Spellbinding stories of mystic love and soulful hope . . .

Archive for the ‘family stories’ Category

Moonshine and Santy Claus . . . a timeless Appalachian tale

maggie valley, north carolina blue moon

wrong moonshine, right? – haw!

Moonshine and Santy Claus – yup, chil’ren, it’s that time of year again – time for Moonshine & Santy Claus, that timeless Appalachian tale of Santy, Canadian Reindeer, and drunkenness -

Old Moon shone over the mountains, over the valley and hollows, and over my little log house. Snow drifted willy-nilly, until a sharp wind blew flakes around in an Appalachian clog dance. And on that splendorious Christmas Eve night, I tossed and sweated in my merry old bed. That night, something wasn’t right. I sensed it. Women my age Know Things. I got up and sneaked down the hall to the living room. And there he was. And that red-suited, white-bearded, jolly son of a fat bastard was eating the chocolate-chocolate chip cookies — the ones my spouse in residence baked for his theater friends.

 
I exclamated, “Santy, what the hell?”

He stuck his finger upside his nose and twinkled his eyes, but that stuff won’t work on women who Know Things. We’ve seen men try everything under the Moon and we aren’t tricked one speck. I tapped my foot and glared. He tried the old, “Ho Ho Ho!”

“Don’t get tricky with me, Santy.”

Santy shook crumbs from his beard. “Well, Kitty Kat, most people leave out cookies for me.”

“Not these cookies, buster. Yours are over there.” I pointed to the sad-looking cookies resting on a paper plate I’d baked out of a mix. They were supposed to be reindeer-shaped, but looked like horned elephants without trunks.

Cataloochee Elk, Tobacco Barn & Caldwell houseSanty looked at me as if I were a bit Grinchy.

I grabbed the cookie tin. “Okay, come on, have another cookie. Maybe Roger won’t notice. I’ll make coffee, too.”

“I have rounds to make, you know.” But Santy sat at my table and helped himself to another cookie while I brewed the Deep Creek Blend.

pash the 'shine, *hic*

pash the ‘shine, *hic*

Santy and I chatted about commercialism, and when the coffee was ready, I also added a bit of homebrew in our cups. I sat across from him and asked the same old same, “Santy, I don’t get it. How can you go all over the world in one night? And don’t give me that pixie dust crap. I’m of an age. I Know Things. I’m not easily fooled.”

Santy held out his mug for more, and I filled it with more hooch than coffee. Well, how’d I know about the Santy Claus Handbook (of which I received a copy from Mrs. Santy the very next week — she sure was hornet-mad at me). It reads, “Warning! Never mix alcohol with Santy Claus. If accidental ingestion occurs, please administer the anecdote of two parts elves’ tears to one part syrup of ipecac and then stand back.”

We ate more cookies. We drank more white fire lightning. Santy giggled. Now folks, when a grown man, even Santy, giggles, it sounds sticky, gooey, weird. But I was all full up with how I got Santy to sit down and drink a few with me.

Santy finally answered me. “Ther’sh lotsh of Shanties. I got cou-shins.”

“Wha’ y’all mean?” I splashed us both another dollop.

“An American Shanta, an Italian Shanta (hic) a Frenchsh Shanta (hic).” (You all get the idea with the boozed-up dialect, so I will translate both mine and Santy’s slurs from here on out into regular language). Santy burped and said, “They’re my cousins, twice reproved.”

“Y’allses all cousins? You shittin’ me?”

Santy nodded, grabbed the jar, swigged right from it, held it out to me, and I did the same. I was feeling gigglied up myself by then. I moon-shined my eyes at Santy. His beard had more sweet crumbs in it, and his eyes were toddy-warm.

scrollSanty was strangely handsome in a red-suit-white-beard-I’ve-had-too-much-booze kind of way. I’d also forgotten something important: the Woman of Age Handbook reads, “Consumption of alcohol by a smart, savvy, intelligent, perceptive, all-knowing woman will render her completely idiotic, and worse, she loses all her powers gained from the ages. Plus, it rips through the retina to where even Santy looks hot.”

I asked, “Well, how you allses do it then?”

“It’s the big secret in Santa Land. But, pixie dust?” He brayed and snorted. “How bi-zarre!”

“Well, you got those reindeers flying around, don’t you? Huh?” I grabbed the jar from him and took a good-sized glub. It burned fire down my throat and I began to feel invincible. And by God, if I didn’t feel prettier, smarter, sexier, and to top it off, full of know-it-allism (but I didn’t know it was an ‘ism’ then). “Tell me, what’s that about, Scanty Pause, as if I don’t wanna know.”
Well, Santy fell out laughing. He slapped his knee and his belly really did shake like a bowl of jelly. It was flopping and a-going and looked so cute I had to pinch it, which I did. He said, “Mrs. Santy wouldn’t like that!” But I knew he wouldn’t tell her. They never do, do they? He said, “The reindeer come from Canada!” Then he rolled his eyes as if I should know what all that meant.

Time for Video/Photos No/Few Words: Jingle Dogs Reunion & Secret Places & etcAnd, golly gee, it did make sense. I nodded my head and said, “Oh yeah, Canadian Reindeer!”

He slugged back more and banged the empty jar on the table. Then he let out a big whistle. Next I know, there’s clattering and thumping and all sorts of racket, and I’ll be-damned if his eight not-so-tiny Canadian Reindeer didn’t come tromping into my living room. They knocked over things and sniffed around. Santy said, “There’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.”

And I sang, “But do you re-calll? Where the hell’s the most famous Canadian Reindeeerr of allll?”

Santy just looked at me as if I was stupider than a worm. Then he snapped his fingers and the Canadian Reindeer tromped on out. Now, listen, I know those of you who are still around are thinking, “How come Roger hasn’t woken up with all this noise.” And I’ll answer by saying, “Well, hell if I know. I’m shrugging.” Anyway…

I got another jar and Santy grabbed it right out of my hands and drank it with throat-glubbing sounds to the tune of Deck the Halls. It was pretty cool. I asked, “Hon, how come you and your cousins don’t visit everywhere. Some kids don’t get presents.” I mean, there we were all comfy-cozy sweet, but there was
that problem there. It brought a dark old nasty cloud in the room that wasn’t the Canadian Reindeer’s fault . . . To read the rest, click HERE 

 

 

(Author’s note: I love to read my bio from when that story was published pre-2009- at the time I wasn’t a  Publishing Editor nor was I a published author! kewl! Thanks to VAGABONDAGE PRESS for publishing this silly but fun-to-write story! I will be mostly unplugging for much of the Christmas Holidays until after New Years – y’all have a wonderful season!)

The mystery of kin . . . family in dark and light and in between

I stumbled on this in my archives while searching for something else. It was on the cusp of my 50th birthday, five-ish years ago. Now Daddy is gone. In photographs, the people are disappearing one at a time, and when you stare at the photographs, you do not know who will disappear next. It is a mystery, same as the heart can be. I don’t often re-post, but I’m still away from home – weather in NC and around-about has delayed my returning . . . .

————————————————————————————————–

 

“I don’t belong here, and I’ve had to turn my not belonging into a triumph.” — Lynn Freed

All along the mountain and in the valley and in the corners and nooks and crannies and odd little places no one has ever seen except in passing barefoot while keeping the eye on a future and a past that lurks somewhere around the corner, and in those places were rocks hide small creatures, and in the shaded areas that hold critters great and small, and in those high high tops where hawk flies, and in the low places where the rodents run, in all those places, here and there on the mountain and in the hollers, there hides the secrets and mysteries that make up our families, ourselves.

Dear Readers, my dear ones, do you wonder about the mystery that is your kin? Or have you received the answers you are proud to know, or some that you’d rather not know? Do you remember what you thought and felt and longed for when you were a child? Do you think: Who was that child? What and who made me? Why do I long for the things I can’t have or can’t know?

This me who is Me holds mystery, and as I charge into the exact middle of one-hundred, I look into the corners where the dust lies, look where the cobwebs undulate with my passing, where the tiny cracks in the floor hold specks of dirt that have been tread down and down until the soil is a part of the wood. I look into the dark places, shining a light that can barely penetrate that which does not want to be found.

daddy

And it was while my daddy visited me, when we rocked together on the porch, staring out over the mountains as the creek sang to us, the wind pushed against the trees, the coffee steamed like tiny ghosts from our cups—it was then Daddy told me how my biological momma’s brother, my uncle, had years and years ago killed a man and was sentenced to death row.

I stopped rocking, turned and said, “I had an uncle on death row?”

Daddy nodded. “Your momma and I wrote letters of appeal and those letters got him released.”

I said, “I never knew him. I never knew that.”

He told me what he knew, which isn’t enough. Secrets are buried deep into the West Virginia mountainside.

I want another cup of coffee with Daddy, soon, soon. I want to rock and sip while he tells me stories of relatives from my momma’s side, and I want to cajole from him stories of his own kin, those Tennessee relatives I know very little about. Too many secrets on both sides. Perhaps some are too painful to speak aloud—I can guess from the black and white photographs holding the spirits of people who stare back with haunted eyes—as if uttering memories will make them come alive and wanting and real again, the spirit-words taking the awful shapes of those who would harm and become a full and dense being, a dark and ugly billow of smoky spirit shape.

I insert images of my momma running barefoot in the in the mountain forest, her feet turn black from the West Virginia soil, her skin is brown from the sun, bird-track freckles across her nose, her hair fans out behind her, her mouth stretched in a smile. She runs to catch a glimpse of the wild horses in the valley below, and she aims to capture one, jump astride him, and ride rider ridest!

And there’s Daddy! Young and strong in Tennessee, his hair stands on end, fingers greasy from peanut butter and fresh-churned butter sandwiches, his legs pocked with mosquito bites, one hand scratches the inflamed bumps while the other hand points and laughs at a friend dangling from a hickory tree. And he runs to the tree, a full-force boy run, and up up he climbs to find his own thick branch, and he suspends, feet hooked across the limb, the back of his legs bark tattooed, his head pointing to the ground, and the laughter falls from his mouth and down into the ground where it sinks into the earth and spreads until there is a tremor, an erupting, and up from the dirt pushes hope. Oh. I can see it. Can you?

My uncle killed a man, stabbed him until he was dead, went to death row, and was released. My momma and my daddy wrote letters of appeal, “It’s not his fault. You must understand that it’s not his fault. If you only knew his poor young life you would not do this thing.” And such was his young life that they released him. Such was his young life, that they released him. They released the young boy who became the man. I am at wonder with thinking of that.

I think about my blood, and what is rushing in my veins that comes from kin. I think about the black and white photos. I think about the unsaid things. I think about my blood—at times hot and boiling from the ancient line of my people.

I claim the title of Proud Mountain Woman. I claim the blood of my relatives that erupts wild with heat. I claim the blood of my Great Great Grandmother, that Proud Blackfoot Woman. (Do I claim the blood of the murdered man?) My kin, my blood. My proud Hillbilly blood is deep, buried far underneath my skin, down into the marrow of my bones, my strong gleaming bones.

My uncle kills a man, spills his blood upon the earth and it seeps far far into the West Virginia soil, seeps down deep, red turning to brown turning to black, and the man falls hard, his last thoughts no one but he knows. And my uncle stands with his legs apart and raises his eyes to heaven, a keening howl issues forth from his throat, and he lifts his hands to the sky with that man’s blood upon them, an offering. On death row he sits. Death row he waits until the boy is set free. And I see him well before his blood boils over to bursting, a young boy running from his demons (the ones my momma does not want to remember as she runs to catch a glimpse of the wild horses) my uncle’s skinny legs pump hard, the tears drying on his battered cheeks, fast, faster, fastest, his young red blood not quite blistering, only the simmer is there, rushing pumping beneath his skin as he runs to hide in the deep mountain woods, hides away from the terror that is his father.

When I was a little girl, I had no thoughts of lost relatives. No solid remembrances of my biological momma’s hand on my fevered brow—the hand I knew came from my adoptive mother, Daddy’s wife. I had little girl wishes and wants and magical thinking. I imagined myself astride a dark stallion, racing through the forest, his mane flying into my face, my long ponytail whipping behind me. His hooves thundered, matched the beat of my young girl’s heart. I rode to things (and I rode from things). I’d come to a clearing in the woods, dismount, and from my pack I’d withdraw a curry brush to wipe the sweat from my stallion. I’d drink a bit of water, and eat one of the apples, the other apple saved for Flame, or Midnight, or whatever horse name I was young girl in love with at the time.

When you are nine, ten, eleven, twelve, well, any future is possible than the one you really have! So I’d dream and imagine and wait. I’d ride my bike, pretend it was my stallion. I’d say, “ho boy, ho,” and make that gnick gnick sound to get him to trot, then canter, then gallop, then full speed we’d go, our hair flying.

Now, not young, not quite old, I still imagine myself astride my dark stallion, hooves thrumming through the forest, my head lowered, his mane flying into my face, my short hair sticking up crazily from the whipping wind. At the clearing, I call, “ho, boy, ho,” and dismount to brush out my beauty, drink my water, eat my apple and give the horse the other piece of fruit. And we look out over the Great Smoky Mountains. My Stallion lowers his head and munches grass, and I lower myself to the grass and lie on my back to watch cloud formations, listen to the crunch and snuffle of my imagined horse.

I lie still and think about my blood, and who I am, and my secrets and their secrets and our secrets. I think about family and strangers and friends. I think about my mother, the woman who opened her arms to raise my brothers and me as her own. I think about my biological momma running to catch the wild horse without knowledge of my one day coming to her so she could one day release me. I think about my daddy running to climb the tree high higher highest. I think about my uncle running from everything that hurt until he finally hurt back.

This is what I am thinking about today.

 

Me, the future You: R E S P E C T! Your life

The furthest thing from a young woman’s mind is that time far off into the future when she will be fifty(+) and menopausal. Who has time to think about such things when your baby is crying, your toddler is reaching for a sharp object, and your eight-year-old just threw up all the pizza, cake, and, I’m not kidding—sushi (sushi?)—he had at a birthday party where the parents spent more to please Bobby or Suzy than what you spend on two-weeks worth of groceries? Or when she’s heading out the door to work, tossing down a piece of toast and a hot cup of coffee. Or whatever it is this young woman is doing to Live Her Life and do what she must do because so much of our lives is spent doing “what we must do.” (And I’m not leaving out the guys here, you can take out “menopausal” and add your own lists and dos and etcs here just as well!)

However, what I wish a big sister had told me in my teens, twenties, and thirties is this: how you treat yourself and how you ask to be treated by those around you will forever affect the person you will become—Me, the Future You. Who are you—I mean, the real you, not the Mommy You or the Wife You or the Worker You or the Partner You, but the Woman You, the one you must face in the mirror from now until, well, until you can no longer look into a mirror. For one day in your future you will look into that mirror and see the woman you have become from the experiences you have now. As your big sister, I want to tell you to care for yourself. To expect more of yourself, yes, but to expect more from others as well. That Respect should be a part of your daily diet—both taken in and given out—physical and mental/emotional respect.

When is the last time you patted yourself on the back for a life well-done? Have you been perfect? I bet not. Has every day been a gloriously sunshine-filled day of joy and happiness? Probably not. Have you lost your temper, been in a foul mood, screamed at your kids/partner/husband/coworkers/boss/employees/parents?, stomped around as if you were the two-year old? Maybe. But if this didn’t happen at least some time in your life, I’d wonder what you were trying to prove, or hide from yourself and others. We’re all human, and we all need to give ourselves a little break now and then to consider just how hard it is to raise a family, work to make a living, be married, be single, be independent, be dependent, caretake, be caretaken, etc etc etc, in other words: Life. Since you will one day be me and then beyond, I give you permission to love yourself, one day, one choice at a time.

And if you are already at the Me stage, it’s not too late to take everything I wrote and apply it liberally. Never too late to make a change, or go for that goal, or let go of one, etc etc etc, yup, in other words: Life ain’t over after 50, 60, 70, 80, beyond. I promise. We can make every excuse in the book—and they are all written down, believe me, in one fashion or another, nothing new under the moon—but ultimately this is our only life and how we decide to live it and how we decide to treat ourselves and others will determine how satisfied and at peace we are, how much respect we gain and give out. And when we fall on our ass, well, get up, brush the dirt off, and go on, who cares if someone saw you fall on your ass? You can betcha they’ve fallen on theirs but only you weren’t around to see it!

And remember, friends and family aren’t perfect either . . . they fall on their asses regularly too! But we can help them up just as they can help us up.

here is the only perfection:

Now go do the day!

PS – This is the LAST day of the Summer Sunshine Deals at Amazon (that page takes you to where TG happens at this moment -and that can change and does -to be No 1 on a list-which as I said below, if you put in enough criteria, you just may end up No 1 on a list *laugh*). After today, Tender Graces, and the other 600ish titles will revert to their regular prices. Thank you for your support! I guess we’ll see where all this leads. I have also found I am terrible at “self promo” – I suck at it – I become so uncomfortable talking about these things that have to do with “buying my books” – ungh ungh! But, happy to pass on savings, yes, that’s always a good thing!

When the ghosts come whispering tragedy; the quest for The Story no matter what?

Yesterday after writing a scene that left me drained and exhausted, I took to my bed for a nap. In that time between when I thought I couldn’t possibly nap and the time that I did fall asleep, I thought about The Graces Saga—the Virginia Kate story, and how she is the storyteller of her family’s lives. And why I was having such a hard time writing this third and final book in the Graces Trilogy.

The tragedies of my biological family in West Virginia are many—alcoholism, violence, murder (death row and release from death row to freedom), pain, a secret about my bio mom that I can’t say here because it is too private about something so terrible it rips out my heart to know it happened, early deaths too young, more secrets, suicide, abandonment, cruelty, tenderness, pride, heartache, loss, and in between all of this is the living and the love and family lost and gained and lost again. It’s the stuff of great and compelling fiction, but this is not fiction; this is family that I know only sketchy things about, of whom some I’ve never even met, and some only when I was a babe, and some I’ll never meet. Of stories I’ve heard whispered, and some partially told as if parts of a puzzle are tossed to me and I can’t complete the picture and never will.

When I began Virginia Kate’s story, I knew 95% of it would be fiction. I took the 5% that I found interesting and used that as a starting point:

–my biological mother gave up her three children one at a time to my stepmother (who did end up adopting all three of us) and my dad.
–I was born in West Virginia, and spent a lot of years in Louisiana—I wanted to honor and write about these two places that affected my life so much.
–my father is an alcoholic but unlike Frederick, he’s been sober 50 years. (My biomom is not an alcoholic, unlike Katie Ivene –Momma.)
–my Maw Maw was so interesting and “crazy” I had to fashion Mee Maw after her

puzzle not complete yet

–the snake polo is based on a real incident and is one of my favorite scenes in TG

That’s about it with “truths” that spurred off the writing of a fictionalized Appalachian family torn apart and put back together in another fashion—the puzzle pieces different but somehow fitting together all the same.

Yet. What I did not know and what has made this third book the most difficult are the things I thought were fiction that turned out to either have more truths to them than I ever would have imagined, and the things that happened after I’d written the book and then they “came to be true.” For the things I wrote about that hit upon truths I had no idea were truths, perhaps I’d overheard something as a little girl and my black holed brain released them as an adult through my fiction—even though it brought forth no memory as I wrote it—or perhaps I just guessed and in that way of fiction “truth is stranger than fiction” it happened as things happen to families, or perhaps just as Virginia Kate does, I have ghosts speaking to me who want their story told.

As for the things that have happened after I’ve written my books—such as the suicide of Katie Ivene’s brother by shooting himself in the head—I am torn up upset. How would I have known my own half-brother in West Virginia would do what Little Ben did? How? Else I’d have not written it. It’s too close and too personal and too tragic. Too late—it’s in the story. And writers sometimes have no soul when it comes to The Story — we have no conscience — we know no boundaries of decency. Writers can be heartless in their quest for The Story. Still, it is not without cost.

Lots of things are “too late it’s in the story” and I have to carry them forward, finish the story, write it. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen—that I didn’t write it. Two books are already published with these events and I have to complete the book. I do. I do.

What I thought this third book would focus on is turning on its head a bit. Other voices want to speak through VK: Katie Ivene (Momma), Rebekha (VK’s stepmom). And some of those scenes, particularly of Katie Ivene, are breaking my heart. Leaving me drained. As I try to keep them in fiction and grounded in fictionalized events, the truths that I have found out, or those that occurred since I began the trilogy, rear up. I dance around them. I try to avoid them—and I can’t avoid them all. It exhausts me. It leaves me wandering about the little log house feeling this sense of . . . of loss and pain and curiosity and all manner of questions unanswered. Maybe I am, through Virginia Kate, making up my own answers, and yet even so, I am still leaving many unanswered even in the books.

I’ll keep writing. I will finish. And when this third book is done, it is done. If there is ever a time I will write about my Virginia Kate again, it will be set in contemporary times. From where I sit today, I can’t see going back again, digging up and under and trying to do that dance of avoidance coupled with the need to tell the story as it arrives to me—pain or not.

There are some excerpts from Tender Graces / Secret Graces that say so much of what I’m feeling:

Momma never told stories much, since it hurt to do it. She said looking behind a person only makes them trip and fall. I understand why now in a way I didn’t as a girl.

Grandma Faith used to say, “Ghosts and spirits weave around the living in these mountains. They try to tell us things, warn us of what’s ahead, or try to move us on towards something we need to do. But most of all, they want us to remember.”

It’s come time again to return to what’s gone by.
Even the things that hurt.
Grandma Faith whispers, Be strong, little mite. Tell the stories.
Yes, Grandma, I will tell the stories.

So, like Virginia Kate, I will need to just tell her story as she tells her own to me. Even the things that hurt.

Dad, Ruth my adoptive mom, Johnny, me, Michael, Tommy, David-wearing the grown up tie and constant grin with my hands on his shoulders, in Baton Rouge-the final puzzle pieces fit to make the new family (we lost our David in 1994 to a heart attack)

She’s Chuck-ie, she’s beautiful, and she’s mine….

Imagine me in a rocking chair, and I have a glass of sweet tea (Swate tae) held out to you. My own glass of (not) sweet tea (yes, I know, I’m Southern, but I don’t drink swate tae-but we can pretend) is sweaty in my hands. I pat the chair beside me, and you sit down. We both begin to rock and sip, and I say, “Let me tell you about my Maw Maw.” And you say, “Who’s Maw Maw?” And I reply, “Her name was Mary Eunice, and, as far as I know, she was born in Tennessee—where my father is from.” She’s the inspiration for Tender Graces Mee Maw.

We called her Maw Maw, because that’s what she wanted, and Maw Maw usually got what she wanted. I wish I had learned more about her, but in that way that children and young people can be, I only saw her as this adult who either wore on my nerves, gave me presents, or later, handed me fodder for stories about crazy family members. Too Bad. There was more to Maw Maw than I’ll ever know, and as I get older, I long to know all her stories. Too late–she’s gone; so let that be a lesson to ye out there with grannies and granpaws–get the stories. Listen.

My first memory of Maw Maw was when she gave me a doll, my first doll I’d ever owned. In this day of kids having more toys than they know what to do with, it may not seem like much, but, when I was little, I didn’t have many toys—and no doll. Little girls dream of dolls, and I did, literally. And when I’d wake up and my arms were empty, I’d wish with all my little girl heart that somehow my dream would come true and I’d receive a doll. That is almost pukingly sweet—but true.

I remember so clearly in a way I don’t remember many many things clearly how I lay in a small bed, and the door opens, and there stands Maw Maw, large and loud and so There. She held a box in her hand, and before she was entirely in the door, she was screeching that she had a present for her baby. Maw Maw’s voice was this screech-owl mixture of Tennessee-Ark-La-Tex (because she lived in the Arklatex for many years), and the volume was always on high. She burst into the room, and sucked up all the air. My parents moved out of the way as she made a bee-line for me. I was her favorite—something that would be both gratifying and terrifying.

When she handed me the doll, I was overcome with child-joy. I hugged her, the doll, not Maw Maw, and thought how I’d play with her, sleep with her, hold her everywhere I went. Maw Maw said, “That there doll is for my baby! My precious baby! Oh, see how she loves the doll. She loves her Maw Maw, too, don’t you, Kathy?” And Maw Maw enveloped me in her breasts, where I became lost for a week and they had to send out a search party.

I said, I’m sure I said, “Thank yew, Maw Maw. I wove dis baby doll.” Surely I did.

My mother, whom hadn’t adopted me yet and was a “step mother,” stood by, I can almost see her, in Maw Maws ample shadow, looking on, and thinking, “That doll is too fancy. What was she thinking?”

For the doll was fancy. She had a mink coat, high-heeled shoes, pearl necklace, shimmery shiny dress, soft headband, curly hairdo—AND!—make up! She was gorgeous, and she was mine.

After Maw Maw left, Mother plucked the doll from my grasp, not understanding my want for a doll, how I had to have one, needed one, or I would surely die. She plucked the doll and put it away “for later” because it was too fancy-shmancy for a little girl to dirty up. I don’t remember crying, and I probably didn’t, because I seldom cried. I asked my parents, “Did I cry when Momma gave me up? Did I cry later? Did I ever cry?” and Mother said, “No, you just had these huge eyes that looked so sad.”

The doll is with me now. Obviously, at some point, Mother gave her back to me and I loved her a bit too much. She’s lost some of her jewelry, and her shoes are gone, and her dress is a bit worn down. And later, Mother kept her for me again, for all the years I was gone away from home, kept her safe, just as she did when I was a teeny girl. I have her now. Good Man has named her “Chuckie” and one night put a knife with ketchup on it in her hand and stood her where I would come upon her and scream—but instead I laughed.

Maw Maw had all the good intentions that grandmothers do, and if she had come back and seen the doll placed away, she’d have screeched and screamed at the injustice of it all, and how her granddaughter was sorely mistreated, and how her precious baby didn’t deserve such an insult. My mother and grandmother would butt heads over the years, mentally butt and shove and push against each other, until neither gave up.

Every time I look at that doll, I think of Maw Maw and all the missed opportunities to know her better. Even as she lay dying, I didn’t think to ask her questions about her past. I didn’t ask her about how she was ahead of her time in so many ways.

Yes, Maw Maw picked me as her favorite, and that’s why I was able to go on the trip to Tennessee- for the chicken kill, but that’s another Maw Maw story for another time.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,651 other followers

%d bloggers like this: