Tombstone in the Bedroom

Nutsrok

Cousin Kat ¬†(Kathleen)¬†was proud of being ‚Äúconservative.‚ÄĚ ¬†To the rest of us, it looked a lot like stingy. ¬†When it looked like her mama might be considering dying, it just so happened, Dan Walter‚Äôs Funeral Home and Monument Company was going out of business. ¬†She talked him down till she got a real nice headstone for Mama and a beautiful¬†double

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Big Mouth

Nutsrok

When my brother Billy was a kid, my parents dreaded hearing whatever might come out of ¬†his mouth. ¬†Daddy took him to the store with him one day. ¬†As Billy stood on the top step, Daddy and his friend Mr. Shorty stood on the ground talking. ¬†Billy happily reached over, patted Mr. Shorty affectionately on his bald head, and said, ‚ÄúWell hello, little, short fat man.‚ÄĚ

Not long afterward, Mother looked out the kitchen window to see Daddy‚Äôs friend with one leg, Mr. Charley headed to the front door. ¬†She rushed to the living room, trying to get there before Billy, could ask what happened to his other leg. ¬†She was too late. ¬†As she walked into the room, Biily turned from Mr. Charley at the door to tell her, ‚ÄúMama, a skeeter bit his leg off!‚ÄĚ

My cousin kept hitting Billy. ¬†Mother told Billy to ‚Äúhit hit back.‚ÄĚ ¬†The‚Ķ

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Messed Up Family

Travelling today. Reblog

Nutsrok

It just occurred to me that Mother may have been raising a tribe of cannibals during the time Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Edward lived with us and I bit my cousin Cathy.  My brother Billy was five months old to Cousin Eddie’s six weeks and much bigger.  Mother and Aunt Bonnie had Snowmanput the two babies on a quilt to play while they did their housework.  Eddie had colic and cried all the time, so Aunt Bonnie wasn’t too surprised at the wailing.  She went in to check on him after a few minutes to find Billy, who was teething, had worked his way over to Eddie. He had a foot in one hand, a thigh in the other, and was gnawing him like a Thanksgiving Turkey.

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Two Roads Part 10

The day after Christmas, Neeley miscarried and was shamed at her relief.  She already had five children and faced an uncertain future.  Mama Cassie came to help out for a few days bringing her youngest daughter, Cynthia.  At nine, Cynthia was about the age Neeley was when Ma died.  Seeing the child playing with her children was bittersweet, remembering Mama had long abandoned her by that point in her life.

Mama Cassie was a sharp-spoken, bitter woman, not given to tenderness. ¬†In the way of many neglected children, Neeley basked in any affection her mother showed and would have never antagonized her. ¬†Cassie must have sensed her questions, since she brought the subject up one morning over coffee. ¬†“I always felt bad I left you. ¬†I wanted you with me an’ felt real bad when I found out Ma died an’ you was with Jep. ¬†I was a’living with my husband Jeb Cox then in Smackover, Arkansas. ¬†He was a mean one. He drank an’ beat me till I lost a baby right about that time. ¬†I knowed if I brung you there he’d a’done you wrong. ¬†I felt just awful about losing that baby, but that wasn’t a fit home to bring another youngun into. ¬†Soon as I was able, I left Willie and Albert with their Grandma Cox an’ slipped off from him. ¬†I just had to live however I could till I married Joe Miller. ¬†I just want you to know I would’a raised you iffen I could.” A tear slid down her cheek.

Neeley understood how hard it was trying to do right by children. ¬†Her heart melted. ¬†“I’m glad you told me, Ma. ¬†You ain’t had no easy life neither.” ¬†Any resentment she’d still held melted away in light of her mother’s contrition.

Eddie¬†made arrangements to rent¬†a farm about six miles down in the low country, eighty acres with a creek.¬† The only problem was, there wasn’t a good well.¬† They would have to haul water about three hundred yards till Eddie could get a well dug.¬† Willie, Albert and¬†a couple of cousins would help.¬† By March, they’d moved onto the place.¬† Neeley was sorry to leave her brothers’ place, especially since Eddie told her the house wasn’t as¬†tight and they’d be hauling water for a while, but at least it would be their own place and it was reasonably close to family.¬† The school was only two miles away, so the kids could get there in good weather.¬† She was a little down in the mouth when she saw the house.¬† She could see daylight through cracks in the walls, but she got to work tacking cardboard, newspapers, catalog pages and anything else she could get her hands on over the cracks.¬†Every house she’d ever lived in had paper tacked over cracks, so that wasn’t a problem. There was a good iron cook stove in the kitchen and a wood heater in the front room. That made up for a lot. The first time it rained, they had to set pots around to catch the drips, but Eddie split shingles and fixed the roof right away. The chimney had pulled away from the house, but they tipped it back and braced it before mixing red clay mortar and hay to daub up the seams and cracks. By the time they were through, it was a decent place for the family. Eddie never let her run out of water, hauling in a barrel from the creek
images pulled from internet
childnewspaper-on-walls

Two Roads Part 9

1920-treeImage pulled from internet. Note the handmaid ornaments and paper chains.¬† The house nor the gifts are representative of Neeley’s tree.

Eddie and Neeley packed their family up and moved to the farm her two brothers Albert and Willie had inherited from their father. ¬†For once, it worked out well that Mama Cassie had had a few husbands. The brothers were a few years younger than Neeley and were batching it in the main house on the place, leaving a decent second house on the place vacant. ¬†It was much ¬†better than the place they’d just left and would give the young family a place to live while Eddie looked for a place to rent. ¬†It was a happy time for Neeley. ¬†The boys were happy to pitch in on food so they could enjoy Neeley’s fine cooking, having tired of their own pitiful efforts. ¬†Eddie helped them out when they needed him and found whatever day work he could. ¬†Had the place been big enough, they would have loved to stay forever, but forty acres would barely support one family. ¬†Willie planned to marry in the spring. ¬†His girl’s daddy was setting them up on eighty acres, so his prospects were good.

That was the first Christmas Neeley got to celebrate with family. Eddie cut a cedar tree, which they decorated with chains of colored paper the kids had made and carefully saved from past years.  Foil-covered sweetgum balls added sparkle.  Pictures carefully cut from Christmas card and magazines served as ornaments.  The children were enchanted.

Eddie and Neele made a trip into town the Saturday before Christmas. ¬†Neeley was waiting for the grocer to fill her list when Mrs. Hathaway approached her, handing her a bag of penny candy. ¬†“This is for your kids. ¬†Eddie raised a good crop. ¬†My husband ain’t give up your cabin yet if you folks is havin’ a hard time findin’ ¬†somethin’ else.”

Neeley set the candy back on the counter. ¬†” I already planned to git the younguns Christmas candy, but thanks. ¬†We are doin’ fine. ¬†My brothers made a place for us on their farm. ¬†We got a good tight house. ¬†Eddie’s found a place just down the road to rent.” ¬†She turned to Mr. White, the store owner. ¬†“I am gonna need a bag of them Brazil nuts, seven peppermint sticks, and that big box of raisins.”

Eddie walked up to the counter. ¬†His mouth flew open when he saw the fruit and candy stacked next to the flour, meal, and coffee, the only items they’d agreed to buy. ¬†“Neeley……”

She cut him off, something she’d never done before. ¬†“Pay the man, Eddie!” ¬†She spoke firmly. ¬†“Our kids is gonna have a nice Christmas this year.”

Seeing the look on Mrs. Hathaway’s haughty face was worth every penny as Eddie counted out the cash.

Thoughts for the Holidays

Nutsrok

weird relativesweird 2weird 3Weird4weird5When you are dealing with family, it clarifies things to have a scale.  You don’t have to waste time analyzing people when you have a ready reference.  This one works pretty well for us.

  1. Has a monogrammed straight jacket and standing reservation on mental ward.
  2. Family is likely to move away without leaving forwarding address. Has jail time in the past or the future
  3. People say, ‚ÄúOh, crap. Here comes Johnny.‚ÄĚ
  4. Can go either way.  Gets by on a good day.  Never has been arrested.  Can be  lots of fun or a real mess. Relatives usually will invite in for coffee.  Likely to have hormone-induced behavior.
  5. Regular guy. Holds down a job.  Mostly takes care of business.  Probably not a serial marry-er.  Attends  church when he has to.
  6. Good fellow. Almost everybody likes him or her. Volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.  Manages money well enough to retire early.
  7. High achiever. …

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On nobody’s Christmas List

Nutsrok

Throughout my life, I’ve gotten a number of surprising to downright crazy gifts.

1.  Armadillo made of dried manure.

2.  Venus Fy Trap dead.

3.  Yam pralines

4.  Wormy Pecans

5.  Paper Plates

6.  Mens undershirts

7. Hand-embroidered horse head sweatshirt in fluorescent pink

8. Panties with messages printed across the rear:  Hello!  Wanna Be Friends?  Do theses Panties Make My Butt Look Big?

9. Size 6 slippers

10. Moldy homemade Christmas treats.

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All I Didn’t Want for Christmas!

Nutsrok

If you have to exchange gifts at Christmas in large extended families, drawing names is the lesser of two evils.  Fewer tasteless, outrageous gifts tantalize the hopeful.  Desperate relatives save the expense and time spent shopping for hideous gifts that hit the trash or wait to be regifted the next Christmas.

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