Movin' on with Nellie: Smile though your heart is breaking


I’ve been traveling through memory lane again.  SiriusXM in my car is free for 14 more days; so, I’ve been listening to 60s on 6, 70s on 7 and 50s on 5. 

The other day Herman’s Hermits Peter Noone’s British personality bellowed across 60s on 6 with a retro look at some of the hits. Still goofy, he introduced songs evoking my memories about walks along lake fronts.  As a teen, I remember sitting on a boulder and chatting with my beau. These were times I recalled when I broke up and only let myself cry at night. In high-school hall ways, I smiled though my heart was breaking.

From here, it’s a long way to that whistle stop in my mind. Besides “Smile though your heart is breaking,” At any of breakup juncture in high school, I also took “Don’t let the sun catch you crying” to my soul. too. Tony Bennett was one of several artists who sang:  www.youtu.be/G7B2_RYZVjs.

Mom’s do deal with sadness and broken hearts as they see trouble come upon their children. Case in point, mama cat of the most recent kittens in my yard displays this mothering.  It was a couple weeks ago now that the long-haired mama with her battle scars and two of the three kittens were trapped, neutered, and released back to the yard.  But that morning was a bruiser for the one kitten left behind.  I watched his all white fur and chest heave up and down in a loud sorrow-filled call—even as he drank water he cried. I reached for him, but he was having none of it and dashed across the yard and away.  When the mama and siblings returned the mama called and called, looked and looked. Hearts were broken. I called for the little white one but he didn’t return. The mama bathed her other kittens and mothering went on. I could hear the words, “Smile, though your heart is breaking.”

Still, even on Dateline or 48 hours mysteries, moms lament that they love their children no matter where they are. We’ve experienced the ups and downs of life. It’s a jungle out there, as we heard Randy Newman sing on Monk.  Across our small towns, Moms know that jungle; and their hearts ache for children and teens caught in life and death struggles with vodka and meth.

Now, the drug makers have added the opioid addictions to the war waging against our teens’ brains and others.  Multi-faceted testing is needed to help those in the throes of this abuse.  We’ve lost stars to this epidemic like Prince, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.  Our children are even more precious than stars or gems. Street and prescription drug business is staging a coup of our children’s brains. We have all begun to metaphorically “Smile” though our hearts are hurting for our families, friends and heroes.

Thankfully, hope is out here and continues to grow. At www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preventing-drug-misuse-addiction-best-strategy details of preventing drug and alcohol abuse are shared.  There are lesson plans to teach about the drugs and damage to the young brain. If it’s a village to raise a child, it’s a library, community of parents, and front-of -the-class teachers who can also mark the path for young minds to avoid overdoses. Hopefully and ultimately, we can Smile while we do something about the addiction craze fueling drug lords like El Chapo. One thing we can do to make a difference is sit down together for supper at the table and put away those digital devices. 

—Nelda Curtiss is a former substance-prevention media specialist, journalist, and retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]

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