Yesterday I received a call from my oldest daughter, Robin, who began the conversation with, “I’ve got myself in a pickle!” Knowing my precious Robin as I do, that could mean many things. Robin has been married for 17 years and is the mother to my three grandchildren. She has two daughters in high school, and a 5-year-old son with autism. They fill her life with every activity under the sun. She is a stay-at-home mom but also has a job she does from home, and successfully I might add. She is constantly on the go, go, go! And did I mention that my son-in-law is a hard-working tow boater by profession? That means he is working on the boat and unfortunately away from home for a month at a time. So, when she says she’s in a pickle, my brain spins.
In a voice that told me she was feeling stressed and embarrassed, Robin shared her plight. She ran out of gas in a town 30+ minutes away. She didn’t ask if I would help, but instead began listing the friends she had called who weren’t available. As a Mama, I knew she was hoping I would “offer” to help, which I quickly did. I instantly heard the relief in her voice, which made my heart swell. I could have chosen the Mama card and given her a parental lecture about not checking her gas gauge when she was so far from home in a rural area with no gas station nearby, but I gave her grace, as she had done for me so many times over the years when ole Mama’s car had broken down and she so graciously came to my rescue. Now that I think of it, all three of my daughters have come to my rescue many times over the years! I’m one blessed Mama. It was time for a payback.
Robin joyfully accepted my offer and proceeded to give me these instructions: I had to go to her house and retrieve her gas can from the garage, then go to the Exxon, fill said can (I chose 4 gallons as sufficient), put it in my trunk, and then drive the 30+ minutes to the town where she was stuck. She warned me that it was a curvy country road and that she was sitting in a church parking lot and I would need to search for her. Her exact words were, “I’m way out there, Mama!” I began to think that this repaying of a good deed was turning into quite a chore, but then I felt a smile come over my face, a chuckle in my heart.
As we ended our phone conversation, Robin says, “I feel like I’m 16 again and needing my Mama to rescue me.” And just like that, the memory of my little girl needing me came flooding back. I didn’t care if it took me hours, I was filled with joy to give my busy daughter a helping hand this day and make her load just a little lighter.
After I got properly dressed (yes, I was wearing the now popular “quarantine casual”), I checked things off the list. After retrieving the gas can, then filling it with the four gallons, I texted Robin that I was on my way. She was right; it was a long, winding country road. Thank goodness I had plenty of gas in my car. But it was a pretty day! The sun was shining, so I rolled my windows down and enjoyed every minute of that beautiful drive. I realized I had not been on this road before. It was gorgeous, with lovely homes and farms sprinkled about. Spring was showing off its green glory this day, and I felt very blessed that my daughter had led me on this journey.
I finally spotted Robin’s minivan perched on a hill in front of a large brick church, and the first words to come out of her mouth when I pulled up were those of apology, but I didn’t want her to apologize. I had enjoyed the drive and had received even more joy in helping her out. She quickly poured the four gallons of gas into her empty van’s tank and gave me a heartfelt “thank you.” After some pleasant chit chat and several I love yous, we went our separate ways once more.
When our children are grown, they have their own independent lives to live. They can go months, or even years, without needing our help. Especially with the minor things that make up everyday life, such as keeping a vehicle hydrated with gasoline. Sometimes our relationships with them may resemble that of friends more than parent and child. I can’t speak for every mother out there, but I know it warms my heart and soul when I can catch a glimpse of my younger child again making me feel needed in the most basic ways, just as they did back then. With that being said, it was good to see my 16-year-old Robin yesterday.
⚽ I was standing in line at our local McDonald’s a while back waiting on my order to be filled and standing beside me was a very attractive teenage girl. She was wearing, what appeared to be panty hose that went all the way to her neck and although you couldn’t see skin, you could see her shape, and believe me, she had a very good figure. At times, she seemed a little uncomfortable, standing beside an “old guy” revealing all the contours of her body. I tried desperately not to stare, and for the most part, I succeeded. At my age, I can control myself when something like that happens, but I don’t know what I would’ve done during my teenage years. To me, it appears that young lady had no concept of the male sexual appetite, or she didn’t care. True, the male sexual appetite may not be her problem, but it could get to be. I don’t go into the bad areas of town for fear of being mugged, I don’t drive fast for fear of hurting someone, and I don’t swim out too far from the beach for fear I can’t get back before getting too tired. I hope that young lady stays in safe places. Sure, she has the right to wear what she wants, but I’ll betcha police officers wear their Kevlar vests for a reason and that’s because it’s prudent. That young lady should only go places where she feels safe, dressed in that manner. I wonder if her parents approved of her choice of body attire. I recall my daughter during her teenage years in the ‘70s. At age 13, she wanted to wear nylon hose to school, and I said “no”, so she stuffed them in her bag and put them on at school, taking them off before coming home. I only found out after she became an adult and was bragging about how she fooled me. The one thing she failed to realize then, but now knows, it’s easy to take advantage of someone who loves you. I also recall that a fellow came to take her out on a date when she was 15-16 and he drove up in a van. I met him at the door and told him that if he wanted to take my daughter on a date, to go back home and get his parent’s car and then come back. He complied. Tricked out vans in the 70s had a very bad reputation. I dunno if that still applies. I started letting my two children make decisions about their life when they reached the age of 15, unless it pertained to their health and safety. I have met a lot of wonderful young people, and I don’t believe the world is going in the wrong direction as it pertains to them. That young girl needs to know that males have a different sense of right and wrong then females. I know that thought is depressing, but fundamentally true. A basic rule for young teenage girls is; if you try to sneak out of the house without your dad seeing what you have on, you aren’t dressed appropriately. ☢
⚽ Have you ever wondered about the hierarchy of a poker hand? As a kid in the ‘40s & 50s, playing cards was a good way to pass the time during the cold winter months in the southwest Virginia mountains. We had no money and using match sticks wasn’t putting enough “skin in the game”, so we played “Noses & Knuckles”. If you bet 5 knuckles and won, you took the cards in your hand and whacked the dealer’s knuckles 5 times. If you lost, he took your cards and whacked your knuckles 5 times. You normally preferred to use “Knuckles” because it hurt less, but when the skin was peeled from the knuckles of both hands and if you wanted to continue to play, you switched to “Noses” hoping your luck would change. If not, you continued playing until the pain was overwhelming and you dropped out. Oh, I remember those winters well! It takes about 2 weeks to heal enough to play again. The knuckles seemed to heal faster than the nose and for us boys, it was a sign of manhood to endure those whacks without showing pain. It was especially painful when the older boys won because they could whack you much harder, and they were better card players. In that game, you had to get smart or get out, so I worked on my game and eventually became very good at it. I found it easy to win against opponents my own age and harder with the older ones, but I did have success. The girls never participated in that manly game and they probably thought we were idiots. I wonder how many people would be addicted to gambling today if they had to put “skin in the game” as we did as youngsters? Back then, I was unaware of anyone that was addicted to gambling, we just did it to pass the time and when Spring and Summer rolled around, we were outside playing “Dodge Ball”, “Kick The Can”, or “Hide & Seek”.
I still fondly remember those days of long ago, when we played in that little coal camp called “Page”. I keep in touch with a few of them, but so many have drifted out of my life, probably, never to return.
Getting back to the poker hand hierarchy: The Royal Flush is the top hand (Ace, King, Queen, Jack & 10 all in the same suit). Next is the Straight Flush, which is a bit easier to get (five cards in sequence that are all in the same suit). For example, they could have a seven, six, five, four, and three, all diamonds. Then Four of a kind, Full House (three cards of the same rank & two of another rank); a Flush (five cards in the same suit-not consecutive); a Straight (five consecutive cards of different suites (Aces can count either as a high or low card)); Three of a Kind (same rank); Two Pair; One Pair, & lastly High Card (Hands are ranked by comparing the highest value card in each hand).
So, to recap, the order goes: Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a kind, Two pair, One pair, & then High card.
Playing poker hardens your character and forces you to learn how to deceive your opponents, a trait that is never useful in any other endeavor and a very unattractive trait to have. I haven’t played cards much since becoming an adult, unable to find anyone retarded enough to “put skin in the game”.
⚽ My wife and I sat down to watch the Super Bowl at 6:30pm on February 2nd, and after the fireworks and loud music faded into the background, I asked her who she wanted to win. My favorite team is the Washington Redskins and I’m not sure she has one. She responded that she was pulling for the Kansas City Chiefs and I asked her why? She responded that since she didn’t know anything about either team, she made her selection because she liked their uniforms. That brought a big old grin to my face. I have never, ever, pulled for a team to win because of the color of their uniform. I doubt that any man has ever based a selection for that reason. For me to pull for a team other than the Redskins, there’s a more nuanced reason: I lived in that city; my son/daughter was born in that city, etc., but never because I liked their uniforms. I think this helps explain the subtle difference between the sexes. Personally, I enjoy those differences, and I believe that’s part of the attraction between us. I noticed her dosing at times during the game, and I could tell she was only watching the game so she could see the commercials and half-time show that everyone raves about afterwards. The game was over around 11:30pm, and by the time we washed the dishes and got in bed, it was almost 1:00am. Being retired, we didn’t have to worry about getting up and going to work the next morning, so that was good. About 115 million Americans watched the game, as well as about 40 million foreigners. It kinda felt good to be sharing that experience with about 160 million of my fellow planet dwellers. Freud said, “When we share… that is the poetry in the prose of life” Now, you can pound a nail with that hammer!
Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me. I know you will return their love abundantly. That is my intent as well. I am always grateful that you take the time to read my missives. Until next time, be well…Tommy.
When I was growing up in the 70s, my family did a lot of simple things together as a family unit. My sister and I rarely stayed home alone while our parents went out. Wherever Mama & Daddy went, we tagged along, and we never complained. Back then, there were no video games or cell phones to keep us entertained. So the chance to get out of the house for a little while, was well received.
One family outing was written in stone. Every Friday after school was grocery time. We all piled into the car, Mama with her well thought out shopping list, and Daddy with his freshly cashed paycheck, and we headed uptown to the closest supermarket.
Farm Fresh wasn’t the largest grocery store in town, but it was just big enough for my parents to still feel comfortable and not overwhelmed. In 1973, we had moved from a small town in East Tennessee, to a much larger city in Virginia. Neither of my parents felt comfortable in crowded places. They stuck to the smaller, older stores and businesses that most reminded them of back home.
Mama was a hard-core grocery shopper. She knew exactly what she wanted, what brand, size, and the amount she planned to pay for it. She already had a menu made up in her mind of what she would prepare for meals the following week. We all knew to just let her be as she shopped, and not to bother her while she was in her zone. Daddy had already been given his orders as to what his job would be. Usually he would pick out all the produce. Having been a wonderful farmer in Tennessee, he was well equipped for this job. I don’t remember walking with my sister, so she must’ve had a chore helping Mama.
The only thing I remember doing is wondering around the store. Maybe picking up an item or two that I needed for school, or a sweet that I could talk my mama into buying. Sometimes I was allowed to bring a friend with me. At least then I had someone to talk to my own age. We could walk through the store people watching and make fun of weird hair styles or clothes. Typical tween stuff I guess. At least until we became bona fide teenagers!
As teenagers, a trip to the supermarket meant a chance to check out the bag & stock boys. We would dress in what we thought were our cutest, most flattering outfits and prance around in hopes of getting a look our way. Yes, we were very silly. But we didn’t know that at the time. We were too silly with our boy craziness to realize these young men, who were much older than us, had a job to do. A job that I am sure they wanted to keep. We just knew that one Friday, one of those cute boys would come up and talk to us. Maybe even ask us for our phone number. That of course never happened. But we entertained ourselves quite well none the less.
However, one of those stock boys did notice me one day much later. But not in the store. He was introduced to me by his mother and later he became, not only my first real boyfriend, but my husband Rusty. He had been one of the stock boys that never even gave me a glance. He was a hard worker then and remained a hard worker all his life.
After our long trips (they seemed to take an eternity to a kid) to Farm Fresh, we would go home with our bounty that would sustain us for another week. Almost every Friday’s dinner would be chili dogs and French fries or potato chips. Mama would be too tired to cook, so Friday was the one day out of the week that she would make something fast. Every other day we would have a plate full of the basic food groups, served hot and on time at exactly 5 pm. Yes, we were very lucky ducks to have my mama cooking for us every day!
When Rusty and I married in 1983, I of course thought every Friday would be grocery day, and it was. I took after my mama and learned quickly how to plan a menu for the following week. Money would be tight for several years, and I learned not only how to make things stretch, but how to make our meals healthy and tasty. I had it down to each individual portion. I have told my daughters that I even calculated every bite that would be taken. No joke! I had the best teacher in the world, and I appreciated my mama more with every meal I cooked.
I like to believe that I passed on some of the knowledge I learned from my mama to my three daughters. They have each certainly impressed me from time to time. My youngest daughter now orders her groceries on her phone and drives up to the Walmart and has them placed in her car. She never has to step foot in the store! That amazes me!. If that service had been available to me at her age, I don’t know whether I would have used it or not. I am happy for the people who can benefit from it now though, and I have seriously thought of trying it myself. The thought of someone else picking out my food for me, well haven’t quite grasped that one yet. I still prefer to pick out my own items, check those sell-by dates, bargains, and what have you. I’m still very much my mama’s daughter on grocery day.
With the holidays just passing, and a new year birthed, I have been in a remembrance mood. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that we lost a very significant family member this past year. It left a hole that no one or nothing can ever fill again.
Through the process of grieving, I remember not only the loved one I recently lost, but the many others that are missing from my life. And it has put the question into my mind; how will people remember me?
When my mother passed away, 19 years ago this month, I was at once consumed with good memories of her. Anyone who knew my mother well, knew that in her later years, she could be very difficult to get along with at times. My mother suffered from debilitating chronic pain. There was not one hour of any day in her last 15 years on earth that she was not in constant pain. She could be very harsh at times and hurtful with her words.
Of course, now I know, being older myself, that it was the pain talking and not my real mother’s heart. But when I was only in my 30s, I did not understand that concept. So why, upon hearing of her passing from this world, did I receive instant healing from the bad memories of times my mother had hurt me? Was it because she was now free from her pain and once again happy? Or was it because all the negatives had passed with her and was no longer an issue?
I remembered the times I had not gotten along well with my mother, for whatever reason. The memories were there if I chose to confront them. But I felt this peace in my heart that there was no need anymore. And when I did force myself to remember something negative, it no longer affected me. The love was greater! I felt content in remembering every good thing about my mother and feeling the love from her in those memories. It felt right. And I felt very blessed for it!
Please don’t get me wrong. My mother was a great woman! She did many, many things right! Unfortunately, it is human nature for us to remember, and spend more time and energy on something a loved one has done to hurt us. The good things become clouded with the pain.
I noticed that the same thing happened to me with my dad’s passing 8 years later. It was indeed another welcomed blessing. Then I got to thinking that maybe it’s God’s way of comforting us. His promise is to comfort us in our grieving. So maybe that is the answer as to why.
Then, I saw it happen again. This time not to me as personally as before with my parents, but I watched it through my own children. The loved one we lost last year was their dad. My ex-husband, co-parent, and close friend. Anyone who knew my children’s dad well knew he had suffered for years with lots of problems. Sometimes very serious problems that not only affected him, but everyone that loved him. Most especially our children.
I watched each of my daughters be blessed in their grieving by the overwhelming remembrance of the good things that were very much a part of their dad. He was a very good man! And sometimes that got lost in his problems. It did surprise me that my children were able to remember so many good parts of their dad. I had always thought that the painful times would leave a permanent cloud over their relationships. But much to my surprise, and relief, each of my daughters received the blessing that I had with the loss of my parents. They can speak so highly of the real man their dad was. His goodness, his love for them and others, and the wonderful parts that made him who he was. It makes this mom’s heart so full to see my daughters have this positive experience through something so life changing as a parent passing.
So back to my question, how will people remember me? I can’t grasp the thought, or vision, of being remembered with such love and adoration as I have remembered my parents, and how I have seen my daughters remember their dad. Maybe that’s not supposed to happen. Maybe none of us are. Maybe that is something that is only left behind for our loved ones when we are gone. Our way, or God’s way, of comforting them in their time of grief.
But how wonderful it would be if we could seriously put aside our differences with people, lay conflict and hurt feelings to rest, and remember only the good parts of a person now, while we are still on earth together. To remember only the positives that are indeed stored in our minds right along with the bad! Why is the negative file always in the front of the filing cabinet of our brain? It’s human nature, but is there a way that we can change it? I for one, think we should give it a try. How much happier everyone involved could be.
It is my hope that I will be remembered as making a positive impact on those I love. My biggest hope is that they will know, without a doubt, how much I love them. I hope they will remember how hard I tried at life, and even though I may not have succeeded in all things they think are important, that I did succeed in what God put me on the earth to accomplish. I hope they will be happy they knew me, and proud of the person I was. I hope that just maybe; I did something so right that they even learned an important lesson from me. Something that will be of great help to them after I am gone.
How will you be remembered? Something to ponder…JoAnn
When I was a very small girl, it was one of my most favorite things when my daddy would take me on an errand with him. Going to town as we called it, was such a treat. And if I was lucky, I would receive an even better treat, candy!
My daddy would take me to one of his favorite corner markets. A small, red brick building, with a big sign that read JIFFY MARKET. Oh, how I loved to hear my dad say those words, “Let’s go to the Jiffy!”. He would put me up into his truck, where I would stand up in the middle of the seat, close to my daddy, so I could see everything going on. There were no laws that required car seats or even seat belts for children in those days.
When we got to the Jiffy Market, excitement would overcome me as soon as we pulled into the small parking lot. My daddy would take my hand and inside we would go. I of course wanted to go directly to the wire shelf display that held boxes of penny candy. I never forgot where it was located, at the front of the store, directly across from the cash register. My daddy would usually have something else he came for, so he would quickly pull me away and take me to another part of the market. Sometimes we would go to the back of the store where there was a walk-in cooler. It would be stocked with cartons of bottled pop. Coke being everyone in my family’s favorite. In the summer months, watermelons were kept ice cold in the cooler. I remember my daddy asking for the clerk to “plug” a watermelon for him so he could see how ripe it was. This was done by cutting a small square in the rind and then pulling it out of the melon. Most of the time, my daddy being picky about his melons, would ask for several to be plugged before he would decide on the one to buy. I remember the clerk looking aggravated, and myself feeling a little embarrassed. Did that bother my dad? Absolutely not! Very little phased my big, strong, boisterous daddy.
Finally, we would make it to the front counter to the cash register. This was my time to get what I wanted. All I needed to do was look up at my daddy, with eyes pleading. We rarely needed words. He would do just what I wanted and ask, “Do you want some candy today?”. I eagerly answered yes, and he would take his coin purse out of his pants pocket, and say “Let’s see what I have today”. Usually it would be several pennies, which would buy me several pieces of candy. But when I was lucky, he would give me a nickel! A nickel would buy a bigger piece of candy or many more than single pennies. Sometimes a nickel would buy 10 pieces of candy which would require I have my little paper bag to put it in. The nickel became my favorite coin. Later on, I would receive a nickel for a chore I had accomplished, or for a good grade on my report card.
Many, many years later, the nickels my daddy gave me became just a very fond memory. Something sweet from my childhood. Like the candy that they purchased. That was until, my dad passed away.
I was in my 40s and had already lost my mother 8 years earlier. My daddy’s death was expected, but devastating none the less. Both my parents were gone from earth now. I was no one’s little girl anymore. I went into a deep depression. I not only was now grieving my dad, but the old feelings of grief for my mom resurfaced as well. It was overwhelming at times to say the least.
One day I began to notice that I was picking up a lot of loose change from the floor. With my youngest daughter still living at home, and her being a waitress who received tips, the change was nothing unusual. I came up with the conclusion that she was dropping it when she emptied out her pockets doing laundry and shrugged it off. Then I began noticing that it wasn’t just pennies, nickels, and dimes. It was only nickels. Strange I thought. But still didn’t think much of it. Then I was watching a very interesting tv program. The program’s speaker was a woman who claimed to be a medium who could hear from people who had passed away and give messages to their loved ones. She began to talk about how our loved ones who have passed were constantly around us. And how they would try to get our attention or connect with us. She mentioned something that caught my attention. She explained that the dear departed would often leave loose change lying around. What? Yes, she said finding loose coins lying around the house was a sign they were present and trying to get our attention.
Now I don’t know if any of this stuff is real or not. My brain seems to short out whenever I try to work it that hard as to figure something so complex out. So, I avoid spending much time on such things. But I immediately thought of my daddy, and how significant him giving me a nickel had been at one time of my life. It was a special little thing, just between the two of us, that no one else knew about. It would make sense that he would leave nickels for me as a way of saying “I’m here”. And definitely something I could see my dad doing if it were possible!
I am now in my late 50s, I live all alone, and I am still finding nickels. Not pennies, not dimes, not quarters, but nickels. I found one the other day when I was unloading the washing machine. It was a brand new 2018. I looked at it and smiled, wondering if my dad would like the new look of our nickels, or if he would be like me and prefer the old way they looked instead. I kept that nickel and have it on my laptop as I write this story.
I know a lot of you are thinking that I just left a nickel in my clothing and it ended up in my washing machine. Well, what you don’t know is, I am not one to carry cash with me. Which means I rarely, if ever, have change in my pockets. So how did that nickel, all shiny and new, end up in my washing machine? See my dilemma?
I will continue to think of my daddy whenever I find a nickel, and will continue to let it flood my mind with wonderful memories of him, and put a huge smile on my face. There are far worse things I could do.
I love you Daddy. . Your JoJo.