Doggonit, Give Me Some Directions that Make Sense

            I’m not good with directions.  In fact, I’d have to improve considerably to even be bad.  Useless terms like left, right, North, South, East, and West annoy me.  If people actually expect me to get somewhere, they need to be more specific.  “Turn off the interstate at exit 5.  Go the opposite direction you’ve been going and go three streets past Brookshire’s.   Drive just a minute or so and you’ll see a restaurant with the big cow in the parking lot.  Don’t turn there.  Drive to the next red light and turn on the street that turns between the WaWa and that hardware store with the inflatable lumberjack.  Watch for the ugly house with the silk flowers in the bucket of that tacky wishing well.  Pass it up, but now you need to start driving pretty slow.  You’ll see a big, old white house with a deep porch and all those ferns, kind of like the one Grandma lived in at Houston, the one where the woman living upstairs tossed her dirty mop water out on my head when I was sitting on the sidewalk playing. Boy, did Grandma have something to say to her!  Remember, it was just across the street from that big, old funeral home.   I just love those old houses, but I’ll bet they are expensive to heat.  About six houses down on the other side, there’s a little, blue house. I believe it used to be gray. If you look hard, you’ll see an old rusted out 1950 GMC like Aunt Ada and Uncle Junior used to drive, up on blocks way off to the side of the shed.  Remember how they used to toodle around with all those mean boys bouncing like popcorn in the back?  Anyway, our house is the yellow one with the big shade trees just across from it.  You can’t miss it. There’s a bottle tree out front.”

            Now I can’t miss with those directions.

It Couldn’t Be Helped Part 3

Mother is sensitive about her height.  For some reason, people feel free asking her how tall she is.  She dodges the issue by returning with a question,  either, “How much do you weigh?”  or “How much money do you have?”  By the way, she is not tall.  Most of her grandchildren pass her up by the time they are ten or eleven.  I was with her on a recent visit to her doctor when the nurse asked her height.

Mother feloniously claimed five foot two inches.  Realizing she was getting nowhere, the nurse took her to measure.  She was busted.

Compounding the issue of her slight build, is her squeaky voice.  She sounds just like Minnie Mouse.  The minute a caller hears her voice, they say, “Oh, hello Mrs. Swain.”  She’d never be able to make crank calls.

Mother was at loose ends one Sunday in June after church so decided to visit The American Rose Center.  As it was already hot that day, she donned her comfortable clothes:  cut off blue jean shorts, (neatly hemmed, starched, and ironed since “her mama raised her right!”) pink gingham shirt, tennis shoes and pink socks that perfectly matched her shirt.  She topped her ensemble off with a big straw sun hat.  She knew she looked cute!

She strolled around for an hour or so, admiring the lovely roses, when she noticed a gathering at a small rustic building.  Thinking there was a “program” of some sort, she decided to check it and cool off for a bit.  Based on the attendance, the program promised to be a good one.  The music was beautiful.  She had to go all the way to the front row to get a seat.  It was a hot day, but she was surprised to see so many hats.  Somehow, she failed to notice the wedding party standing before the altar.

Just about the time she got settled, the organist started playing the “Wedding March.”  It dawned on her that she had crashed a wedding as the usher escorted the groom’s mother to her seat.   Panicked to realize she occupied the seat intended for the bride’s mother, she fled back down the aisle to the giggling of the wedding guests where she was forced to make her way around the mother of the bride on the arm of the usher.  I can only imagine the confusion of the bride as Mother excused herself on the way out.

That was the most unfriendly family she’d ever met.


Kathleen Holdaway and Bill Swain June 29, 1946 on the day of their marriage.