I Could Be A Hermit

Hermits in Appalachia

As you might figure, Pap’s recent accident and subsequent illness has left an uneasiness thumping around inside my chest. I’ve recognized the order of time since I was an early teenager. Yet, the last week has made me realize in crystal clear clarity the march of time applies to me and mine just like it does to everyone else.

What I have has always been enough. Not to say that I don’t long for material items-my desire for a sprawling farm comes to mind even as my fingers type.

It’s a hard thing to describe. I tried a few years ago in a post I never published. Pap and Paul sing more than one old love song about having to be content to build a life in one’s heart because of unrequited love. But that doesn’t fit how I feel either-I have plenty of love to give and to accept.

I told someone the other day “Books and music. There’s enough of both to entertain me for the rest of my life.” Maybe that’s part of it-I’m easily entertained. Or maybe it’s as simple as saying I’m satisfied with my lot in life.

During Pap’s convalescence, I’ve barely left his side. I’ve missed a whole week of work. I’m thankful I work for a place that is understanding and committed to its employees putting family first.

But I must admit the days I’ve spent tending Pap and Granny here in the holler have made me never want to leave it again. The time has made me wonder if what I’m doing is really important compared to taking care of them? Compared to living a quiet life where I can wander in the woods at will? Where I can sit and listen to the birds talk to each other. Where I can watch the first pink flush of Ivy creep along the ridge as they began to bloom.

One of my closest friends told me she felt like she was lost if she didn’t drive into town at least once a day. She said she needed to see other people. I go to town once a week to get groceries and most of the time that is too much for me.

I’m certainly not the first person to ponder these things-nor will I be the last. Yet here I am feeling as though I’m standing before a wide gulf of water with no idea of whether I should jump in and swim across or turn around and go back the way I come.


p.s. Pap is slowly improving. He asked me yesterday reckon why he couldn’t get to feeling like himself. I said “It’s hardly been a week since you broke your hip in 2 places and had a heart attack I think it might take a little bit longer than that!”


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  • Reply
    Teresa Atkinson
    May 27, 2015 at 9:34 am

    facing my cancer made me examine the life I had cultivated. It was full to overflowing with excess stuff, not a good place to find myself.
    In the five years of healing – mentally and physically, I have worked through so much. I find myself most comfortable with the simplest of things in the most beautiful of places.
    Deer camp comes to mind. A place to sleep – bathe – cook and eat. Time moves at a pace that allows appreciation of the gift of simplicity. The chores needing completed can happen in a short time frame and then you can breathe.
    I am so glad Pap is improving. Me and the Crusty Old Guy really need to make a trip soon.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    May 26, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Tipper, we are kindred spirits. You are living the life I dreamed of as a child.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    May 24, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    I’m ‘way over a day late responding to your introspective, deep and mind-penetrating “Hermit” piece. I so identify with you on being so concerned about your Pap, and wishing you had more time to spend with your parents. We’re from roots that “always took care of their own” and loved doing that tender-loving-care. You have waxed eloquent, indeed, in expressing your inmost feelings. Thank you for sharing. I wish the very best for Pap, that he can soon be back to making music again, and feeling strong and hearty. Patience–and prayer–both help as time for recuperation occurs. The Living Bible translation renders Romans 5:3-4 this way: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us–they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.”
    My prayers and best wishes for Pap and all you who care for him!

  • Reply
    Rob Simbeck
    May 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Tipper, A lovely piece. I have moved my writing spot to the back deck and I stay there until it gets too hot or rainy. I’ve never spent this much time outdoors, and it’s because I hear the same call you do. “Always at my back I hear time’s winged chariot.” Since my parents died, I know I’m rowing slowly home, and I want to enjoy it. Do the best you can to balance work and family and the urgings of your spirit, and please continue to share the journey with us. That sharing, that connection, doesn’t require a trip to a crowded grocery store and yet it connects you and feeds our spirits.

  • Reply
    Janet Pressley
    May 23, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Hope Pap continues to improve. I know he is glad to have you there with him. It really helps him. Take care of yourself! Let us know if you need anything. Janet Pressley

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 23, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Glad Pap is on the mend, tell him to be patient and take time to mend. I had four heart attacks in 2004 & 2005, my wife accused me of becoming a hermit but the peacefulness of a home filled with the love of my family allowed me to mend without the aggravation of the outside world’s hustle. It allowed me to lose 80 lbs. and have no other heart problems in the last ten years. He has been a caretaker for years now he needs to accept the love and care I’m sure he’ll receive from his loving Blind Pig Gang.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    May 23, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    The older I get the less I want. I’d be really content to find my dream holler (this one’s too crowded!) and just simply enjoy being there for the rest of my days. PS- Pine Knots make very poor patients!

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    May 23, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Praying that Pap continues to improve. I could easily be a hermit too. I’m not very “gypsy footed” either.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    May 23, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Oh, Tipper, how blessed your parents are to have your loving care! May every minute of your time there bring comfort and peace to your heart as well as to those of your dear parents.

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I could tell from the first time I met you and Pap, that you were a “daddy’s girl.” I like that!
    You have a keen insight on life and it’s just natural to talk as if you were a Hermit. I love the solitude of my homeplace too. When all the leaves are out, you can’t hear a truck or car going
    by. And sometimes I even have bad
    thoughts about them blooming
    airplanes. But I hope Pap gets
    to feeling better soon…Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Being able to be with & care for a parent is such a blessing. I was able to go & stay with Mama either at her home or in the hospital many times. My worst regret is that after her last fall, which broke her hip, we felt we had to put her in the nursing home as we couldn’t get her up & down. Could I do it over, I would bring her home with me & do the best I could. Nothing in this world is more precious than family.
    That said, I need & cherish time alone–don’t understand those perpetually on the phone.
    I’m so glad Pap is recovering–hope he’s up & around soon. Still Praying for him & you all.

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I agree wth Miss Cindy. This is definitely one of those times to go inside yourself to look around and ponder. Time and circumstances surely have a way of putting things in the proper perspective and remind us what is important. So glad you have had this time with Pap. Now that is what is important! Pap and your whole family are in our thoughts and prayers. God bless all of you!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 23, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I read this quote and it fits sometimes for me….
    “I feel like something life changing is gonna happen, like some sort of epiphany and all of the sudden…everything will be okay.”
    In the meantime…my life tends to goes on and I try to adapt to the changes or we make changes that deem necessary…At my age I can’t think of a lot of changes that I want or need other than the most important…good health for my family and love and peace in the world!
    Thanks Tipper,
    great post…I’m feeling your ponderings….

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 23, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Tipper, what a wonderful heartfelt post this morning. You touched my heart with your words. The older I get the more I realize that it’s not things in this life that matter but family and people who need us. As I sit here on the back deck watching my children play in the yard, my dog at my feet and the creek tumbling down the hill I am very thankful for
    this day. Life is very uncertain and fragile but love and God’s grace sustain us. Sending up prayers for you and your family!

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    May 23, 2015 at 10:34 am

    There has been a lot of wisdom and truth posted today. I can relate to all of what has been said but not eloquent enough to add much to it. You have some very wise readers. May I suggest a book to add to your reading list if you haven’t read it already, “The Education of Little Tree” by Forrest Carter.

  • Reply
    Brenda McLaine
    May 23, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Tipper, didn’t know about Pap. Hope he will soon regain his strength and enthusiasm for life. From one of the posts to your post I found out that I am an introvert. My husband is an extrovert and sometimes we clash because of the way each of us are but that’s ok.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    May 23, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I spent my life traveling the world. The sea was my home. I have seen the elephant in India and the lion in Africa. I lived my life looking for that just beyond the horizon. I have finally reached a place where I would be content to be known as that old SOB with all the dogs, who lives down the road.
    Hope today is a better day for Pap as we remember the Brothers-in-Arms who have gone before us.

  • Reply
    Barbara Jean Gamble Trent
    May 23, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Lucky and blessed to live with my sister who LOVES TO BE OUT AND ABOUT and has shopping as her hobby. So I just give her my list and my money and off she goes! me? I am content to stay on the mountain for evermore!

  • Reply
    anne hill
    May 23, 2015 at 10:11 am

    I have worked at getting my grocery buying to once a month – doesn’t always work by I try. Even once a month seems like too often. I’m still praying for Pap and Granny – you too.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    May 23, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Honey, God bless you.

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I may be a bit partial to the mountains, but I certainly think it would be much easier to become a hermit in these hills. Somehow I just don’t think a hermit’s life would be ideal if one awakened to peer out at the same skyscraper each day.
    It is wonderful that you have been able to hang out and help with Pap. I have often felt the healing process is influenced greatly by a support system. Keep up the good work, Tipper, and I’m sure many Blind Pig readers have sent up prayers. Healing is a slow process.

  • Reply
    muskat antonopolis
    May 23, 2015 at 9:23 am

    no one is an island…first thought I had when reading ur story…I am 74..b 75 here very soon…our children (I dislike the word kids..thats for goats), are scattered all over like a covey of quail..super busy and most times we don’t hear from them OR see them for loooong
    stretches….Carol, my beauftiful
    wife went thru a prolonged case of
    empty nest sickness (and it is a sickness of mind and spirit)…
    she isn’t really over it and I don’t guess ever will be…Where am I going with this story? Well,
    my wife would LOVE to have her
    children and all her relatives andfriends right next door so that
    she could hug on em when ever she wanted to…I think we all go thru
    periods of wanting to be alone from the pressures of this world and maybe…it is God calling us to “come away for awhile with me”..anyway glad to hear that ur Pap is healing..just like u said…takes some time….but, again no one is an island….

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 23, 2015 at 9:18 am

    When my Mom died in 2012 I finally realized that there was never going to be enough time with her or anyone else I care about simply because our lives are too short. That realization has helped me treasure such times as I have and be grateful for them. And it helped me solve the riddle of what redeems a common life. It is love. Thus it is in reach of all and independent of wealth or station or education or anything else our thinking might suggest.
    I recognize the personality description you gave. I read an excerpt to my wife and she said, “Sounds like you.” Yep, sprawling farm and all. She will go to town today. I will stay home. We will each enjoy ourselves.
    You have just experienced one of those ‘pause and reflect’ events of life. In them we wonder if we have – and are – ‘redeeming the time’. I feel I know you well enough to say without reservation, “Yes, you are.” But it is my nature at least to ask myself this sort of knotty question. I can no more escape them than I can (as Dad was fond of saying) ‘raise and fly’.
    As I’m sure you can tell, you touched me deeply today. And is that not proof you are indeed redeeming the time ? May the good Lord ever bless you and yours.

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Part of me wants to be a hermit while another part wants to go explore the world. Yesterday is a perfect example of how I, like your friend, felt lost without a trip out of my road. I worked five hours cutting grass, jumped in the shower and looked for an excuse to go to town. A trip to a fast food restaurant was very satisfying.
    Tipper, there’s no telling what you could do with a sprawling farm, especially with Pap and Granny there to guide you. I can just see you living off the land like my mom used to.
    Still praying for Pap’s good health to return soon-real soon!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Such a beautiful and deeply thought out bit of feelings. Some of us just enjoy a peaceful life without the surroundings of others. Family is important to many of us. I don’t have family around me, but I try to keep in touch through letters and email. Prayers are still coming your way for the recovery of Pap. God bless your time with family.

  • Reply
    Ray P Algee
    May 23, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Tipper, praying for you and your family.
    I’m a border line introvert and because of my out-going personality, most people would never picture me as being that way. Introverts don’t need other people to recharge their being. Extroverts do need the party atmosphere.
    I’m retired now and very content with staying in my house or yard most of the time. Weekly trips to church, grocery shopping, eating out (mostly alone – by choice), it’s back to the comfort of my home.
    We are all individuals and have some what different needs. I suppose that makes us all alike. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Your post today touched me in so many ways. I am so glad that Pap is continuing to slowly improve. When my Dad had a triple bypass, Mom had just had her first stroke so they moved in with us for the initial part of his recuperation. After 6 weeks he couldn’t stand it anymore and he packed up Mom and himself and went home. A few days later I got a call from a neighbor: “Your Dad is out in the back digging up a tree! Is he supposed to be doing that?!” My response was, “Do you really think I can stop him?”. I did go out right away, more to check on Mom than Dad – there are few times I can influence him and I knew this wasn’t one – he’s another in that species of “tough old birds”.
    Your reflection on our place in time hit home too. When you grow up in a family with 2,or more generations above you, you get a firm sense of place. As those generations move on and you find yourself in the position of “oldest generation” it can be quite startling – I started to say “unsettling” but that’s not true because you understand how things are, but it is still an “oh, my” moment. Although I’m a might bit older than you, neither of us are there yet, but it’s not too far around the bend and we know it in our bones.
    For us, the quiet ones, the introverts, the appreciators of silence and the extraordinary number of hues, tones, and shades of green, we may not be the life of the party, but we are the ones people can count on. We express ourselves best in letters, music, poetry, and art. We are the combination of the Biblical Marys and Marthas. Curious, observant, and good listeners; but also dependable hard workers.
    I just picked up a book called Quiet, by Susan Cain. It’s near the top of the ‘to-be-read’ stack. I have a feeling I’m going to meet myself there.
    I’m not as bad as Pecos Bill’s Dad who came thunderin’ home yelling for his family to pack up and get ready to move because another family had moved in two counties over. But I do appreciate the general peacefulness of a rural life; and I especially appreciate you and all of your readers who share their appreciation of the bounty and the wisdom of what Nature has to offer.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 23, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Amen on all counts.

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Wow, I believe you just spoke a lot of my own feeling right now! My younger brother passed away in March in a very tragic way and my mother passed two weeks later in April. We were in the middle of selling our house and moving to another city. I’ve often been heard lately saying ” I feel like I jumping from rock to rock in a river with a lot of swift water in between. The unknown places in life can be scary. Please forgive my “unloading” on your blog! My continued best wishes to you and your folks and ever healing thoughts to your Pap!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 8:21 am

    i’m definitely like that when i’m up there. unfortunately, i’m onlyup there less than two months out of twelve. i’ve have been thinking about what i shall do when i retire from teaching: as much as i long to, it is a possibility i will never see another human again!
    i hadn’t heard about pap. hope he’s hale and hearty soon!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 8:09 am

    In most folks eyes we are “Hermits” Trying to stay away from this worlds hamster wheel of life, has been a goal of ours for sometime now..And we are OK with it.. I guess as we grow older the things that use to mattered some how does not seem as important.. Recognizing that things we over looked in the past is now in the for-front of our mind. I don’t think most folks now days stop long enough to “smell the roses” and that’s important, or just listening to the rain fall.. Just being still long enough so that God can speak to our heart and direct our paths is something I fall short of.. But try to be more of ..

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    It is wonderful that Pap is gEttinger better.
    Have you heard of the international Slow Movement? From food, to money. To driving and biking. Everyone wants to slow down. I think we are all yearning for slower living, now being pressed to hurry through that yellow light or to rush through our meal because we have to be somewhere. Keep in mind, next week it will not matterrorism that you stopped for that light or that you arrived a couple of minutes late. Slow Down, we are all moving too fast.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    It is wonderful that Pap is gEttinger better.
    Have you heard of the international Slow Movement? From food, to money. To driving and biking. Everyone wants to slow down. I think we are all yearning for slower living, now being pressed to hurry through that yellow light or to rush through our meal because we have to be somewhere. Keep in mind, next week it will not matterrorism that you stopped for that light or that you arrived a couple of minutes late. Slow Down, we are all moving too fast.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    It is wonderful that Pap is gEttinger better.
    Have you heard of the international Slow Movement? From food, to money. To driving and biking. Everyone wants to slow down. I think we are all yearning for slower living, now being pressed to hurry through that yellow light or to rush through our meal because we have to be somewhere. Keep in mind, next week it will not matterrorism that you stopped for that light or that you arrived a couple of minutes late. Slow Down, we are all moving too fast.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    It is wonderful that Pap is gEttinger better.
    Have you heard of the international Slow Movement? From food, to money. To driving and biking. Everyone wants to slow down. I think we are all yearning for slower living, now being pressed to hurry through that yellow light or to rush through our meal because we have to be somewhere. Keep in mind, next week it will not matterrorism that you stopped for that light or that you arrived a couple of minutes late. Slow Down, we are all moving too fast.

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    May 23, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Tipper, you don’t have to do a thing as Psalms 46:10 states “Be still and know that I am God,” – For Pap, your love is a true healing power and I am glad to hear that he is mending.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 23, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Tipper, you have such depth it does not surprise me that you have these thoughts. You have such clarity of vision that you see right through to the heart of the world and have little thought for the window dressing.
    A friend once explained to me that we have times in our lives when we live very introspectively and times when we live more in the world. This is one of your times to go inside and look around. You’ll find new insights and pearls of wisdom to bring with you when you return. It’s really quite a beautiful process for those who can make the trip.
    I’m so glad Pap is improving, even if it’s slower that he thinks it should be. He is such a sweet and gentle spirit in this world.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    May 23, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Oh, I can relate to that desire for simplicity and quiet. It’s true, books and music are enough. For introverts, alone time is the most precious possession. Not that I don’t love my family and friends, but it’s hard to tap into the spirit of the universe with someone just chewing on your ear… Since I have retired, I have just about enough time by myself to renew my spirit, and then I do something I really want to do … yoga class, my volunteer work…art class. There is just enough money to pay for what’s necessary and a little bit stashed away to pay for the odd broken hot water heater. Life is good.

  • Reply
    Jackie Jentzsch
    May 23, 2015 at 7:20 am

    This last year has brought to home all the same feelings you are having. I could stay on my little patch of earth forever. I have to force myself to go out to get food and to work just 3 days a week. (and to get more books) This morning there were deer in the yard, other days, wild turkeys. As spring has finally unfolded here all the beautiful blooming plants as they come to life for the year. What more could you ask for ??
    Praying for your dad’s speedy recovery. I know his spirit is strong and his body will soon catch up. You’all are in my thoughts and prayers daily. Love all of you !!!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 23, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Tipper–I am convinced that there is something in the mountain persona, a deeply rooted characteristic which evinces itself in forms such as a great love of the land and fierce independence, that makes all of us have a tendency to be misanthropes.
    Personally I am perfectly satisfied to be alone, isolated from the world, for long stretches of time. Also, our high country forebears were never happier than when their closest neighbor lived a couple of hills and hollows away and when they could look out their door and see nothing but fields and forests.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. Good news indeed that Pap is slowly on the mend, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the attention of a devoted daughter has been part of the healing process.

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