Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year, Second Chances

New Years Resolutions. Why do we do this? Why do we put undue pressure on ourselves? I mean, I know we intend  to keep these resolutions. I would certainly hope we do. That we would sit around and make up things we never intend to do in the first place would be ludicrous. Wouldn't it? My gracious. Why lie to ourselves? Why pretend to ourselves and half of the free world? Because you know, as we speak, resolutions are being posted world-wide on Face Book, My Space and every other social network to be found.

I don't know what my resolutions are yet. I know it's New Year's Eve, but this is important, and I am still thinking. I want to be able to fulfill my wishful resolution obligations. I mean I KNOW what I would like to say. I would LIKE to resolute that:

1.  I will lose 75 pounds. Or 10, which is much less adventurous but more achievable.
2.  I will never be a smarty britches when it's uncalled for again. But, is it ever called for, really?
3.  I will eat healthier. I will never again, eat a mayonnaise sandwich or a whole batch of chocolate chip cookies by myself. I will invite others to join me, I will share.
4.  I will not stomp, throw things, or holler when something doesn't suit me. Kudos if I do's going to be next to impossible.
5.  I will not curse. (this one can be thrown out RIGHT NOW). Reality please, reality.
6.  I will present myself with consummate patience always. Even when entering all drive thru eatery windows. Which should not be hard since I am supposed to be eating healthy. *See #3
7.  I will not roll my eyes at my husband or children more than twice in one week. This is all I can promise. Take it.
8.  I will listen harder and remember better, everything anyone needed me to. As long as my early on-set Alzheimer cooperates.
9.  I will love myself and take care of myself, as much as I do others. Without me, I cannot help them. For which some of them might be grateful..that I quit much.
10 I will try to limit the number of times I repeat these words in year 2011 "If you want to talk about somebody, come sit by me". Although I love that quote, and it makes me laugh, it is not nice.
That's it. That's about all I've got to offer. I feel it's real. I meant every word I said. And, I can do all of it if I try. 

A sweet, sweet girl (who I have never known to be hateful) posted a wonderful thing today. She said, "I don't have to be hateful, I can just say Bless Your Heart." Isn't that the most beautiful thing? The easiest thing in the world to do? When you want to cuss, holler, scream, be rude, be impatient, snap out words, argue and be mean....even if someone is directing all those things at you, just stop....breathe deep..and say...Bless your heart. What in the world can someone say back to that? How could they ever keep hollering, ranting or being ugly? No one in the world can refute or ignore those words when spoken. Bless your heart. That's it. So simple. And although it's a world wide saying, it sounds so very Southern. It just rolls right off of your tongue. So, this is my vow, to add as my #11 Resolution.  This year, in 2011, I will say, Bless your heart, as many times as I possibly can, to everyone I know. I think that works as well as my #'s 1-10 put together. 

Thanks for reading. May everything you want and everything you need, come to you, in 2011. Happy New Year! And, Bless your Heart.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fishing is for Girls

I love to fish. Mims says something about fishing on a Saturday night, on Sunday morning, I'm the first one out of the bed. Mine are the first feet to hit the floor. I'm the first one to the boat. Time required to get ready..10 minutes..max. Hair pulled back in a bun, on the top of my head, absent of all make-up, except my lips. My lipstick. I don't go to my mailbox without my "lips on".  It's a Southern thing I think. I have NEVER seen my mother in public without her "lips on".

My clothing is simple. A tank top, shorts and my pink rubber Avon shoes. They are the ugliest shoes you have ever seen in your life. But I love them. And they don't slip and slide. They are durable and can get wet. And they do. Get wet. A lot.

I have in tow, rations and drinks. The rations consist of Vienna sausages, saltines and oatmeal creme pies. The drinks are water, sprite, and diet coke. I also have plenty of sunscreen. Sunscreen for in the morning. When the sun is barely peeking through the trees and is welcome. As it sends a sheath of warmth over your skin from the pre-dawn coolness. And sunscreen for the afternoons. When the sun is blazing so hot, it feels like your skin is frying on your bones.

And, I have my worms. When we first started fishing, I wouldn't bait my hook. With anything. But between guilt laid on me by various members of my family, and my need for instant gratification, I made up my mind. I would bait my own hook. I was tired of waiting until someone (Mims) else had time. It was holding me up, from catching the most fish. From having the biggest catch of the day. I picked worms for my bait of choice because my PaPa Josh fished with worms. That, and crickets feel like they come from the creepy, crawly roach family. I would grow up, man-up, and bait my own hook for him. My PaPa Josh. I love fishing so much now, you have to make me pull my poles in, and go home.

I wasn't always such a trooper. Before I met Mims, I had been fishing one time in my whole life. When I was about 18 years old, a friend of mine, Chuck Turner, talked me into going fishing with him. Such a foolish, foolish boy. Thinking he could make this city girl like fishing. Make me like getting up at 4am. Uh cause, you know, at 18 years old, I was not going ANYWHERE without my make-up on or my hair "fixed". So, with all this being taken into account, I  had to get up at 3am. Yes, I said ...3am. To go fishing. In the dark. In a swamp. Because my friends, that's where he took me. To a swamp. Or so it appeared to be, once we got there.

He arrived at my house to pick me up. That the "boat" was in the back of his truck, should have been a clue for me. That meant, it was small, it had no motor, and we would have to man-handle this boat together, in the dark, to get it in....the swamp. I say nothing. I just pile up in the truck, with my carefully fixed hair, make-up and dab of perfume. Yes, I said perfume. You know I had to be smelling good too. Gracious, I was an 18 year old girl!

In the truck, boat on the back, we head to our destination. In the dark. Because it's still dark at 4:10am. We get to our water hole. And that's exactly what it is, a hole with water. Not a lake, not a stream, a hole..with water. And creepy looking trees all thru it, moss dripping down from the trees. I am trying to be brave. I am trying my best not to act like a sissy girl. But I am standing as close to him as I can get.  As I am imagining all sorts of water snakes and scariness coming from all around me. He gently pries my hand and fingers from his arm and says it's time to take the boat out of the truck.  He's gonna need a little help. I was glad he only needed a little help, cause that's about all I was gonna be worth.  A little help. We get it out, he shoves it in at the edge of the water hole and looks back at me and says.."ok..jump in". I'm just standing there staring at him, what I can see of him, because it's still dark. At 4:25am. "Jump in where?"..I exclaim. And I do admit, my voice went up a couple of octaves. Because the dang boat (and I still use that boat term loosely) is starting to float off. Just where exactly do I begin to "jump in" from I ask you? Do I have to get in the water, with my pretty sandals (and they were cutie tootie sandals I might add) and then jump in? Yeah like that's gonna happen. He tells me, I should have worn an old pair of tennis shoes. Tennis shoes that I wouldn't mind getting wet. Well, I'm thinking, (cause I'm still trying to be nice and not a sissy girl) NOW is a dang fine time to tell me that. So, I make a command decision. After I ask him five times, is there anything in that water going to "touch" me when I step off in it, and he convinces me (not really) that it won't, I step in. With my pretty sandals on. In the swamp water.

I'm in the water now, trying to "catch" this, ever moving from my grasp, boat. So, now I have gone about six steps, and my jeans are soaked with water, as well as, my cutie tootie sandals. I get to the boat. He's on one side, I am on the other. He says, "I'll hold it while you get in". He does not mention, that it's going to continue to move....while he holds it. Which it does. I weighed about 105 pounds when I was 18 years old. But as I heaved my body over into this boat, with my wet jeans and sandals, I felt like I was dragging an anchor tied around my leg with me. And just so there is no doubt.....girls.....NO ONE looks pretty (even with make-up and fixed hair)..wallowing into a moving boat, with your behind in the air, whimpering to yourself about how the heck you got yourself into this mess. With this boy. Who WAS your friend.

So, I'm in the boat, he's in the boat. And let me tell you, how that 6ft boy managed to climb in that ever moving boat, so gracefully and with his head up and not face first into the boat, I will never know. OK..we're ready to fish. He's got the poles out ..and the bait. WORMS. Do I want to bait my hook he says? UH no. This had already been discussed prior to this trip. And he had already agreed, if I went, he would bait my hook. These where the conditions of my accompaniment. He just wanted to make sure I had not changed my mind. Again, UH no. I am there to hold a pole and watch. And to catch the biggest fish EV-ER, so I can tell everybody about it later. I don't want to put the bait on and I don't intend on taking my biggest fish ev-er, off the hook once I catch it.

It's about 5:15am now, and the boat is moving again. It's swaying into the dripping moss and limbs that are hanging down. They are touching me. The creepy, feels like spiders, moss is touching me. On my face and arms. The tree limbs are grabbing my hair. The hair that is no longer fixed and pretty. Because the dew has found my hair. It has drooped and wet my pretty fixed hair. Now it is flat, and plastered to my head and I dare say, it is not in the least, pretty anymore. I don't EVEN want to describe what shape my make-up was in. And now, I cannot even smell my carefully applied perfume behind my ears. All I can smell is swamp water.

At daybreak, I begin to do the thing five year olds do...I begin to whine. Just a little, but nonetheless, it's whining. I'm hungry, when are we gonna see some fish, when, for gosh's sake, can we GO HOME.  Because, if you remember I  have been up since 3am...and it is now a little after 6am. He's been fishing for a whole hour or more and he hasn't caught ANYTHING. So, it's time to do something else as far as I am concerned. I do however, patiently let him fish for about another hour or so. I think I'm being patient, he says I am fidgety, rocking the boat, and scaring the fish. My mind is screaming, what dang fish...I have seen NO fish, in the water or out.

He's ready to go, (ready to get rid of me mostly), says he'll come back later when the fish are biting..yeah, right I'm thinking. But I smile..big...cause we are leaving the swamp. I don't even mind getting out and helping him put the boat back in the truck (my cutie tootie sandals are ruined anyway) and whatever makes it faster..I am all for hear me??!! 

Chuck took me home. I hugged his neck, and said, "please, I love you my dear friend, but let's agree to never, ever do this together again. He hugged me tighter, which I took as affirmation of complete agreement. I went inside the house, went straight to take ANOTHER shower.  To remove the swamp water. I looked into the mirror..and Lawd have mercy. How that boy did not think I was something he drug up from the bottom of that swamp..I Bless his soul, that he did not throw me overboard and leave me there. Hair strung out all over the place, eye make-up streaked down my face. And still, the faint, just barely a hint of, residue of... swamp water behind my ears.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Eighth Jewish

The year Zach was twelve, Zach is my youngest son, he announced he wanted to convert. To Judaism. He wanted to be Jewish he said. A girl in his class was dating a Jewish boy he said. He had been studying up on it he said. So, I'm listening.  For weeks, I am listening to his endless diatribe about converting to Judaism. Now, if you look at Zach, when his hair is grown out, he could pass for a Jewish boy. We have naturally curly hair, and he has a head full of it when he's not shaving it off. He thinks, between the studying and the hair...he's got this thing licked. And I do have to admit, I have been told by both of my sons, that a wonderful Jewish mother I would have made. Between the worrying, carefully applied guilt, and nagging...I fit that part perfectly. And I do a mean accent impersonation of a Jewish mother if I do say so myself.

However, somewhere in the ensuing weeks, Zach slips. It suddenly becomes all too apparent that the biggest attraction for this whole "I want to be a Jewish boy" thing is this....the Barmitzvah.  Ah, yes....THE party for a 13 year old Jewish Boy. The PARTY of all PARTIES. When a boy becomes a man in the Jewish world. I had to be honest, and tell my son, that a party is not a good enough reason to convert to any religion. No matter that it sounded like a dang hoot of an idea. So, this idea is a dead one. We move on. He would still (and does) bring it up occasionally, with a forlorn look and the sounds of what might have been. But he's moved on.

I thought, he had moved on. This past Christmas, we are spending the night at my family's house in Albany. It's bedtime, everyone is getting prepared for sleep. I am going to sleep in their living room on the couch. I have showered and am in my bedclothes. The couch is made up for sleep. Both boys make their way to see me, to tell me goodnight. They both have a seat and as usual, we begin to talk. About everything, and nothing. This is what we do when we're together, which we seldom are anymore, because of life and growing up. Anyway, we're all jibber jabbering about one thing or another, I look up , and see a wall hanging above their living room door. It says...Shalom. That's it..nothing more..just..Shalom. I look at my oldest son and say "what the hell is a Shalom sign doing above the door"..I'm laughing now, he is laughing, and I say, "Are we Jewish and no one told me?" This is some 3 years later. I don't think about our last parlay with Judaism. I don't remember at this moment in time, the zest and vigor Zach put towards converting to be a Jewish boy. I'm still laughing, Josh is laughing, as Zach sits stone-faced. Staring at both of us. As I am processing his look, and what it means, it begins. He wants to know what the sign is there it real...why did no one tell him. As all of this ranting is going on, in between our (Josh and I) alternate eye rolling and hysterical laughter, my mom and dad come in. Probably to see what all the raucous is about. Josh and I bring them up to speed. And it continues to roll..down hill....for me. Yes, it turns out, after some historical family investigation on my Daddy's part, we are indeed part Jewish. Enough so, that Zach and Josh could very well be 1/8 Jewish, because I am 1/4. Which is enough to qualify Zachary for a Barmitzvah. He could have indeed, had the party of a lifetime, 3 years ago.

We are all laughing so hard now, everyone but Zach, who is demanding this be taken seriously. This injustice.
I tell him, he'll be 16 years old  in March, we'll make it up to him with a Sweet Sixteen Party. He is not amused. We all laugh even harder, again, everyone but Zach. I tell him, if he's really interested, we can look into it. Check out what all needs to be done. To convert. No, he says with a drama-filled voice as he holds his head down, shaking it from side to side.  The damage is done now. The time has passed. Which equates to, turn out the lights, the party is over. The Barmitzvah party that is.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tea Pots, Cigars, Worms and Pear Trees

I haven't written anything about my second set of grandparents yet. I guess because I don't feel like I knew them as well. As intimately. A lot of my memories are stories that have been told. Wonderful, warm stories told by my mother, their daughter.

My PaPa Josh, my Josh's namesake, died at a very young age. He was told when I was one year old, he might have six months to live. His head was filled with massive brain tumors. What a strong and powerful man he was, he lived until I was nine. He died on Christmas day. How fitting for such a wonderful man, to die on the birthday of Jesus. My own personal memories are few. The smell of cigars, Hershey's Kisses (silver bells), Orange Peanuts,  and worms. To this day, I can smell a cigar and my sensory actions go into massive overload.

When I first started dating Mims, he was still smoking...cigars. The man was in like Flynn. In many ways, Mims reminds of the stories/descriptions I've been given about my Papa. My PaPa was a patient, reasoning, rational, self-made man. He liked to hunt and fish. Year round'. Anything, hunt and fish for anything. Many of their meals were what he brought home. He raised worms in his back yard for his fishing. I thought that was the neatest thing. He had a little house on top of the ground, open it up..and inside were worms galore! For a living, he wired buildings. Electrically wired. He was the head man on wiring a huge Dam years ago. Before it was finished, he got too sick to go on and was unable to see it finished.

For years, I thought my Sara MaMa was kind of prissy, a girlie girl. But when I got older, I heard stories of her cleaning everything that was killed that was brought home, wringing chickens necks, cleaning and cooking them, and fishing every time fishing was going on. What an impressive woman she was! And a cook, man was she a cook. Many of the recipes that have been handed down to me, were hers. Her back yard had several huge pear trees and she made pear preserves like nobody's business!

I guess I thought she was prissy, because she was always dressed so nice. She was a working grandmother, so I wasn't able to spend as much time with her during the summers. But she always made sure she took a day or two off so I could spend the night with her. We would go out to eat and she had a great ice cream place she would take me too..had the best shakes and cones! Maybe that's why I don't feel I knew her as well, because she worked. And I guess, my grandchildren, when I have them, may feel the same. Because I too, work for a living. It's necessary for my mind as well as financially.

But she had the sweetest voice, when she would say my name, it sounded like angels talking. She would alternate between Michelle and Chell when she would talk to me. My PaPa called me Chell ..."does Chell Bell want a Silver Bell"? She tried so hard with the little time she had, for us to have a good time and I loved her for that.

She played the piano, for herself, and for her Church. Epworth Methodist Church. We went to many a Homecoming at that church. And I knew, every time we went, she must have talked about us, bragged about us all the time. All kinds of people knew us, knew about us, and most of them, I had no idea who they were, and barely remembered them from one year to the next. My mother grew up in that same church, and was married in that church. And both of my grandparents' funeral services were held in that church. Her belief and love for God was undeniable. If she sat down and played the piano, she would play a church song. But she would also teach me fun songs to play, songs you don't think about your grandmother knowing how to play.  She taught me to play a little ditty that went like this ♫ Shoes and clothes, shoes and clothes, that is where my money goes ♫. I remember all those years ago, wondering how my MaMa knew such a silly song?! Amazing.

You never went to her house that she didn't have a case of small bottle Coca Colas. Ice cold Coca Colas and Neapolitan Ice cream. Always. There was a little store right at the top of her road that she traded out bottles and drinks. I loved going into that store with her. You could get for real penny candy!

She didn't have central A/C in her house. She had three metal Frigidaire units. I have never since, felt any unit that put out as cold of air as those did. She had one in her side kitchen window that would freeze you to death if you sat on that side of her kitchen table. And to touch them..literally felt like touching ice. Your finger would stick to it. Like how touching a piece of ice with your tongue feels. 

Til the end, her house, their house, smelled like cigar smoke. I guess because all of his life, in that house, he smoked. It was in her curtains, fabrics, and walls. It smelled so good. I have a dresser drawer that came from her house, and still, when you open the drawers, there is the faint, faint smell of cigar smoke. She died December of 84', that's a long time for a dresser to still smell of cigars.

When she passed, I went with my mother to her house. My mother and her sister Lynda were packing up and separating items. My mother gave me a couple of pots and pans, a washing machine and a tea pot from the top of my MaMa's stove. I still have that teapot and many more. That was the beginning of my TeaPot collection. I have 3 shelves on my walls lined with them, hers leading the way.

For the most part, my mother's memories ARE my memories and I love them all. Her memories fill in the blank spaces for me. But if I close my eyes, I can still hear Sara MaMa saying my name with her soft, angel voice and I can still smell PaPa Josh's cigars. And also from stories I was told, my PaPa, until he passed and after, was my MaMa's Guardian Angel, of that I am convinced.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sycamore Trees and Cinnamon Toast

For most of my childhood, my MaMa Eloise was my best friend. I told her everything. She would laugh as hard as me at jokes, funny people and just general silliness. She was a very little woman in stature, about 5 foot tall, maybe. Wore a size 5 shoe. The only thing big was her tummy area. I had two MaMa's, both in Phenix City. I decided at an early age, that so I could distinguish between the two, I 'named' them...Big MaMa (Eloise) and Sara MaMa (my mother's mother). I am told at first, she was not very pleased. As a small child, I guess you don't know any better. You do what works for you. All I know, is I called her that into adulthood, until she passed. I didn't know until much later into adulthood that she didn't like it at first, because she never said a word. I'm guessing she knew I meant no harm.

When she would laugh, her whole body would shake. The good kind of laugh, the most real of all. And Lord, did we laugh. My love for books came from my MaMa. She would read to me, buy me books. One of my favorite books to date, is the Uncle Remus Story Book she gave me. And every book was inscribed and dated. My Joshua has that book now. I read those stories to him when he was little. I don't like to brag, but I could do those voices like nobody's business! Brer' Rabbit and De' Tar Baby..classic story book telling material. She had books all over her house. And most summers, at least one day was dedicated to romping thru Used Book Stores. The kind you could bring books in and swap as well.

She taught me how to cross-stitch very early. I loved it. We made pot holders with that ropey looking stuff you tied on a frame. And she taught me how to iron. I don't know how many other people are aware, but back in the day, every man's undershirt, handkerchiefs and undershorts were ironed. Yes sir. I have a small scar on my wrist from learning how to iron. That was one of my favorite things to do..sounds unreal since that is the thing I hate most to do now.

She was thrifty if she wasn't anything else. She would buy bread and freeze it. I don't think I have ever known anyone else who froze loaf bread. I never went to her house that she didn't have fig newtons, ice cream and the best oatmeal ever made. We would make milkshakes, real milkshakes, with ice cream, milk, vanilla flavoring, sugar and a blender. She made real cinnamon toast too. Not that fake cinnamon sugar you buy now. She made her own with real sugar and cinnamon mixed. And soup, some kind of real homemade soup was always in that house. My Granddaddy was Assistant Superintendent of the Russell County School system. He came home for lunch every day. And had a bowl of soup and a sandwich. Every single day.

There was no dishwasher and I loved washing her dishes. Her kitchen windows went all the way across the back. They were huge, wide open windows. I would stand there and wash dishes and look out over her yard. Right smack in the middle was a big, beautiful Sycamore Tree. She had Dogwoods and Pines all thru her yard as well. She had clotheslines way in the back that we would hang out clothes on during the summer. She had a dryer, but the line was used in warm weather. The redwood deck that was on the back of their house went all the way across the back of the house. We would sit out there a lot, early mornings and later in the evenings after supper. That woman loved a stray cat. She fed them all.

When I got older, I loved to cut their grass during the summer. And one year, I begged for them to let me on top of their house to sweep off the pine straw. That seems a bit surreal to me now as climbing on the 2nd rung of a ladder makes me break into a cold sweat!

I have a lot of wonderful memories from that house. When my grandmother passed and my granddaddy remarried, he sold that house and moved about 5 miles up the road. That was very upsetting for me. Not only was my best friend gone, but now every childhood memory I had was gone. And strangers would be walking all thru the house amongst my memories. After he moved, the first few visits to see him in his new house, I would drive by and look at their old house. But I only did it twice, it was just too painful.

The 2nd summer my Granddaddy lived in his new house, we had gone to visit. He told me to come outside, in the back yard, he had something to show me. We walked out thru the sliding glass doors, and right smack in the middle of his new back yard, he had planted a Sycamore Tree. At some point, he sure must have been paying attention to me. I know I talked about that other tree at his old house a lot when they lived there. It was just an amazing tree. Huge and perfectly spread out over their yard. The shade it provided was unreal. Maybe he needed to plant the new Sycamore tree to make it a home as much as I needed it to make it feel like his home for me.

It wasn't very big when he planted it. But when he passed some 13 odd years later, that tree had gotten pretty big. And now it too, sat very pretty, right smack in the middle of that back yard. Last summer, I planted a Sycamore Tree in my backyard. I cannot wait until it spreads it's limbs and re-shapes the way my backyard looks.

Life is all about memories, big and small, significant and insignificant. The memories are what get us through. To be able to close your eyes, and be right back where you were years and years ago. The smells, the sights, and the people. And the trees, even the trees. Sycamore trees. Their leaves are huge and when they drop they are some kind of messy, but man alive, I sure do love those trees.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Is Resoundingly...Over

I put my Christmas tree and decorations up very early, every year. Like I start before Thanksgiving sometimes. So by the time Christmas Day has passed, so has my need to have my house in disorder. I am ready, just one day later, to have life as it should be, again. So, the dis-assembly begins. It is not any calmer or orderly than the assembly. It is not any nicer or sweeter. As much as no one ever wants to help me put it all up, they want even less, to help me take it all down. The grumbling and under the breath cursings begin. Santa has come and gone, along with all the sweet before Santa behavior.

Now this year was a little different, as this year, Josh was not here to help put it all up. That day belonged to me and Zach. So of course, when it's all coming down, NOTHING was put up right. Josh..."Why are these lights so tangled, how the heck did you wind these around the tree like this, the tree was pre-lit, why did you people think you needed more lights?" Zach..simply points to me and walks outside. He is going to take down the outside lights. It is 38 degrees, and he is not happy. He's not happy that it's cold and he's not happy that he's taking down lights he didn't want to put up in the first place. I stand at the window, watching him snatch them down from the swing, knowing that those lights/bulbs will never work again.  Right now, I don't care. Next year, as we stand around the swing, holding lights that don't work, and I'm having to drive to Walmart to buy more, I will care.

But the very best part about this whole dis-assembly thing this year is this...this year I decided to put the Christmas tree in a different place. My living room is not especially small, but I have it packed with furniture in such a way, the room is swallowed and to put anything else in it, is a struggle indeed. So, to save myself the trouble of rearranging furniture to simply erect a Christmas Tree, this year, I decided it would fit perfectly in front of our front door! What a great idea! No furniture has to be moved much simpler of a process.  Yahoo for me! I thought. Uh no. Because..the front door is connected to our front porch. The front porch that has the glider and rocking chairs. The front porch that Mims inhabits at least once every day, even if it's only for five minutes. The front door that has a glass storm door that stays open as much as it stays shut. So he can see. He says. I say, so he can be nosy. But I digress....the best part of this dis-assembly, is the tree is down, the front door is open, and Mims can see. Anything he wants to see. I have watched him walk to that door 22 times in the 2 hours it's been  re-opened. I know how many times our neighbors with the black dodge have left their house today, because Mims has told me so. 

I love Christmas and I love to decorate my house for Christmas. It makes me feel good. But I also like my house in it's normal state. It also makes me feel good. So, it's all down, it's all back in place, and the front door to the world, is open once again. All is right in our house..for now.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Saturday, December 25, 2010

And We Survive Another Holiday Season

I guess our family is like any other. We have strange family. An entertaining family. A strangely entertaining family, if you will. I used to think it was just us..but as I tell my tales of funnies and woes..we are normal no doubt. This is however, one of the first years in many, that NO incidents occurred at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. No arguments, no ejecting oneself out of recliners like a rocket, no trivial pursuits gone wrong, no references of who are you, where do you come from and that's what's wrong with you. 

I have however, seen a different side to my oldest son Joshua. Most of his visit has been a lecture of "going green", "recycling is a must/what is wrong with you people", and "you people have gone to hell in a hand basket since I left". Somehow, since he left a little over a year ago, he's learned that it cost money to run a dryer to get wrinkles out, he is willing to wear a pair of jeans more than once without washing as opposed to having them on 15 minutes and now they are dirty.The boy who once used a WAD of paper towels to dry 2 pots, offered me a 1/2 a sheet this morning when I asked for a paper towel to dry dishes. Half would do me he said, efficient and thrifty he said. And he is also offering his rehabilitation services to me while he is here..therapy. "Stop stressing, quit worrying, if you don't care about something, say so. You're 47 years old, quit letting other people run you. If "your inner self" wants to say no, say no."  It's working for him, for this is the man that told his mother 3 months ago, she was no longer allowed to comment on his face book page, in any form or fashion. He is an adult now, a professor. He cannot have his mother expressing her random silliness on his page for everyone to see. We can speak... in private. 

I don't really know who this new person is...I guess he is the same person I raised. The boy I raised to be a man. An independent, take care of yourself, don't let anyone run over you, learn to cook for yourself, never settle for less than what you want, man.  I guess I just didn't know I did such a good job until now. Too bad I'm not a slacker, he might have been a little bit sweeter, a little bit longer. Merry Christmas to me...the boy child is gone...a Man is born.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Friday, December 24, 2010

Butterfly Angels ~ The Dream Sequence~

I dream a lot. I have dreams that have been with me for years. Two of them involve my Granddaddy. The first begins like this:
About a year after my MaMa passed, my Granddaddy was coming to Albany, to visit my folks for the weekend . The night before, I dreamed about me and my MaMa. Like one of my summer visits. I suppose because I knew my Granddaddy was coming the next day, they were both on my mind.

My summers were spent in one of her guest bedrooms. It had a twin bed, a hope chest, nightstand, and a three-tiered glass shelf. She had these same glass shelves throughout her house. I guess it was the way of decorating all those years ago. All the shelves had knick knack pretties on them. Both spare bedrooms and both bathrooms had these glass shelves. In the bedroom, the bed was pushed almost against the wall..the glass shelves were centered on that wall, above the bed. This made it very difficult to make the bed without bumping your head on those shelves. I dreamed, me and my MaMa were making the bed together, and she got too close on her side, causing me to tell her to 'look out, MaMa, you are going to cut yourself'. That's it, that's the dream. Not such big stuff. Nothing exciting.

So that next day, Saturday, I'm at my folks' house, waiting on my Granddaddy to arrive for his visit. He comes in and he has a white bandage over his left eye. I asked him what in the world happened to his eye. He said the day before, he was in the bathroom, shaving and what not, and dropped his razor.  He bent down to pick it up, came back up too fast and caught the corner of his face/eye on the corner of the bottom glass shelve. Said he liked to have never got it to stop bleeding. I absolutely could not breath. I asked him again, though I knew exactly what he had said, when he did it. He answered, again. And I just sat there staring at him. At his eye. My insides quivering with craziness. I never did tell him about the dream.  Even to me, it sounded crazy. 

I've already told you me and my Granddaddy were not very close. He loved me, I guessed all those years. You have to love your granddaughter, right? Just like when I got older, I had to love my Granddaddy, right? The comfort for me was always that my grandmother loved him. And I knew, if she loved him, deep down in there, there was a reason. And for me, that was enough. Although I would question it, and wonder about it, I tried not to think about the why's and how's of how they became one. For me, she was laughing sunshine, and he was a dark storm. He passed from this world, all of these emotions within me, still unresolved.

For about a year before my Daddy and his sisters had to place him in a nursing home, my Dad drove back and forth from Albany to Phenix City, two or three times a week. Making sure he was bathed, had clean clothes, food, cleaned his house and basically just took care of him the best he could from a distance. Because until he had the heart attack, my Granddaddy refused to leave his home.

A few months after he died, I dreamed the most awesome dream of my life. I dreamed I was his caretaker. I played the role my daddy had played for over a year. But some of the neighbors thought he was there alone and no one was taking care of him. Worried about him, they called the police. The police came, rang the door bell, I answered the door. I had been on the back deck sweeping off the pine straw. He told me the purpose of his visit. I assured him my Granddaddy was fine, I was taking care of him and that he was more than welcome to come in, take a look around. See for himself that the house was clean and he was fine. He took me up on my offer, came in, looked around and then asked to see my Granddaddy. He was still on the back deck, in his pajamas, it was too difficult some days to get him dressed. The policeman walked out on the deck, and then for a minute..everything else was a blur. I saw my Granddaddy take the cop's gun out of his side holster, the cop turned around and my Granddaddy shot him. I was screaming NO..and running all at the same time. When I got to the policeman, lying on the deck, it was obvious, he was gone. I got up, turned back around and my Granddaddy was holding the gun out for me to take it from him.. He smiled, then hugged me, and kept patting my back, rocking me back and forth. That's when I knew. He was still in this world just enough to know, that what the man had was a gun, and he thought that man was going to hurt me. He took it and shot him, to save me, protect me.

I woke up shaking and crying, and knowing, that all that time, all those years, he loved me, he just didn't know how to show it, until he had to, to save me. He would have always saved me, and I should have known it. Merry Christmas MaMa and Granddaddy, my Butterfly Angels, I love you both.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Butterfly Angels ~ Part Two~

My Granddaddy was 2 weeks from being 85 when he passed away in 2003. His wife, my precious MaMa was 72, when she passed in 1987. He married again in between. He was of the generation that did not cook or clean for themselves, mostly because they didn't know how. Marrying again was a necessity. He outlived both wives.

We are leaving the funeral. The one I thought I wouldn't cry at, at all...but did. Sadly, I could not communicate with him until he was weak.Until he became sweet and needed someone. He never really needed anyone before then, except to cook and clean. He was my last living grandparent, I think I cried because of that the most.

We are driving home, we get about 30 minutes outside of Phenix City, in Cussetta Ga. And all of a sudden, butterflies are flying into our windshield. I mean slamming into it, right and left. I am hollering for WD (my boyfriend, then husband now) to slow down. To stop. They keep slamming, it is unreal. and I don't mean two or three, I mean a LOT. They just kept coming. I have never had BUTTERFLIES fly into my windshield before. Never since.

Now, let me stop and tell you, Mims (WD) knows my butterfly stories and how I feel. And until that day, he had listened, but with no reaction or comment. Mims is an old country boy from South Carolina. He doesn't much like what he can't see, understand or prove. But this day, when I am hollering and now crying for him to stop, because he is killing them with our vehicle, he begins to look nothing short of freaked out. My boys are in the backseat, and we are all watching the carnage while the vehicle is still moving. Tears are pouring down my face, as I tell him, that's my MaMa and Granddaddy telling us goodbye. He says nothing and drives faster. It finally stops, but not before we are all emotionally drained and very quiet, each with our own thoughts of what in the hell just happened.

In August of 2003, my parents asked me to drive to Phenix City, Alabama, my Granddaddy's home. They were cleaning up his house to sell it, and dividing up his life belongings. The major things were divided amongst his 3 children of course, we were there for, comfort mostly. I took things that probably meant nothing to most. I had 2 wing back chairs, burnt orange and baby blue (from the 70's era I am sure) , his wallet, a handkerchief (because he always had one in his pocket) and a few pretty what nots. The handkerchief and wallet are in one of the pretty what not bowls with a top, on my nightstand, they still smell like him. There was a bookcase/tv holder we got for Zach and a bed frame and headboard Zach still sleeps on. And my best treasure of all, my Granddaddy's old wheel barrow. He worked in his yard until he couldn't anymore.

So, Mims' truck is packed/tied down.  We look like Fred Sanford as we start our drive back to Quincy. It's a 3 1/2 hour drive and I am not a good rider. Mims isn't either..he always has to drive. But at what I think is a half-way point, I asked to drive. My legs are restless and I need to do something. Mims tells me when we get to the next little town, I can't remember the name, but we both called it the ghost town, some houses there, but mostly deserted buildings and such. He tells me, when we get there, we will pull over and swap out.

So, we drive for another 30 minutes or so, we get there, and pull off at this old building that looks like it used to be a juke joint at one time. Now it's nothing but old, dusty and deserted. I get out of my side of the truck I walk about 3 steps and I look down and there are hundreds of  teeny tiny orange and yellow (my favorite colors) butterflies swarming and circling my legs from about the hip down. I just stand there paralyzed. Scared to move, scared to NOT move. I'm still standing and staring when Mims comes around from his side of truck, asking me what am I doing, am I switching out or not? He sets sight on what's happening and just stops, dead still. I begin to whisper, because my mind says if I scare them they will stop. I'm telling him to look, look at all of them. Only around me. Not him, not anywhere else, just my legs. We're on the side of the road, in this deserted little town, with my Granddaddy piled all up on the back of the vehicle, and the butterfly's have found me. They know I have his things, they can smell them. At least this is what I am whispering out loud. Mims is still not moving but telling me, in a weird voice, to just get in the truck. Start moving and get in the truck. I don't want to move, I don't want it to stop. But I look at his face, and he is not much before leaving me, my Granddaddy's belongings, and the butterflies behind. This is all more than he wants to think about anymore. It has become real for him too. For me, it is comfort, for my old country boy, it is the unknown, weird and maybe a little scary.

In February 2005 Zach and I moved in with Mims, into his home. Left my old farmhouse behind on Hwy 65. I wondered for awhile, worried for awhile, that my MaMa and Granddaddy wouldn't find me.

The Spring of 2005, Josh and I are planting flower bulbs. Caladuims, my MaMa's favorite and now, for years, mine. We always plant a bed of them somewhere, every year. We have THE wheelbarrow, that we call Granddaddy. When I'm doing yard work, I'll say, go bring me Granddaddy so I can load this stuff up. So, we have a wheelbarrow full of fertilizer and Caladuim bulbs..aka MaMa. And I'm telling Josh, Granddaddy is holding MaMa in his hands, as we roll the wheelbarrow across the yard, when we see two Monarch butterflies flitting around one of the dogwood trees. First of the season I've seen, and somehow I know, once again, they have found us.

Mims has come to grips with this whole Butterfly Angel thing. Now, HE will say, at the beginning of every Spring season, there's your MaMa and Granddaddy, back to see us, 'wonder how they're making out up there these days'? And I just smile and say, ' pretty good I imagine, pretty good'.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Butterfly Angels ~ Part One~

The butterflies began for me many years ago. To understand, I must start at the beginning. I won't be able to tell this story all at once. It expands over years of time, and is very emotional for me. It's sad at times, but ultimately, it brings me happiness and comfort. For all of you straddling the fence of belief or non-belief, I hope this makes you feel good. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm not here to convert, I am here to comfort. 

My cousin Adam loved butterflies. Adam died at the very young age of four. Adam was electrocuted doing what little boys like to do, he was flying a kite.  The kite line hit an electrical line. I was five when Adam died. My family doesn't talk about sadness or uncomfortable subjects. Which is normal, I guess. I don't like sad either.. but I like to know. Pain can be joy, if you remember the right things.

Adam and the discussion of Adam was between me and my grandmother Eloise when I was about 15 years old. I knew, I think, about the kite, because we never had kites. But I didn't know about the butterflies. I too, loved butterflies. And this particular day, my MaMa told me about Adam. She was teaching me how to cross stitch and the pattern I had picked was full of butterflies. She told me, that the day he was buried, they placed a butterfly in his casket because he loved them so.

I have no idea if this set my love for them in concrete, or if I only thought about it every now and again. I just know the love has followed me into adulthood. I have them all over my house, in all forms.I had them in my room as a teenager. They have always been a part of my life. And I like to think, a connection/bond between me and my MaMa and Adam, all those years ago.

My MaMa died when my Joshua was one years old, April of 1987. The night of the day of her funeral, we had gone to bed. Lying in my bed, I heard the mobile that hung above Josh's bed, make the slightest tinkle, pretty soft music. I got up to see what was going on, it was moving, he was asleep, and there was no fan, no air running in his room. I have always known that was my MaMa looking at my baby. Maybe saying goodbye, making taking a last look.  But it brought me a peace unlike any other.

July of 1998, me and my boys moved to Quincy Florida, I was 1 1/2 years into a divorce, and moving away from everything I had any memory of knowing. I wondered if my MaMa would know where I was, if she would worry. I wondered this, because this is how I think. I have a problem with "never again" and my only comfort thru life, is that I will see and know loved ones again. We moved into a big, old fixed up farmhouse. We were into our 3rd week of living there, sitting on our front porch swing, and suddenly, the porch and the bushes around the porch were over run with butterflies. I knew she had found me, found us. That house had more butterfly action than I have ever seen in my life, to date.

In April 2003, I was going home for lunch, I was flipping radio stations, and I landed on an instrumental only station playing the same song my Grandadddy played on the piano after every single meal we ate. I thought of him all the way home. He was so hard to talk to, I always had to work my nerve up for conversation. But I called when I got home to check on him. He was fine, he said. He shouted, he could not hear well.

One week later, he had a mild heart attack and fell in his driveway. The granddaddy who was the husband to my precious MaMa. Strange that I haven't mentioned him until now, not really. We were never very close . He was a hard man to love sometimes and even harder to like. I never thought he liked me much, or anyone else for that matter. He tolerated me for my MaMa, I think he knew better.  He was an acquired taste of a man.

After the fall,  my family had to place him in a nursing home. He was a very proud man. Had he known, had he been aware, he would not have been pleased. That someone had to dress him, bathe him and help him brush his teeth.  I went to visit him prepared for nothing. To have no feeling, to have no hurt. He broke my heart. He wasn't that same man who was so hard to talk to, he was a sad old man.

The very first visit, I went with WD. My Granddaddy was in an open room with a TV playing. He was sitting in a wheelchair. I held a cup of water, while he tried to remember how to drink out of the straw. I walked away from that visit a changed person. It was so upsetting, that he was so much easier to love, when I wasn't really sure he even really knew who I was anymore.

At some point, on another one of the visits, when I brought my boys, I saw a glimmer of realization. If for only a minute, he knew us. He asked Zach how he was doing in school and called me sweetie when he kissed me on the cheek. The boys left "pieces" of them with him. Josh left a beanie hat and Zach left a little green John Deer Tractor. To keep us with him, we left him pieces to hold onto.

My granddaddy passed July 2003. I have to stop here, but I promise, the rest of this part of the story is beautiful and happy. I hope you come back tomorrow to read it.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Life On The Run

My son Josh has a friend Aliza..they went to high school together. They see each other maybe 2 times a year..and they are still close friends at 24 years old. He sees her when he comes home on holidays, if she is here, and she makes stop offs in Tuscaloosa on her way back from wherever she has been.

She is in and out of school as she can afford it. She is working her way thru. Her goal, a wildlife veterinarian. Aliza is everything I think we all want to be. She's a nomad. She has been everywhere..alone. Just packs a bag and goes.

Her next journey, which begins in Australia. Freaking Australia I tell you. Just packing 2 bags..and will be gone a year. I cannot imagine. She stood here in my living room a few minutes ago (her and Josh are headed the Imax to see Harry Potter in Tally) and I was just in awe at her bravery, courage and self assurance. I asked her did she have a place, a job, a plan..she said she was looking for jobs..everything else was unplanned..winging it!

I love that my son is of the generation who doesn't think they have to get married and have 2.5 children by the time they are 30 years old. What exciting lives they all have ahead of them..because we have raised them to be different. To divide and conquer. Living life life.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And It Begins....

Alright..everybody...this is BLOG is here!!! I hope you find this as entertaining as some of my posts. Don't mind saying, I feel way out of my element ..but I want to do this like I've never wanted to do anything else..other than talk and write what I say. It won't be fancy..but it'll be real.