Thursday, May 27, 2010
Close to Nowhere
Memories for Memorial Day
Memorial Day makes me sad in a good kind of way. Like most of us, I’ve lost a lot of family and friends. I’m finding though, as I get older and not a bit wiser, that I get a lot of joy from remembering good things about those whom have gone on.
One of my favorite memories of my mother was a really dumb thing. She, my sister Peggy and I were shopping in Searcy, Ark., where they lived and I was visiting. We’d gone in my car and the doors locked funny. You had to hold the button on the “outside” door handle down while you closed the door.
As we got out of the car, I told Mama to hold the button down when she closed the door so it would lock. My sister and I headed on toward the store and when we looked back to see why Mama wasn’t with us, we saw her still standing by the car door, trying to figure out how to hold the button on the inside of the car door down, while closing the door.
She stayed mad at us for laughing about that for a long time!
Mama always got mad at me when they first moved to Searcy from Memphis, Tenn., for calling her long distance during the middle of the day and asking for her fudge recipe. Hers was just a bit different from the one on the Hershey cocoa can and I could never remember what it was.
So, even though long distance charges were really horrible then, I’d call to talk to her a minute and ask for the recipe. She always fussed the entire conversation because I was wasting money on a recipe! I’d always say we could talk a minute if she’d quit fussing, but she never did.
When she died, my sister Peggy and I were at the funeral home making all the arrangements. The funeral director asked for a correct spelling of her name. We got through the Thelma Marie Knoellinger part just fine. Then, I looked at the funeral director and just as carefully spelled out her married name -- “D u c k.” He asked me several times to re-spell it and I was getting very testy. Peggy and I were looking at each other in complete irritation. Why was he being such a jerk! I was spelling it exactly the same way, every single time he asked!
Finally, he spelled it back to me “D u c k,” and said “Duck.” It was a while before Peggy and I could talk again. We had to hold each other up we were laughing so hard. Duke is not spelled “D u c k.”
My father-in-law is also someone I remember with much joy. He was a wonderful, loving man, completely devoted to his wife and his sons and after Pop and I married, he instantly forgot that I hadn’t always been “his.” Clifford and Jimmie, my mother-in-law, loved to go dancing at the Frayser VFW in Memphis. His favorite song to dance to was “Got My Mojo Working,” When I picture him dancing around the house, singing that bluesy song, I can’t help but laugh. He loved it, but he was not a coordinated dancer at all.
I’m very lucky to have had so many wonderful family members and friends and to have so many laughable memories. Pop’s brother John Paul was 14 when Pop and I married. I could write a book about John Paul and his “differences.”
My book would be wonderful! I’d have to include Pop’s cousin Carolyn, whom I loved like a sister; her brother David, who earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam and was never the same again. He died years after coming home from Vietnam from exposure to Agent Orange.
Then, there’s Ma and Myra, Pop’s grandmother and aunt; Aunt Joyce and Uncle Jack; my Uncle Charles, who was so wounded in the Korean War that he had to live in a care home the rest of his life. Then there was my friend Linda Learned, who lived down the highway from us. We laughed a lot.
Although there are many memories of my dad, most of his family lived away and we weren’t with them often. But his sister, Aunt Myrl and her husband Uncle Herbert, provided the best memories of my childhood on their farm in Gleason, Tenn. My cousin Mike, just a couple years older than me, and his little brother Clifford, who was about the same age as my brother Dennis, spent many a summer on the farm with us. Both of them died very young. But we had some wonderful times – Mike and I were constantly torturing Dennis and Clifford. It was a great way to spend a summer vacation!
Maybe someday, I will write that book. The cast of characters was such a joy. The snake falling out of a tree onto David and Paul while they were fishing in a boat would make a chapter by itself. Especially since Pop nearly fell out of the other boat and drowned, he was laughing so hard. The description of that, by all parties concerned, when they finally got back to Ma’s house (she lived in Bruce), was priceless.
I’m so grateful to have known and loved and been loved by these wonderful people. And I thank God for the memories, which is all I have left of them.
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