Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘family’

I was in the window seat, first row behind the bulkhead on Texas-bound Southwest last weekend when the darling(!) flight attendant grabbed the carry-on at my feet.

“I must stow this overhead until we reach 10,000 feet. Then I get it for you.”

I was begging, arms outstretched, but he is fast. “But my Kindle is in there.”

“You’ll have it back in a few minutes.”

A few minutes turned into an hour and a half. There was no let up in turbulence. No drinks nor snacks nor bathroom trips—nor Kindle. The elderly man in the middle seat and his wife next to him would be my only source of entertainment while we gyrated through the spin cycle. Her only comment before she leaned back and handed him over was, “He’s a talker.” She forgot to say, “and spitter.” He was very nice, and happy to share with me his every ailment and every ailment of friends and family.

Finally my Kindle was delivered to me, along with juice and peanuts and crackers. During the final strap down for landing I grew more interested in the couple to our right talking to the attendants. They were adventurers heading to Big Bend Park for a week. He used to sing, he said, all over Europe, mostly Italy, mostly opera. And then he began to sing in his beautiful baritone. I gasped and said to no one in particular, wish he had done that the whole trip. Wife of spitter leaned forward and said, “ME, TOO!”

This was my first flight after turning seventy-five and I enjoyed getting to leave my jacket and shoes on at the TSA screening. I had learned from the website that they make the determination about your age visually, so it was a bit disconcerting that no one questioned me. However, in San Antonio, the first agent asked for my driver’s license and another stopped me after the naked scan and pointed to my shoes. I told him my age, and he checked where the first agent had stamped my boarding pass, and said, “And I was going to ask you out.” I suggest they place at least one Latino man at every screening station. They know how to make you feel good.

The following day forty or fifty close friends and family gathered in a private room to surprise my adorable niece on her fiftieth birthday. The restaurant in New Braunfels is a converted post office filled with charm. Brenda said later she was surprised, but thought something was up. When I stepped from behind the person in front of her and her blue eyes grew wide and mouth stopped working, I knew her daughter had pulled off one surprise.

My sister and I were escorted to the party by her first and second ex-husband. He claims he was drunk the second time and thought she was another woman. That’s the kind of family I come from.

Once the cat was out of the bag, Brenda and I could spend time together—and we did—along with four of her grandbabies, my sister, niece, nephews. . . you get the picture.

At my sister’s I had tamales for breakfast—eight of them, and I’m not sorry. Then there was my nephew Anthony’s amazing venison jerky. Who knew I liked jerky? Good wine. Oh, and even Strawberry Boones Farm Brenda and her high school friend brought “for old time’s sake.” Let me tell you, it still tastes good.

Once I made it back to my home Tuesday I had one hour to shower, dress and get to the monthly writers meeting, and made it. I got home a little more than twelve hours after leaving Texas that morning, but it was all worth it.  

Read Full Post »

As Hurricane Alex was swirling into Texas I had a vision from my childhood. In it Daddy is stepping up his pace, with focus showing in the set of his jaw and his shoulders. He climbs into his yellow Texas Highway Department pick-up truck heads into the storm. He’ll check for washouts at bridges and flooded spots in the roads. He’ll put up barriers and flares before anyone can drive off a bridge or into washed out pavement. And he likely won’t be back until the storm has passed.

I am aware he is getting a real adrenaline rush from being able to do something in a crisis, and actually enjoying his role. But Mother? She’s getting a different kind of rush. Now she is alone with three kids in a house she is certain will be either blown away or struck by lightening. For us kids the biggest fear is the embarrassment of Mother following through on her repeated threats to move us to the courthouse for safe shelter. No one ever invites us to go to the courthouse as far as I remember, but Mother feels welcome there just the same. Her courthouse vision kinda reminds me of the farm Lennie was always going to in “Of Mice and Men,” except the courthouse is real — stone and marble fortress real.

I don’t know it, but I am receiving good training for my future in Florida during hurricane seasons. From Daddy I am learning to take the bull by the horns, to prepare and help avert tragedies.  From Mother I learn situations are seldom as bad as imagined. To Mother’s consternation, my siblings and I also learn how funny over-reaction can be. It’s a wonder we aren’t sitcom writers.

I have a vision of a particular storm that shouldn’t be treated with gales of laughter, but is. This time Mother tells us we’ll be safer in our car with rubber tires to protect us from lightening strikes. She is even more afraid of lightening than the wind, but we suspect she has ulterior motives. So we run to the detached garage and pile in our ‘39 Chevy. We are thinking: This is it! We are on the way to the courthouse where workers will stare at us and point and laugh. If that is her intention, the Gods interfere. As we crank the windows up and lock the doors we hear a crack and the ground shakes as the mesquite tree crashes across the driveway behind us. We aren’t going anywhere.  Who needs canned laughter?

Read Full Post »

Because my older brother was shy and not socially adept, his talents were truly hidden. With a pencil he could make a lifelike sketch of the face of anyone he cared for and his singing voice was shockingly beautiful. Only our family knew because Bartell didn’t show his sketches, and would never think of singing in public, not even the church choir.

One day back in 1955 or so he began to sing a song and rave about this unknown singer. That one song was getting enough play on the Beeville, Texas radio station that he had learned every word. He told us endlessly that this new singer would be one of the greats. I had never heard my brother so excited. We finally listened when he called us to the radio the next time it came on. And then Bartell sat relaxed in his chair, stared into space and sang, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” by a new young artist we had never heard of named Elvis Pressley. He sounded exactly like the recording.

With such positive response, Bartell began to sing that tune often around the house. My husband-to-be heard him once, and we had confirmation outside our family that my brother was indeed talented. Jerry was determined others should hear him, so the night of the KIBL telethon for some charity he saw his chance. Callers pledged a donation to the station if they could pick up whomever the caller suggested and get them to perform an act, anything that would transmit on the airwaves. Jerry told them where they could find my brother and that he would pay to hear him sing “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” on air.

After my brother was picked up by the local police, we all waited by the radio until the announcer called him to the mike. “What is it you are going to sing, young man,” he asked.

“I Forgot . . .” my brother started in his slow Texas drawl.

“Well, when you remember let us know. Sit down and we’ll call you again.”

We were aghast, yelling, “Let him finish the sentence!” But it did no good.

The announcer could see he was nervous and periodically called my brother back to the mike throughout the evening to ask what he was going to sing.

“I Forgot” my slow talking brother would start and he’d be asked to sit down and let them know when he remembered what he was going to sing.

The telethon ran until midnight and my brother was returned home without the world, or our small Texas town, having heard his singing talent. And only a few of us would know Bartell’s innate ability to pluck from all the new rock-and-roll artists the one who would be most famous of all, Elvis.

Read Full Post »

You know what they say happens when you are over the hill? You pick up speed, of course. Darned if it isn’t true and I think I may know why, at least in my case. Older people tend to cast off things that are no longer useful (my mother almost stripped her house) and eliminate activities and associations that no longer give them pleasure. Perhaps the feeling is that life’s fuse is burning shorter and we don’t have a minute to squander on non-rewarding things. I’ll leave that to psychologists. I just held a microscope over my own changes and found them interesting. Here are some of the things I now do.

  • Choose microwave over crock pot (all that planning, you know)
  • No longer compare purchases strolling store to store, but on Internet
  • Encourage e-mails instead of time wasting phone calls (anti-social, I know)
  • During commercials, play show recorded earlier on TV and get two in very little more time
  • Skim newspaper articles instead of reading every little thing. I’ve seen most on Internet anyway.
  • Crave news instantly from Twitter, treating “refresh” like a one-armed bandit in the casino when things are really breaking.
  • Revel in flash fiction and haiku (reading and creating)
  • Love challenge of squeezing my thoughts into 140 characters on Twitter, making every word count.

For what do I squirrel away all this time, you might be thinking. Family, friends, good books (or slutty books, if I like), working on my house and first garden, exercising, keeping an eye on government, doing photography, matching wits with my cats, any darn thing I enjoy – and nothing I don’t.

Read Full Post »

obama

I didn’t have a candidate in the presidential race, but a lot of people did. Congratulations on your win tonight. This is the point where hope must change into deed. I’m sure America is up to it.

 

Almost half the electorate did not get the president they voted for. You feel bad and are in need of cheering. Try this. There is a scene that keeps running through my head and makes me smile. You are welcome to use it too. In this picture, the new president, first lady and their two daughters are cuddling in bed on a Sunday morning – in the Lincoln bedroom. What a country!

Read Full Post »