Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Woes

Well another Christmas Day has come and gone. I spent mine alone for the most part as hubby had to work his normal 12 hour shift and the only son left at home worked 12 hours last night and spent his holiday sleeping. I am sick - whether flu or a severe sinus infection I don’t know yet. I already have an appointment for Wednesday so I will wait till then to find out. My nose is draining down my throat making me cough, my ears are hurting and ringing and my balance is iffy at best. I feel like crap. Spent most of the day on the couch wrapped in a blanket and shivering. All in all, not a very good holiday to be sure.
Lana is better I think. Yesterday I made stew from the turkey remains and took her a pint. She called and told me she ate it all. Today she called and asked if I had any more. My reply was yes, but I wasn’t bringing it - if she wanted it, she’d have to come get it - which she did. She has apologized profusely about being the cause of us missing our Christmas Eve ritual. I keep telling her it’s not about the day of the month we meet, it’s about the love and caring when we finally get together that matters. Folks can’t help getting sick after all.
I was reading Tina’s blog about her Christmas morning aftermath and have to say that I have noticed that since my children are grown, I miss the hustle and bustle of preparing for big morning when the kids find what Santa left under the tree. I miss the chaos, the laughter and excited squeals as they locate gift after gift they had asked for. It isn’t the same when the kids are grown. The excitement level is less, the anticipation is gone. Grandkids help some, but it is definitely different than your own children.
Merry Christmas and Happy 52 Anniversary Mom and Dad, where ever you are. We love you and miss you today and every day.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Gifts

Throughout a lifetime, children receive many gifts from their parents. Many are expensive and much desired; others are simply to fulfill a need. Probably the greatest gifts parents can bestow upon a child are those that cost nothing, that come without strenuous physical exertion or soul-searching thought. These unconscious gifts affect children for a lifetime, they shape characters forever and are free for the taking.

1. Responsibility - Our parents taught us that we were responsible for our own actions; that any action of ours could and would affect others. We were taught to use care when making promises and to be sure we delivered as best as we could when possibly.

2. Patience - Patience was a hard learned lesson for most of my family, but when there are five children it was surely a needed attribute. We learned to take turns through necessity; our Mom only had two hands and could only do so much for so many. If you waited, you would always get your turn.

3. Sharing - Five girls born into a seven year time span meant sharing was essential for the survival of our family. Whatever one had, we all had - be it cookies or paper dolls. If you weren’t willing to share, you got none.
Vicki 11-1955
Donna 1-1958
Teresa 10-1959
Tina 6-1961
Lana 6-1962

4. Time - Mom and Dad spent time with us - Mom everyday as we grew from infant to young adult - playing games, working about the house or in the garden or chicken house.Whatever we did, Mom was usually with us until we reached an age where we thought we didn’t ‘need’ her. Dad was different - he worked all hours trying to provide for us - but during his off time, he took us hunting, played his old Bluegrass albums blaring loudly as he danced and made corny jokes. He taught us to drive a tractor and mend fences, to check our oil and change a flat tire. Life is far too hectic today; parents can’t spend time with their children as I had growing up. And it is by far the parent’s loss.

5. Honesty - My parents in all likelihood valued honesty higher than any other quality in their children. It was a requirement, not an option - no negotiating, no small white lies - they were ALL black as sin. One of Mom’s favorite sayings was “Tell a lie and you have to tell more and more to cover the 1st and pretty soon, you will trip over that pile of lies and fall down.” I could never lie to my Mom - even as I got older. She knew …….. I KNEW she knew, so it was best I didn’t even go there.

6. Humility - We were all taught to be humble, that we shouldn’t consider ourselves any better than any other person in this world. But we were also taught that no one was better than us.

7. Gratitude - My sisters and I were taught to be grateful for the gifts in our lives, whether it came from God or from our Grandmother. Always accept a gift, express thanks and then smile and walk away. Whether you threw it in the trash when you got home or displayed it with pride was a matter only you should know.

8. Faith - Now here most would expect religion to be mentioned …. but faith, to me anyway, isn’t always about God, the Bible, Heaven, etc. Faith is the expectation that all will come aright after a while, that all the ills of life will pass away and we will survive and overcome whatever obstacles we meet upon the road. We were taught to greet each day with optimism and expectation; that no matter how many times we fall, eventually we can pick ourselves up and move on. That is where we are with the loss of our parents, I believe, dusting ourselves off, bandaging our skinned knees and preparing to move forward - with a bit of luck together.

9. Respect - We were taught at an early age that showing respect to our parents or any other elder around us was a common courtesy. It was expected, ingrained in us from birth and with few exceptions, we all still do it to this day. Self-respect was another quality we were taught.

10. Hope - When all seems wrong in the world, hope always seems a beacon in the distance - my Dad lived that every day of his life. He planted seeds in the garden with the hope that it would mature into a beautiful plant that flourished and bore fruit as he plowed and hoed and tended it throughout it’s lifetime - much the same way he raised us from infants to adulthood. Without hope, what does anyone have?

11. Courage - Our parents taught us that no matter the challenge we faced, with determination and strength we could move mountains. Dad said if you never tried something new, you would never know if you could succeed. They gave us the darling to allow ourselves to take wing and soar through life.

12. Love - Probably the greatest gifts our parents gave us is the gift of love. They taught us that love was unconditional; that when freely given the rewards were great. That love isn’t always expressed with words or gifts, sometimes it’s just there in the background keeping us supported and cared for when all else is wrong in our worlds. I still fell my parent’s love, it surrounds me and my sisters and our families every day. Our parents weren’t demonstrative and mushy, but they loved us no matter what.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Meet My Son the Fireman

Meet my son Duane, (top of ladder) who by day is a Foreman in a mobile home plant and by night is a volunteer fireman. Isn't he cute in his lil outfit? I cringe when I hear his Station called out to a fire until I know he is back home. He is 31 years old but still my baby. I am so proud of him I could pop.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lament of a Murder

I am a vile murderer - one of the lowest of the low - belly crawling my way through the sewer systems located in the bowels of life! Does it make you any less a murder if the heinous crime is committed in the performance of normal - seemingly innocuous activities? I think not.

My son, Josh, age 24 and the only child left at home was given a pot-bellied pig. What can a Mom do but say HELL NO it isn’t staying in my house. Pigs are farm animals and belong in a pen outside a barn.
Especially pigs who grow to humongous size and will have feet larger than mine. But this pig was 10 weeks old yall - teeny tiny and cute as a button, all black and white with funky little pink toenails - and it IS winter and he is delicate (said my Son as he looked at me with sad puppy dog eyes). So I did what any Mom worth her name does - I said ok, but you have to take care of it. Right!

He did care for it - semi anyway. When it got to stinking enough to cause a funk that I could smell sitting on the couch - if I raised enough Hell and reminded him obsessively - he would clean it’s pet carrier cage. He fed it, bathed it, changed his litter and all was well. If I heard an occasional snort or squeal, well, I did my best to ignore it - all the time thinking in the back of my brain that as soon as the spring thaw came that thing was out of here. Now pigs, as it happens, have no mechanism in their brain to tell them when their belly is full - therefore earning the name Pig I suppose. At any rate, this 5 pound hunk of ham would eat as long as you fed it. As a consequence of that little glimmer of information, Josh had this critter on a diet. I scoop of cat food twice a day along with water. I liked the little thing, truly I did. It was cute, although I never did develop a sense of delight for the smell of pig piss.

Yesterday Josh had to work his normal 6 PM to 6 AM shift as a security guard. He was running late and, per usual, asked me to feed the pig his supper. I got busy - dragged all the Christmas paraphernalia I had inherited from my Mom home, divided it up between myself and my children. I put up a tree, spent an hour replacing light bulbs in numerous strings of defective lights and placed on said tree. I hauled piles of dirty clothes from the bathroom floor - left there - you guessed - by the grown son mentioned above. The pig's sniffling and snorting because it thought I was bringing it’s nightly ration of food. I decided to vacuum the living room floor - it was covered in pieces of garland, broken bulbs, and leaves carried in on our feet while dragging the debris of Christmas home.

Here I am, industriously sucking trash from the floor, shoving heavy furniture around and dusting as I went along. I am thinking - ok Donna - might as well do the hall while I was at it. Now the hall light was off, but the light on the vacuum lit up my path as I whizzed along like a red caped Hannah Homemaker fighting the never ending dirt and dust generated by normal life. Now back to the pig - as many of you know - pigs root ……… errrr dig with their snouts into anything that strikes their fancy - food included. As a result, Razor (that was his name) had strewn food all over the floor in his quest to be glutinous. In an attempt to do a quick once over - dumb Donna (that’s me) vacuumed right up to his cage and even smacked the cage with the vacuum a few times to push it back to get all the food on the floor.

After a well deserved rest, about 3 AM I decided to get a shower and some rest - AFTER I fed and watered the pig. Getting the required cup of food, I went down the hall and opened the door to empty the cup so I could get water and be done. The pig didn’t rush to the door in eager
anticipation for dinner as he usually did. I thought what the HELL? Then I said ok, he’s sleeping so I shook the cage. Nothing. Not a sound. No movement, no snorts, nada. I ran and got a flashlight and dropped to my knees and shown it inside. In the back of the cage lay a mound of what was once a living, breathing pig. I had killed the thing!

I think I scared it to death. I swear I didn’t know pigs were afraid of vacuum cleaners! But that HAD to be it! He was fine minutes before I assaulted his cage and hearing with a Hoover. I should go to jail - should roast on a spit instead of the fattest pig known to man! And dammit I TOLD Josh we shoulda named that damn pig Bacon!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas past

Once again the holiday season is upon us. I for one, have yet to break out the tree, much less begin to decorate with any of the enthusiasm I used to feel. I am unsure whether it’s the sadness of the missing my parents or just laziness in general. Whatever the cause, I have got to get into the spirit for my children and Grandchildren.

Tonight my sisters and I spent several hours dividing the fabrics, ribbons and ornaments of our Christmas pasts. Fifty years worth of glass balls (glitter and writing rubbed off from years of use), a zillion strings of lights, bulbs missing here and there and tangled into a mass of green cords. Glitzy garland, silver, gold and ratty stuffed into hand mixer boxes Mom had saved thru the years - stuff that should have been thrown away a century ago. There were soft ornaments and little wooden trucks and trains Mom used when my oldest and Vicki’s oldest were first starting to toddle around; green covered garlands and wreaths bent into pretzel shapes, near unrecognizable in their present forms.

Outdoor figures of Santa, angels & candy canes, a thousand Nutcrackers of every shape, color and form. Crocheted snowflakes, made my Mom, stiffened with Elmer’s Glue and water. All were divided among us 5 girls, equally, handpicked by each of us one item at a time. Every one is a treasure to be cherished, brought out each year to remind us of those gone from our lives but not our hearts. We love you Mom & Dad. Know that for this year and every year after, you will both be at every holiday celebration in our memories and thoughts. I love and miss you both.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pictures for Vicki

Here we go .... I was lucky enough to scan and save many of the pictures Mom and Dad had before they all got distributed amongst us. I also have several from a few generous Aunts.


They won't upload Sis. I'll email em to you, lol

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Most Memorable Christmas Gift

Vicki requested a trip down Memory Lane to recollect our most memorable of all Christmas gifts. Here is mine.

Being the second of five girls all born within an eight year time span, wearing hand-me-downs was a way of life for us. What clothes we had that was new were whipped up by Mom on her trusty Singer sewing machine. She’d scrimp and save to buy fabric and patterns were passed between Mom and my Aunts to keep costs down. (I didn’t realize that then though …… I never thought about all our girl cousins of like age and size had the same clothes with the only difference being the color and print of the fabric). We always had a nice Christmas, even if there were only a few presents apiece under the tree. Stockings, red mesh and filled with hard candy, were taped with Scotch tape to an old brown desk in the living room. I never thought about others having more or better than us. It was enough.

The Christmas of 1963 I was 7 years old and in the Second Grade. My Mom and Dad had married December 25, 1954. Mom had worn a pale carnation pink wool dress to get married in, likely her very best dress. This Christmas, she cut her wedding dress apart at the seams and ironed the resulting odd shaped pieces of material flat. Then she took a paper pattern sized to fit a small girl (me), pinned, cut out and stitched the little dress together. Mom always made us dresses and outfits, but this dress was special because she had taken something that meant something to her and made it into something special for me. It was long sleeved, with tucks down the front and scratchy because it was wool. But I loved that dress and wore it until I outgrew it. Then it was passed down to Teresa, then Tina and Lana (if it lasted that long). I wish I had it today. I’d treasure it even more.

When we are young, we don’t realize the things we see, hear and feel will someday become precious memories that we will take out and treasure and pass on to our children and Grandchildren. I find myself telling my Grandsons about my childhood, growing up in a house filled with rules, noise, laughter and love. Mostly love. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Christmas is for Grandkids?? Yeah Right!

The past few years the holiday season had been tough on my family and I, not the least reason being the passing of my parents and Father-in-Law within a ten month period of time. I haven’t been in the mood to celebrate anything, though I forced myself to attend gatherings and pretend to be happy to be there for the sakes of my children and grandsons. This year I have determined to turn over a new leaf ….. to begin to enjoy the traditions and rituals of the season with a newfound enthusiasm ….. Hoping to make precious and treasured memories for my grandsons to pull out and recall when I have gone from this life …. the kind I have of past Christmases with my parents and sisters. To that end, today I gathered three of my beloved offspring’s offspring to go to the woods. I intend to decorate, with their help and input, a totally natural Christmas tree … albeit it an artificial one. BAD idea. Very BAD idea.
I put in a request for my older son’s ( said son being the lovely vacuuming guy from Vicki’s blog) truck and his three sons and we set out with my youngest Sister Lana back to the woods located on the property I inherited from my Dad. These woods have been empty of cattle or any other animal (with the exception of the normal critters found in the wilds of north Alabama - deer, opossum, rabbits, coyotes & squirrels ………… oh and the occasional armadillo) for over ten years. I KNEW this having ventured there the other day with my son, but dumb me, I figured I could handle it the same as I used to when Vicki and I roamed the entire eighty acres running buck wild. I was wrong as it turned out.
The woods now are full of undergrowth and brambles and deadfall, leaves slick with the moisture of dew, frost and rain. Landmarks I once knew have long ago been obliterated due to the passage of time and Dad’s trusty tractor and chainsaw. We entered the woods from the hayfield …. Sounds easy huh? My grandsons were running like startled deer, clambering over the two dead trees blocking the path I had told them we were going to take. They scampered ahead, yelling at the top of their lungs, selecting huge rotten limbs to protect me from whatever mangy creature was lurking nearby to attack. I reached the two downed trees and thought O MY GOD! Those trees are feet off the ground and my legs are too short. Added to that, my knees don’t work very well, refusing to bend the way I want and locking up when they will. I sat down on the trees and thought okay Donna, now just swing your legs around to the other side and scoot your …… errrrr….. hiney off the trees, all the while screaming at the boys to wait for me. It nearly worked out the way I had planned ..except when I was set to scoot off., my behind was stuck between the two trees, my little short, legs waving in the air uselessly. I was yelling to my sister, hey give me a shove and get me out of here! All the while, the boys were gone from sight and sounding like a herd of Comanche on the warpath. The one thought going through my head was I am too old for this crap and if the boys get lost my son will kill me!
When I finally got down, I pushed through the dense brush, trying to look agile and athletic and I stumbled across fallen limbs, rocks and saw briars. It didn’t work. I looked like exactly what I was - a forty something short round crazy lady with bad knees. Not an awesome sight to behold. But, dammit, I was in charge of this expedition and I had to get back into control. I herded the boys, who had doubled back to see what was taking me so long, into some sort of order and we began foraging for out bounty. The problem was that the boys’ Dad had been telling them there was deer sign in the woods and they began examining every tree for scratch marks, crawling on their knees looking for prints and licking a finger and holding it up in the air to check the wind direction, because, as they told me, you have to stay downwind of a deer. I tried to explain that we weren’t hunting deer . .we had no guns and even if Bambi herself walked up, we’d pet her and let her go her merry way. They acted like I was crazy!
I thought ok, we’re moving location … on to the next section where, hopefully, their Dad HADN’T seen deer sign and just maybe we’d accomplish what we set out to do. I sent Lana after the truck ( no way was I crossing that logjam we came in over again) and we waded the waist high saw briars to exit the woods. Sitting on the tailgate with legs dangling off the back is enjoyable when you’re a kid, but as an adult it is an exercise in clenched butt cheeks and a death grip on the tailgate edge to a chorus of SLOW DOWN OR LET ME DRIVE! After a death-defying trek over branches and brambles and tree stumps, the truck finally stooped. My behind was tired of being jostled and bounced, my legs were sore from scratches and banging off the sides of terraces and holes when I forgot to keep them raised. I had had enough! I was walking back no matter what.
The section of woods I chose is criss-crossed with gullies that had been there since before we moved here in 1970. I was thinking to myself a nice slow amble would be great, the quiet and peace of the woods on a warm fall afternoon, enjoying the changing leaves and colorful berries found there. Except I didn’t reckon with the grandsons wanting to go along. I had hoped they would stay with the truck and Lana, gathering a few gumballs and pine cones to use as decorations for the tree. How could I refuse to wait when they yelled at me? After all, this entire excursion was to teach them that Christmas was about love, not expensive ornaments and gifts. As I waited for them to catch up to me, I kept thinking, okay Donna, you can keep them in order this time. Threaten them with death or worse, act crippled and helpless so they will offer aid and stay beside you for a change. Yeah right!
They ran by me like gazelles, laughter and taunts floating back to me as they sprinted ahead. I yelled and told then to be careful, that running in woods you weren’t familiar with was dangerous. Did they listen? Nooooo … instead the next thing they knew, the ground they were flying over as they turned their heads back to hurl insults at me disappeared and they ended up in the bottom of a gully higher than their heads. I stood at the top of the gully and laughed at them as they lay there stunned, damp and dirty. Me, being savvy to slick leaves and deep trenches, politely turned and walked out of the woods and across the field where I had better footing, leaving them to climb out on their own! HA!
I am exhausted, my knee hurts and I have bruises in places I had forgotten I even had. My legs are covered with scratches and dried blood . . . . I dread taking a shower cause I know they’re going to sting and burn. I have learned a valuable lesson today - next time I want to go to the woods, I am going alone. I already knew how out of shape I was - but GEEZE - I don’t need anyone to heckle me. And all I managed to gather were a few scraggly pine cones and three gumballs for the tree…..

Monday, August 07, 2006

Southern Does NOT Equal Stupid

I have never understood what geography has to do with mental aptitude, but for some unknown and obviously far-fetched reason, people from the South - Alabama in particular - are considered to be made up of nothing but ignorant, uneducated, inbred hillbillies and Daisy May types. Now, being from Alabama, born, raised and happy to be so, I am not only thoroughly fed up but getting more and more aggravated by this blatant misconception. I consider my brain to be of normal size and skill, capable of logic and learning with equal competence as any person who wasn’t blessed enough the be born South of the Mason Dixon Line.

Since discovering the glories of the internet. I have encountered thousands, who, once they learn where I live, automatically assume that I am incapable of typing, much less carrying on a conversation with any rational level of intelligence. When one such person asked where I learned to type, I said I was self-taught and that just last week - I even amazed myself ……….. I taught myself to pull that little silver handle on the new outhouse they had just installed in my house! Next week, I will learn how to stop up that big old white washtub they brought the same day so the water won't run out so fast when I pour coffee cans of water over my head during my weekly bath. He left the conversation in a hurry after that ……….

I am proud to be Southern; thankful for the privilege of growing up in the Southern tradition of my ancestors; and grateful to be able to pass the morals and values I learned as a child on to my children and grandchildren. Every child in this country should have been so blessed. We, as a whole, are all offered the opportunity to learn, be it from the public school system or though the lessons life teaches us along the way. It is up to the individual what they make of themselves and the choices they make that decide who and what they will become.

In essence, intellect is a simple matter of the willingness to learn and absorb data, not a matter of geography. People should realize that and not have preconceived notions of someone they don’t know. Rant over.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hello Mama

Hello Mama.
It’s been two long, lonely years since you left us. If I could, I wouldn’t wish you back Mama. You were so very ill and tired when you left us, suffering endlessly and we girls slowly grieving the future loss we knew was fast approaching. I know you are in a better place and at peace, free from pain and the strife of the chaotic world we live in. But even knowing that doesn’t make the past two years any easier to handle, though we struggle along with dragging feet and saddened hearts as you would have insisted we do. What lifts my spirits is knowing Daddy is with you now. Losing the both of you in such a short amount of time was probably the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. Look down on us all Mama, bless us with fond memories and peaceful thoughts for the future, smile down on us with the sunshine and spread the cleansing rains on our lawns so we’ll know you are still there, though in only our memories and the bright eyes of your Grandchildren, watching over us, guiding us daily to lead lives so that we may see you once again. Love us as you always have, teach us to remind the future generations exactly who and what you were and will always be to us, our Mother, our fierce protector and the center of our hearts.
I love you Mama, I always will. I will never forget you and what you were to me, my sisters and our children. God Bless you.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Okay, she did it to me. (Vicki AKA Junebugg) !After picking my brain about her non-normal tendencies, she turns it on me...........oh well.....here goes. I consider myself perfectly normal. Just wanted that off my chest before I began. Compared to Sis, my life is dull as dishwater..............dirty, dingy dishwater.

1. I am a voracious reader, I read anything and everything that doesn't move too fast to grab....... from encyclopedias and dictionaries to the Bible, I have perused over every piece of written maunscript in my house and thousands beyond it's doors. I make a point to read several chapters each and every day, whether it is the latest bodice ripper or an often used and dog-earred cookbook. Keeps my brain active and my vocabulary above the national par.
2. I can and do document my family lineage back to the Mayflower, long, dead Cherokee Indians and the South of Wales. Genealogy saved my sanity at a time when I was about to reach the limits of my endurance. It gave me a focus, a reason to get up every day. It brought me closer to my parents and introduced me to unknown relatives the countyside over.
Lord, this is tough......spilling all my quirks and folliables to the world.....
3. HMMMMMMMM.........I have been married to one man since I was 16.....had sex with only one man ever..............which isn't all that uncommon. But given my age............48........apparently it is uncommon. Do I think I missed anything? Definitely. Would I choose another? Doubtful. Taken enough off the one I have. End of story. CAn one be a born again virgin?
4. For all my life, I suffered from the "Doormat Syndrone". You know, the one who always gave in in any argument, was chastised like a bad puppy for wetting the floor and had no self esteem due to constant put downs and be-littlings. No more. I haven't made it totally free, but Donna the doormat is gone forever. Emancipation is a wonderful thing.
5. Okay, now the kinky stuff..............I have a fascination with wood,the textures and patterns of the grain ...... even the smell. I love to rub my hand down a highly sanded piece of lumber, feeling the smoothness beneath my palm ..... there is something almost sensuous about it.
6. Depressions almost killed me. I nearly died because a so-called specialist couldn't diagnose the problem. Near death changes a person in many ways. It, apparenly, made me mean. I flat refuse to give in to this terrible affliction. It guides my actions every day, I guard my feelings and reactions to people, I refuse to let them close enough to hurt me if I can. Sometimes not caring is the best protection there is. I refuse to let the negative actions and pain caused by others effect me anymore.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Reflection of a Year

A year ago today we lost our Dad. The past year for me has been a journey of discovery in many ways. The past year for me has been a time of quiet reflection, a time gather my memories of family, of harmony and the fellowship of love. Aside from the grief and feeling of loss it has brought serious contemplation of the importance of family, the necessity of unassailable caring for one another and the need to resolve differences and reach a level of unimpeachable understanding between us all. And it isn’t always easy to accomplish. Dad was, and in many ways still is, the King of our Mountain, the Emperor of his Realm and the stalwart port in the storm. His passing didn’t change that for me, with the exception that he is physically no longer among us. He has became the voice of my conscience, the imp whispering in my ear with sometimes less than tactful suggestions for dealing with the stresses and problems of day to day life. I have learned to curb my anger and guard my tongue, to think twice before I act and ALWAYS, ALWAYS to think of how someone will hear what I am saying.
While I am not happy Dad is gone from us, I am content that he is where he wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong, I miss him terribly, his irreverent humor, his quick wit and his domineering ways, which, at times, drove us to desperation. I still expect the telephone to ring with his demand (notice I didn’t say request - - he seldom asked but expected it anyway) for assistance at anything from digging a post hole to burying a dead dog. I listen for the sound of a heavy truck in my driveway, horn blaring loudly, filled with the command for your presence at the side window of his pick-up. An old country ballad on the radio makes me smile and tap my foot in time to the music, where before I shed tears. I love the sensation of walking where his boots trod for so many years, seeing with my eyes what he loved so deeply about the land, broad pastures and the dense woods surrounding our home. I can touch his tools and almost see the sweat glistening on his brow as he labored to complete an everyday task. It’s a feeling of peace, of quiet faith that all will be well in the future. It gives me hope that we five sisters can resolve the accumulation of nearly fifty years of marriage….. trash and treasure, without blood loss, without alienation and, most of all, without remorse or further pain.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Love Everlasting

Let me just say here that before my parents died, I began to ask questions about their lives together, not just my memories and the ones of my sisters, but theirs. Mom was so terribly ill it was difficult for her to talk a lot. But Daddy.....well Pops loved nothing better than a yarn. After Mom died, it seemed to tickle him that I asked and wanted to know things. We spent many an hour, both of us laughing and crying as he discussed their lives together. I miss that terribly, the time we shared together, the bonding. We were never close to Pops before Mom died, he worked all hours and Mom was the disciplinarian and the one who was home with us. After she died, Pops was so........needy. And I needed him.

This is my poor attempt to tell their story, second hand as it were. I have finished Pop's section, Mom's is a work in progress and their lives together will follow as I complete it. I intend, once I finish this, to print out a copy for each of my sisters.

Here goes.......

Since time began, there have been endless stories written of the “perfect love story,” a happily ever after life where no discord and hardship would ever dare to intrude upon the paradise a couple were building between the two of them. The man, dashing and handsome, comes along and sweeps the lovely maiden off her feet and into a life of glorious ecstasy and never-ending happiness. Unfortunately, love in real terms is hardly that way; the twists and turns of day to day living causes stress and strain between two people who have vowed to spend the remainder of their lives together. A true marriage is a linking of soul mates, a couple possessing the inner strength and faith to endure the worst life can throw at them and survive unscathed with the connection between their two heart’s intact. This is the true account of the courtship and marriage of my Mother and Father, a never-ending love story for them, and a blessing to their five daughters, for we now understand the true meaning of love and devotion, and hopefully, the ability to achieve it for ourselves.
The year of 1954 brought many changes to the United States. The Civil Rights movement was just beginning, bringing several significant differences to the educational system that had long been in place throughout the country. Premium gasoline was at an all time high of 20 cents a gallon and Coca-Cola had increased to the cost of 6 cents a bottle, bringing forth protests of price gouging. The cost of home rental was between $5 and $10 a month. The Korean War was just over and for the majority of soldiers leaving the military, the hope of a good job with adequate pay was merely a dream. For many, returning to their pre-war homes meant the realization that jobs were non-existent in countless rural areas, often necessitating the need to move to a new location in order to seek employment, frequently to another state entirely. Below is the story of one such newly released Soldier and the woman he chose as his bride: my parents, Abron Wayne Waters and Ilda Ruth Curnutt Waters. They met December 15, 1954 and married December 25, 1954 in Iuka, Mississippi.


Abron Wayne Waters was born the third child on his parent’s farm in the rural Conway Community of north Alabama during September of 1928. The Great Depression, which started in 1929,was in its infancy when he was a child and life was very hard for the entire country during these times, but most especially for the rural areas of the deep South. There was little if any industry in the country areas, therefore, there were few jobs to be had for the common man, but a decent living could be made from farming and livestock if families were frugal and industrious. His parents, both hardworking and steady, were, like most of their neighbors, struggling daily to make a living off their property and raise their children. This family was representative of what is now regarded as the backbone of our country.

God was First and Foremost, Family was next. Nothing and no one came before God or Family. Growing up surrounded by the morals and values his parents lived by, he and all their children, with their careful supervision and encouragement, were taught these same characteristics. The household over the years eventually encompassed thirteen children. Everyone did their part, whether large or small, to carry the responsibilities of day to day living. A burden, no matter the size, is easier to shoulder if the load is shared. Even the younger children were taught to work at a very young age. The family was virtually self sufficient, relying on the crops they grew with their back breaking labor and sweat coupled with the meat they slaughtered and cured, either domestic or from the wild, to supply their food sources. The few things they did purchase, such as shoes, flour, sugar, cloth and other necessities were bought only as needed, for frugality was a way of life and an essential element to the survival of these families.

Formal schooling began at the age of 6 or seven for Daddy and the other children, the standard uniform for boys being blue overalls and a simple shirt, usually homemade. Shoes were optional, depending on the weather, as going barefoot was no hindrance to children raised from birth to feel the grit of the dirt between their toes. Being unshod was equally convenient for wading any branch, mud puddle or small creek they happened across on their rambles. Most only owned one pair of shoes, sometimes new, but more frequently they were hand-me-downs from an older sibling, somewhat tattered and worn, but certainly sturdy enough for at least part of another winter’s wear. The journey to school was usually completed on foot, for the horses and mules the family owned were needed to work the fields on a daily basis, weather permitting. Daddy’s daily trek was usually in the company of his siblings and cousins who lived near. To get to the school building, they had to go across the field in front of his house to the old cemetery in the woods above the farm pond, then a mad scramble through the thick woods to the opposite side and across another field to the dirt road that led to the school. During the wet winter months, the muddy roadway would be all but impassable on countless days during the wet spring and winter seasons.

The school was called Conway, a place of learning for the neighborhood children five days a week, and on the seventh day, a place of worship for the entire community. Originally called Shelton Chapel, the land for the school was donated by members of my Grandmother’s family. The school and church was a simple one room unpainted clapboard building, the only source of heat was either a fireplace or wood stove, fueled with firewood hand-cut and brought to the school by the adult males of the area. As Daddy got a bit older, it was his responsibility to arrive at the school early and to lay the fire to ensure the building’s warmth when the other students and teachers arrived. Water was obtained by the simple means of dropping an empty bucket, tied to a rope by its handle, down into a well and pulling or “drawing” it back up by hand over hand until it reached the top. All the children drank from the same dipper, hence the cause of several near epidemics that Daddy recalled (one such being Whooping Cough). Toilets were a small square building, built away from the school building and water well for sanitation’s sake. They were constructed over a pit to hold the waste and moved occasionally in order to bury the unhealthy accumulation. Daddy said when the pit was full of waste, the building was simply hoisted and carried to another location where a pit had been dug and the used pit filled over with fresh dirt.

Young boys typically get into mischief, and certainly Daddy was no different. Flips were the favorite toy of all males, both large and small. On the trips to and from school, there were many diversions to tease and entice a boy intent on looking for mischief. One such amusement was shooting anything that moved with their trusty flip. Made of a piece of leather, two strips of rubber from a discarded tire and a forked limb of wood, these treasures were most likely hidden in the pockets of overalls during school hours. (Daddy said they would “borrow” inner tubes that Granddaddy had lain by on a shelf to repair later and cut strips to use as the rubber to make these flips.) Rocks, nuts and dirt clods made excellent ammunition and could be easily obtained by simply watching the ground as they walked along. One such jaunt brought Daddy a whipping he claims to have never forgotten. He and a cousin, Garnett Gillespie, were walking home from school one summer day, and as was the norm for them, they cut close to the neighborhood wash spot, Shelton Hole, where the women of the area did their laundry. On this day, and apparently several others before, one very large lady was involved in the task of providing clean clothing for her family. For some reason her broad backside made an irresistible target to the two boys as she labored over her chore. They SHOT her, and according to Daddy, they proceeded to do it over and over again, day after day! After many threats to report them to their Fathers, they must have assumed they were in no danger of being told on, kinda like the boy who cried wolf. They were wrong, because on that fateful day, news of their prank got home before they did and my Grandfather was waiting on him as he walked across the last field toward home. He said his Father whipped him BAD, probably the worst whipping he ever got. (I didn’t ask for details. All he said was “WHEW!”, and wiped his hand over his face. That was enough for me to know it was more than I wanted to get into!)

Conway stayed in existence until Daddy was in the Fourth Grade when the building burned to the ground early one morning before time for the school bell to ring. The students from the one room school were sent to a neighboring school, Midway. It was a larger building and had more classrooms and teachers than Conway. Students could attend there through the Seventh Grade. After completing their final year at Midway, students had to travel to town for further education. The school, mostly filled with students who lived in the city and close surrounding area, was unlike the country schools Daddy had grew up in. The city boys, in particular, were ‘snobs’ and looked down on the country boys for their lack of new clothes and shoes and made fun of what they called their countrified ways. Daddy only attended school for two weeks before quitting in the face of their ridicule and harassment. He then attempted to take on the world with a Seventh Grade education and a fierce determination to succeed.

My Grandfather worked away from home a great deal of the time, doing whatever he could to earn money to provide for his family. This left my Grandmother to raise her young and growing family alone for the most part. Each and every child had to do their share of the chores, handling whatever they were able to do at the time on a daily basis. Every farm chore, from milking to feeding had to be finished and then the children went to the cotton fields. Each farmer who wished it received a Cotton Allotment from the government. This meant a farmer set aside and planted a set amount of acres and that they agreed to take a certain amount per bale for their crop per year. Each day, Daddy and his siblings went to the cotton field to tend to their crop. When they finished for the day, they would pick a bucket of field peas or whatever crop was ripe to bring home to Grandmother to cook for dinner the following day. After they ate that night, they would sit and shell the peas so they would be ready to cook. Money was scarce during this time, young men often had to hire out to other farmers as day workers in order to purchase clothing. They hoed or “chopped” cotton all day in the blistering sun for 50 cents a day. And when the cotton was ready to harvest, they were paid 50 cents per every hundred pounds they managed to pick in a day. One cold winter day while snow lay deep over the frozen ground, Daddy said he could remember Granddaddy bundling up and he and a neighbor setting out to hunt armed with nothing but big long sticks in their hands. Fresh meat was scarce in the winter months and with a large family to feed, providing food was a major chore. I questioned the use of sticks for weapons of destruction and asked didn’t Granddaddy have a gun. Daddy quickly answered with “Why take a gun? The rabbits were about frozen. All you had to do was locate a likely hole in the snow, poke around with your stick and when the rabbit came out, knock it up side the head and kill it.” Hours later when Granddaddy came home, his waist was surrounded with so many rabbits he had killed and tied around it he could hardly stumble through the snow that covered him almost to his knees. Granddaddy set Daddy and his brother to cleaning the bounty, gutting and skinning the rabbits one after another. They were packed in a salt brine inside a churn, filling it to the brim, for safe keeping. I asked him wasn’t that enough meat to supply the family for months? His replay came as a shock…..he said Grandmother cooked two rabbits along with gravy and biscuits every morning for breakfast to feed them all. The two churns of skinned rabbits lasted only a few weeks!

In 1942 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and on December 8th of that year, President Roosevelt declared war against Japan. As the war began, the citizens of the United States soon began to feel the effects of the war. Rationing began almost immediately, starting with rubber and gasoline. Average motorists who used their vehicles for “nonessential” purposes were restricted to 3 gallons of gasoline a week. Also affected was the production of alcohol, cigarettes and every basic consumer product with the exception of eggs and dairy products. Each man, woman, and child received a ration book restricting them to a certain quota of food and essential products per week. Gas was so precious that my Grandfather would make them travel to church in the back of a horse drawn wagon instead of using the truck. The family managed to provide their own food by growing a vegetable garden. But with little way of preserving the crops, by winter time, Daddy and his siblings often ate cornbread and molasses for breakfast. They kept three or four cows to supply fresh milk and cornbread and sweet milk was often eaten as a meal as well. There were few amusements during this time either. Daddy said my Grandmother would sell the last egg from the house to enable her sons to go to town on Saturday to the 25 cent movie. For a dollar, Daddy could see three movies and enjoy popcorn and a Coke.

After leaving school, Daddy did odd jobs around his home and the neighboring farms. He did anything and everything from cutting wood to chopping and picking cotton, whatever honest labor he could find to earn money. Life was hard here in Alabama during this time, there were few jobs to be had that paid a decent wage. He was barely 15 when my Grandfather, who was a Foreman for John C. Nipp & Son, told him if went and joined the Union, he could get him a job working with him. John C. Nipp & Son was a contractor who worked at Engle Shipyard finishing out the ships that the yard built. Daddy worked there several months hanging insulation on the inside hulls of the ships that were manufactured there. He worked until warm spring weather came, then he and his cousin, Garnet Gillespie, left north Alabama for the greener pastures of the northern States.

A higher wage was paid to workers in the north and many men from the community where the Waters lived ventured there to try their hands at bring some of it home to their families. Daddy and Garnet traveled to Hartford, Michigan where they found work picking cherries at Hilltop Farms. They rented a room for $16 a week complete with a stove and refrigerator for cooking their own meals and a communal bathroom in the hall. Daddy earned more money per day picking cherries in Michigan than his Father made as Foreman in Alabama, $30 to $50 depending on how fast your hands were. With his pay, he purchased his first pair of real man’s pants to replace the overalls he normally wore. From somewhere he heard that a driver’s license could be obtained with a fake Birth Certificate. So Daddy, enterprising young man that he was, asked around until he learned how to obtain one. After shelling out $25 for the fake certificate (which had to have been a fortune in 1943), he was driving around Michigan with a fraudulent license obtained with a fake Birth Certificate. When the weather began turning cold, Daddy and most of the others returned home to the more temperate climate of north Alabama. But before he left, he bought one more thing, his first car, a 1934 Ford Coupe. He paid $150 of his earnings for that car and drove it home. Once again, he worked around the neighborhood to earn money and drew his unemployment. The money from Michigan’s unemployment was more than could be earned working a job at home.

The summer Daddy was sixteen years old, his Father gave him and Jack, his brother, a field of cotton to raise. They were to split the profits made in the fall when the cotton was harvested. Once the cotton came up, it failed to rain, meaning the crop would bring little money. Realizing this, Daddy took his last savings and bought a calf which he fattened up. He butchered the calf himself and took the meat door to door and sold it. When he had sold the entire calf, he told Jack he could have his half of the cotton field and returned north to Hartford, Michigan to look for work. He found a job picking strawberries. When the crop was finished for the year, he began to thin peaches, which entailed walking through the orchard with a big stick and knocking at least half the young peaches off the tree. This ensured that the remaining peaches would get bigger simply because there was less fruit to draw the nutrients supplied by the tree. According to Daddy this was the most dangerous job he ever had and probably the hardest. (Can you imagine having to dodge falling and flying kamikaze peach missiles as you tried to protect your head and shoulders and still see what you were doing?) When cold weather set in, he again returned home to live, working odd jobs and saving the money he had earned while working away from home. Before he left, he again bought a car in Michigan, this time a 1936 Ford. He said was the best driving and riding car they had ever made. He kept the car until the following spring, when he sold the car to his Father to get the stake to go back north to work.

The next year, he followed the same pattern, with Daddy going north to work during the summer and returning home when the weather turned cold. The summer her was seventeen or so, his brother Jack had traveled north with him. Jack couldn’t find work anywhere, so they took a job that entailed a ten mile bus trip to and from work each day. They were working for a carpenter doing finish work on houses and filling in and leveling dirt around the foundations. When Daddy got a chance to get a better paying job with less travel at Shakespeare Rod and Reels, he took it and Uncle Jack came home because he didn’t want to work alone. Daddy returned home to work with once again with my Grandfather, but while he was earning $2.65 an hour at the Kalamazoo Paper & Box Company in Michigan, the pay he earned here at home was much less, only $1.65 per hour, a difference of $40 per a 40 hour work week. It was easy to see why a young and single man would leave his home and everyone he held dear to travel to another state to work and live. The disparity in pay per week would have made all the difference in the world at that time.

The summer of 1950, Daddy and Jack could once again be found up north, Daddy working in the Caterpillar Tractor Factory in Peoria, Illinois. Uncle Jack received his Draft notice and had to answer the call, so Daddy brought him home. Ten days later, Jack walked in the door and laughing, handed Daddy his draft notice that had came in the mail. While Jack joined the Army. Daddy elected to join the Air Force. I believe his exact words were “Hell NO! I was not joining no Army!”. From what I understand, the Army was the worst of the armed forces to join for whatever reason and if he had to go, he would have a choice. If you got drafted, you went into the Army. Daddy entered active duty December 12, 1950 in Gadsden, Alabama. He was stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and was trained to build runways and roads at various Military bases around the world. He went to Yokohama, Japan and to Korea. He was discharged September 27, 1954 and returned to Alabama.

When Daddy was released from the Air Force, he came home to north Alabama where he stayed with my Grandparents and settled in. He worked with my Grandfather in Sumpter County helping to construct two bridges until the cold weather forced them to come home. The risk of falling forty feet into the freezing water below was too much of a gamble to take. Once he returned to Lawrence County, Daddy took any odd job he could to earn money, turning his hand to any task, everything from farm work to cutting fire wood and selling it to neighboring families. Daddy and Uncle Jack also kept my Grandparents supplied with fire wood, both for the house and also for the small Country Store they owned and operated. It took two large wagon loads a week to heat both buildings.

Daddy’s cousin, N. V. Shelton had purchased a new truck. He asked Daddy to go halves with him in a venture that necessitated traveling to Cherokee, North Carolina to pick up apples and returning home and selling them. They hauled five loads, each containing 50 bushel of apples. Paying 50 cents per bushel for the apples when they purchased them, they then drove them back to Alabama and sold them for $2.00 per bushel or 75 cents for per quarter bushel. N. V. would set up a fruit stand in town in the back of his truck. Daddy would load his own flat bed pick-up and travel around the valley selling the apples door -to-door, at gins where people were crowded to sell their cotton harvest, or anywhere there were several gathered together. That was $1.75 per bushel profit and when selling ¼ bushels they made $2.50 profit, not counting the gasoline they used. Quite an enterprising idea.

After working all the daylight hours peddling apples, Daddy would hit the road, looking for something to do. He usually went to the next town, Decatur, because then, as now, Moulton had nothing happening after dark. According to him, the young men spent their time cruising up and down 2nd Avenue. I suppose it was the place to see and be seen so to speak. Another popular past time was visiting the Snack Bar in the Bus Depot located right off 2nd Avenue. Evidently the women who worked there changed shifts at 10 P. M. and the young men would line up 40 deep to get a chance to chat with them ( he said pick them up but I am trying to be nice here). One such night of carousing changed my Daddy’s life forever…………..

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Where I'm From

I haven’t written in a long while for whatever reason. But my loving Sis has been hounding me to try my hand once again, in fact, she sent me a link to Cowtown Pattie’s post “Where I am From”. It intrigued me, made me think, remember, and dream.
Here it is.
Where I’m From
I am from winding dirt roads, dusty and hot on little bare feet in the blazing heat of a summer day, that lazily meandering across the rural country side. I am from the heavenly aroma of wild sweet honeysuckle vines, twisted and clinging to rusted and sagging barbwire fences, a profusion of yellow and white blossoms and lush green leaves and vines, bumble bees swarming around my head attempting to sip the nectar the blooms provided. I am from a huge gray flat rock, jutting from the edge of the pasture into the edge of the woods and overhanging the hill that fell away to a tumbling clear creek, a passel of children roasting hotdogs, firm and red and dangling from a slim, green sapling branch, enjoying a peaceful Sunday afternoon around a pile of glowing embers.
I am from station wagons and weekly trips of grocery shopping each and every Saturday that God provided. I am from wild muscadines growing dense and green along the fencerows, the grape-like fruits were sweet and tangy and tart and delicious. I am from the cool, muted darkness of the woods, sheltered and refreshing in the summer’s blistering heat, huts made of vines and tree houses made of scavenged lumber and stolen nails and hammers. I am from the farm pond in the back pasture, deep and mysterious and clouded with red clay, muck and mud and cow patties. I am from rolling terraces of luxuriant red clover, sweet to smell and cool to the naked skin of a little girl’s leg as I tumbled downhill dodging bees.
I am from orange persimmons, tart and biting to the tongue as I waited for the bus every fall morning. I am from dotted Swiss dresses and shiny white leather shoes, frilly white little girl purses and white lacy hats at Easter. I am from lazy Saturday afternoons spent fishing with cane poles and dirty red wigglers in an old rusty coffee can along Rocky Ford, perched on the cool, damp creek bank under the cover of a thousand green leaves shading us from the sun. I am from hand churned ice cream, flavored with vanilla and eggs and rich, creamy canned milk. I am from cedar Christmas trees, chopped with an axe and dragged home, fragrant and prickly and green and decorated with Construction paper ornaments and popcorn chains.
I am from a house crowded with children and laughter and love. I am from home grown vegetables, big family dinners and spilled milk. I am from luxuriant green yards, vibrantly brilliant blue skies and the quiet hum of insects with none of today’s sounds of traffic and industry. I am from dim, dark outhouses and pure clean, clear water gushing from the ground, cool and delicious on your tongue. I am from the honest sweat of a hard day’s work staining my shirt and the feeling of accomplishment it brings at the end of the day. I am from never ending nights spent lying in the dew damp grass of the yard staring up at a million glowing stars hanging like fireflies in the night sky.
I am from 2 stick Popsicles for 10 cents and Nugrape and moon pies, stick bologna and Hoop cheese from the country store down the road. I am from long horseback rides down dusty, twisting gravel roads, from dragging home stray kittens and dogs and the occasional strange animal. I am from Sunday afternoon rambles in Mom’s car, with big Sis at the wheel, circling the Town Square trying to impress the local yokels with our charms and beauty. I am from skipping school and hiding our selves away in the Bankhead National Forest for a day of picnicking and rock climbing and a tryst of waiding in Mallard Creek's muddy red waters.
I am from the backbone of this country, farmers and blacksmiths, from Ireland and England and beyond. I am from a Cherokee princess and a voyager on the Mayflower. I am from a man I called Daddy, a sometimes harsh man, whose parents instilled the ethics and morals he passed on to his children, who worked from sun-up until sundown to provide a stable home and life for me. I am from a Mother who put my needs before her own, who played with me, sang with me and loved me unconditionally. I am from the strength and determination of a large family, giving me the wisdom that who I am, what I am is more than adequate.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Hello everyone, this is Donna's older, prettier, wiser sister Vicki aka Junebugg here to announce that Donna is now offically ..................


That's right, she's now over the hill.

Revenge is sweet, Donna. Remember you and Wendi decorating my yard????