Tags: family

the torch-ginger

"Found" Memories

This week, I'm in Hattiesburg helping my sister, Kelli, work on her new house on my dad's family's farm. She inherited it several months ago, along with its reeking carpet, gouged walls, and other disgusting things I'd rather not list in detail. By the time I got there, the most revolting work had been done by my stalwart sister and our unflinching cousins, but I've spent the week detoxing bathrooms, sanding porch columns, organizing cabinets, and today ripping soiled upholstery off antique chairs so that I can refinish them tomorrow.

I've worked harder this week than my wizened work ethic allows in a whole month. After each day's work, I've gotten cleaned up and spent time with family. This extended week has afforded me casual time with my dad's extended family that I've not had in over a decade. Most of my trips home involve dashing among houses over a weekend or, at most, four days during the holidays when enormous food and great-grandchildren steal the show.

I've not been able to "hang out" with my dad's family without scheduling it ahead of time since I was in elementary school when I visited every other weekend to see Dad. Tonight was my last night of the week I could linger at the farm (Mama, Kelli, and I are going to the Coast tomorrow for the evening), so I spun a little genius and came up with a plan.

While sitting on the exposed sub-floor tugging out upholstery tacks with needle-nosed pliers, I saw a bottle of unclaimed (i.e. left on the floor for the last six months) cheap sparkling wine. I also had on hand an empty mop bucket and a fridge that has done nothing but churn out ice for an empty house. So I texted all the womenfolk who were on the farm that night and told them to meet up with me. Kelli brought pizza, I iced down the ballatore in the mop bucket, and I gathered my Gamaw, step-mother Rita, Aunt Alethea, cousin Sarah, and Kelli's roommate Crystal on the front porch of my family's 140-year-old farmstead.

I poured us all a toasting round of oversweet bubbly in red solo cups, and we sat for two hours talking. These are the memories I crave, that I feel like I miss out on by living so far away. It might have been nothing special to anyone else, but it was magical for me.
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the torch-ginger

Glow Forever

This evening when sun was barely a glimmer, Jimmy caught me a firefly on the porch. I was unlocking the front door after our afternoon at the dentist and running errands.

"Look, baby, I caught you something." He held his catch up; it blinked on and off thrice before I leaned over and blew gently on it to spur it to flight.

"I hope I didn't hurt him," Jimmy said.

"I'm sure you didn't, dove."

* * * * *

My papaw died this morning. I didn't call him or go home on Father's Day this year even though I told myself over and over that if I didn't go, I'd miss my last chance. He'd been bed-ridden for over a year. I knew, yet still I didn't go. Last time I saw him was Christmas.

I hope he had a happy life. He was always such a gruff, hard-ass, old man during my childhood. He was quick to take a switch to my cousins or to make a jab about how much I was eating. He was always the mean, angry man in his recliner at holidays who shouted for us to be quiet. As he got older, people seemed to dismiss his remarks; he'd lost his bite or we'd lost our fear. Then he became less gruff and his sarcasm turned to humor. Perhaps he was just too tired to yell anymore. Perhaps I had just been too young to recognize the humor before. It wasn't until I got into my twenties that I started to figure out that he actually loved us.

His life was so much more, so much longer, than the brief time that I knew him. I suppose children are fated to know only the shadow of their parents and grandparents rather than the people, hale and happy, who they once were.

I don't think my father ever had a good relationship with him. I wonder if I'll be as calm as Daddy is in thirty years when I lose him.
the torch-ginger

Change of Heart

The very same weekend that I made this emotional post about my mother withholding family heirlooms because she felt it would be unsafe, she changed her mind.

Sunday morning as I was helping her with some boxes she was taking to charity, she said, "Do you still want the bedroom suite you grew up with? Do you still know of a place to get it repaired? Which weekend would it be good for me to bring them up to Water Valley?"

We talked for a little while, sitting cross-legged on the floor with trinkets and dusty tissue paper in our laps. I told her that I thought she had been using the furniture to show disapproval of Jimmy and my lifestyle. She assured me that she really likes Jimmy, she loves how he treats me, and was simply being "a realist" about the possible destruction should we break up. According to her words, and I believe her, the only thing concern she has about my relationship with Jimmy is her (well-founded) fear that we will never be physically healthy together because we enable each others' bad eating habits.

So, all that tension has evaporated after months of worry. Perhaps if I had brought it up myself or that I'd forced the issue, things might not have gone the same way.
the torch-ginger

To Write or to Sleep, Choices in an Alternative Lifestyle

I had a choice, this morning, to write or to take a nap that would complete the last phase of my sleep schedule shift. I, of course, took the less responsible path and stayed awake to write. "Responsible to whom?" I should ask, since I feel I owe it to myself to write. Is it baseless pride that I think myself talented and grieve for my lack of focus and clarity to make use of those talents? Perhaps that's my personal form of depression - grief for squandered time and missed opportunities.

Lack of sleep will make the rest of the day painfully long, especially while driving to Hattiesburg, having dinner with my family, and picking through some of the furniture my mother is giving away to charity. Saturday will be spent at my cousin Chris's wedding and visiting with my mother's extended family.

My mother is very generous to me, especially now that she married a doctor. At least once a year, we'll go on a little freebie trip to Tunica or the Coast casinos where the room and meals are nearly paid for, and she'll buy me a few clothes or get me a pedicure. Since her marriage, she has taken me to Britain, the Caribbean, and Vegas. Before she married a giving and wealthy husband, she raised me and my sister on a Mississippi teacher's salary and gave to us as much as she was able. I am extremely fortunate and grateful to have been raised by such a woman, and I hope I have many many more decades with her.

Mama has always been critical about issues that she thinks are unhealthy for me: my diet, my non-traditional income of websites and poker, my bouts of nocturnal living. She's a mom. She's loving, affectionate, and sensitive to my sensitivity to her criticism. :)

But she broke my heart a couple of weeks ago when her disapproval found a new venue. She told me that as long as I am living unmarried with a man, I will never be given any of our family's inherited antiques and furniture. Let me point out here she likes Jimmy; she has always liked Jimmy (at least she has said so), and she has never before expressed any misgivings or disapproval about my living with Jimmy before. She told me that she wants to give me furniture that she no longer needs but that Jimmy and I need for our house, but she doesn't feel like it's a safe environment for the furniture since I am unmarried. She would rather give that furniture to my sister or my step-brother or leave it in storage rather than risk it getting stolen by Jimmy. But she said that if our marriage hasn't happened by now (nearly six years), it'll never will. Thus, she's afraid that if Jimmy and I ever break up, he would keep the furniture and heirlooms that she had given me.

Let me make this clear. I care far, far less about things than I do about her approval of my life. It would be...nice...to have some furniture to fill this large house. Nearly all of our furniture is hand-me-down and doesn't fit. But I'd rather my mother didn't give me anything at all if she trusted me and approved of my lifestyle.

In a way, I understand her fear. People can do monstrous things to each other when they fall out of love. However, logically, marriage is no protection from barbaric behavior. Marriage didn't protect her from my father when he stole every typewriter, toaster, and box of silver dollars in the house. Marriage to Jimmy wouldn't stop him from burning every stick of furniture I owned. In fact, it's marriage itself that would give him partial ownership for the items I brought into this house unless they were detailed in a prenuptial agreement. As it stands, I am more protected now legally as a tenant. I have no lease, but everything that I brought into this house is mine and he has no legal claim to it.

When she first told me of her decision, I was so hurt I didn't say anything. And then I got a little angry at the presumptions of his potential behavior. Then I got even angrier because of the illogical preconception that marriage is the only protector of her furniture. A little teary but coherent and calm, I told her that I understood her fears but that I had many reasons to disagree with her. At the very least, evidence of Jimmy's conduct during his divorce speaks to his patience and character. Penny and he divided their belongings, he forfeited a great deal just to speed the separation, and he then took out an enormous loan to pay off everything that was jointly in their name.

Regardless of my opinions and the evidence for the goodness of Jimmy's character, I do know Jimmy could, on any whim or fancy that strikes him, kick me out onto the street (not that I think he would unless our relationship was over, and then he would not do so heartlessly). I am very painfully and keenly aware how precipitous my position here is. Every day I am reminded by some little thing that I am dependent on our love and Jimmy's good will to stay in this home. But I also know that if he were to kick me out, everything that I own should legally come with me. And I would rebuild my life somewhere else.

But now that I type this, I feel even worse. There is more I haven't said. When they've visited, Mama and Horace rarely stay with us no matter where we've lived (in the trailer, in Bill's house when we rented it, and in this giant house that Jimmy owns) opting instead to stay my Uncle Branton's nearby. Mama says it's because Horace enjoys Branton's company, but it's hard for me to believe that's the reason they choose to sleep elsewhere.

That said, I do want to get married. I want it, but I don't need it. The only demand I have ever made to Jimmy is that I refuse to have children with him unless we're married. I get a little sad at the idea that I might never be married or have children, but then I tell myself to buck up. I'm not going to give up Jimmy out of an egotistical need for legal confirmation and society's need for a piece of paper. A marriage license does not guarantee love or trust or a future. I guarantee it with my actions and Jimmy with his.

But my mother's decision still stands. I have told her that I respect her choice and that I don't want her to give me anything that she is uncomfortable with putting in my hands. I won't be getting any of the heirlooms she considers precious, even though they sit in storage. I, may, however, have some of the things she's giving away to charity, if I'd like to go through them. I wonder if I can swallow my pride enough to take some home.

My First Audio Book Purchase; and Snarl's Engine is falling out!

Despite all the wonderful recommendations, I went with The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. I'd been long considering this one, and chose it as my first audiobook because it seemed like something that zordac would enjoy as well during our many hours in the car this month. It is inline with another book I asked for and got for Christmas and have not yet read: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

I'm presently in Hattiesburg, down for my sister Kelli's graduation from USM (she graduated with a bachelors in arts and letters in political science, not far from her sister's studies :). On Sunday, we're going down to the farm to eat dinner with my Gamaw and extended family who get together like clockwork for monthly birthdays and holidays that I often miss.

Then we're swinging through to visit Grandma in Tylertown (my mother's mother) and headed down to New Orleans. We'll spend a couple of nights in New Orleans (zordac has never been!) and then take Kelli to the airport on Tuesday. She'll be in Spain for the summer for an intensive foreign language program.

On Monday afternoon, I hope to meet jopasm for lunch someplace. Afterwards, I hope we'll have time to wander around the French Quarter and show zordac the riverfront, Jackson Square, Cafe Du Monde, and Central Grocery for olive salad/muffulettas. I suppose we could go down Bourbon Street, but that never impressed me. Monday night we'll be going to Pat O'Briens for dinner and hurricanes.

We're staying at Harrahs (free rooms) so I hope to squeeze in some poker on Sunday night and Monday night late if I have enough energy.

Before we return to Water Valley, we have to drive back up through Hattiesburg to pick up Snarl (my car) which is currently in the shop because...no lie...the engine is falling out. A couple of devices called "cradle bushing" hold the engine in place and they are prone to breaking in my 1997 Dodge Intrepid. It is composed of a rubber piece (that has fallen out) and a metal piece that has eroded to the point that the engine was barely attached. As the mechanic at the Goodyear on 40th Avenue explained, "It's amazing y'all weren't killed." Some vibration had been happening for a couple of weeks and I had planned to have it looked at when we returned, but it got severe so quickly that it could no longer wait.
the torch-ginger

No Sci Fi Friday Tonight

I forgot until last night that Jimmy and I are going to be busy tonight. We have to (and want to) go to a surprise graduation party for his very close cousin Tammy who recently finished massage therapy school.

We'll be in Mooreville until midnight-ish tonight.

Perhaps we can do Sci Fi Saturday? I know this probably upsets plans made by our WoW friends for which I apologize.
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    Zombies - "Time of the Season"
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