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  • Archive for May, 2011

    Decoration Day

    2011 - 05.26

      When I was a little girl, back in the 19mublemuble, I knew it only as Decoration Day. I know it was declared Memorial Day, a day to remember those fallen in service to our country. By then I was a teenager (oops, almost gave my age away!) but our family had been decorating the graves of our loved ones, service members or not, for what seemed to be all my life. It was a big deal, right up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    “Who all is coming in this year for Decoration Day?” (This always has sounded odd to me; “coming in” denotes that someone has been “out” and I never felt that way about anyone in my family. I know they were asking who would be traveling back “home” for the weekend, but still…) Most years everyone in the family, living that is, went to the family plot to visit the others, dead that is. All the ones we visited had been dressed in their very best to meet our Maker so we always dressed in our best to visit their final resting place on earth. We’d go from grave to grave, communing with the one resting there, some verbally, some mentally, but all emotionally. No matter how hot the sun felt on our heads, or how rain saturated our hair, we felt our duty, the very least we could offer them for all they’d given to us.

    The more members we lost from our family circle, the less strictly we adhered to the annual pilgrimage. Because I moved to another state nearly 25 years ago I don’t know if anyone left in my family decorates the graves this time every year. My grandmother and mother’s generations are gone, the oldest living generation is mine (what?? How the world did that happen?) and we’re not close as we were as children. We grew up, had our own families, fighting to pay the bills, you know how that goes. Life just gets in the way.

    My maternal limb of the family tree rests beneath a shady oak in a quiet spot not far from me; enabling me to go sit and chat with her any time I wish. As for the rest, every time I go home to East Tennessee, I put aside a large part of one day to spend with them. Mamaw was especially fond of Pool Room (not the actual name but it’s what we called it) hot dogs and a cold RC Cola. When I go for my visitation with Mamaw, I take one of those hot dogs, an RC, and sit right down to have a picnic with her. Nope, it’s not on Decoration Day, but it’s my personal way to honor her, to remind her, and Papaw, and Ruby, and Ronnie, and Charlene that all rest near her, that they’re never forgotten. I tell them that through the bad times and the good, the shining moments and horrendous mistakes, I love them still. They are what made me, me, and for what that’s worth, I’m grateful.

    And to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom, and those who came back home forever changed due to a war on foreign land, I offer you the only thing I have, the very least I can say: Thank You and may God bless.

    Sneaky child!

    2011 - 05.20

    I’m going to try very hard to be a good girl and post to my blog every Friday. I suppose the word “girl” is inappropriate since I’m now so old I may forget to write the actual blog. <sigh>

    I spent part of this last week editing, creating covers, then posting some of my short stories to Kindle. Time-consuming, at times irritating but worth it after it was done. But isn’t that true of just about everything we do in life?

    Chatting with some of the people that bought those stories, I was reminded again of childhood memories. I don’t know, maybe I linger in the past too much. Oh well, it’s my imagination and I’ll play in it if I want to, right?

    One of my readers, and I won’t mention any names (cough…Beth…cough) told me about an Easter from her childhood. Should be a sweet memory, huh? Ah, but you don’t know Beth. You know, I’ll let her tell you in her own words!

        It was two days after my fifth Easter when our phone rang early that morning. It was Mrs. Erwin calling to ask my mother if I was sick. My mother responded no and inquired why this early call regarding my health and well being. Mrs. Erwin explained that out of four of her five children had experienced the most horrible case of diarrhea, the whole prior night, except for the infant. Mother said she was so sorry to hear of the children’s affliction but, no, I was fine. Mother began fixing my breakfast when the phone rang again and it was Mrs. Nelson inquiring of my health and after mother said I was fine. Mrs. Nelson said that her little Sammy had been up with a most terrible case of diarrhea and she was concerned about me when she remembered that looking out her kitchen window and seeing Sammy, the four Erwin children, and myself all sitting under the tree eating out of our Easter Baskets. As Mrs. Nelson finished her story she said that by the way, she thought Beth looked so cute walking around the yard with her little sun-suit on and that pretty little blue Easter purse hanging around my arm. My mother thanked her and hung up, finishing my breakfast. That’s when my mother, the valedictorian of the class of 1945, a pretty smart lady, began to investigate why all the children I had played with the day before had come down with horrible diarrhea all night long and I hadn’t. She began with my Easter basket, nothing afoul there. Then she saw the cute little blue Easter purse Mrs. Nelson had spoken of on the phone. When she opened it she immediately was able to put two and two together. There in the bottom of the little purse was an aluminum wrapper with a lone small square of what looked like chocolate but with further investigation, turned out to be not chocolate candy but Ex-Lax. My mother being way too moral and honest for my own sake, made the phone calls to Mrs. Erwin and Mrs. Nelson to inform them their children did not have a childhood dreaded disease, they were just experiencing the effects of being fed Ex-Lax. She insisted that her sweet little daughter surely didn’t know what she was doing by feeding her little neighbor friends, that were always being mean to her, a whole box of Ex-Lax. And it was just added bad luck that it followed the day after those same kids’ tummies were stuffed full of hard boiled Easter eggs and all the Easter candy that could consume….or did she?! 

    So if know Beth and she offers you chocolate, run to the bathroom!

    Do you remember this?

    2011 - 05.14

    This is my first blog entry this century. Okay, that’s a teensy bit of exaggeration but I’m a fiction writer (as well as nonfiction) and we do that. I tell people I’m lucky because I get paid to lie. Since I don’t know what the cool kids are blogging about right now, what’s new and hip, I’m just going to write what crosses my mind. Gosh, I feel sorry for you right about now.

    I was chatting with someone on Facebook earlier (yep, I’m on there so go look me up and for the sake of my pride, “FRIEND” me!!) and the conversation meandered into the past. Now, the past has been good to me, in many ways; one of those being the subject of my book, Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge, a book about a child of the 50s living in the south. I’ve even gotten great reviews so it must be okay. But it led me to a story from my life, about a hundred years ago (remember I lie now), about being a little girl and watching my favorite show. (I lied about it being 100 years ago but the truth is, I DID watch the show and I was, in fact, a little girl.) Bet you figure out what the show was as you read this. If you don’t, you’re too young to “get it”, anyway.  So-read on!

    Mirror, Mirror

     “Hurry, Mamaw, hurry!  My show’s coming on and I have to watch it!”

     I wondered if her nose itched when I saw the corners of her mouth twitching.  “You won’t be able to watch it if you choke to death on that sandwich!  Slow down; you have plenty of time.”

    “No I don’t!  You just don’t understand, Mamaw!  I hafta be there in case she says my name today!  We sent her that letter, ‘member?”

     Because Mamaw had turned on the TV to let it warm up, I could hear the opening strands of “Pop Goes the Weasel”.  It sounded like a heavenly orchestral movement to my five year old ears.

      “Aw Mamaw…”

    “Okay, just this once, you can take your sandwich…  Slow down!”

    I slid across the cabbage rose linoleum, skating to a halt two feet from the TV.  Without breaking stride I transferred my sandwich to my left hand, threw my right hand across my heart and repeated the rhythmic cadence.  “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”

    This had been a summer-long dream of mine: getting Miss Kathy to finally see me in my own living room, politely as Do Bee warned, watching the show.  I was loyal, never missed an episode, and stood ever so close to the television each day so I could hear her say the names of those good children she could see through her magic mirror.

    “Do Bee wants us to put on our wings and fly all around the classroom.  Fly, fly, all around the sky!  What did you say, Bobby?  Oh yes, I see those birds up there.”

    Stupid Bobby; even I knew they wouldn’t let birds fly around Romper Room.

    “Now class, let’s pick up our balance sticks and chase those dark clouds away!  Come on, help me sing!  ‘Bend and stretch, reach for the stars, there goes Jupiter, here comes Mars.  Bend and stretch, reach for the sky, stand on tippy-toes oh so high’ …oh, there they go!  Maybe the sun and wind will help us just push those heavy clouds away. Do you think we chased the rain away?  Yes, I do, too.”

    The last two months had been hard ones for me.  Not yet knowing how to tell time I had to suffer through hearing Mamaw sigh about a hundred times a day when I asked what the clock said.  She wasn’t even funny when she told me, “The clock said for you to go outside and play.”  Then I had to exercise every day with Miss Kathy because I didn’t want her to think I was a Don’t Bee.  I’d even had to learn the pledge of allegiance, whatever that was.  I knew there were a lot of kids that watched the show but I just knew Miss Kathy would see me in my living room because I had long red hair.  Mommy said everyone noticed my red hair.

    One day I’d tried to increase my chances of Miss Kathy seeing me by jumping up and down in front of the TV, singing as loudly as I possibly could, waving both my arms over my head, but only when Miss Kathy wasn’t talking because I didn’t want Mr. Do Bee to think I had bad manners.  It made no difference other than Mamaw coming in the room to stand over me with her hands on her hips, with a deep line between her eyebrows.

    I was reduced to taking the next step: bribing Miss Kathy.  It wasn’t nice; it wasn’t something I was proud of, but as Mamaw told Mommy, “Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.”  Though she was talking about Mommy finding me a daddy since mine had died, I thought it would apply to the Miss Kathy problem.

    “Mamaw, I need your help.”

    “What is it, honey?  You know I’ll do whatever I can.”

    “Well, I believe it’s them desperate times you been talking about so I got a desperate plan.  I don’t know if Miss Kathy is paying attention or not, but I gotta do something to get her to see me in that magic mirror of hers.  Now, I don’t know if anybody else has thought of this, but I saved up a dime and I want to send it to her.”

    “And you think that’ll make her notice you, do you?”

    I nodded my head.  “Yep, I’ve give it a lot of thinking and I believe that’s what I need to do.”

    “Okay sugar, that’s what we’ll do then.  But why don’t we just send a nickel and you can get a candy bar with the other five cents.”

    “Well, if you think a nickel’s enough…”

    That had been two weeks ago and each day that went by, the more sure I was that I should’ve just skipped that Reece’s peanut butter cup.

    I’d sat down to rest a minute in Mamaw’s rocking chair when I heard those words, those wonderful yet dreaded words.  I jumped from the chair and stood so close to the TV I could feel the static from the screen.  Maybe today…

    “Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic mirror, tell me today. Have all my friends had fun at play? I can see Earl and Cindy and Patricia and Libby and Susan and…”

     This is it, I just know it!  C’mon, come on, Miss Kathy, just say it one time!

                “… and I see Gloria!”

    The world came to a screeching halt.  It had to have at least tilted on its axis.  Something this monumental, something so extraordinary that my heart skipped a beat and my breath was captured in my throat had to have a huge impact that the rest of the world could feel.  I slid to the floor and Mamaw, who had been standing in the doorway, rushed over to me.

    “Honey, are you alright?”

    “Lord ha’ mercy, Mamaw!  Miss Kathy saw me, she really saw me.”

    Mamaw reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out a nickel then put it in my hand.  “Yes sweetheart, she really did see you.  We plain forgot to mail that letter so I just got the money out of it to give back to you.  Now you know Miss Kathy really did see you today.  It just took awhile, honey, because of all those other kids that are bigger than you.  You’re so little she couldn’t see you standing behind them.”

    “Oh Mamaw, just wait until I tell my cousins about this.  Won’t they be sorry they told me that Miss Kathy couldn’t see me?”

    “Oh, they surely will be sorry.  Now, how about we walk to the store and get us a Reece’s peanut butter cup?”

    Miss Kathy had seen me, said my name on TV and I didn’t even have to pay her.  Yeah, life was good.

     Want to read more like this? Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge is available in print and Kindle http://tinyurl.com/3zxqnn9

    If you’re more interested in reading stories about people that were hovering at the edge of death and only a miracle could save them, Beyond the Surgeon’s Touch-One Miracle Away from Death, is filled with true stories.  http://tinyurl.com/3ngtpgm 

    And visit my home page, maybe even leave a comment in the guest book? 

    Thank you for spending time with me. I hope I made you smile.