to put away my electric blanket and get out the percale sheets for my bed. I was beginning to think the cold weather would never leave, but this past weekend convinced me summer is just around the corner.

Like some of you, I’m always thinking something special is right around the next corner or bend in the road. Something wonderful and exciting is waiting for me if I just have the courage to hang on long enough for it to find me. A marvelous adventure will be mine if I keep a positive attitude.

Well, I don’t know about you, but when I come to my senses I realize my pie in the sky dreaming will get me nowhere. It’s like this. Stuff happens. Seasons change. People grow apart. We either accept our lot and make the best of it or we cash in our chips. As oldsters we have a lot fewer chips than we did 20 or 30 years ago so I guess it’s best to continue to plow forward.

A few weeks ago a classmate won $78,000 at the Bay Mills Casino. Then earlier this week he won another $28,000 and cashed out more than $38,000. He goes to the casino every day and plays the same machines. He often wins a little, but this is the first time he won enough to hire someone from Brinks to drive him to the bank. Another classmate posted his good luck on Facebook and everyone wished him well.

There’s only one catch. The fellow has a terminal disease and no amount of money will cure him. No matter how many corners he turns, Agent Orange claimed his body 50 years ago and won’t give it back. To my way of thinking, his winnings are bittersweet. It’s almost like a consolation prize. What he really wants is his health, but the fates were against that so they rewarded him with money to add to his already bulging bank account.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This business of life is a strange and peculiar thing. Some religious people believe in predestination. I don’t hold to that doctrine. I think it would be a burden to know it didn’t matter what I said or did because the fates had already decided where I would end up when I leave this physical world.

Some folks believe only a certain number of people will go to a place called heaven. Other folks reject any notion of an omniscient, benevolent being. I used to attend a church that put its doctrine over the Bible. I believed everything I was taught until the church windows were opened and a lot of what I thought was true turned out to be arbitrary or outright false.

So what does all this have to do with percale sheets and casino winnings? Probably nothing, but you know how I get on one subject and skip to another. I love those old sheets Mom bought years ago from Penny’s. They’re as crisp and fresh as the day she brought them home. I don’t remember having a fitted sheet, so I do what Mom did. I tuck the edges of one sheet underneath the mattress and use another one as my top sheet and my bed is as welcoming as a month old kitten.

How many people do you know that talk about their sheets? I’m willing to bet very few, but then again, how many people do you know who won over $100,000 at a casino within a month’s time? Probably none and that’s the point of this musing. Life is a funny business. There’s no telling what will happen at any given moment. While you’re dreaming about pie in the sky, someone else is eating it, but at what price.

If my classmate had known he was going to get a disease as a result of his tour in Vietnam perhaps he would have high-tailed it to Canada. We live 15 minutes from the International Bridge, but he didn’t. He served his country like thousands of other young lads. Some paid the ultimate price. Some left an arm, leg, eye, or their sanity in that foreign land. Unlike my clean, cool sheets, those boys entered a hot, humid jungle and put their life on the line every day. Most had no idea why they were there, but they obeyed the call of duty, said goodbye to their loved ones, and boarded a plane to face the unknown.

Memorial Day has passed. The parades are only a memory. Old soldiers put away their uniforms for another year. Visits to cemeteries are over. Political speeches that praised the fallen are replaced by Tweets denying any hint of scandals. By the afternoon of the 28th many Americans were grilling steaks, watching baseball games, and drinking beer. The dead were forgotten.

Like the sheets I bring out once a year, we set aside one day in May to pay homage to those who died in service to our country. Was their fate predetermined the moment they were conceived or is everything random? As I tuck the corners of my percale underneath the mattress, most of us tuck Memorial Day in a far corner of our mind until next year.

Life is a senseless mystery to me. If you figure it out, please let me know.

Editor’s note: Sharon M. Kennedy of Brimley is a humorist who infuses her musings with a hardy dose of matriarchal common sense. She writes about everyday experiences most of us have encountered at one time or another on our journey through life. Her articles are a combination of present day observations and nostalgic glances of the past. She can be reached via email at In addition, Sharon has compiled a collection of stories from her various newspaper columns. The title of her book is “Life in a Tin Can.” Copies are available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.