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“Tears are words that need to be written” -Paulo Coelho

I am not good at crying. I was never comfortable with it. Growing up, when I cried, I was either told to shut up and take it, to be quiet, that I looked funny doing it, or that it made me look ugly. For the last ten years, the ten years since Mom’s passing, I have rarely cried. Now, as I am my dying husband’s care giver, I cry often…not only for what I will lose, but for all that I have lost. My virginity at age five. My son at age fourteen. My hope at age 21. I cry for a father who helped so many and hurt so few. Those few being us, his own family. I cry for my perfectly imperfect mother…a woman who lived in and past fear. I cry for my brother who forced reality down so far that it had no choice but to come bursting up. I cry for my sister. I just cry for all she believes she has lost. I cry for my husband, my one great love, as I watch him try to stay Army strong and dignified. Illness has no dignity. I know as I have been sick most of my life. Death has dignity. Not the moments leading up to it but the passing itself. I held Granny’s hand as she stroked out, then stared into something that I could not see, smiled, and commented that now, after a lifetime of being a stalwart Christian, now she understood. As they say in the South, a Lady always knows when it’s time to leave. I realized while writing this truth that I am no Lady, but I am a woman…a perfectly flawed and naked to my soul, human. You may not like what I have written. You may be uncomfortable with it. But, I have been one acquainted with the world of untruths for far too long. Mulder had it wrong. The truth is not out there, rather it is in us. And, so is God.

Wolf Pack of Three

Wolf pack of one

I know it’s been done.

But, my Momma was saying back

Before the birth of Zach.

She was alone in her pain when

She started the fading

Just wanted to go to the woods

Be alone, we understood.

But we were a wolf pack of three

Mom, my sister, and me.

Never give up on each other

Especially when it’s your Mother.

She decided it was exiting time

She was gone on a dime.

But, we all said our farewells

Made promises through Heaven or hell

We kept every one to a T

Now a wolf pack of Two from one of three

It’s always later not goodbye.

Five Degrees of Bacon

My dad was the kind of guy who liked to talk when he went to the bathroom. He would keep the door way too ajar for any of us- letting the gaseous asseous out- or as Mom referred to it the odiferous odor. He would think of something random and call for someone to come to the cracked door to tell all about it. This throne with court is where the idea to use used feminine hygiene products to bait deer was birthed. The problem was it worked. He had his brilliant ideas on the pot and his stupid ones in front of the TV- the Garden Weasel and Magic Chain.

Well, one night dad got hangry, and wanted some soup beans with Jowl Bacon. He hollered for my brother who happened to be hurrying by on the way to his room.

“Hey Luke! Do ya know Jowl Bacon?”

“No, dad. What kind of a car does he drive?“

“No. Jowl Bacon!”

Mom started snickering from her living room perch. Thea was moving closer to the edge of her bed to hear all the better, my dear. I was at my desk doing homework with baited breath waiting to see what would happen next.

“Does Joel come into the store often, dad?”

“No, Jowl Bacon!”

That was it! Thea fell off of her bed with a thud doing her I can’t breathe I am laughing too hard. The pen flew out of my hand as I belly laughed my way to the bed. Mom and her cigarette came into the hallway behind Luke and explained what jowl bacon was. Mom cooked up her beans with jowl bacon that cold to the bone, winter night, and we slept with the windows cracked.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

MY story

This blog all started with a text to sister which read:

Good morning ☀️
Sorry I missed you. Another bad neck, back, and migraine day. Please, pray for me. I can’t lift my head up. That will change when the meds hit. I am still so glad I didn’t let that ass of a pain doctor cut the major nerve in my neck. It was an experimental procedure that he had done once. The woman came in to talk me into having it and she showed me her fishy floppy range of motion. I seriously thought her head was going to spin around as she spewed pea soup and asked me if I could take still hear the lambs, Clarice. I said no. Wrote “NO” on the papers he gave me and ran to my safe place- Mom- who exploded. I don’t know what she said to him except something about cutting the major nerve to his penis, but we high tailed it out of there and to McDonald’s where, when eating dessert Mom turned to me and said, “You know, you’re doctor is an idiot and a real dick.” Then, she kept on eating.

I am going to flesh that out and use it as my blog today. Thank you forget letting me remember that things have been worse.

I started getting migraines when I was sixteen. Granny (Mom’s Mom) explained that they were from her side of the family . Back then, at the turn of the twentieth century, migraines were called take to your bed headaches. Women took to their beds with ladanum. Men hit the saloons and stayed there until it was over. Their wives didn’t mind much due to the raw mood they were in. This was if the family had money for servants and trust worthy business partners which mine did. I have always felt a pang of pain for those less fortunate and wondered what they had done though now living in a farming community has proven to me how much they stick together and do for one another without the single thought of reciprocity.

My longest migraine lasted 281 days. I was in and out of the hospital. Finally, my hospitalist put me on a self-controlled migraine drip. I always do best when I am in control of my medication. I knew the staff wanted me out of there- not because I was a whiney hiney little girl about it. But, because I wore dark sunglasses which meant they couldn’t read me, needed a dark room, and had to have the cold, wet washcloth replaced every fifteen minutes. I remember to this day when the pain stopped. I didn’t push the little blue button for more morphine and tried my hardest to relax. Then, another minute went by and no need for morphine…then another and another until it had been forty-five minutes. I hadn’t spoken so much as a peep because I didn’t want to jinx it. But, there I was, migraine free for the first time in 281 days. The doctor came in with a nurse. After I told them, she jumped up and screamed. I responded with a clenched face, “Let’s not do that just yet.” They kept me another day for observation with the morphine on just in case. Then, I went home.

And, I hated to tell Granny this news, but my migraines weren’t inherited from her side of the family; At least not the way she thought. They began from me fighting my dad’s football coach hands pushing me down to suck his penis. My neck was injured. My hamartoma grew and the rest, as they say, is history. Only now, it’s MY story.

A Tail of Two Doggies

I was aiming to get out the door peacefully, but they flanked me and were off to the races. Actually, they were the races. Stopping at every house with a dog along the way- to start a barking spree, my two dogs were on the run again.

I had a bill to pay or a utility would be cut off. I had to get on the road. The day was cold and rainy. I pulled out all the stops. Yelling their names and clapping. Hollering about promised treats. Bringing out meat that I hoped they were close enough to smell. But, nothing worked, and I had to get going. I locked the door. “Fine,” I thought, “this will teach them a lesson about running off.” They were never gone more than fifteen minutes anyway. My errand shouldn’t take that long. I searched for them the whole way to City Hall. Dashing up and back down the hill of steps wasn’t preferential in a mask when you were pudgy, but bill paid- check. Now, home to the doggies. Except, there were no dogs or even signs of dogs.

I could hear dogs barking at a distance. I had to climb a ski slope of a hill to get to them. Halfway up I came three-quarters down and hurt my leg. So much for that stunt. I hobbled home and one word hit my already queasy with worrying body: FACEBOOK. Surely someone had seen them. I even had good, recent photos.

I jumped on Facebook and posted pictures and where they were last seen. The platform asked me if I wanted to tie it to community help. I did that, too. Nothing. Back and forth on my knees to God. Nothing. Phone calls. Nothing. Yelling for them. Nothing. Bringing out meat. Nothing. I was heartbroken. I knew that they would come back if they could. Someone had them, and, with my list of enemies rivaling Batman’s, I had an idea who but wasn’t sure. I knew I would never see their sweet faces again.

I sat down sobbing and wrote the following letter on Facebook.-

To whom it may concern:

Please, treat them well so well that they forget about me. Join me in prayer for them every night to ensure their good health and hardiness and joy. They both have seizures and nightmares from past owners. Simply place a hand on their back, softly say their names, and tell them it’s okay. They know sit and stay. Little One (the Staffy) almost has lay down and roll over. They will do these for a treat. Please, don’t make them bait dogs; it would kill their beautiful spirits. Honor them and they will honor you. I don’t know why you did this to them or me, but you broke up a family today. Please, tell them that Mommy will see them on the other side of the rainbow bridge. Hold them, let them run, keep them safe, warm, and their bellies full.

Suddenly, it hit me. Maybe they couldn’t hear me and needed some help and encouragement getting home. But, where was the highest flat surface nearby? THE CHURCH! MY CHURCH!! I jumped in the car and was in the church parking lot in less than a minute. I scrambled out. Seeing the countryside was rather daunting and depressing, but I yelled their names as loudly and long as I could and clapped my bat wings to limper noodles. Nothing.

I returned home, and, leaving the door ajar just in case, I slumped onto the loveseat and began a soft cry. I picked up a cigarette, which I rarely do anymore, and lit it. Then, I heard myself say, “Don’t look at me like that it’s been a daunting day.” Wait. What? I was talking to one of the dogs! Where’s your sister? Then, she came rolling in. Hugs and kisses abounded! I announced on Facebook that they were safe and home. For their punishment, they had to watch me enjoy a wonderful Joel O’Steen sermon. I thanked God a gazillion times for bringing my sweeties home.

King of the Bundle

You know that feeling like someone is watching you-well- because someone is. She had experienced that feeling all day while working at the library. Then, she eyed him, first at the anime collection in juvenile fiction, then from behind the lighthouse in the children’s section, next staring lazily at her from behind a pc in computer arts. The whole ordeal would have been off putting if it wasn’t so funny. He was in his late 30’s to early 40’s. She was a divorced old maid with greying hair and grandchildren. It’s not that the attention wasn’t flattering, but it wasn’t nor was it welcomed. Mom and dad may have been divorced, but they had loved each other at fifteen years old and they loved each other at almost seventy years old. They just couldn’t stand one another.

Mom came home for a late lunch, because she was working that evening. She regaled the story of her admirer to Granny and me until we were all in hysterics. As she went out the door to return to work, Granny commented, “You be careful tonight.”

I later understood the meaning of this warning when Granny explained to me where the man lived. There was a tall, old brick building behind the library that was built to house low income males mainly veterans and the disabled. Now, the housing unit had become a den of thieves filled with ex cons and drunks. “Great,” I thought, “and Mom’s been targeted by one of them.”

That evening at quitting time, Mom answered a call at the library. “I’ve got a little something special planned for us tonight,” he promised and hung up. She turned her computer off, grabbed the buck knife she carried, opened it thinking- I have a little something special for you, too. Turning the lights off, she quickly locked the door and spun around toward her car. A squirrel hurried into the bushes. Damn squirrel! We nearly had vermin for dinner. She refocused and made it into the car okay checking the backseats and locking the doors along the way. Up to her right, she noticed a bright light coming out of a window of the all male building.

Oh, no she thought. Mom couldn’t let him see her satisfy her curiosity of her something special. So, she backed up with her back facing the well lit room. While putting the car into drive, she glanced up with her eyes only to find him in only leopard skin briefest of briefs striking his best Tarzan pose.

Later, when she and I were hooting and hollering over it, she added, “That wasn’t the worst part. He was dripping in some kind of oil, and his biceps weren’t the only things bulging.”

The Horrible Horrible

“Tell me a Fat Jenny,” my six year old nephew begged, “pleeeeeeeeeeease!”

In my day, it had been Tell Me a Trudy. How had we progressed, or regressed, to Fat Jennys? Who was Fat Jenny? Fat Jenny was the name my Mom gave a young, soap opera watching during work, semi nice to your face stab you in the back, make your ears burn like red hot pokers from talking about you then bless your heart to your face, coworker. Mom was the Assistant Director of the Library and the Children’s Director. Fat Jenny donned the title Children’s Librarian by using an eye of newt, a magic wand, and some hokum she produced an invisible Library Science diploma.

I plopped a squat at the end of my sister’s bed ready to tell a tale and weave some magic of my own, when I heard a familiar voice beckon, “Where are my people?” My sister was home from work and looking for us.

Jack yelled back, “We’re in here and Aunt Suz is about to tell a Fat Jenny!”

Ugh…

Thea was instantly at the door sliding Jack over. “Well, go on with your rat killin’.” Great. My 47 year old sister was in on it now, too.

Once upon a time there was a horrible horrible who was so fat that her ears had pillows of flesh. She worked-hardly-with Granny Dee at the library and took credit for all of the brilliantly beautiful childrens’ programs Granny Dee whipped up. Her name was (chorus) Fat Jenny.

One day, the director of the library asked everyone to do a bit more leg work at the desk helping the customers. She eyed Fat Jenny as she said this, because she knew Fat Jenny had been watching Jane Austin movies at her desk again during work. Mom’s friend Betsy mainly worked the desk. A man walked up to the desk and began to ask for help. Now, Betsy was free and at the desk center. She turned around to walk over to the man. Before she knew what happened, Fat Jenny had booked it from her desk to the customer service desk. Betsy, a slight woman of 65, bounced into her and richochet onto the floor. If you listen closely, you can still hear the jiggle of Fat Jenny’s belly to this day. Eventually, Betsy got up and walked off a limp.

And, that is how Fat Jenny got out of ever working the front desk again.

“Horrible,” whispered Thea

“Horrible!” exclaimed Jack.

Exactly.

The Reluctant Hero

I wasn’t allowed to speak to him or of him for that matter. He was the reason dad drank and stayed home, alone on holidays- supposedly. I bore the brunt, because I had his blue eyes.

The calls started when I was about eleven. Pepaw would ask if I could talk meaning was I alone. I would give the all clear and he would ask if my eyes were still blue. The smartass in me wanted to respond that no, they had turned brown overnight, but the matter seemed extremely important to him as if he were holding onto something an eleven year old couldn’t see by a thread of hope. Then, we would pack. Pepaw and I were time travelers, you see.

We were back on his battleship in Midway. Being the boat’s volleyball champ and mailman was getting him nowhere fast during this battle. Pepaw tried to saw through flooding compartments to release dying sailors only to hold the hands of men taking their final gasping breaths. He aided medics as best he could running from one to another.

Then, he eyed it- a kamikaze headed straight for the bow. His best friend at guns trying to shoot him down. Pepaw watched in horror as his buddy collapsed- shot several times. Those volleyball champ legs had him flying to the post. If the kamikaze was successful, the ship would flounder. He reluctantly threw his pal off of the guns and strapped in. Now, it was just he and his enemy. The shooting commenced. Suddenly, the aircraft barely switched trajectory and, nearly missing, went over the bow of the battleship. Caught up in their own hell, few even noticed. However, as Pepaw turned around, he ran right into a camera and crew filming him. He took one look at the scene around him and decked the cameraman.

Pepaw came home but never truly came home.

Do You See What I See?

She Walks in Beauty like the Night by Lord Byron as printed by George Gordon

Mom in a tree on a mini vacation

Tonight, if for a brief moment, I visited the past and not the dark parts but the light. Mom was and remains my light on a hill shining truth and goodness into my soul with a love so pure and deep no man could break it. Our bond is unique and beyond the white washed grave.

Christmas. She wove Magic and Beauty and Delight with a heavy helping of what the season entailed (a little bit of Jesus) for everyone she encountered. Mom wore her scarf high and her toboggan low to hide her elfin ears…too much of her spectacular might frighten other children. But not her own! We soaked it in drove on drove and begged for more.

But, not her own, we trudge on grief stricken. I have not celebrated Christmas for over fifteen years- since she became riddled with cancer and died. I had an old visitor who I hadn’t seen in nigh a decade- the Christmas Spirit. Startled at first glance, I welcomed my old friend with a warm hug – the good kind where you let them pull away first. This year is looking like a tight Christmas. There will be no perfectly presented packages under my artificial tree. But, I will pull my toboggan low and my scarf high as to not frighten the little ones.