Meet The Flintstones

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I had a husband. That husband met my parents and liked Daddy-O enough to plan a trip down to Florida so that he and Daddy-O could go fishing. Husband showed up at Daddy-O’s house at the appointed time and found Daddy-O cutting back trees in the yard. Daddy-O asked Husband for assistance with those trees before they left to go fishing and eight hours later, Husband said, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never done any fishing like this” as he carried the final bunch of limbs out to the curb. They never did go fishing together and both learned a valuable lesson – sometimes plans fall apart.

Once upon a time, very recently, I made plans to hang with Woney and her parents in Georgia for Memorial Day weekend. We were going to attend parties, have some cocktails with my friends, Miguel and Will, and lounge by the pool. I wasn’t worried at all about liking Woney’s parents because, hello, Woney. And I wasn’t worried about them liking me because, hello, Jimmie. I showed up at Pa Fred and Ma Wilma’s house ready to party but instead I moved furniture. Someone in the family sold a house and someone else felt like it was a marvelous idea to schedule a surprise clean-out on the only three-day weekend this family was gonna get. I wasn’t dressed at all for moving as I like girlie dresses and floppy shoes, and after a long time of me uselessly flapping around saying “What should I pack next? Whose truck does this go in? I can lift this end if you can get the other end,” we finally got to sit down and eat pizza in our dirty, sweaty clothes. I said to the Flintstone family, “I don’t know about you, but I never attended any parties like this before – usually there is a pool and a barbeque,” as I wiped the sweat and mascara from my cheek. We never did get to meet my friends for drinks, either. I learned a valuable lesson – sometimes plans fall apart.

Lest you think I have my panties all in a twist over the surprise moving party, I’m going to tell you that my Memorial Day weekend was fabulous. It really was. Woney’s parents, Pa Fred and Ma Wilma, were just the nicest parents ever. When I arrived, Woney was showing me all around the room, introducing me to her family, and mentioned that I was the friend she took to Ireland. She was telling the story about how I would not kiss the Blarney Stone (y’all, it has been urinated upon) to receive the Gift of Gab (that’s what it promises), and Pa Fred said, “She already has the gift of gab – she doesn’t need it!” I hadn’t even said hello to him yet but I could tell we were gonna see eye to eye, Pa Fred and I.

Oh, I loved those people! Ma Wilma made a salad for the family but because I don’t eat maraschino cherries, she left them out. Aunt Collette offered me some of Aunt Sue’s belongings even though I never met Aunt Sue and won’t because her house was the one that was sold after her passing. Niece McKenzie, the most beautiful 16-year-old girl I know, is making plans to travel with Woney and me in the near future. All Woney’s brothers treated me like they treat Woney except maybe nicer because while I’m sister-like, I’m not really their sister and don’t deserve to be picked on just yet.

I also met Woney’s new cat, Boo. Isn’t she cute?

cat1

Well, she’s cute in real life where she is exactly this blurry as she tears all around the house and finally stops when she claws her way lickety split up your leg and you knock her off. We came home from moving to find Pa Fred kicked back in his recliner, a bandage fashioned from a paper towel and secured on with a ring of electrical tape around his leg to staunch the bleeding inflicted by Boo’s claws. He reminds me of Poppa. “I hate that damn cat,” he’d say but then five minutes later you’d catch him stroking her furry, blurry head.

I got more hugs that I deserved from these people. The Flintstone family gives great hugs, just like my family. They share their inside jokes and make fun of each other and have dinner together at a table that is ever so slightly too small but it doesn’t matter because they all like each other and want to sit close. I got more apologies than I deserved, too. Each person apologized to me, their guest, for being forced into a move no one planned on the weekend meant for parties and barbeques, which I really did not mind. I hate to tell them but when they meet my family, they will have to move tree limbs in order to earn pizza and fishing. It’s all going to come out in the wash!

Throwback Thursday! No Words Needed

Madre

Madre

Auntie Pastel

Auntie Pastel

Lynnette

Lynnette

Junior Prom Date and Jimmie

Junior Prom Date and Jimmie

Jimmie and Martie

Jimmie and Martie

Dammit Todd

Dammit Todd

Jimmie

Jimmie

Martie

Martie

Madre and Poppa

Madre and Poppa

Martie and Jimmie

Martie and Jimmie

In Which I Write A Guest Post For Someone Else

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that I would link to a blog post I wrote for Martie, my sister. I didn’t do that because she didn’t post my blog right away, and then when she did, I had written up a bunch of stuff for you about my cruise. I’m not done talking about that yet – everybody knows that there is food galore on one of those ships and I MUST tell you about it – but in the interim, I thought you’d like to read about makeup. Boys, I know you cannot wait.

Anywho, below is the link to Martie’s blog but my writing. And while you are checking that out, Martie has an Etsy shop with some super nice stuff so check that out as well.

Martie’s Blog

Martie’s Shop

I’ll write at you again soon. SPOILER ALERT: I talk about chocolate!

A Note To David

Poppa 2

Hey, Poppa.

It’s been a whole year. Today is a year.

You know, you don’t always understand how much influence a person has over you until you have to live life without that person. Do you know how many times I see a bird and think of you? Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to drive up into your driveway and tell you about my trip to Ireland or something I heard on the news? I’ve read so many books I want to tell you about. It’s the everyday things that are the hardest. It’s in the mundane you are missed the most.

Please don’t worry. I’m not moping around mourning you every day. None of us do that. What kind of testament to your life would that be? All sadness all the time? You’d be so mad if that’s all we had left of you. But some days I miss you so much that it feels like I’ve been walloped in the stomach with a bag of rocks. My breath hurts and I just can’t see my way out of the tears. Those days pass, though, and I’m left seeing you in so many other ways, happy ways.

The whole family has been reading your journals. Every morning you sat in your chair and wrote about the weather or what project you were finishing. We now take turns sitting in your chair, and when one of us finds our name, we get giddy and read to everyone else what you said. Isn’t that funny, that my name in your handwriting is so special to me? You said my name a thousand times but when you wrote about me, that means you thought about me when I wasn’t there. Oh God, that hurts. And speaking of God, we never talked about that. Why didn’t we talk about that? But every day, no matter what kind of pain you were having in your feet or what sort of financial thing you dealt with or what kind of joy you experienced, you thanked God. “Thank you, Lord,” was the way you ended every entry, every day. A life well lived. You were steady, even to the end.

Sometimes one of us will see an owl or a kestrel and it feels like you are checking on us, so we say hello. We cry a little but we still just want to say hi, to let you know that we see you in everything and that we still see things through the lens of your eyes. Mom let us read one of your love letters. Only one, but it was so powerful, so you. You ended it with “Your children are my children” and whether or not that letter won you my mother’s heart, it won you mine. You already had it, of course, but I could look back over all the years I had with you and know you meant it. I never had to read a letter to know how you felt. I was your child, too.

Poppa, I miss your hands. I miss walking by your bedroom at night and seeing the top of your head over a book and your feet sticking out from under the blanket. I miss your stories. I even miss the way you’d talk about something that was so far over my head yet I felt compelled to nod and say “uh-huh” despite the fact you’d lost me in the first sentence. You loved Willie Nelson but as much as I love you, I don’t miss listening to that music one bit. Sorry. Christmas and Thanksgiving – the year of the firsts – those were melancholy in moments but we all knew that had you been with us, you wouldn’t have really been with us once you got your hands on a gun stock or a book. Opening day of deer season – that was the worst. I missed the phone call I should have gotten about how you spent three minutes getting to your deer stand, shot the biggest buck anyone has ever seen within one minute of settling in, and then spent nine minutes getting it home, much to the disgust of every other person you ever hunted with. No one ever gets a deer as fast as you. That day was hard.

Poppa, we are okay. Mom misses you the most. Living without you is the hardest thing she’s ever done but you know how she raised us all. Independent. Fierce. Substantial. She is those things – that’s how you teach someone else to be those things. It’s just that some days the loss of you wears down the fierce and the substantial. Some days are harder than others. Today is one of those. I’m so sorry we lost you. I wish we never had to experience loss. But never experiencing loss means never having loved and that will never do. I lost you, Poppa, and that hurts so badly but I know that it means I loved you so much more. I’d never trade that out, never. Love rules, even over loss.

Today we will wave to you. Today we will talk about you a lot. Today we will mourn but we will also laugh and we will also love. You left us, but we are coming to you. Give us time. We will see you again. I’m just so damn happy about that.

In your words, Poppa, Thank You, Lord.

As ever, your favorite oldest daughter,

Mandy

Poppa

Breaking News! (And Other Assorted Stories)

“How do you stand it?” asked Slim. “It’s so quiet in here!”

I get that a lot when someone new comes to my house. Remember I don’t have a television and you should also know that I don’t have internet either.

You know what else I get, though? People, who upon arriving at my house say that they would die without the noise, falling asleep on my sofa because they are just so relaxed in my marshmallow house. Slim is one of the many whom I’ve found laid out under the fan, hand resting on a sleeping Murphy’s head, snoozing. It only takes about ten minutes for that to happen and then suddenly, everyone is converted to my way of living.

Well, not everyone. Luke is not converted. Luke actually has a giant man-television in his bonus room on which he watches football and other assorted man-TV. Sometimes when I drive by his house and see the glow of the television, I get sort of . . . . jealous. I miss the mindlessness of television on occasion. I miss the laziness of it after a long day, when holding up a book with two whole hands is just too much work. I texted Luke about it one night.

“Hey, can I come watch tv with you sometime? I promise not to talk during any football games and I can bring food.”

Turns out those were the magic words. “Come any time,” he said, “and I like chili.”

One Sunday evening soon after that I ran into him in his yard. “Tonight is the season finale of True Blood,” he said. “You should come watch it.”

“What’s True Blood?” I asked.

“I’ll explain later,” he says. “What are you cooking?”

That evening I put on decent pajamas, ones that cover my whole body, and a hoodie and traipsed over to Luke’s house. I first made my nosy inspection of all his rooms, his washer and dryer and his closets, having never been through his entire house. Then I perched on his futon sofa, highly anticipating a fantastic, lazy, mindless television experience.

That is not at all what I got. Firstly, I learned that True Blood is a vampire show and secondly, I learned that there is all kinda nudity and sex in it. Luke sort of knew that but after about two full-on nudie, really uncomfortable, not-much-left-to-the-imagination-sex scenes, he tentatively said, “Erm, I didn’t realize there would be so much of . . . . that . . . .” as he waved his hand in the general direction of the television. I could barely look at him and we both did that nervous giggle – a very tepid and strangled heh. Heh, heh, gurgle, heh. It only got worse when we saw some full frontal male nether parts. We both sat there, crimson and quiet.

So that lasted for an hour. He flipped around the channels after True Blood and then I got to experience Duck Dynasty and that was eye-opening. Also, cleaner. I enjoyed it very much. We ate M&Ms and watched television and for one half hour, all was marvelous, mindless and lazy. I am a Duck Dynasty convert.

I have other news to share with you. I have no nifty segue, though, so I’ll risk the jarring leap and just jump right in.

You remember my sister, Martie, right? The one who is practically my twin? I mean, look at us. Could we be more alike?

Martie’s musical talent:

La, la, la!
La, la, la!

Jimmie’s musical talent:

Decidedly not la, la, la

Decidedly not la, la, la

Martie’s children:

Pooh

Pooh

Tigger

Tigger

Jimmie’s children:

*crickets*

*crickets*

Martie’s pets:

Rock

Rock, weighing in at roughly 71 pounds

Roll

Roll, weighing in at 72 pounds or so

Jimmie’s pets:

Murphy, weighing in at 9 pounds

Murphy, weighing in at 9 pounds

Seamus, weighing in at 14 pounds, give or take a bag of treats or two

Seamus, weighing in at 14 pounds, give or take a bag of treats or two

Martie’s husband:

Coach

Coach

Jimmie’s husband:

*crickets*

*crickets*

 

Martie’s hair:

Glorious, Full, Thick Mane of Horse Hair

Glorious, Full, Thick Mane of Horse Hair

Jimmie’s hair:

Dandelion Fluff

Dandelion Fluff

Erm . . . huh. How bout this one?

Jimmie’s blog:

Jimmies World

Martie’s blog:

Is That A Hair In My Biscuit?

That’s right, folks! Martie has a blog and you should totally read it! Especially this one, as it’s my favorite.  Plus, she has a contest going and you could potentially win cool stuff.   We will link to each other often, so get ready. You now have two of us! Heh. Heh, heh, gurgle, heh.

I Win!

 

Roll

Roll

You see this dog?  This dog is the Seamus of dogs.  He’s a beautiful dog.  He likes treats.  He has fur.  And he cannot stand me.

I am not, by nature, a very patient person.  If you look at me from the outside you would disagree with me.  I do have the appearance of being extraordinarily patient and calm.  I speak softly when I answer the same questions you have asked me fifteen times already. I don’t wear scents that burn the very hairs from your nostrils, but instead one that is faintly reminiscent of warm brownies.  My hair is gently fluffy (unless I am applying for jobs, then it is full out “Fatal Attraction” sexy wild.  Apparently.)  My clothes consist of gauzy, wafty things that drape gently around me.   See? Patient.  And dare I say, wholesome.

I think I got off on a tangent there.  The point I am trying to make is that I appear to be longsuffering, as evidenced by the four years I’ve spent trying to win the love of Seamus, the cat, and the three years I’ve spent trying to win the love of Roll, the dog.  (Roll belongs to Martie and Coach, along with Rock, pictured below.  I probably should have explained that.)  On the outside, I am calm and serene.  On the inside, though, I’m a burning mess of “Why won’t you love me, @#%^ cat?!”  or, “@#%^ dog?!”, depending on whose house I’m in.  (This dichotomy is good for the stomach lining, by the way.  No acid reflux here, no sir.)

Rock

Rock

Like with Seamus, I’ve done everything I can think of to win that dog’s affection.  I’ve offered my long scratchy nails.  I’ve purchased hamburgers specifically for his consumption.  I’ve folded my legs Indian style and parked myself on Martie’s patio for extensive minutes, waiting for Roll to stop running away from me as if I’m going to beat him between the eyes with a ball peen hammer.

And y’all?  It worked.  It worked!

Last weekend I drove up Martee’s driveway and hauled my three bags of clothes into her house for my two-day stay.  We ventured out to the patio and once again, I called softly to Roll, asking for the pleasure of scratching his ears.  He was not having it.  I sighed and sat grumpily down in the patio chair, mad at the dog who never lets me pet him.  Martee and I watched Tigger ride her bike all around the yard and talked about nonsense and watched Coach water the flowers.  I felt something lick my leg and lean its head on my knee.  I reached down to scratch Rock’s ears and just happened to glance at what I was scratching.  It was not Rock.  It was Roll.

Martie has been telling me for years that Roll loves me, that he’s just shy and protective.  I’d have believed it if I didn’t see him wallering all over everyone else in the family but me, his stomach exposed and his ears flopped back, the epitome of a relaxed dog.  I guess now I see the truth.  He does love me! He really does! Happy sigh.

I will end this heartwarming love story with an open note to Seamus, the cat.

Dear Seamus –

You will not beat me, cat.  You will not.  You will love me.  I will pursue you with a relentless fervor and an endless bag of treats.  I did that with Roll and I won.  I will win with you, too.

Suck on that,

Jimmie

P.S. I somehow fixed the Post About Nothing. I have no idea what I did, so please, no one contact me for technical assistance as I will only be able to tell you that I got my hair cut and whined about my broken blog a whole lot. Read it if you like – it’s only moderately interesting.

Silence Broken

“You seem quiet.  Are you alright?”

I get that question a lot lately.  In many ways I am quiet now.  I don’t write.  I talk, but maybe not with the same exuberance anymore.  I want to write.  I want to talk.  I want to be my happy self, but I’ve not been exactly in that place for the last month.  I feel like there’s a giant elephant in the room yet despite doing my best to avoid him, he is not going away.  So let’s discuss the elephant.

Losing Poppa has me thinking a lot about life.  I picture it in my head as a river, strong and steady, moving rapidly and forcefully to the final destination which is what?  Here on Earth I don’t know.  But along the way life runs into strainers.  A tree stump in the stream.  A pile of logs  that beavers arranged into a dam.  The loss of a parent.  In my head I’ve been stuck on that strainer for the last month, pressed against that tree stump by the force of the current and it makes me lose my breath.  I see the life swirling around me and people floating by but I’m held by the swift movement of the water against the wood.  Truthfully, I haven’t wanted to leave the safety of the stump and swim out into life again.  Not yet.  I can see that the water will knock me loose eventually and swallow me up but I haven’t been quite ready for the swim.

I miss Poppa.  For 35 years I got to call him mine.  I was one of those spoiled children who had two fathers, both exceptional men, who loved me.  I was already lucky with Daddy.  He didn’t get to choose me.  I was born to him.  I know, though, that if he could have chosen me he would have.  Poppa, on the other hand, did choose me.  He met my mother and then met me and Martie and then he asked us to marry him.  We did, when I was eight and Martie was six.  We don’t have a lot of life without him as part of the framework.  

There are so many memories of him to sort through.  I’m crying as I type this.  I cry every time I’ve typed this, because I’ve been working on it for weeks now.  These memories are too big for me sometimes.  My mother says a lot, “I’m not sad but I just miss him.”  I get that.  I just miss him.  How do you encapsulate a man and everything he was to you in a memory?  In a book of memories?  It’s just too big. 

I think of Poppa in two parts.  At least I did.  First is the Poppa that I knew from the beginning.  He was the man who accepted Martie and me as his own from day one, even though we were kids who probably resisted sharing our mom after having her all to ourselves for a few years.  He fixed our hair when my mom was out of town, those brushes and ponytail holders he was so unfamiliar with looping through his hands.  He brought us two brothers that Martie and I adored, even if it meant sharing our mom with two more people we were not expecting.  I remember Poppa teaching me how to shoot a variety of guns over the course of a weekend because he wanted to make sure I knew how to take care of myself if the need ever arose.  I remember him teaching me my spelling words and because simple memorization was not enough, he made sure I knew what they meant.  We all remember him making us walk the right path and follow the house rules even if we thought he didn’t know them.  He made my chicken pen.  He built my mother a barn.  He gave us his car and his time and his heart.  This Poppa makes me cry now because I want him back.  I don’t want to lose any of that, any part of him. 

The other Poppa is the one who left us.  That Poppa was the one who got so sick so fast and dealt with a tremendous amount of pain and confusion in a short amount of time.  He desperately wanted to go home and when he asked if we’d let him, we had to say no.  It was a hard time for all of us and we all felt terrible, telling him that the only thing he wanted, right or wrong, could not happen.  Even through his anger, though, and the confusion and the delirium, he never stopped loving us.  He never stopped saying, “I love you too, babe” when we said “Poppa, I love you. I’m so sorry.”  He never stopped squeezing our hands when we just needed that connection to let him know we were there.  He never stopped until he did.  It was okay to allow that Poppa to leave.  It was okay to release him because we all knew that the release was coming and that it was right.  This Poppa also makes me cry but it’s okay.

For a while I traveled around with those two Poppas in my head.  Both made me sad in different ways.  I was talking with my brother about it one day, and he simply said, “But he’s in a new body . . . ”  And just like that, I got a third Poppa.  This one is whole.  He has no pain.  His hands and his joints and his body are not broken.  His spirit is not broken.  His heart is not broken.  Instead, he is ALIVE and joyful and rejoicing!  That Poppa makes me the happiest of all.  God, in this plan, makes me the happiest of all.

So a note to Poppa, to the man who shaped all of us and loved us and who is still in us, I say this:

I love you, Poppa.  I loved you from the start and I loved you all the way through it and I loved you more at the end.  Thank you for being a father to me. Thank you for being a protector for me.  Thank you for accepting me and choosing me and loving me back.  Rest and Rejoice, Poppa.  Soon I will kick off from that tree stump and swim out into life, joyful and embracing and living the way you’d want me to because I know this is not the end.  This is just the beginning.  I will see you soon.

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