According to gossip, Redheaded Connie and Callie were reputed to have been left on their Pentecostal aunt’s doorstep at birth. This fascinating tidbit guaranteed my interest. I imagined them lying in a basket, long waist-length braids dangling from a basket, dusting the ground. They were high-school girls when I was in first grade, so I never gave them much thought beyond that. Continue reading
My beautiful three-week-old baby started squeaking into wakefulness as I took warm diapers out of the dryer. I took her out of her bed, cradling her in the basket of warm cotton diapers as I walked toward the front of the house to feed her. She got comfortable in the warmth and drifted back off. My three year-old called out just at that moment. The brilliant sunshine pouring in glass door onto my beautiful baby in the basket was a wonder to behold as I looked back. I got him out of bed, heading back to her. She was gone! I panicked! It was no surprise someone would want her, just that that had managed to snatch her without my hearing something. The backdoor and the glass door were still locked. I called her name and got my little guy to help me look. Just as I was about to report her kidnapping, the diapers moved and she wailed. She’d moved just enough to allow a diaper to cover her. That had to be the biggest relief of my life!
Furious at finding her washing machine packed to the rim with freshly laundered diapers mixed with freshly- laundered gobs of poop, Mother roused Carol from where she snored on the sofa, oblivious to her miserable, bawling baby. “Carol, come here. Let me show you how to use this washer! You can’t just throw filthy diapers in it without rinsing this stuff out.” Mother got a tub, made Carol scoop the poopy diapers out and clean the washer, then sent Carol out to rinse the dirty diapers under the faucet before bringing them back to the washer. “Be sure you dump that dirty water from the tub behind the chicken house, not in the back yard. You may as well get the rest of this mess soaking.” She pointed to the pile of poopy diapers that had not yet had a ride in her abused washer. Carol looked furiously at Phyllis and me as she stormed off to do this demeaning task, clearly much better delegated to underlings like us.
We did have to tend her poor, miserable baby while she slaved over the diaper rinsing, but that was better than rinsing out poopy diapers ranging from rock-hard lumps to runny diarrhea, depending on the vintage. The stench was horrendous, as evidenced by Carol’s retching. I have no doubt Carol was sick when she came back in. She took to her bed(our sofa) to recover. Clearly accustomed to help with her baby, she was reluctant to leave her repose to wash bottles and prepare formula, preferring to call out for one of of kids to “bring me a bottle!” when he cried. The first time, Mother let the hungry little guy have a bottle, despite the fact it was an expensive, hypoallergenic formula prescribed for her own tiny baby. She quickly pointed the case of milk she’d bought for Carol’s baby, the kind Carol requested. “Oh this will be fine,” Carol said. “He likes it!”
“Carol, you need to fix your own bottles! I bought you what you asked for. This stuff is forty cents a can!” Mother explained.
Carol was clearly offended. She dawdled a bit after he finished his bottle, put him down, and shut herself in the bathroom for a good crying session. Eventually, she came out and made a collect call to her mother, insisting she come, NOW! Mama couldn’t come, NOW! More crying on the phone. We were stuck together till the weekend. Carol had no problems leaving his bottles lying about to sour after baby was satisfied. Should he cry out when a sour bottle sat handy, she had no qualms about trying to get him to take it.
The next three days lasted an eternity. At my parent’s insistence, Carol did end up giving her baby good care while they waited for Mama, but she turned him over to Mama as soon as she arrived. His bottom had healed, he’d plumped up, and even played a bit with good care. Poor little guy didn’t get much of a pass. He was soon back home to be joined by a brother and sister in rapid succession.
Alas, Carol’s marriage fell apart, but before long she found another man and launched into her addiction to having babies she had no interest or ability to care for, eventually delivering eleven sad children. At a family reunion once, I heard someone ask how long she was going to keep having babies. She replied, “As long as God wants me to.” It was heartbreaking to see her children suffer from her neglect and ignorance.
One of the best things about our little dog Buzzy is that he loves everything we do, just as long as he can be in the middle of it. At home or camping, he makes every step we make, doesn’t miss a sight, When we are packing our trailer, he makes every trip, just to make sure we don’t slip off without him. He is so relieved when he sees up pack his food, snacks, Precious Baby, and leash, but doesn’t totally relax until he gets his leash on and gets to hop in the back seat of the truck. In the picture above, you can see him settling in the first at night at camp with his Precious. When he gets tired, he bites down on its nose to relax, just like a baby with a pacifier. This particular baby has been handed down to him through two previous owners, both American Eskimo dogs, just like him. I assure you, he’d never have been allowed possession of it if either of them were still around.
Some moments in life are so special, you’ll never capture them again. I was fortunate enough to share one of these with my mother and her tiny great-grandson a few years back. On her first visit with him, she savored every precious moment as we strolled in the park. They were a sweet pair mirrored in the fountain, spring and fall. He giggled as he dabbled his tiny toes, rippling the cool water. She shared his joy, till she spotted the used condoms floating on its surface! I thought he’d get whiplash as she snatched him back!
The shrubs along our yard fence riddled with our tunnels and hideouts were a wonderful place to play. All five of us were playing in them one day when we started tossing the little girls high in the shrubs and letting them slide to the Continue reading
We had a family meeting and Daddy said we were going to have to start helping Mother just because she was having a baby. He tried to make it sound like something great. I wanted to tell him I didn’t want a baby or chores, but was smart enough to keep my mouth shut. I had to dust, set the table, and fold towels. I would be glad when Mother had that Continue reading
As I walked in my first grade classroom in December 1956, I wondered what all the excitement in the back of the room was about. The kids were buzzing around a mushy, malodorous pile of paper towels on the floor. “What happened?” Continue reading
The events surrounding Aunt Ellie’s death were a real treat for me since the two of us hadn’t invested much affection in each other. The wake was unforgettable with all its glorious food: fried chicken, peach cobbler, deviled eggs, bread ‘n butter pickles, dainties not seen outside “dinner on the grounds.” Sprinkled with carbolic acid, Aunt Ellie lay in a Continue reading