Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Staying Strong


When I talked to my sister the other day I was left feeling sad. As you know she had a stroke a couple of years ago. She has been in a nursing home for several months now. She hates it but realizes that it is the best option.

She is still undergoing physical therapy. She wants desperately to be able to sit up and eventually walk. After such a long time that does not seem likely.

At least her mind and speech have returned. We have nice conversations about our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We catch up on news about other family members. We talk of memories of our childhoods.

We were talking about making mulberry wine this time. Our grandparents had several mulberry trees on their farm. We would pick as many as we could.

Then we squeezed part of them into glasses of water to make our "wine'. The rest of the mulberries were in small containers. We ate the berries and drank the wine. They were fabulously glamorous tea parties for the sophisticates we pretended to be.

Somehow the conversation turned to longevity of life. I have already lived a longer life than either of my parents. My sister is getting close to the same.

I mentioned that I plan on living to at least the age of 81 years. I have always wanted to be one of those crotchety old women who say exactly what they are thinking. 81 seems to be the age I would be able to do that.

My sister told me she would hold me to that.  Then she said that she had the feeling she would not be here much longer.

I asked her why she felt that way. Is there something someone has said? No. It is simply a feeling she has.

I was taken aback. I worry that she will give up. Her life is so difficult right now.

Her husband and son love her. Each visits her every day. My nephew told me she is doing well but sometimes she has bad days.

She also has a new roommate. The woman has dementia and is often delirious. She wakes up screaming all through the day and night so my sister is not getting much sleep.

Her husband is working to get her another roommate. I hope when she gets adequate sleep she will feel more positive.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Love Story



My aunt was dating my uncle. No, silly, they were not brother and sister. My uncle's older brother had just returned from serving in the Navy during World War II. My uncle wanted to show his brother a good time so he asked his girlfriend, my aunt, if she had a friend they could double date with. My aunt's best friend was her sister who agreed to the blind date.

The brother was a good-looking young man of 20. He was glad to be home after the horrors of war. He had an outgoing personality. People liked him immediately upon meeting him.

The sister was beautiful. At the age of 17 she had just graduated from high school at the very top of her class. She was shy but confident.

The two hit it off immediately and began to see each other regularly. My aunt and uncle eventually went their own ways and married other people. The brother and sister married each other and had a long and happy marriage. You have already guessed that the brother and sister are my parents.

My father worked as a truck driver for a time. As was the custom at that time my mother stayed home and took care of domestic things.

For their honeymoon they actually spent some time at my mother's family's farm. One day as an activity they decided to go hunting. I'll never know why because shooting was not something that interested Mom. It must have been love.

Anyway off they went. Mom had a shotgun, I don't know what kind of gun Daddy used. They had been gone for several hours before they came back. Daddy was carrying Mom. Somehow she had shot her self in the foot. She was not seriously injured but I can remember seeing her through the years picking a little BB of shot that would surface from her foot every once in a while.

Daddy was a sports fan. Again because she loved him Mom would watch or listen to and sometimes even attend a game. She soon because as avid a fan as he was. When we were older and had families of our own Mom would say, "You are welcome to come over for New Years Day (or most other holidays). I'll be cooking and there will be plenty to eat. Just don't get between me and the television while I'm watching football."

Daddy on the other hand never really understood why we did not live at home when we started our own families. He said there was plenty of room. He really did not understand it.

My parents had seven children. There were also 6 pregnancies that did not make it to term. Can you imagine a family of 13 of us?  I was the first. One year later came a brother, next year another brother, two years went by before I had my first sister. After another two years came another brother.

My youngest brother was getting ready to start school and was worried about who would take care of his mother while he was at school. My parents took care of that by giving us another sister. Then five years later our youngest brother was born. There are fifteen years between me and my youngest brother.

When my father came home from war he brought a kimono for his wife and a kimono for his daughter. He did not know about either of us at the time. He wanted a little girl and I was it. You can only imagine how special I have always felt because I was truly the twinkle in my father's eye.

Our parents loved us. there was never a doubt for any of us We didn't have a lot of things. Money was scarce. But time was spent with us and we always knew it was because they wanted to not because they had to.

A short time after my father died I dreamed that he came in the door at 4:00 like he did every afternoon. Only this time he had been gone for a long time. He was carrying a ditty bag like sailors carry.  I was so happy to see him that I threw my arms around his neck and held on for dear life. Everyone else in the family was looking on with their mouths open in shock.

All except Mom. She stood and stared for a while then she walked over and examined his neck (that I still had a lock on). She backed up to the wall, crossed her arms, and said, " I hope you know I spent all thst money." She was talking about his life insurance.

Of course she had not spent it all but that was my mom. She was practical and Daddy was more impulsive.

I was a little hesitant about telling Mom about my dream but I told her. She started to laugh. It turned out that she had dreamed about him recently too. He had come back and all she could think about was how she was going to repay what money she had spent for his funeral.

I hope you can understand what good parents I had and how lucky I was that I was their daughter. I used to hear my friends complain about how terrible their parents were. I truly never felt that way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Aunt Tony


I briefly met two of my husband's aunts and and an uncle on his father's side. I did not know them enough to be able to write about them. Most of the aunts and uncles on his mother's side were gone by then so I did not know them either.

Then there was Aunt Tony. She was Mom's older sister. Mom was the baby of her family. Tony was a nickname but that is how we all knew her so I will not bother with her real name.

Aunt Tony was a real character. From what I have been told she and her husband Jack loved to fish. Their usual companions were another aunt and uncle. My sister-in-law has told that they were all very close but on several occasions Aunt Tony and the other aunt would get into physical fights. I can almost picture them rolling around and pulling each other's hair.

They always made up immediately and were best friends again. I have many photos of them showing off the catch of the day.

Aunt Tony had no children. I heard a rumor that she had a baby out of wedlock way way back in time. If it is true she gave it up for adoption. But it could just be a rumor too. I do not know.

Aunt Tony married Jack. I believe he had children from a previous marriage but I never met them. He was not liked by many in the family. I did not know him well. He died shortly after my husband and I married.

Aunt Tony worked at the same factory as my sister-in-law Shirley. They were both hard workers and highly thought of.

Jack did not have an outside job. With Aunt Tony's earnings he purchased three apartments buildings. They were all in a row. Jack and Tony lived in the first floor of the first building. He saw to all repairs and managed the tenants.

Family hated that Jack was a huge baseball fan and attended the World Series every year. He saved all his tickets, score books, and signed baseballs from each one..When he died each nephew was given a signed baseball from the collection.

That was also the year Aunt Tony gave each family a nice 8x10 picture of the two of them as a Christmas gift. I still have it. It is a good picture. Some people were offended by it. I think she loved him so much and wanted the rest of us to feel the same way. It was a piece of herself she gave. I appreciate her for it.

She liked to cook and to entertain. Several times she invited us newly-weds for a meal. We would sit in the kitchen and talk to her as she cooked. She was good company.

Aunt Tony also liked to drink. As far as I know it was only beer but she often overdid. Mom often clucked her tongue and said things about Aunt Tony "high stepping" when she walked. Mom did not approve of drinking. Too many of her family died as the result of alcohol.

We went back to visit one year when our two oldest sons were very little. Of course we went to visit Aunt Tony. She proudly gave them each a quarter. My husband looked at the boys and said, "Now what do you say?" My oldest son looked at her and said, "Where is my penny?" She laughed and went to get them each a penny too.

Aunt Tony was generous. Her husband had been frugal with her money and invested it well. She was careful about spending because that was her habit. But she liked to buy things for others.

Once my husband and I were visiting from the big city. She invited us in for the afternoon.

When we got to her house she insisted we walk downtown with her. She bought several small items for us. None were expensive and she chose them. She also chose cowboy hats for us. They were the most costly of her purchases.

Aunt Tony had been keeping company with a nice man. She cared a great deal about him. She was telling us at that visit that he was taking a driving trip through Colorado and Wyoming. If she paid her own expenses he wanted her to go with him.

She was agonizing about whether to spend the money. I finally told her that she should go if she wanted to. That is what her money was for... to enjoy her retirement.

She decided in the end not to go. She was worried about spending the money. He went alone.

Two weeks after he came home he died of a heart attack. I think the lesson is to take your opportunities when you can. She could have had memories of the trip with a man she cared about.

Aunt Tony died. She still had the apartments but they had run down a bit. There were all sorts of treasures found in her attic when they went through her things. My mother-in-law was her beneficiary.

The buildings were sold and are still being lived in. She was a giving and loving woman.


Friday, July 7, 2017

The Great Hunter


Isabella is our dog. She is getting older and has a tough time getting around but she still fancies herself to be a great hunter.

When I first moved here my son and Isabella had been here for quite some time. Even though we live in an extremely small town we keep her on a chain outside. It is for her own safety. She likes to chase (after a fashion) cars. She does not have the sense to stay far away from them.

In the back yard she has a shorter tether. It keeps her from running into the neighbor's yard. He is a little afraid of her even though she is mostly bark.

My son likes to tell the story of her chasing a cat.

There are feral cats all over town. I see fewer here than when I first moved. That is probaly because of Bella.

My son had fastened her collar to the chain in the back yard and he was talking to the neighbor. One of those feral cats sauntered into the yard. Bella took off after it barking and snarling as she ran. The cat was running for its life.

The cat ran at its top speed. Bella was fast on its tail. The cat ran. Bella ran. Then she came to the end of her chain. Just like the dog in the cartoons Bella abruptly jerked to a stop. She flew into the air with her legs still trying to run. She landed hard on her back as my son and the neighbor laughed.

In the front yard there is a cable that my husband strung between two trees. They are the length of the yard. There is a small chain that slides along the cable that we attach to Bella's collar. She can run the length and width of the yard freely.

She likes to argue with the squirrels that climb around in the trees and they like to argue with her. We often hear the barking and chattering until we make her come inside because we cannot stand to listen any longer.

When I was new here Isabella liked to chase birds too. We had to keep a close eye out because she would catch them and kill them if she had the chance.

We were watching the baseball game one evening and heard an awful scream. She had caught a bird and it was screaming in fear and pain. My son tried to get it away from her but she finally put it out of its misery.

But she is older now and her legs do not work well. Some days it is all she can do to climb the steps to get into the house. No more bird catching... or so we thought.

The other day my son heard a bunch of chattering out front where Bella was. Thinking the squirrels might take advantage of her condition he went to check on her.

There were no squirrels. Odd. But there was a goldfinch raising all kinds of a ruckus.

My son looked again at the dog and saw that there was a female goldfinch in her mouth. After she let go of it we gave it a proper send-off.

The thing is that she does not eat them; She just enjoys the chase.

She knows she is not supposed to. It is almost comical the way she slinks into the house. Of course my son yells a bit at her to make her let go of the bird but otherwise we recognize that she is an animal with animal instincts. But if you could see her looking so guilty you would have to laugh too.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fourth Of July


Before you enjoy your barbecue and fireworks take some time to remember what we are celebrating. And remember all the men and women who have served to preserve the freedoms all through the years. We are grateful.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Mary

Mary is the only sister of my husband who is still living. She is 12 years older than I am.

Mary is still extremely active. She walks every day. Until recently she was working part time for something to do with her time. She volunteers for several places. She helps clean and shop for an older woman from her church. There is no way I could keep up with her.

When I married my husband Mary and her husband had three small children. We used to go to their house often to play cards. It was a good time for all of us.

One night while we were playing cards the conversation turned to cars. My husband liked his Fords and my brother-in-law swore by his Chevrolets.

The conversation became more adamant as time went on. Finally my husband said, "Okay. You go out and drain all the oil from your Chevy and I will drain all the oil from my Ford. Then we will drive until one of the motors blows up. That will show which car is best."

Thankfully my brother-in-law had sense enough to just chuckle. I suggested it was time for us to go home.

As Mary walked us to the door we all smelled smoke. It seemed to be close. Mary laughed and told my husband that his car must be on fire. We all laughed. She closed the door and we went to the car.

We opened the doors and saw that the front seat consisted of nothing but charred springs. Apparently a cigarette had started the fire. Fortunately it was winter and the windows were rolled tight. That allowed the oxygen to all be used up and the fire went out. Lucky for us?

My husband replaced the seat the following day but it took a long time to get rid of the smell.

Mary is a wonderful cook. I loved being invited for dinner. My favorite was called taverns. In this part of the country taverns are a loose meat hamburger. They were invented in a bar here many years ago. They are the loose meat burgers they featured on the old Roseanne show.

Mary and her husband took dancing lessons and went dancing often. Her husband died suddenly around the same time Mary's father and two sisters died. It was a hard time for her.

It has been many years since he died and Mary does love to dance. There is a friend of theirs who is widowed and he escorts her to dances. They have a good time together.

Mary also kept her husband's 1953 Chevy. It was a show car and they enjoyed the shows together. She still shows it several times each summer.

All of Mary's children live fairly close by. Most of her grandchildren are also close. She has a beautiful family.

I recently told you about her falling and breaking a vertebra in her neck. She is finally able to rid herself of the collar she had to wear all day and all night.

Mary's kitchen was one of those large old kitchens. It even had a little nook with a window that overlooked the backyard. Once she decorated it in pink and white checks. It was very nice.

After her husband died Mary decided she no longer needed such a big house. She sold it and bought a newer home clear across town. As she always does she made it cozy and welcoming.

Last winter the woman she helps from church wanted to go to Texas for the winter. She told Mary she would pay all the expenses if she would go along to help her get around. Mary jumpad at the chance. She had a wonderful time sightseeing and enjoying a warm winter.

It is so nice having Mary close by. In half an hour we can visit each other or meet for a meal at a restaurant. That is when she has time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Shirley


Shirley is the second of my husband's sisters. Shirley was the fun and fun one.

Shirley never married. Mom told me she used to date often but when her younger sister married she just stopped. She never moved away from the farm.

We sometimes called her Shird. I am guessing that one of the little brothers could not say Shirley and said Sjirdy instead. Over time it was shortened to Shird.

Shirley bought a mobile home and parked it across the driveway from the house on the farm. It was large enough for her to have people who came for visits to have plenty of room to sleep. She also had an indoor bathroom which for many years the house did not.

Shirley liked pretty things. She had many little glass figurines that she picked up here and there. Cats were her favorite.

I remember going with her one time to the store. She found a lovely figurine of a woman in old-fashioned clothing with a parasol. When she looked at the price she decided it cost too much. She told me, "Watch this."

She hit the edge of the shelf with the bottom of the figurine. A chip came off. Then she went to the manager of the department who gave her a hefty discount. She happily bought her little chipped lady and displayed her proudly.

Shirley liked going to "the rummages". That is what they called the second-hand stores. She knew the best days to go to each and every one. Those were the days they put out new merchandise or had bag sales. Her Saturdays were spent happily browsing the rummages. She did not always buy anything but she enjoyed looking.

Shirley loved her nieces and nephews and they loved her as much. When anyone came to the farm on vacation the first thing Shirley would do is pile the children into the car and off they went. She would show them the sights of the area. Or if they were old enough she might take them to the rummages.

She made sure there were treats in the kitchen for them too. Most of the time those kinds of things were not kept on the farm because they were considered to be a frivolous and unnecessary expense.

Shirley was a hard worker. She went to work in a factory that mad tire patches and other rubber items. When my parents-in-law and Shirley would come to the big city on vacation she always brought a bag of patches and glue so the kids could repair the inner tubes of their bike tires.

As a matter of fact when I moved back to this area I was walking to get into my car to go somewhere when I saw something on the pathway. It was one of Shirley's tire patches. She had never been here and to my knowledge none of the children had any patches left.

I picked it up. It fits perfectly into the cup holder by my seat in the car. It has been there ever since.

Once when we went back to visit the farm for a vacation Dad's dog had puppies.  At the time we only had the two older boys. So each was getting one of the puppies as a pet.

Shirley was running to town to pick up something for supper. As she was backing out of the driveway she watched carefully for children. She watched the children so carefully that she did not notice my oldest son's puppy as it ran behind the car. She ran over it.

She was a lover of all animals especially dogs and was as hurt by it as my son was. Of course there was a glorious funeral and we went home with one puppy for the boys to share. For years whenever my son was with her my son would ask, "Shirley, why did you run over my dog?"

Shirley worked at the patch factory until she decided to retire. She enjoyed her retirement. She was free to do as she wished. What she wished was to stay on the farm and help her parents. After Dad died she was there to take care of Mom.

Then the doctor discovered stomach cancer. It was advanced and the was not too much they could do for her. Mom had to watch another child die.

The man who bought their farm finally tore down Shirley's trailer last year. I was hard to drive by and see it coming down pieces at a time.