The Bear, the Princess, and the Hearing Aid

Papa Bear doted on his only daughter, Princess Bear, who was not only beautiful, but sweet, gentle, and wise.  He adored her, trying hard to give her all she needed for a good life.  He rocked her, ran behind her on her bicycle to catch her, lest she fall, dried her tears, and brushed her long, curly fur, never tugging at tangles.  He tucked her in at night, dreading the day she’d leave his cave.

One day, his lovely Princess Bear ventured out into the wood.  Young bears started to coming to pay court to her.  Papa Bear asked, “Please bring your friends home to meet me.”  Of course, she didn’t really care for the idea, but since she loved Papa Bear, and he was so kind, she did as he asked.

One evening, she brought yet another young bear to the cave to meet Papa Bear.  “Pleased to meet you, Sir.  I’ll have her home by eleven.”  He said in an extraordinarily nicey, nice bear voice.

“Grrrrr.”  said Papa Bear.  “I’ll be waiting for you at nine-thirty.” They were home at nine-twenty eight.

“I didn’t really like him,” said the Princess Bear the next morning.  “Something about him was a unbearable.”

“Oh, well,” said Papa Bear.  “Sometimes that just happens.”

In a few minutes, there was a knock at the cave door.  “I don’t want to see you again.  Don’t call on me anymore.”  Princess Bear closed the door.

Seconds later, a second knock sounded.  “I told you.  I don’t want to see you again!”  Papa Bear was right behind his little Princess, not the sound of any of it.

He asked her, “Is that young bear bothering you?  At her nod, he stepped from behind her, speaking to the pushy young bear, quite gruffly.  “Princess Bear doesn’t ever want to see you or speak to you again.  Now, if you’re having trouble understanding that, I’ll be happy to meet you in the woods and explain it!”

The young bear understood Papa Bear perfectly.   He had just needed a hearing aid.

Letter to a Patient from a Nurse:

Dear Patient,

You probably don’t remember me,but I was your nurse.  I took care of you when you had your baby, took care of your sick child, comforted you when you were in pain.  I worked extra shifts on holidays and weekends because you needed me.  I rejoiced when you got better.  Cried with you when you needed a friend and tried to help you find the answers.  I sang and talked to you when you seemed unresponsive because I knew you were in there.  I brought Easter baskets for your children so they wouldn’t be disappointed when they came to see you on Easter.  I hugged you and your family.  I talked to you about things outside the hospital to give you something else to think about, trying to bring you a story that would interest you everyday, unless you just needed me to be quiet with you.  I was there for your miracle and to hold your hand when you died talking to Mama.  I never corrected you, knowing it was her hand you were holding.

Nursing was my job, but taking care of you was my privilege.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your life.

 

Excerpt from Kathleen’s Memoirs (Part II)

parents wedding picAfter graduating from high school, I looked forward to being a lawyer or a teacher for a few years before settling down with a doting husband, maybe a doctor or judge, in a nice little house in town with a flower-filled yard, and a couple of curly-haired children who stayed clean and out of sight until I needed to show them off. I’d spend my days taking the children to the library, dance lessons, and parks, my evenings at restaurants and concerts with my handsome husband. Till I started college, I’d keep my job as a waitress. Lo and behold, Bill came along and swept me off my feet with his charming repartee, “Hey, Shorty, how about a cup of coffee?”

The first time he came in, he stood around talking to me so long his buddy said, “Bill, you better marry that little gal. You’re fixin’ to get her fired.” I had no intention of going out with him when I first met him. He’d shown up in Clarksville with a construction crew during the time of the “Phantom Killer” when no girl wanted to go out with a new man. Gene had asked me if I’d like to go to the movies with him if he got back off his supply run early enough. He’d give me a call at the hotel desk if he did. I wasn’t worried about Gene, having known him for years and dated him off and on through high school. Best of all, he’d gotten back from service after the “Phantom Killer” started his murders. Gene was safe. I was dressed and waiting at seven, impatient for Gene to call, though I had no reason to be. He’d warned me he might not get back in time. A tap on the door alerted me, “Miss Kathleen, you have a call at the desk.”

I flew down the stairs, two at a time, answering without even saying hello, “Well, thank goodness, you finally called. I’d just about given up on you! I’m dressed and ready to go! Just give me five minutes to grab my sweater.”

“Hold your horses, girl! If I’d known you wanted to go out with me that bad, I’d have called sooner!” I was mortified to hear Bill’s voice on the other end of the line, laughing furiously. I could barely get my explanation in.

“I was expecting someone else. I was waiting for a date.”

“Well, since you got stood up, you might as well go out with me, you poor thing!” This just got worse and worse.

“No, my date will be calling any minute. ” He managed to keep me on the phone till he had me hooked. Against my better judgment, I finally agreed to go to the movie with him, mostly because I was embarrassed and he was pushy, both bad reasons.

For the first and only times in our lives together, Bill rushed right over in a nice little coupe he and his brother owned. I later found out, he only owned it for that night. We went to the late movie in Paris. I felt comfortable in the movie but once we stepped out onto the deserted side street to walk to the car, the hairs on the back of my neck tingled. Bill opened my door, helped me in, and then slid in under the wheel, sitting there just a minute before turning to me. “What would you say if I told you I was the Phantom Killer?” My blood ran cold. I thought I would faint. I stared at him for a minute, reached for my purse, hoping he’d think I had a gun and said in my bravest squeak, “Uhhhh……You’re not. You’re just saying that.”

He stared me straight in the eye, laughed, and said, “You’re right. I’m not. Now I better get you home.” The rest of the way home I worried, thinking he might pull over any time and slaughter me, but obviously he didn’t. Over the years, I’ve thought many times how crazy it was for me to go out with him again, but I was eighteen and foolish. Indeed, he was handsome, charming, and shared my vision of a better life. Not only that, his job moved him from town to town every few months. We would be carefree gypsies, seeing the world, and living the good life. We’d get a lovely little cottage in town whenever we got ready to settle down eventually welcome a precious little boy and girl. I was hooked, putting my career plans on hold. I could always go to college when Bill and I got through traveling.

We eloped and got married in Paris…..Paris, Texas. Bill was an hour and a half late picking me up for the wedding. Sure he had been tragically killed; I fidgeted with a razor blade trimming my cuticles. Nicking my ring finger, I bled all down the front of my new gabardine suit. As I was sponging it off, Bill showed up in a wonderful mood to sweep me off to the courthouse. Elated at his return from the dead, I didn’t even remember to ask why he was late.

After an evening in Oklahoma, the honeymoon capital of the world, I was installed as a bride in the hotel where Bill lived with the guys he worked with. He went back to his routine of working from daylight to dark, only coming back to the room long enough to clean up and take off for a night with his buddy, BoBo. It didn’t take me long to get sick of BoBo Edwards. I spent my days strolling around town, window shopping, and taking my meals at the restaurant where I’d worked before marriage while I waited for her handsome husband to announce what exotic location we’d be moving next. It was a bit of a let-down, but I could be patient.

Even though he was a thorn in my side, I couldn’t help liking BoBo. He was gangly, red-headed and hilarious, great fun, but we never had an evening without him. Bill borrowed a one seat Chevy Coupe for a night out. Sure enough, it had to be a double-date with BoBo and his girl Miss Wanda, a good-natured girl built like a gorilla. Since there was only room for three, Miss Wanda took her place in BoBo’s lap, seemingly unaware of her heft. Concerned for his well-being, I offered trade places with her and sit in his lap, “No! No!” he spouted, “That would be a hundred and twenty pounds more!” Though BoBo couldn’t pronounce the letter L, he was not self-conscious. That evening, their waitress wore a lovely blue dress. Complimenting her, BoBo remarked, “That shore is a purty boo dress. Miss Wanda got one just like it ‘cept it’s pink.”

My patience paid off. A few days later, Bill paid the tab at the restaurant where we took all our meals and decided it was too expensive us to eat out all the time. We’d be moving

Finally!! He’d found a boarding house where we’d have a bedroom and take our meals with the other boarders. That didn’t sound too bad. At least we’d get away from his buddies and get a little time alone. Life at the boarding house was nice in our breezy little room on the second floor. The bad news was, it was ten miles out of town, far down a dirt road. The really bad news was, his buddies moved there, too. I was marooned in the country with the whole crew. I could’ve caught the bus to town, but didn’t want to ask for money for the fare, assuming Bill would think to offer me some money when he got paid. Never happened. After a couple of weeks, Bill started feeling the financial pinch again, and suggested I help the landlady a little to cut the rent. I was furious!! I hadn’t gotten married just to cook and clean for a bunch of baboons!!!!

Fortunately, it all worked out. Bill came in with big news. He had quit his job and we were moving. I was concerned to hear he’d quit his job, but thrilled to be moving. I’d had enough of his and Bobo’s carousing till all hours. Finally, we’d get started on the life I’d planned. He’d easily find a new job with all the new construction going on after the war. It turns out, BoBo had quit, too. We all stuffed our bags in a 1942 Packard and headed out, unconcerned about our future. The guys were having a rollicking good time, headed nowhere in particular, when Bill and BoBo decided to stop off and spend a few days at home before looking for a new job.

I was frustrated at the delay, but knew it was only fair to let Bill enjoy a few days at home with his family. He’d gone straight to work after the service and needed a little time to rest. After all, we’d been near my family since we’d gotten married, even though I’d only seen them a time or two.

We drove for miles after the lights of the last town faded. The farther we went, the more worried I got. Bill had never mentioned that his family lived so far back. We finally pulled into an overgrown track. I was very nervous at meeting my new mother-in-law for the first time. I had urged Bill several times to write his widowed mother about their marriage, but he told me to “take care of it.” I don’t have time.” I didn’t feel like it was my place to write her, but since Bill wouldn’t do it, I did. There hadn’t been an answer to that letter, so I was worried about our reception when we pulled up to Mettie’s house long after midnight. Bill hammered on the door, waking his mother and sisters.

Mettie was an Amazon, nearly six feet tall, and near three hundred pounds. Understandably, she was rattled as she squinted at us in the headlights of BoBo’s car. Her silvery hair stood on end from having just left her bed. She and her three daughters poured out the doorway when they recognized their son and brother. Pulling him inside, they hugged him and welcomed him joyously. The favorite son, he’d only been home once briefly since getting out of service and they were clearly thrilled to have him home again. He’d sent Mama an allotment check the whole time he was in service, and continued to pay their grocery bill since getting out of service. They’d have gone hungry without his help and were clearly overjoyed to see their hero and breadwinner home.

After all the hugging, Bill pulled me, the new bride into the front room. Mama and the three girls didn’t look like they’d gotten the letter announcing the marriage. I think they’d have preferred a crocodile. The celebration fizzled a bit. Mattie snapped at Esther to get them some cornbread and cold buttermilk and Bessie to slice up some tomatoes. As I looked around, my heart fell. Bill hadn’t talked much about his family or home, but he made such a good impression, I’d inferred he came from a better situation. Thinking I had married up, I felt sick knowing I’d never had a front row seat to poverty on this level. What in the world had I gotten myself into? The front room was furnished with a bed, a small table with a coal oil lamp, and a couple of ladder back wooden chairs with split oak bottoms, and a worn couch that could fold into a bed. Décor was limited to a calendar over the table, a fly swat tacked to the door frame, and a fringed satin pillow embroidered with “Mother” resting on the rumpled bed Mettie had just left. The rafters were exposed and the walls had never seen paint. There were no screens in the open windows, just wire tacked over the openings to keep animals out. The bedroom was furnished with a double bed with metal headboard and a cot. There were no dressers, chests, or closets. Clothes hung on wires stretched across two corners of the room. A few clothes were folded neatly on rough shelves. An enamel chamber pot was neatly pushed under the double bed. Bill looked completely at home, glad to be back with his family.

 

Precious Moments

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!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Daddy’s insistence on respect from his family made it all the more rewarding when indignities befell him. Daddy was the first the see humor when we found ourselves in awkward or embarrassing situations, but did not like being the butt of jokes. Naturally, we loved seeing him embarrass himself. Daddy worked alternating shifts at the paper mill. Continue reading

Take a Break?

AppreciationThis is what I got when I went over to pick up illustrations for my post.  Mother is getting a little difficult.  I’d been gone for several days.  Surely, should could have found a little time for a break while I was gone.  Seriously, we have some great times together.

Mother in her yard

Here she is relaxing on the patio she built herself.  Did I mention she’s past eighty?

In the picture below she is checking out real estate in a cemetery.  She likes to be prepared and wanted to know if it would be comfortable.  Did you notice the fanny pack? She thinks she “can take it with her.”  I told her it would all just get burned up!

Mother checking out realestate

Poor, Sweet Emma Lou (from my mother’s memoirs of the 1930’s)

When my mother Lizzie left Virginia as a young bride around 1913, she was most lonesome for her baby sister, Emma Lou, a precious blue-eyed blonde of eight. Emma Lou had been born when Grandma Sarah Perkins was past forty. Grandma must have been dismayed by a burst of fertility, eventually giving birth to five more children, the last Continue reading

Let ’em Get Their Own Damned Cheesecake!

A simple comment can say so much.  For instance, I overheard a comment from my seventeen-year-old son that cleared things up for me far more than hours of counseling ever could have. He was trying to enlist his sister in some planned mayhem, probably because he had no money for gasoline, and she replied, “Now, Mom and Dad aren’t going to be happy when they find this out.” Continue reading

Fifty-Two Pies

I love a well-stocked pantry.  It makes me feel good to can and freeze food so that I can pull out good, wholesome “fast food” to serve at a moment’s notice.  My husband, Bud loves pie.  One summer, we had a bumper crop of butternut squash, so I reasoned it would be a great idea to make some of these up into pies and freeze them.  I rolled Continue reading