8 Ideas Newsletter, Aunt Ida’s Farm, Remembering My Uncle Izzy, Winter, 2008, InnerResources Counseling and Publications

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Remembering Uncle Izzy
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Aunt Ida’s Farm
Remembering My Uncle Izzy
Jeff Landau, Ph.D.

Uncle Izzy and Aunt Idas Farm My uncle Izzy was the life blood of my early life visits  to my Aunt Ida's farm. I was able to tolerate the potentially  hazardous 2 ­2 1/2 hour ride in a car with my guaranteed­ to­explode at some point on the trip father as well as the  hazardous excursion over the smelly and smokey Pulaski  Skyway   and   escape   into   the   serene   farmlands   of  Sommerville and Flemington and White House Station New  Jersey.  I   knew   that   I   would   soon   be   welcomed   by   the  barking   dogs   as   we   drove   up   the   dirt   road   to   the   farm,  (although   always   nervous   that   that   they   would   come   too  close to the car and get hit) and that as we entered the final  stretch that I would soon see Aunt Ida  Uncle Max, Sidney  and Uncle Izzy. All smiling and beaming.

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We Arrive Finally. Doors fly open, out of the car and hugs and  kisses all around. Holding each other we all walk and talk  and enter the big white farm house. I loved the big old table  that   was   the   center   piece   of   unbelievable   breakfasts   of  freshly picked farm eggs and freshly baked breads. I loved  the big old beds with the floppy mattresses and fresh, fresh  sheets   and   pillow   cases.   I   loved   the   fresh   smells   of   the  country air and the green, green grass of the fields. I loved  the   barn   and   the   cows   (though   they   made   me   a   little  nervous) and the chicken coops with the 1000's of chickens  all flying around and screaming their heads off.  With  all  of this, it was only because  of Uncle Izzy  that I got to see it all, work it all and have experiences that  might not have been allowed if Uncle Izzy were not there.

Uncle Izzy It was Uncle Izzy who slipped me a twenty dollar bill. 

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It was Uncle Izzy who stayed behind with me when they all  went into town. It was he who threw me the keys to the car  so I could drive the car around the farm. It was Uncle Izzy  who   actually   let   me   drive   the   tractor,   huge   back­wheels  tractor. Bumping and careening through the open fields and  grinding in the manure. 

A Summer At “The Farm” I couldn't believe it. I actually asked and got to stay  at "the farm" for a whole summer, so that I could help the  workers clean out the chicken houses, and learn how to get  the   eggs   without   scaring   the   chickens.   I   learned   how   to  spot defects in he eggs before we boxed them. I learned  how to spot double and triple yolk eggs, and take them for  our breakfast. I was particularly excited about this for some  reason,   and  no  one   dampened  my  enthusiasm  by telling  me that they were potentially twins and triplets. I learned how to milk a cow, skim off the cream and  hand­churn   it   into   farm   fresh   butter.   Yup.   I   learned   and 

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worked hard on the farm. And it was Uncle Izzy who was  always there at my side, and Aunt Ida, also quite special,  and  Max   and   Sydney  forming   a   solid   behind  the   scenes  background.

The Chickens Occasionally I saw something that made me wonder,  but in that context not question very much. We didn't go to  the super market to get the butter or the bread or the eggs.  And we had our own chickens. So what I witnessed was  the ceremony where a helpless chicken had it's neck slit  and head cut off and then when released would run around  in circles  for a while before collapsing. That old saying you  are running around like a chicken with its its head cut off is  no   joke.   Maybe   that   was   the   beginning   of   my   childhood  understanding   of   the   food   chain.   Maybe   it   was   my  projection   of   my   own   consciousness   into   the   chicken's  situation,   or   maybe   it   was   my   direct   perception   of   the  chicken's consciousness that planted the seed for an eat no 

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beef and less chicken in my childhood mind.

The Dogs But that isn't what I felt guilty about. It was about the  dogs. One of the dogs, a big beautiful German Shepherd  was about to have a litter. I was a big event. I witnessed the  birth. How exciting. A large beautiful litter. O happy days.   And then I witnessed Uncle Izzy get a shovel and dig  a hole and bury a few of the litter. He just kept the biggest  and best for the farm. I asked him about it. And that's what  he said. And I said nothing more. I said nothing more.

I Said Nothing and I Did Nothing I said nothing and I did nothing to stop him. I didn't  tell him I'd take them. I didn't suggest he sell them, or give  them   away.   We   had   a   good   relationship.   He   might   have  listened. I don't know if there was a limitation of my mind at  the   time   or   that   I   had   no   experience   with   life,   birth   and  alternatives. Or that I was so horrified by the sight of being 

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buried alive and killed that I couldn't think. 

Forgiving These  experiences  did  not wipe  out  and  obliterate  my most positive times at the farm. Nor did they lead to a  prolonged finger pointing condemnation of Uncle Izzy. The  experiences lay buried, cooking slowly till I could see them  all at once and understand their import for my own life. Yup,  another  memory that no longer enjoyed  the  rose  colored  glasses of childhood. Just reality and the complex interplay  of good and bad experiences seen simultaneously.

Guilt: The Existential Solution And what about the guilt at saying nothing. Some believe that life continuously offers situations that are similar to the one we should have or could have done something different, so that we always get another chance to correct the past by acting differently in the present.1 No, I haven't been in an exact situation where

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someone was about to bury a litter alive and only keep the best and strongest. But, I have been able to say something about a discretionary policy of leaving pets behind during a catastrophe, and I did notice Ben and Jerry's cage free egg policy and the humane treatment of animals in organic farming. No, I have not sought employment on farms to look into and document and bring law suits against viscous and cruel treatment of animals. Yes, I did understand Year Of The Dog. I have been able to say something about our first line of defense against mean spirited behavior and policies, our freedom to talk, our freedom of speech, and “big picture” policies, human and animal, that are survival of the fittest oriented and which serve as rational for cold hearted visions of “collateral damage”. So thank you Aunt Ida, Uncle Max, Sydney, and Uncle Izzy for the kindness and love and loving experiences you provided me with during my childhood at Aunt Ida’s farm. For the loving moments with the animals, milking the cows and walking quietly and carefully amongst the chickens and for being around those big beautiful dogs.

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The First Newsletter

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End Notes

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1 This should not be interpreted as meaning the “actual” event can be re­done, like in all the time travel movies.

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