Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dating last century ...

This was my Mom's "dating diary" in 1947 and 1948 when she was 23 years old. I remember being 10 or so years old, and going to visit my Grandparents in Auburn. I would find this thing and read it from cover to cover.

The little diary was free if you bought something at Hills-Bootery in Auburn, Alabama where she attended Auburn Polytechnic Institute. It was published by Friendly Sports.

According to her notes, she dated 13 different fellows! It wasn't all about boys, though. She marked down other things like spend-the-nights with other girls, jobs she took, and classes she attended.

Here's an inside page from January:

One section featured "no love lost" rejects ... where my Mom put the initials of dates who acted like these losers:

Thomas Technicolor - Bright shirt and tie and checked pants make a real picture and tell at a glance the artist, by golly - must've been Dali.

Charlie Conceited - Your hair is wavy your eyes are blue, you're quite some stuff according to you.

Spencer Spineless - Sure as the vine grows 'round a stump you'll sprawl on the sofa in a lump. One thing we never can condone is the man who sits with no backbone.

Larry Be-late - The date's at eight, you come at nine. Oh, who would be your Valentine?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

""What are you looking at,?" as published in The Pickens County Progress on 6/16/2011

 “What are looking at?” It’s the prepositional faux pas that makes English teachers cringe. You don’t hear it much, because nobody notices anything anymore. We’re all too busy looking at our cell phones. That is – all us older folks. Little kids still notice things. Summer is here, and they know what to do. They live in the moment, and savor each one.

Grown-ups have to pay the bills, and work hard. Although most women will take the easy way out of one job: it’s too hot to fry your own chicken. That’s probably how, many years ago, my friends Jeff and Neal managed to ruin their summer in very short order. Their Mom had stepped inside the KFC to pick up a bucket of chicken, and left the two boys in her brand new Cadillac.

Jeff was lying down in the back seat, looking at the backs of his eyelids. Neal was up front, looking at the cigarette lighter. Jeff began to notice something smelling just awful. He sat up to look, and saw twenty-seven swirly burn holes peppering the front seat upholstery. I don’t know how they were punished, but it couldn’t have been pretty.

 Not long ago, I was invited to a baby’s first birthday. Relatives slipped folding money to the proud parents, while the guest of honor sat looking at the cowbell I’d brought. Then he began to lick it. We sang “Happy Birthday,” as he looked at his cake. His fingers touched the icing and he bellowed. Then he touched his lips and tasted sugar. His tongue knew what to do next.

A different cake was cut for the rest of us. A girl cousin seemed especially determined not to waste one little bit. Once her serving was gone, she spent five minutes luxuriously licking the plate clean. I have never seen anyone work so hard at something in my whole life! And I say; good for her mom, who didn’t try and stop it. (Childhood is fleeting enough).

This precious little girl got a second helping and did exactly the same thing, again. I was told she absolutely loves food. It was plainly true. So, I decided to call her “Plate Licker,” and the nickname has stuck.

She inspired me to change how I look at life. No more multi-tasking for me. Towels are folded neatly. Letters are written thoughtfully. And I eat just like Plate Licker, even in public. When someone stares, I’ll ask, “What are you looking at?” If she says, “Where I come from, we don’t end our sentences with prepositions,” then I’m quick to tack a noun on.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Baby diapers and other loaded subjects

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

Her Father, my Mom (Phyllis) and her Mother
Notasulga, Alabama 1925

Today is my Mom’s birthday. She would have been eighty six. We became as close as two people can be during her last ten years of life.

At first, she went to assisted living. Then her health declined and she moved in with us, creating a "sandwich family." As Mom became more childlike, she was content to do whatever my daughters were doing. So for awhile, I had three little girls: Missy, Amber, and their Gammaw.

My daughters got older. They wanted to help take care of their "Gammaw" and Missy even volunteered for trips to the bathroom. You haven’t seen everything, until you’ve seen your daughter chasing your mother through the house waving an adult diaper, trying to get her dressed.  It’s sad, and funny, and surreal - all at once.

Today on my Mom's birthday, I wished to be little again. She took such good care of me. But if time went backwards, I wouldn’t yet have my two precious daughters. And the challenges we faced as a sandwich family would not yet “be.” Now that it's past us I have some perspective. Living together in a jumble with all the challenges forced us to find new ways to show our love for each other.

It seems like just yesterday her Daddy and I were diapering Missy for the first time. Who could imagine that she would ever diaper my Mom? I try not to imagine this at all, but someday she may even diaper me!