Sweet William and the Goat Wagon

v5gsxj2gnvr01When she was 16, my mother kept her horses at Kai Brown’s.

Over the years, I’ve heard Mom talk about Kai on countless occasions, and although I have a sort of picture of him in my head as a result of all her stories, I don’t know that I ever actually met him.  But in any case, I get the idea that Kai was a fairly important fixture in her life.  Although my grandfather lived until Mom was 20, I think Kai probably served as a substitute for him where Mom was concerned.  Continue reading “Sweet William and the Goat Wagon”

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Just coffee, because everything that’s good with coffee is bad for my healthy way of eating.

If you were here this evening, you’d be parked next to me on the sofa, and draped with a lovely homemade afghan. I’d offer you a choice of coffees, and you’d quickly realize that mine is much less premium than my husband’s. This would no doubt cause you to raise your eyebrows, because it’s obvious in like two seconds that my sweet husband is not the high maintenance partner in our relationship. Except when it comes to coffee.

Anyway, here are a few of the things I’d probably tell you over the rim of my cup while I was fantasizing about chocolate: Continue reading “Just coffee, because everything that’s good with coffee is bad for my healthy way of eating.”

Old Friends from Home

I grew up in a town. By some standards, I guess my hometown could’ve been called small, but it never occurred to me to think of it that way–not then and not now. My guess is that all the old small town sayings might have been true back in my grandmother’s day and maybe even at the beginning of my mom’s, but by the time Continue reading “Old Friends from Home”

Wanted: a church with no strings

I miss my old church. I was a member there for about twenty years before I moved down south, and I was pretty darn involved considering that for the last several years of my membership, I would’ve identified myself as an atheist. Despite what you might imagine, I didn’t give any thought at all to Continue reading “Wanted: a church with no strings”

When we dance

I wasn’t a graceful kid. In fact, Mama rather sarcastically called me “Grace” until well after I entered high school. I had quite the complex for a number of years, and then suddenly, I didn’t anymore. Maybe it was because I watched someone move who truly looked like they shouldn’t and figured I couldn’t possibly do any worse. Or maybe I saw a heavy person dancing and thought they looked great; if they could Continue reading “When we dance”

Inheritance

In my first semester at my out-of-state university, I had an English Literature teacher who was probably five or six years younger than I.  I wasn’t particularly bothered by this.  At the university level,  it’s a fair bet that whoever is teaching the class has had enough education to choke a horse; the woman was more educated than I ever had any intention of being.  I liked her quite a lot, Continue reading “Inheritance”

It’s the four-time-supplier-of-genetic-material’s birthday tomorrow.

Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, and I’ll tell you the truth:  sometimes, it really pisses me off that I’m the kind of person who can’t refrain from remembering shit like that.  Not that I hate the man, because really, I don’t.  There’s just sort of a void in the place where he should be.  Like…you know how people are always talking about the father-daughter bond?  Well, if it weren’t for my husband’s relationship with his Continue reading “It’s the four-time-supplier-of-genetic-material’s birthday tomorrow.”

Partners

Mama used to say that if only she would’ve had someone to help her pull her wagon, things would’ve been a lot easier for all of us.  She meant another adult, of course, but what she got was a couple of kids.  We weren’t very good pullers, my oldest brother and I, but our hearts were in the right place.  We tried.

Since I starting “dating” my sweet husband in 2015, I’ve thought a lot about that “pulling the wagon” image of Mama’s.  It’s apt, actually.  Those little red wagons aren’t at all easy to pull, particularly if the terrain is rough or if you get it too heavily loaded.  When we were growing up, there were very few patches of smooth ground.  And there were four of us, so the wagon’s burden was never light.  Some of us fell out sometimes.  We got hurt or lost or both.

When Hubby and I got together, his wagon had been stuck in the mud for so long that he’d given up trying to move it.  The kids had taken it over and made a useless mess of it; it was no longer fit to move anything anywhere or to keep anyone out of harm’s way. Indeed, they all had cuts and scrapes from the wagon’s rusty edges, and we worried (and still worry) about infections that never fully go away, that could be life-threatening.

My husband is a hard worker and he brings home a decent paycheck.  He is also a wonderful man with a huge heart, and for several years before I arrived on the scene, he was dad, mom, and sole breadwinner for his three children.  Unfortunately, it was just him trying to do all those things (aside from occasional help from his visiting mom).  Like Mama, he needed serious, permanent help to pull his wagon, and the oldest boy (no matter how good his intentions) wasn’t getting the job done.

When I talk to Hubby about that time, he says there was no opportunity for anything except triage, trying desperately to prioritize on the fly and decide who most needed help.  I can’t imagine how horrific it must’ve been for him to see all his babies in trouble and to only be able to offer temporary help to the one who was bleeding out the fastest. I’m sure his persistent worrying (over a situation he had no power to fix) is to blame for most of his current wrinkles and health problems.

I knew my husband for 25 years before we ever got together, and I think every day about how much different both of our lives would’ve been if it hadn’t taken so long, if we both hadn’t taken so much damage beforehand.  I came in to our relationship with a feeling of worthlessness that was directly tied to how much money I was making.  He came in with the persistent and nagging feeling that he was solely responsible for getting these three little people he’d made into adulthood alive.

I’ve said it before, but I think I was born to be a mother.  As soon as I walked through the door, I started trying to make a safe home for these kids that I really didn’t know at all except through occasional pictures and stories my sister (in-law) told.  At the beginning, hubby gave me $400 a week to buy groceries and the stuff the kids needed.  They had to come to me with their requests instead of to their dad.  I cleaned, went grocery shopping, cooked actual food, and enforced a go-home time for the oldest’s friends.  (Hubby was working midnights, and five days a week, I had to make sure nobody ended up injured, traumatized or dead.)  I bought clothes and school supplies, toiletries and tampons.  I discouraged Hamburger Helper and fast food wherever possible because none of them needed to continue to live that way now that I was there.  Hubby seemed to drop 50 pounds overnight.

My very presence was enough to ensure that within a few months, the kids had new beds and we lived in a nicer house in a better neighborhood.  There was also a new school for the youngest two (the oldest moved away when he hit 18) and car insurance for my husband, who hadn’t been able to round up the extra money to start it while he was busy putting out fires.  This fall he’s going back to school to pursue a dream and to work toward getting the hell out of the factory.

The point of all this is, the experience of marrying my sweet husband and becoming step-mom to these awesome (if occasionally irksome) kids has shown me once and for all what it truly means to be and to have a partner, how it feels to help someone pull their wagon and to know that they are there to help you pull yours, and how sometimes you can help without bringing a single dime of your own to the table.  I would never have guessed.  Seriously.  That was not at all the lesson I’d spent the preceding years of my adulthood learning.

Even more than a year later, it still blows me away when my husband (or my mom or my sister) points out all the ways that the lives of these three people have changed and improved in the time I’ve known them.  I say “I didn’t do anything.  I just showed up.”

My husband says “Baby.  I love you.  You’re so silly.”

*Inspired by The Daily Post prompt Partner.

Shimmer and Shine

I was divorced from my first husband for 21 years before I hit the proverbial lottery and managed to get this one to say “I do.”  I was young for that first marriage — awfully, painfully, irritatingly young.  He was a nice guy — a decade older than me — but to this day, I cannot fathom how on earth I ever could’ve been immature enough to find him at all interesting.  I’m also at a loss to explain why I didn’t listen to what my mother had to say on the subject, epic Wise Woman that she is.  The only possible excuse I can muster is that he was pretty cute, and I was 20 years old.  My brain wasn’t yet fully formed.

In the intervening years between the demise of my first marriage and the start of my second, I had occasion to see other relationships up close — both those that seemed built on bedrock and those that everyone in their right minds could see racing toward termination.  I began to notice, of all things, the women’s wedding rings.  Admittedly, it’s more than probable that the highly unscientific study that follows was based solely on my own short-lived and ill-advised first marriage; but it also seems to me that this is the way with all the real-life and common sense knowledge we acquire in our time on the planet, so I’m gonna go ahead and keep talking.

Anyway.  I like shimmer and glitz and shine as much as the next girl, and I had even more appreciation for it as a 20-year-old.  That first wedding ring was cookie-cutter, yellow gold, part of a 3 piece set.  All of the pieces had diamonds, albeit only small ones. The existence of the diamonds in my ring(s) was (at the time) more important to me than their size.  I was insistent on bling to such an extent that I didn’t even make a thing out of preferring white gold.  I detest yellow gold.  It looks horrible against my skin.  But it was what everybody else had, and I was by God gonna keep up with the Joneses.

The good news is, when I got divorced a year later, it was no problem at all to pawn my rings.  =)

What I began to notice in the years after my divorce was the frequency with which the blingy ringed people got divorced vs. the people who wore simple gold or silver bands.  Also, the folks who had huge, massive-debt-incurring weddings vs. those who were married at a courthouse or in Grandpa’s barn.  Seriously…I know there are exceptions to the rule here (I can think of at least a few of my own friends), but if you really look around, take stock, and ask questions, you’d be amazed at the extent to which this shit holds true.  (Heh…I’ve also seen it where the couple did the big wedding and the blingy rings and then stayed together for 50 years when they absolutely should have gotten divorced ten minutes after they were married because staying together was obviously no good for anyone involved.)  In any case, I saw it often enough that it changed my entire way of thinking about marriage and about weddings in general.  I told anyone who would listen that if I ever got married again, it would be in a courthouse, and we’d both have simple wedding bands.

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Mostly, that’s exactly what I did.  We were married in a courthouse, and our families stood up with us.  Hubby has a simple titanium band.  I, however, ended up re-purposing my mom’s (very shimmery) wedding ring (which she’d had custom made into a dinner ring some years before).  Hubby and I had it fitted with a new, thicker band and plated with white gold to cover the yellow.  I adore the thing.  It makes me happy every time I look at it, but not because of the diamonds.  No…I love it because it’s one of a kind.  It’s like nothing anyone else possesses or has ever seen.

Which coincidentally is exactly how I feel about my husband, my mom, and the family I married into.  Even if it had no shimmer at all, it would still shine.

via WordPress Daily Prompt — Shimmer