I Am So Sorry, Rosie. I Didn’t Know.

black maidPlease excuse the offensive word used in context in this story.

Rosie was beautiful, the first black woman I ever knew.  She tolerated my stroking her creamy, caramel-colored legs as she washed dishes or ironed. Her crisply starched cotton housedresses smelled just like sunshine.  Normally, I trailed my mother, but on the days Rosie was there, she couldn’t stop suddenly without my bumping her.  Rosie ate standing up at the kitchen counter with her own special dishes while I ate at the kitchen table.  I wanted to eat standing at the counter with her but wasn’t tall enough.  One day as we ate, she told me she had a little girl.  Pearl was three years old, just my age,  Three years old.  I was enchanted.  “Is she a nigger girl?”  Rosie’s face fell.

“Don’t say ‘nigger.’  That’s a mean word. Say ‘colored’.”  I was surprised Rosie corrected me, not knowing I’d done anything wrong.   I was also surprised to hear “nigger” was a mean word.  I’d heard it many times.

Rosie said no more.  I was relieved when she seemed to have forgiven me, soon allowing me to hug her and stroke her beautiful, smooth legs as she worked along.

It was years before I realized how deeply I’d hurt her.  I am so, so sorry Rosie.  I wish I could unsay that awful thing.

Afternoon Funny

'I dare you to ask Jeeves about the birds and the bees!'

Bnb 4 Bnb 5

Beatrice wished her husband was around to have 'the talk' with their maturing son, The she remembered his absence was her fault,

Beatrice wished her husband was around to have ‘the talk’ with their maturing son, The she remembered his absence was her fault,

Hoping for a boy or girl?

Hoping for a boy or girl?

birds-bees 1

Until I was eleven the only knowledge I had of how boy’s anatomy was an occasional peek at a little boy during a diaper change and a quick image of a whirling behind if I happened to walk catch a brother, or a cousin sneaking a pee outdoors.  From that, I mainly felt envy that I couldn’t pee on stuff.

Imagine my surprise when my friend Margaret informed me exactly what the facts of life entailed. She even called it “The Facts of Life.”  Her story:  Mr. Brown who topped three hundred pounds easily, took off all his clothes, every night, and stuck his peanut in Mrs. Brown, who coincidentally weighed at least two hundred pounds.  He peed inside her and laid on top of her all night.  I knew this wasn’t possible.  Anybody that walrus laid on all night would be smushed.  Mrs. Brown was not smushed.  She had enormous breasts, and a pendulous belly.  I told Margaret she was lying and went straight to my mother.

I told Mother, Margaret had told me a big lie, the “Facts of Life.”  I guess Mother thought I had gotten a prettier version.  She was annoyed, saying she intended to tell me herself.  She went ahead and gave me her version, involving a boy and girl falling in love and getting married.  True, they did indulge in some “intimacies”, her word.  These “intimacies” would result in a baby.  I was never to even consider such a thing until I was married.

Armed with her confirmation of the truth Margaret had told me, the picture of Mr. and Mrs. Brown burned in my mind, I assured her it would NEVER happen!  They should teach this version in schools.

Time and Again

As I hold my tiny granddaughter, I remember melting into my grandma’s pillowy softness and smelling her Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder unaware she’d ever played any role but “Grandma.”  Though I’d always heard Mother address her as “Mama”  I stung with jealousy when I found out Grandma actually was her mother.  I felt as though they’d somehow cheated me by knowing each other first.  My first conscious memory was of toddling barefoot behind Grandma as we headed out to see her chickens.  I spotted a road-grader and strayed off the path to investigate, stepping into a nest of sand-burrs, those mean little stickers that hide in short grass.  I howling as Grandma hurried over with her flat-edged shovel and seated me on it as she pulled the stickers out of my tender feet.

We went on to check on the chickens where Grandma praised Della, her Dominecker Hen for laying a double-yoked egg yesterday, remarking to the others they might consider doing the same.  She told Sally not to start acting “Broody.”  She didn’t have enough eggs to “set” her yet.  She counted her chickens and found Susie missing.  Grandma got a long stick and poked under bushes till she flushed Susie out from her “stolen” nest.   I felt so important crawling way under the bush bringing baimageck two warm eggs. Chiding Juanita, a ornerny red hen, she threatened to invite her to Sunday Dinner, saying “You’ll make some mighty fine dumplings if you don’t lay a couple of eggs this week!”  I wasn’t that invested in Juanita and don’t recall whether we had dumplings or not.

The barn fascinated me most of all as I peeked through the crack between its chained doors  at the child’s table and chairs stored in its mysterious shadowy interior.  My grandparents and uncle had only rented the furnished house.  The barn and its contents were off limits to me.  Nothing could have made it more desirable as I imagined  the treasures it held.  Surely, there was a tricycle, a wagon, and since it was a barn, of course, a pony!  The longer I was denied, the more the list grew.  Never was a child so deprived or tormented by desire.

I do hope my little one recalls sweet stories of our our times together one day.

True Love

imageJerry and JoEllen had been childhood sweethearts.  He had Cystic Fibrosis but did really well. He and JoEllen drifted apart while he was in college. JoElllen had left an abusive husband and was struggling to raise two toddlers on her own by the time they reconnected.   He was well-established at his engineering firm and anxious to offer JoEllen and her boys a solid life.

Things were going well for them.  They were buying a house and planning a wedding when Jerry became jaundiced.  He was found to be in acute liver failure as a result of his long and complicated medical history.   I met them when it was my privilege to be  his nurse.  JoEllen never left his side if she didn’t have to. They were such a loving couple.  It was heartbreaking to know their future together couldn’t be too long.

When it was obvious Jerry was becoming rapidly worse, they made arrangements to get a marriage license so they could marry before his death.  They were married just a day or so before Jerry died, but not before he was able to make sure JoEllen and “his” boys would be well taken care of.

Old Love

old people

Young Love is sweet, but far more precious is Old Love. Nothing warms the heart like an old couple who have weathered life’s assaults and not become embittered.  An Old couple laughing as they amble along holding hands warms my heart, knowing that they are probably enjoying the moment. I love seeing old lovers seated at a restaurant, or a park Continue reading

Little Lost Indian Girl!

 
 It is such an honor to have Ritu from But I Smile Anyway do a guest post for me.  I love this delightful story and pictures from her childhood.  Thanks Ritu.
Ritu's PicIRitu in Carndian weddings are big affairs, and in a Sikh temple the men sit on one side, and women on the other.  It was, and still is, the norm for young children to spend most of the 3 hours that the ceremony lasts, running from mummy to daddy, them back again. And then to do it all over again!
I was no different.  A child with far too much energy, and also far too much to say!
My mum told me a story of one wedding we had attended, where I was doing exactly this.  Sitting with Mummy, then getting bored and running over to Papa, then after exhausting his entertainment, running back to Mummy again.  They were used to this, and would glance over at each other periodically to make sure I was with the other.
At one such glance, they realised that Ritu was not with either of them!
A quick scan of the large prayer hall confirmed their fears; that I was not there…. They dashed downstairs to the main Langar (Food) hall and I was nowhere to be seen, not even in the kitchen.
Now this temple was on a busy main road, but I wouldn’t have gone out, would I?
They quickly rushed out and checked the car park, and surrounding area, but nope, I was well and truly gone.  Where would this little curly mop head of a girl have gone? I was possibly 2-3 years old at this time.
 
Little me!
Pops walked out of the gate to the main road, and they were scared by now. And lo and behold, there I was, coming back up the road, holding an English Man’s hand, happily chatting away!
The man saw my parent’s panic stricken faces and walked straight up to them.  He said “I assume this little one is yours. I saw her wondering down the road, all alone, and I had a feeling that as she was alone, she may have ventured from this her temple, so I was just bringing her back.” 
Obviously, my mum was almost delirious at this stage and grabbed me as my Pops profusely thanked the man.  I was still smiling, and chatting away to the man, to all intents and purposes.  I had found someone new to listen to my whittering on!
Had this been in the present day, what would have been the first thought?  Kidnap, child abduction, the poor man who returned me to my parents would have been called all manner of things like a pervert or a paedophile.
But he wasn’t.
He was just a genuinely good citizen, who, in all honesty, if he had wanted to take me, he could have…( but it was probably my chatting away that made him bring me back. I’d give anyone a headache!)
 
I’m still chatting away!
Hope you enjoyed my little story!

Fathers and Time

good pic of DadI hadn’t seen this picture of my father until recently.  He died in 1981.  This is so typical of how happy and loving he looked the last few years of his life, once his children were grown and he retired.  He was a loving grandfather, endlessly patient and loving.  He never tired of his grandchildren.   At this point in his life, he couldn’t get enough of his family.  I am glad to have this memory.

Mother’s Day 2015

1st row Kathleen Holdaway, Ellie Blizzard,Johnny Bell2nd John a0002        Kathleen Holdaway in flowered dress0002 parents wedding pic

mother  Mother in her yard

 

surprise

As a Mother’s Day tribute, I am printing pictures made over the course of Mother’s life.  She is the tiny blonde child in the oldest picture and the lovely woman easily identifiable in the rest.  I can only say she is the finest woman and the best mother I have ever known.  I love you Mother.