I wonder if any of us ever really know, before we start to have children, what kind of parents we will be. I can remember saying as a teenager, as all teenagers do, "I will NEVER treat my kids this way". I can remember thinking while I was carrying my first born, will I be good enough for this? Will I be the kind of mommy my baby will need? Will I be patient as a saint like my mother, or have a hair trigger temper like my daddy? Turns out, I am capable of both. And not always the appropriate behavior for the situation. Over the years I would win some and lose some, when trying to make the right decision for the predicament of the moment. But my heart was always in the right place. Real hard to go bad wrong when that's happening.
I was raised by a proper southern Alabama mother and rowdy southern Alabama daddy. She was a straight A student and he was like me, got in school...and got out. My mother had the patience of Job, my daddy had the patience of a second. And back when I was growing up, there wasn't much room for foolishness. No allowances for talking back or voicing an opinion. If you were told to do something, you didn't dare utter the words..."in just a minute". Yes sir and no ma'am were staple words. Words taken for granted, not instructed.
All of that was well and good. And I'm not saying the world today couldn't use a little more of some of that. But I was determined that MY kids would have all the freedoms I so longed to have. If they had something to say, I wanted to hear it. If they didn't like something I said, or the rules I set down, they should be able to say so. With respect. Certainly didn't mean my rules would change. Can't think of too many right off hand that did. But they deserved a say so. An opinion.
It's all about respect. We have round table family meetings. We have "come to Jesus" meetings. And we have, "Mama is through talking about this" meetings. No matter the situation, I always start with, "I am going to say what needs to be said, and when I am done, you can say what you think you need to say, or ask questions".
And I always do. Open the floor. When I am done. I won't say there have been many times I have altered my thinking, but there have been some. The important part, has always been that my children know, they have a voice. And that it matters. What they think, and what they have to say, matters. I want them to know, whether their point of view is on target or not, it matters to me. Because I have very intelligent young men. They both have the wonderful capability to reason and rationalize. To think their decisions through and to make wise ones. That's not to say all of their decisions are the right ones, but I am always pretty proud of the effort they put forth trying.
Your children always have different needs. No two children are the same. Nor should they be.
Joshua made straight A's through school. Never had to ask him about homework or anything to do with school. Never gave me a moments trouble. When he was 12 years old he wanted an ear piercing. After much debate, between he and I, I agreed . I told him when he turned 13 years old, his first year as a teenager, he could have one. The year he was turning 16 years old, he wanted another ear piercing. After MUCH debate, between he and I, I agreed. Once more. But I told him, that was it. Until he turned 18. I made him write me a note of agreement. That he would not ask for another one. I still have the note. And he didn't. Ask. Again. He did however ask repeatedly for a tattoo. Which I would not allow. He could do that when he turned 18. And it was no longer my decision. And he did. He now has several. All of which are not startlingly visible. At my request. I don't know that he will always honor that request. He'll be 25 years old in April. He doesn't have to anymore. He does have one particular tattoo that I have to say I love. It simply says, "The Boy Who Lived".
I like to think I helped give Joshua the freedom to live. To become who he is, with no reprisals, few limits or boundaries, and the world for his taking. I like to think that the millions of books I read to him, and my love for the written word, how it was spoken and read, was parlayed directly to him. He is his own talent, his own person, I was at best, merely a translator.
In school, Zachary does what he has to do. To be able to do what he wants to do. Both he and I know he is capable of so much more. Both he and I know, some days, he has me wrapped like a broke ankle. I always swore I would not be the parent who went soft with the second child. The last one left at home. Some days, I uphold that pledge. Some days, I am just not capable.
Zachary will be 16 years old in March. He has never asked for body art or piercings. He only asks for, insists on, freedom, trust, and respect. I've tried to give him all three. He is the child when at 10 years old, was insulted because the waitress did not give him a menu and looked to me for his order. He respectfully asked for a menu and gave his own order. This same child at 12 years old had a motorized car that needed repair. We took him to the store in Tallahassee. The man in the store made the mistake of ignoring Zachary and speaking directly to Mims and myself. Zachary again, respectfully told the man it was his car, and he was paying for the repairs, to please speak to him. I'd like to say, I was the surrogate for Zachary's thirst and desire for independence. Because I knew at 15 years old, Zachary was going to need additional space. Ergo, the Man Shed. The place Zach can go when he needs to be Zach. Or with his buds, to play their music, video games, ping pong and Foosball. And, I know where he is, and he is safe. Win, win.
Yes. An open house, is what I managed to create and accomplish. I am very proud of that. I trust my children because they have not given me a reason to NOT trust them. And they have both been given "the speech". The one that goes something like this...."I will respect your privacy and your space, until you give me a reason not to. I will never go through your things, your drawers, or search your room. But if you ever give me cause for doubt, please do not think that I won't. It will not be a secret. I will not go behind your back. You will stand there and watch me toss your room and look through your things. You may even be instructed to help. But it will never happen behind your back. That I will promise you".
Every parent has had disappointments. Every child has had disappointments. Because every child and every parent is human. Honesty and respect for each other will carry you a long way down the road of forgiving and forgetting. I am who I am, because of my parents and how they raised me. I am a strong, independent woman. I can make the toughest of decisions, and fold like a deck of cards when I know I need to step back. I thank God everyday for my southern born Alabama parents. For they were my translators into this world. My travel guides. My map for achieving excellence.
I paid attention to my raisings'. So have my children. I haven't had to toss a room yet. And of that, I am very proud.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I gotta tell you, my displeasure of this holiday goes way back. I can remember as early as Junior High School, this stupid holiday causing such a ruckus. Girls, thirteen years old, having flower bouquets delivered to the school. Boys, coming to school, with teddy bears and odd and end stuffed animals, crammed into their book bags. Girls and boys alike, in a tizzy all day, waiting to see who got what. And in high school, the clubs in school would sell flowers. And the girls waited to see, again, who would get what. Or if they would get any. Or would they be left out of that overblown holiday once again. For the lovelorn, it can be such an emotionally abusive holiday. And lest you scoff, lest you think I'm being dramatic, then you have obviously never been hurting on this holiday. Hurting from someone you have lost, or from someone who has hurt you. Or just because it's your time to be alone. Lonely. It's real. The pain is real.
I think there are some people just destined to not have fun on certain holidays. Destined for that holiday to be, always the one, when you are without a significant other. Because you know, girl and boys, men and women, for years, have brought this thing to an art form. Breaking up with your significant other, right before the holiday comes about. You don't have to buy anyone a gift, and you're off the hook. Or worse, the ones, mostly girls, who trap a boy into liking them right BEFORE the holiday, for the gifts and flowers. Then break up with them right after. My oldest son was victim of such a girl once in his earlier years. And I don't mind telling you, as a mother, I wanted to smack that little girl up side her head. For breaking my boys heart, and hurting his feelings. Believe you me, I have given plenty of talks to my sons about women. And sadly enough, how spiteful and sneaky we can be. What users we can be. That's my job, as a mother. If I had girls, I would tell them the same about men. Well, guess I do tell them about men as well. What kind of men they need to be. As mothers, we all work with what we have.
Anyway, I digress. This holiday did not change for me as an adult. When you have a bad marriage, you not only do not exchange cards, you certainly aren't buying gifts or flowers. So for years, this holiday was nonexistent for me. After I divorced and was alone, it was worse. As I have told you before, I was trying to date. It was not a positive experience. The time for this holiday has rolled around. Again. I swear, it would seem I would just get over it one year, and there it was again. For years, this was a scheduled day of vacation for me. For real. I stayed in my house, and waited for the day to pass.
This particular year, I was walking into Winn Dixie. After work. To buy my groceries. As I walk in the door, my face is filleted by strings. Balloon strings. There are THOUSANDS of balloons in this store. And they have all been set loose. Every step I take, I had balloons slapping me in the face. Strings swiping across my lips. I'm practically spitting the strings out of my mouth as I walk. I've taken about 15 steps, and my breathing rhythm began to change. I am gasping for air. I have begun to hyperventilate. INSIDE THE GROCERY STORE. I turned around and practically ran out of the store. I make it to the parking lot. I am bent over trying to catch my breath. My brain is racing a million miles an hour. I'm trying to rationalize what has just happened to me and why. And I began to cry. I just stood there in that grocery store parking lot. And cried.
I finally straightened myself up, got back in my car, and went home. I had not been there maybe 10 minutes and one of my best friends from back home called me. I had already stopped crying, but as soon as she asked me what was wrong, because I sounded funny, it started all over again. Hysterically, I began to tell her about the flying balloons.
I want women everywhere to know, this is why we have best friends. Why our gender looks out for one another. Because at one time or another, we have all had the same pain. I don't care how pretty you are, how popular you are, we will all, at some point in our lives, experience this shared pain. My friend came to my house, got my grocery list, and went and bought my groceries for me. Yes she did. It was an act of kindness and love I will never forget as long as I live.
Years later, I am finally dating Mims. The first year we dated, I had the best holiday of my entire life. It was on a Saturday that year. My kids were with their father. Mims and I got up early, he said we were going for a drive. I didn't think much about it. Mims rides the roads more than any human I have ever known. Sometime after the first hour, I realized what was happening. He had driven me to the beach. It was too cold, obviously, but we got out and walked down the beach. Then he took me out to eat at a very nice restaurant there in Panama City. Late that afternoon, we were riding back home, and he stopped at a small curb store for a soda. He came back out with a gorilla. A gorilla, that when you pushed his stomach, sang Hunka Hunka Burning Love. Corny, I know. But it was wonderful to me. It was dark when we got back to his house. When we walked into his bedroom, there sitting in the dark, on his dresser, was a dozen red roses.
Now, I know since I am still with Mims, you think, this is a happily ever after story. Some of you are already probably trying to stifle your gag reflexes. No fear. If you are really thinking that, then you can't have possibly read any of my other stories.
On our second holiday, Mims comes to my house, on Hwy 65. I have cooked a meal, my boys are there and we are all greeting him hello. He has on a jacket I have never seen before. A nice leather jacket. I asked him where he got that jacket. And he fumbles around, like he doesn't want to say. Finally he says, his ex wife gave it to him years ago. Well, alright, I can accept that. I'm a grown woman. Just because his ex wife bought him something, doesn't mean he should throw it out. Of course not. That's ridiculous. I tell him again how nice it is. And because I canNOT leave well enough alone sometimes..I ask him, when, when she did she give it to him? He says one year for their anniversary. I say, oh yeah, when was your anniversary? Now you already know the answer to this question. I know you do. I can feel you only half breathing right now, just waiting on me to say it. Yes, their anniversary was on VALENTINE'S DAY. I kid you the heck not. Not to mention the insensitivity of him wearing it on THAT day. When to date, I had never even seen him wear it before. At all. So, ask me again, if I am one of those people, who just does not have good Valentine Day's. Because I will not answer yay or nay. I will simply tell you that I refuse to celebrate a holiday that falls on my husband's EX marriage anniversary.
In reality, I did get past it. We do exchange cards. And he does buy me flowers, even though I complain about the wasted money. Because flowers DIE. He has learned over the years, I prefer yellow roses over red. And that if I had my druthers, I would rather have a teapot I can look at forever than dried weeds that will go in the trash. Depending on if he thinks of it the day of, or three days prior, determines which one I get. I try and get Mims nontraditional gifts. Like an hour long massage. And I always get my boys cards, candy, sometimes valentine boxers etc. And even though he isn't here, I send Joshua a Valentine goody packet to Tuscaloosa.
So unite Sisterhood of the Valentine's Day Should Be Abolished Club. I will be the first member of your club. I will strike with you, and hand out fliers on the curb. I will fling my body in front of flower delivery trucks to keep them from their destination. And because I owe it to someone, as one of those pay it forward deals....if any of you should ever need your groceries bought on that dreaded day...call me. I'm your girl. I will gladly bust through that barrage of balloons to help you out. I will stumble through the menagerie of candy and cards to get your gallon of milk. Call me. I owe someone.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Saturday, January 29, 2011
So, while I have wasted a whole paragraph on those people, I think I have said enough to make me feel better. They don't deserve a whole page dedicated to their sorriness. So that part, stops here.
Please do not think, the restraint is self-driven. I have none. I have NO restraint when it comes to the injustices of life. Had I not had a beautiful experience, with a beautiful person, at the grocery store this morning..I could very well, still be ranting.
I was in the check out line, buying my weekly groceries. Mims was with me, he goes with me every week now. Josh used to help me before he moved and now, Zach is never home. Once the buggy gets half way full, I can no longer push or turn it without it causing me a back problem afterward. Anyway, I am checking out, and because of some items in my buggy, the little girl taking care of me, began to speak. She told me about her mother who has suffered with breast cancer. There was no one behind me, so even after ringing all of my grocery's up, she continued until the complete story was told. The little girl was probably in her early 20's. But already, seemed so mature for her age. She sounded so strong and so very proud of her mother.
As I stood there and listened to her story, it took every ounce of my being not to cry. For her, for her mother, for Patti, for my Aunt, for every woman I know, that has had the fear. The type of fear only a woman can know.
When she was done, she asked about me and my purchases. Did I mind sharing with her why they were being bought. So I began to tell her. About my very brave friend in Albany Georgia. The young girl seemed to find comfort in my words. Maybe less lonely. I was sure while I was disclosing..and talking..that Patti would not mind. Because I have hoped, as I am sure Patti has over the past few weeks, that someone, if they had the opportunity, would comfort her girls. Would tell them a personal story of survival. Or the story of a close friend or family members survival.
It matters that we listen when we should. I feel pretty sure God put me in front of that particular little girl today. What I am not sure of is, if it was for me, or for her. Probably both. I needed that little girl today, that I know.
A wonderful friend of mine sent me a personal inbox message last night. Expressing her concern for me. She said she knew I was upset and concerned about Patti, but that she felt like there may be something else that was bothering me.
My reply was that, there just seemed to be too much going on right now. Between Patti and Penny, and my own Aunt who is about one more treatment of radiation being shy of her last. As well as my parents, who seem to struggle with some health scare at least once a month now. And myself, not quite knowing what all is going on yet, can be as bad as knowing sometimes. The wait, and worry. All of us are getting older, and things are breaking down. Repairs are needed. I admit it's taking a small toll on me. So my solution, for myself, is to lay low, till the storm passes over. I work better that way. I try and bring whatever light I can for someone else..and worry about the rest later. It seems to make them feel better and it distracts me.
I know myself, just from writing this blog, just from opening my heart and telling some of my stories, I have helped people to feel better about themselves. I have had very personal, one on one conversations with people, who thought they were the only ones. We all spend so much time, guarding our secrets, our pasts, and our own personal pain, we forget the people we are keeping it from are the same. They are human beings. With human lives. And human mistakes.
Until about six months ago, I had not seen nor spoke to Patti Craver Duffy since our 10th grade year of high school. I attended one year of school with Patti and barely knew her then. So that now, I feel such an attachment is unexplainable to me. I choose to chalk it up to, she is just one more person I could have tried harder to know, all those years ago. I have been reunited with several girls, that I regret, I wasn't wise enough to know all those years ago, what wonderful friends they could have been for me.
Strangers who choose to sit down next to you at a doctor's office and ramble, they need you. They were chosen for you. Or you were chosen for them. Embrace the opportunity to be there for someone. My mantra, always and forever will be, there is a reason for everything.
I have a new friend today, and her name is Ali. I will remember to always ask about her mother. To ask how she is doing. To let Ali know, I will not forget her or her mother's story of struggle. I will always remember to do those things, because she took the opportunity today to bring comfort to me. Whether she knew it or not. And I hope I did the same for her.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I worry about my boys whenever they cross my mind throughout the day. I worry about my parents...daily.
Zach sends me a text message. Wants to know if he can go to Taco Bell after basketball practice with his buddy Mclane. I say yes, but immediatley my gut begins to churn. The worrying begins. He sends me another text after practice, he's coming home instead, his knee hurts. My gut begins to knot again. I text back..CALL ME NOW. He does. There's nothing really wrong, it's swollen and sore. But in the 15 minutes between when I asked him to call and when he did...I worried myself to death.
Joshua calls me from Tuscaloosa. He's walking from class to his car on campus. It's a long way. In the dark. I talk to him the whole way. People are crazy. I worry. He's driving home from Birmingham. It's better than an hours drive. It's dark and he's tired. I talk to him on the phone throughout the drive. These are rituals we have come to participate in. Together. Because I worry.
I'm ten years old. We're in a restaurant. I have a fresh $10 bill in my pocket. Birthday money or some such. I glance over at a table. Our dinner comes. We are eating. I notice a table off to the other side of the room. Everyone at the table has a plate. But one little girl. Through our whole meal, she never gets her plate. I worry. Why doesn't she have anything to eat. We go to leave, there is a jar on the counter next to the register. Raising money for one thing or another. I pull the $10 out of my pocket and stuff it in. For the girl who has no plate. My Daddy asks me why? I show him the girl, who was just getting her food as we turned around. I worried myself out of $10. Needlessly. But someone else, somewhere, would not be hungry. Because I worry.
My Mims was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer four years ago this March. He was offered several choices. We together, opted to have it removed. Quantity of life over quality. I needed him. To be with me. Forever. Like I had originally planned. He is cancer free now. And I thank God for that everyday. And I worry, twice a year when he is tested. I worry.
My father had a quadruple heart bypass two years ago this June. He went in for stints. It was not possible. That was his option. He took it. He chose, time. My mother needed him. To be with her. Forever. Like he promised. On June 4, 1960. And I worry. The doctors say these surgery's will only last 7-10 years. So I am already worrying.
My mother called me today at work. She has not been feeling well she says. Immediately, I begin to worry. She went to the doctor yesterday. She was worried she had another kidney/bladder infection. A year ago this past December, she was in the hospital for almost a week. She had become nearly septic. In older females there is no pain with bladder/kidney infections. They can be the silent killer if you do not watch yourself closely. Yesterday, her tests came back clean. But I will worry until she sounds like herself again. Tonight, she sounded weak. So I continue to worry.
My friend Patti has already had one surgery this week. She had hoped that would be enough. It was not. Her test results were not pleasing. She asks, when can we do this? The doctor says when can you? She says, tomorrow. I will see you tomorrow. She chooses action over the unknown. She will now have to have radiation and chemotherapy. She knows what the results can be. She chooses life over vanity. Although she is scared. Scared for what it brings. She is beautiful. She will be beautiful. No matter the outcome. Patti has a very strong faith in our Lord. Our God. I know it is all in His hands. But I am worried. I just found her. She too, is supposed to be with me forever. And she will be. Because I too, have faith. Even though I worry.
Does it solve anything? Will it cure anything? Will it change anything? No..to all three. Can I stop? Not likely.
Because I love hard and I love strong. With no filters and no reprisals. I just love. The only way I know how. With everything I've got. I've never had a very good on and off switch. So whoever is worrying about me..please don't. I tend to disappear when dealing with life is distasteful for me. I'll be back when I can. No melodrama here...just me. Being me.
Still on my knees. In Quincy Florida.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
When I was about 16 years old. I thought we had finally found the right fit. We had started attending Putney United Methodist Church. There was a young, idealistic preacher there at the time. He hadn't been there long. Was just building a following. More specifically, a young following. I am here to tell you, when you can pack a church, to where there is standing room only, in the back, and they are all teenagers, you have created yourself a following. A true miracle as far as I'm concerned. He had my attention from the minute he opened his mouth to speak.
He was a different kind of preacher. Which it seemed, turned out to be his downfall. He would take one verse out of the bible and preach a story around it. He would preach a story that grown people and children alike could relate to and understand. Unfortunately, back in that time, maybe even in this time, it was not what the elderly in the church wanted to hear. It wasn't enough "bible" for them. He was there for a year. And then he was gone. Voted out. By the church elders.
We continued going there through the next preacher. For about three months. And in that three months time, the church dwindled back down to it's original form. There was plenty of seating room in the pews and it was no longer a standing room only crowd. I remember hoping back then, that the elders were proud of themselves. The people, the children, who needed to learn the lessons of God the most, were gone.What an injustice for all of those who were left.
When I was in my twenty's I worked with a woman who was in the church every time the doors were open. Her husband was a Deacon. We had phone solicitation late one night at work. Her husband had come to sit with her towards the end of our evening. As he sat, they began to talk about a young couple in their church who were having marital problems. The young man continued to come to church, as did his young wife from whom he was separated. Both of them members of the church. The discussion was about the amount of discomfort this was causing the young woman. How uncomfortable it made her, for her husband to come to church when she was there. The Deacon and his fellow church members had spoken to that young man earlier that night. And asked him to stop coming to church there. And why. And asked him to find another place to worship.
Now again, I ask you. Who needed to be sitting in a church worse than most anyone else at that point? And who in the world were they, to ask this young man to no longer attend their church and to go find another one?
I'm not about to sit here and tell you those reasons are why I do not go to church. But I will tell you, those two stories alone, are the reason I have a problem with human beings and church. I fully realize I am supposed to go for me. For what I get out of it.
I think I was born cynical. Not hard. Not a non-believer. Because I believe with all my heart. But cynical. I question everything. Too much maybe. Just the same, I have a need to know.
As I'm growing older, I think I need to know now, more than ever. I think I have prayed more in the past year than I have in ten years combined. And I don't take praying lightly. I don't pray for foolishness. I don't pray for teams to win the Superbowl, or the World Series. I don't pray for my youngest son to win his football games. I don't pray for my oldest son to have his writings published. When those things are supposed to happen, they will.
But I do pray for my oldest son to have a safe trip when traveling to Tuscaloosa and back. I do pray for my youngest son and his bus load of teammates to make it home safely from games that are three hours away and the road back is long and late at night. I pray when my husband is traveling, he makes to and from each job site safely.
However, I will not say I never pray for what others may think is wasteful and foolish. I unabashedly admit, that last year when our office played softball in a league, and I was up at bat, I said a quick prayer when it was my turn. That this overweight, old lady, who can no longer run, would catch a break. Because my boys were watching. And I prayed that I could get a hit. Just one hit, not one at every time at bat. So I wouldn't embarrass my children and I might could make them proud.When the bat cracked that ball and I made it to first base..I looked back at the stands to see both of my boys smiling and hollering. And I said a silent thank you to the One who helped make it possible.
These days, it seems I am praying for one friend or another every day. Or family members. I am pretty sure the good Lord has noticed, that I ask for his attention and help a lot more these days. It seems my knees have calluses lately from all the floor contact they have had. But I also know, he knows me. And he knows whether I am sitting in a church pew or not, I am living the best way I know how. That I care about people. That I try and look out for people. And maybe a little too often, put everyone other than me, first. It's the way I know. It's the way I was raised. By my Mama and Daddy. Both who know God as good or better than I do.
We'll have conversation when I get There one day. Of that I am certain. He knows me inside and out. Where ever I am, whatever I'm doing. He knows before anyone else. And He's taking notes. For more conversations. Until then, I'll keep living the best way I know how. I'll keep praying for whoever needs it as hard as I can. And I'll keep trying to remember, that I don't need to know the answers to everything. I don't need to understand everything. Nor do I need to judge what I do not understand. Someone else is taking care of that. And if I want something to believe, I just need to believe He knows what He's doing. Always. He showed me that today. I have prayed non-stop for days for my friend. He showed me again today. He not only listens, but He is in charge. He took care of my friend, and for that I am forever grateful.
I love you Patti Craver Duffy, scuffed up knees and all.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Saturday, January 22, 2011
There was only one thing on television that day. And I was hooked the minute I turned on the television. I washed, dried and folded clothes in between. But that broadcast would take up my entire day and change my life forever.
And older couple lived behind us in the trailer park we lived in. Mrs. Renner had made Joshua a handmade crocheted blanket. She brought it over to me that same morning. We sat for about an hour, together, and watched the drama unfold. She left, and I got back to work. And to my television.
To this day, I'm not sure why I was so rooted to the programming that seemed to overtake the nation. I guess because I knew, we all knew, history was in the making. Just how much so, at that point, was yet to be seen.
I think, when you're pregnant, every single sensory cell in your body is kicked into overload capacity. Everything is more. Maximum intensity. Your tears, your joy, your pain and your sorrow. Every emotion is felt, in your bones. Every reaction is instantaneous and without filter.Your internal roots have no boundaries.
Twenty five years ago on January 28, 1986, as the entire nation stood by and watched, the Challenger Space Shuttle was launched. Seventy Three seconds later, it would explode in mid air. All on board were lost.
I watched the entire morning. The interviews with the astronauts. The family's. But this flight, had a special passenger. A civilian passenger, Sharon Christa McAuliffe. The first teacher to ever participate in orbit flight. She had taken a year off from her teaching duties to train. She was selected amongst 11,000 other applicants to participate. The day of the launch was going to be historical. Her entire class of students were present as well as her family. And the family's of every astronaut as well. She had helped the space program receive so much recognition. She was to represent intelligent educators everywhere. One who could explain to children and young adults, in their language, exactly what was going on. To promote the Space Program in a way it had never been promoted before.
I sat in my chair. For hours. In the rocking chair that was bought to rock my newborn baby. Waiting for the launch. As it ascended into the clouds, I watched. With the entire nation. And 73 seconds later, I sat in disbelief and horror trying to reconcile in my mind what had just happened. Right in front of my face. I can remember immediately making physical contact with my stomach. Both hands went straight to Joshua. As if, in my mind, I needed to protect him or shield him from what I had just seen. I sat there in stunned silence for I do not know how long. In a state of disbelief. That cloud of smoke, that horrible noise of doom, could not have really been what I thought it was. But as they scanned to the faces in the crowd, I knew, without a doubt, it was. The children, bless their hearts, all of them. I knew for many nights to come, parents would be calming nightmares and tears. That the families, of all the astronauts would need professional help and hearts to pull away from the the memory, of the tragedy, that happened right before their very eyes.
To this day, I cannot explain to you the depth of my own pain. How very real it all felt to me. How very personal. I was 22 years old. But a slip of a girl. I was sitting in a chair, prepared to give life. A baby about to give birth to a baby. Carrying a life inside of my body. A life yet to be seen. While seven lives were taken. In 73 seconds. Never to be seen again. Not a trace. Nothing to bury for comfort. The only memories for the families and Sharons' students, would be in their minds and hearts. There would be nothing for them to place in a safe place, to rest in peace.
Life is so very fragile. In the literal blink of an eye it can be over. As I worry over my own problems, and pray for my friends and family over theirs, I know how tender we are. How tender and soft our insides can become. It's been 25 years for all of the ones left behind. I pray, they know, the loved ones they lost, did not make their decision easily. That they did not choose to take that flight in vain. It meant something. All of it. Including the horrible tragedy of the launch. Those seven men and women will always be my Hero's. For they took the biggest chance of all, and I simply sat in my rocking chair. And watched.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Before he made his final choice, we both made a trip to Tuscaloosa. To spend the weekend. Meet with some of the Professors and fellow Graduate student potentials. Young men and women, who like Joshua, had been offered a wonderful opportunity and a scholarship. That Saturday, we were to meet them for lunch. It was a very casual and very friendly atmosphere. I had never seen my son in that type of setting, amongst his peers. So for me, it was something kin to, an outer body experience. Number one, they were all, including my son, so far out of my league. I sat and watched. And listened. My gosh, how intelligent my son was, how eloquent every day words sounded coming out of his mouth. My son, the writer. They all talked that way. Everyone at the table but me. I sat there and wondered, how he was not embarrassed by me. His Mama, yes, but so far behind where they all so obviously were. But, I never saw it. Never saw anything on his face that even closely resembled embarrassment. And if it was there, he was the consummate actor concealing it. He went to a gathering at one of the Professors homes that Saturday evening. I chose to stay at the hotel. This was his trip. Not mine. And when he came back in from his evening of pizza and mingling, I knew. I knew the University of Alabama had charmed my son right into their web of intelligence. He was so ready to become a part of, what appeared to be, a close knit educational community/family. A brotherhood/sisterhood of minds.
Sometime around mid-summer, it hit me. And it hit me hard. I cried every time someone looked at me. Everything was sad. Everything was part of a conversation that seemed to begin or end with, "this is the last time we'll do this". I was falling apart at the seams. A train wreck in motion. The wheels were coming off the bus and I could not stop it.
In August, I asked Josh about helping me set up a Face Book account. Something to where I could "see" him. Still know him. Maybe get to know some of his new friends. And his new beginnings. Be a part of his new and wonderful beginnings. He helped me put it all together. Downloaded some pictures. Helped me get it personalized.
Mid August, he was gone. Off to school. At first, I would get on Face Book, look around, see if he had made any comments. See if there were any pictures of him posted. Because it seemed as if from the very beginning, he had a brand new family and they all hung together pretty tight. They all seemed to just meld into one. And it worked. Their personalities all together as one, worked.
And the months passed. I gained friends, and found a lot of old friends. People I had not seen nor talked to in years. And then, I began to get on at night, sign on, for me. To see who I could see. These people, these old friends, slowly but surely filled the empty hole. My heart and soul were beginning to heal. Healed by the faith and medicine given over computer waves.
As time passed, I would become friends with friends of friends. People who I had known, but had never actually belonged to their circles in earlier years. It's very strange to me, that now, those seem to be some of my closet friends. The people, who besides all my home town folks here in Quincy, that I communicate with the most. I have learned about their children, their marriages, their divorces, their dating. Aches and pains, medical tests, and worries. And grandchildren, the wonderful gifts of growing older. Grandchildren. And they have learned the same about me. The last eight months or so, I have run the gamut with medical tests and procedures. And they have all, listened to me. Prayed for me. And checked on me. If I disappear for more than a day or so, they are looking for me. I have been with some of them through death and despair. Through the loss of loved ones. And all the while, we all seem to hang together. Lean on each other, through virtual reality contact. Someone is always there. When I can't sleep. When I am angry. When I am sad. Or when I have a funny story to tell.
And now, now I have this blog. That I would have NEVER thought about doing, without all of the wonderful finds of friends. Without their encouragement and cheer leading. I hope that I have been as much to them, as they have been for me. I hope that my words and solace have helped. I hope that my laughter has brought a smile when they least felt like smiling. My biggest hope, is that all of this will remain. Exactly as it is. That we will not let any of us just fade away. Because I need all of you now. You are part of my daily living. I cannot imagine life without you, nor would I want to try.
These people are people that I can now call friends. And I plan on always calling you my friends. I plan on always trying to make you smile. Trying to make you feel better. Feel better about yourself and your lives. And I plan on always needing you, and you needing me. Because that's what turns ordinary people into life long friends. And family. Life long family.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
That's not what I was going to talk about today. But I swear to you, I could not have gone any further until I got that off my chest. Or my face, as it were. I feel a little bit better now. And I thank you for your patience.
I got divorced in 1997. My marriage had deteriorated over a long period of time. As many do. Large, continuing tidal waves, of good/bad/better/worse. By the time it was all said and done..I was done. He was done. I was so ready to be happy again I was looking for it everywhere. Anywhere. And you know, when you are willing to do just about anything to be happy. You do. Anything to be happy. I dated a man who was absolutely no good for me. And let me tell you people. Food, drugs and alcohol are not the only things that are addictive. I was truly addicted to this man. And that my friends, is not healthy. By the time I realized what a mess I was in, it was almost too late.
I tried my best to get out of it. I put myself out there. Tried to date other men. Get out there and meet other people to date. No one, not one of them, could hold my attention. And right back into dangers door I would go. Into the lions den. I was never in danger of being physically hurt. Just lost. In danger of losing myself, from trying to find myself.
In June 1998, I had the opportunity to transfer with my job to Quincy Florida. That July I moved. I took that opportunity like a thief in the night. I stole my way back into sanity. Or so I thought. I had been here exactly one month, before I was allowing that same man back into my life again. I was allowing him to drive all the way here, to see me. The weekends my kids were with their father, he was here. Spending the whole weekend with me. I knew how foolish I was. I knew I had done nothing but make a deal with the devil. I just could not help it. I truly thought I loved that man.
November 1998 a man that I worked with asked for my phone number. I thought to myself...dating people you work with is never good. Where do you go when it goes wrong? Where do you hide? But he was a persistent fellow. Finally, against my better judgment, I gave in. I gave him my phone number. Well, I say I gave him my phone number. He said I gave him a fake one. To blow him off. The first night he tried to call me, he ended up talking to an 80 year old black woman. Who before they hung up, told him he was welcome to call her back. Anytime. The next day at work, he came up to me, and asked me why I would do that? I had NO idea what he was talking about. And when he told me, I laughed my behind off. And this time, when I gave him the number I wrote it down. Because the day before, HE wrote it down. We were in the shop. So he took the pen out of his pocket and wrote it on the palm of his hand. I have always maintained it smeared somewhere in between when he wrote it and when he called the 80 year old woman. Who said he could call her back. Anytime.
We had our first date the 12th of December 1998. The company Christmas party. Which was a hoot. I keep my private life separate. No one has a clue. So for us to walk in together caused quite a stir. To this day, half of the people we work with, do not know we are even married. The old timers do, just because of social functions and work functions. But sometimes the newcomers that come to work in January, won't know until the next Christmas, at our company Christmas party.
We had a rough couple of years. Trying to work out the kinks of middle aged people, trying to "date" again. There were some days I thought we would not make it. For about 4 months into the 2nd year, we did not see one another. But as always, he worked his way back into my heart. My boys have loved him since day one. He has been such a wonderful man for my kids to follow. To follow his examples of good behavior. Of acting like a man. Respectful behavior. And he has made me a better person. Of that I am convinced. It's nice not having to be the "everything" all the time. Because that's exactly what I was for my whole first marriage. Everything. Mama and Daddy. And I've told you before, I'm a fit pitcher. Well, Mims is not up for all that crazy. All that drama. So that behavior has thinned out as well. I have heard him raise his voice twice. Twice in thirteen years.He cannot say the same for me. But I'm working on it. I'm a project of a work in progress.
When Zach and I moved in with Mims, we had not married yet. We moved in his house, January of 2005. I just wasn't sure yet. About another marriage. I had been by myself since 1997. I mean I had Mims, but I still lived alone. With my kids. He would stay on weekends. And a night or two through the week. But at the end of it all, I would stand on the front porch and wave good bye as he drove off. And I have to say, I liked it that way. I liked my privacy and the little bit of independence I still had. I was mentally smothered for so long, I liked being just me. But I knew something was missing. Some days I knew and I began to yearn for it. I thought, lets try this living together thing. And just see. See if I like it.
I have to tell you the first six months I thought I had made the biggest mistake. We were together ALL THE TIME. I didn't see him much at work..rarely as a matter of fact. And we never go to lunch together. That's too much. But I was here. Every night. No longer, waving good bye from the front porch. No longer going to MY bedroom, picking up and book and getting lost in myself. There was someone following me. Every night.
But more time passed and I could find myself slipping into marriage again. But different. A good marriage this time. A wonderful, dedicated, joined in hearts, marriage. Mims and I were married July 2, 2006. We didn't do anything fancy. Right here in our house. No one but immediate family and a couple of friends present. We didn't go anywhere on a honeymoon. A trip would come later. But that night, when we laid down to go to sleep. It was quiet. Not a sound in the room. We were holding hands, and Mims said just as quietly as if he weren't speaking at all. I had to strain to hear. He said, "I want you to know, I'm gonna make you and those boys a good man. You won't regret this, I promise." Silent tears rolled down my face. And I didn't say a word, I just squeezed his hand and never said a word.
I know Mims was the third person to save my life. He saved me from myself. He kept my attention long enough, just long enough for me to know, there was something else out there for me. Someone else for me. Who I deserved and who deserved me. There is not a night, that does not begin with a good night kiss, a hug, and an I love you. And holding hands until we fall asleep. So many nights, we will wake back up, and realize we have let go. And grapple again under the covers, for the hand we lost during the night. We take hold again and peace washes over. Real love is grand. If you are lucky enough to find it. It took me a long time. Finding the real deal doesn't come as easy for some as it does others. I wish that luck..to all.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Once when I was a teenager, my parents were going out of town. And me and my best friend Lynnie were going to brave the weekend together. Alone. In my house. Now when I say teenager, I don't mean a 13 year old. I am talking like, 18 years old...GROWN. The bedrooms in my parents home were in the back of the house. I have a theory about this. If you are in the back, and something gets in, you have no where to go. So you must prepare ahead of time. For our protection, each of us had a weapon. Does anyone remember, when you used to go to the fair, and they would take those Pepsi bottles, heat them up, and stretch them waaayyyy out. Like a big twisty piece of glass? Filled with colored liquid? Well, that was my weapon of choice. Lynnie's was a butcher knife from my mama's kitchen. Now, I know most of you are saying that her weapon was a much better choice. Not so. I have a theory about that as well. My bottle. My LONG glass bottle. I could swing, hit and run. While my would be murderer is still dazed and confused. Her butcher knife, must actually come in contact with someone's BODY. That is too close for comfort for me. They could grab your hand..and the knife and turn it around on you. Think, you must think.
I know I have just started talking..but you should already be able to tell, I am not fooling around. I am a professional scaredy cat. I think things through. I rationalize out what the best measure of protection for me is going to be.
I've already told you when we first moved to Quincy, we moved into a wonderful house off of Highway 65. A big, fixed up farmhouse. Right smack in the middle of NO WHERE. No street lights. And the closest neighbor was at least 2 acres away. Not close enough to hear you scream, that's for sure. I moved in on a Friday night. Alone. I wanted to get everything ready before my boys got there on Sunday. Rooms arranged, furniture placed and pictures hung. I wanted everything perfect when they walked in the door. I was bringing them from the only home and the only people they had ever known. It was important, for it to be right.
An old friend that I worked with at Quincy Joist helped me with the move. Ricky Gleaton was a saint. And never complained. God rest his soul. I was too tired that Friday night to do much. But Ricky insisted on at least putting the bed together so I could get a good night's sleep. I was so worn out, I just wanted to slap those mattresses down on the floor. But Ricky, the sweet, sweet man he was, insisted, it would not take long. He was right, it really didn't take long. He asked me was I going to be alright and I said yes, of course I would. He told me he would see me bright and early the next morning, to help me finish unloading, and wished me a good night's sleep.
Now, I thought between being dead tired and my freshly installed dead bolts, I would just fall out. The minute I closed my eyes, I expected to see nothing but my eyelids for hours. Note, these freshly installed dead bolts had only been in about two weeks. Because when I first checked this house out, for me and my boys to live in, it had none. Two of the doors did not even have locks on the main door knobs themselves. Just one skinny, pencil thick slide bolt on each door. Really. Uh no. I don't think so. It was not lost on me, when I made my request for door knobs with locks and additional dead bolts, I was looked at rather strangely. And you would not believe the stories I have heard since. Of these country born people in this town leaving their houses wide open. All the time. Night and day. Of all things, I was the strange one, for wanting locks. To be safe. To be protected. So no one would come into my home and rob me blind. Or worse hurt my family.
I laid down on the bed. I don't think anything ever felt so good in my life. I didn't even shower. Which was a miracle within itself. I am a clean freak, I shower twice a day. Every day of my life. I turned the lamp off that I plugged in on the floor, beside the bed. I could not see anything. I could not see my own hand. Waving in front of my face. I could see NOTHING. My heart started to beat a little too fast. I tried my breathing exercises I do. When I become overly excited or nervous. I laid there for probably 2.75 minutes. Because not only was it black as smut..the noises had now begun. I don't know how many of you have ever lived in the country. But I am here to tell you. If you are a city girl, it's scary as hell. I had NO idea what the noises were. I can tell you they were not sweet little birds singing. That was for dang sure. This house was a wooden framed house...old heavy windows. And at that minute, it felt as if there were no walls or a roof. The noises were so loud. So close. I am telling you, I could hear crickets jumping in the grass. I imagined bear roaming around, and tigers creeping through the fields.
That was it, I was up. Feet were back on the floor. And I was stumbling, fumbling for a light. Found it. Now, because I knew if I was going to get any sleep at all...I would have to find six more. Six more lights. I slept with every dang light in that house on for two nights. My boys got there on Sunday, and I was somewhat better. But first thing that Monday morning, I was calling Talquin Electric. I wanted a pole erected in my front yard. With a light put on it. Strategically placed where it would shine through my entire, pitch black yard. They said there was a waiting list. It might take several weeks. I told them that was unacceptable. I could not live without two weeks worth of sleep. The lady said she would see what she could do. I said I would pay extra. They were out there in four days. And then there was light.
We had an incident about a year after we moved there. Zach had left one of his battery powered vehicles on our front porch. It was stolen the week before Christmas. I was terrified. Because I knew it was there one night and gone the next morning. So while we slept, someone came up on my front porch and stole it. Well, that called for MORE LIGHTS. We had a front porch light. I felt it was not bright enough. I went and bought a bigger watt bulb. The KING DADDY DOG of light bulbs. 300 smackeroo watts. We hooked that baby up and I swear, Highway 65 became a landing strip. I could see 2 miles up the road, either direction. I could see deer 5 miles into the woods that were straight across the highway from us. I was perfectly fine with the light it provided. My neighbors however were losing sleep. Their animals were confused. They had their days and nights mixed up. We were forced to lower the wattage...but not by much.
Everything afterward was pretty much alright, until Josh moved out. All of a sudden, my home was no longer safe to me..again. The home we had lived in for almost six years. I went to Bell and Bates and had wooden sticks cut to fit in all my windows. I stood them up cross ways. To keep the windows from going up and down. But my favorite addition was a dead bolt. One like I know, none of you have EVER seen in your life. Except maybe on a bank vault. This dead bolt was almost too big to go on the door frame. As a matter fact, right after I had it installed, Joshua and one of his best buddies were at the house. I was showing them my new deadbolt. I said, I bet you no one is coming through that door now. Justin, the son of a local church deacon, looked at me, just as serious and said, "Miss Michelle, I don't think Jesus could get through that door."
A year or so later, Zach and I moved in with WD. I began to sleep normally again. All night. No scaredy cat.
But every now and again, Mims will had to travel for work. Sometimes he is gone 3 or 4 days at the time. My light bill increases for the month I am sure. Because I sleep with lights sprinkled on, all through the house. I refuse to let Zach sleep with his door shut. Which is normal for him. I tell him it is so I can hear him in case anything happens. But it's really so he can hear me, should something get ME and I start screaming. I have lowered myself to begging him to sleep with me. Mims and I have a king size bed, there is plenty of room. But my now, fifteen year old son refuses. Looks at me like I am crazy and refuses.
I imagine, when Zach is grown and gone, if Mims still travels, I will have to hire someone to stay with me. Unless I have talked him into installing a full blown security system by then. Being a scaredy cat is not fun and it is humiliating. But that's all about the dark and the unknown. Mess with me in the daylight, and I will clean your clock.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Monday, January 17, 2011
When I became pregnant with Joshua. He was all that was on my mind. And, as the years passed, he remained the only child on my mind. Having a spouse that drinks too much, and being strapped financially, do not equal to...you need more children. I had one glimmer of surprise and hope when Josh was about 1 1/2 years old. But that was not to be. So, the years continued to pass.
Somewhere around the time Joshua was about seven years old, our lives changed for a couple of years. My ex husband quit drinking. At all. Life was better, he and I were getting along, and the Lord blessed us again. Joshua was eight years old. Everyone was excited. I was thirty years old, and ready for another child. I was a little worried about Joshua. He had been my one and only for so long. We were so close. For years, we were all each other had. If you know anything about a parent who drinks, you will understand what I am saying. But that seemed to be in the past. And it was..for awhile.
Zachary is born. How in the world would two boys nine years apart ever get along. How would they ever have anything in common. How would I balance the time I had between two children, who would obviously be miles and years apart.
From the day Zachary entered our house..it worked. It just all worked. Joshua was like any other "only" child at first. A little jealous. A little wary. But Joshua's heart is as big as Idaho. And none of that lasted very long. Zachary gave us humility, a share gene, laughter and love. He was such a happy baby. We all needed a dose of what Zachary brought with him.
Now I will not tell you they didn't fuss. They did. Like any brothers of any age.."He's in my room, he's in my things, he's touching me, he's talking to me, he won't play with me". But they both loved each other with a passion I could have never imagined.
My marriage began to deteriorate again. The drinking had resumed. And we divorced. My boys', holding onto security, and each other, became even closer. We moved to Quincy. Just the three of us. And they grew closer still.
Joshua moved out of our home when he was 18 years old. He was ready to live his own life the way he wanted to live it. I had placed some personal restrictions and Joshua wanted to be on his own. He was ready to spread his wings and live. Joshua was 18 years old and Zachary was 9 years old. This was the first "real" time I saw how deep their love ran for each other. Joshua packed his things over a period of days. And on the last day Joshua was to move the last of his things out, we were at home. He was getting ready to leave and Zachary took once last shot at trying to make him stay. He ran out of the house and hysterically flung himself onto Joshua, his body racked with tears, sorrow and pain. Joshua was literally prying Zachary's hands from his body. I know it broke Joshua's heart, because it ripped mine out of the frame.
The next week, I thought things were a little better. Zachary and I had been home for about an hour. I had been cooking supper, it was done, and I was looking for Zach to tell him it was ready to eat. I looked all through the house. Walked out the front door, then around to the back. Calling his name. Receiving no response. No Zach. As I came back inside again, my heart was beating faster than normal. My insides were feeling ooky. Like it does right before a Mother starts to panic. Mothers everywhere will know what I mean. And then I turned toward Joshua's old room. The door was shut. We were keeping it shut. It was empty and sad. I pushed open the door. And there sat my baby, on the floor, up against the wall, where Josh's bed used to be. In that cold, empty room. Crying. Zachary never cries. But his body was shaking and he was crying so very hard. I remember whispering his name. I think because I could barely get it to come out of my mouth. My tongue felt frozen. My mouth was dry. I went over to his little body and sat down beside him. And we just cried. It was the loneliest I think either of us have probably ever felt. After a few minutes I held out my hand, he took it and we walked out of that empty room together. Broken. And quiet. Trying in our own way, to figure out, how we were going to get past this time in our lives. How to deal with the amputation of a limb from our bodies.
We did. Get past it. It was difficult, and we didn't quite know what to do with each other alone. Zach and I. But we learned. We learned to coexist without our best friend. Joshua made sure he spent as much time as possible with Zachary. They spent many Saturday's together. Walking the mall, going to the movie theater and eating out at their favorite food places.
The next time I knew that nothing in this world would ever break these brothers apart was about three years later. Mims and I had finally made two houses into one, and we were all living together. Mims, Zach and I . Zachary was 12 and Joshua was 21. Earlier I told you that when Joshua moved out we had a difference of opinion of how he could live, while in my house. Joshua told me when he was eighteen years old that he was gay. I have to say, I had no idea. Not really. Do mothers ever really know? The fact that he was gay was not the problem. I loved my son the second before he told me he was gay, and I loved him the second after. But Zachary was still a small boy. He was nine years old. I didn't feel he was old enough to understand those things. So Joshua living freely and open in our home, would not be possible. Not then. And that was not fair to Joshua. He deserved what everybody else wants. To love and be loved. Open and free.
I'm going to take a minute and explain my personal reasoning. For waiting to tell Zachary. Children are mean. Teenagers are mean. When Zachary learned about his brother, I wanted him to understand. I did not want to tell him about Joshua until he was old enough to understand himself. His own body. He had not even gone through puberty yet. I didn't want Zachary questioning himself or his own manhood. Questioning who he was, and what would he be? And more important that all of that, I didn't want him to ever be ashamed or embarrassed of the brother he loved more than life. I didn't want him sitting on the back of a school bus, listening to the older boys calling each other faggot or queer and him sink back quietly in his seat. Ashamed of his brother. Zachary has always stood tall and larger than life. I would not let that change. I have no regrets about my decision. But I have to admit, I highly underestimated my youngest son.
When the time came to tell Zachary, and it just was, the time. Josh and I both sat down, and talked to him together. And told him. I have never seen Zachary more angry than that day. At me, at Joshua. How dare we think he would not understand that. How dare we think he would care. How dare we think we would know how he felt or that it would ever matter. How dare we think he would love Joshua less or differently. How dare we would think he could ever be ashamed of his best friend, his brother. That is the day I knew. Nothing would ever separate or come between these two brothers. Nothing. Ever.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Sunday, January 16, 2011
As I have said before, me and the boys moving to Quincy was one of the best things I ever did. I've told you about our first house out on HWY 65, and all the space it had. Wonderful acres of space. Good for boys. Good for boys who ride battery powered jeeps, motorcycles and dump trucks. Plenty of space for speeding bikes. And you know, if you have a bike, you have GOT to have bike ramps. To speed and jump like the pros. Zach got a set for Christmas or maybe his birthday in March. I can't quite remember the occasion we chose to bring those lifts of death into our lives. He never got badly hurt on them. A few tumbles, falls, and scratches. Nothing major. The worst thing to come out of having these ramps..happened to me.
When we moved here, I still had my 1987 Blazer. It was a good old vehicle. I coddled and cradled it. I ended up driving that thing almost 13 years. Mostly, because I was strapped for money, and it was paid for. Several incidents almost brought that poor Blazer to it's death. But we were always able to revive her. In 2002, I sold the old girl, and I was able to buy another vehicle. A 1998 used, black Chevrolet Buick. Had less than 12,000 miles on it and only one previous owner. An older lady that lived right here in Quincy. What a wonderful find for me. That baby was built low to the ground. The car, not the older lady. And as it turns out..I might should have kept my Blazer just a liiiiiitle bit longer.
It was Spring and Tee-Ball season had already begun. Zach has played some kind of sport since he was able to hold a ball. And Mims, Josh and I have been following him around for years to watch. This Saturday began like any other. We're running around, trying to get everything together. No matter how hard we tried, the night before plan never seemed to work out. The next day, the day of whatever it is for the moment, we are scrambling. Scrambling to find gloves, the missing shoe, the lucky sock. And, as time is crowding in, and we are losing our extra time allowed, I begin to fuss. " Why can you not do what I ask you do to? Why are we always running around at the last minute? This is your deal, I ask you to take responsibility. You know, I would really like to sleep late one Saturday, maybe I will next Saturday since I am the only one who seems to care about getting you where you need to be with all of your things." Sound familiar to anyone? And so it goes.
We are finally out of the house. I'm hustling everybody to the vehicle. And I stop. Zach's dang bike is in the way..again. Right in the pathway to the car. I almost trip over it. Causing yet another streaming barrage of garbage to come out of my mouth. "How many times do I have to tell you to put your bike up when you are through riding it? Laying right out here in the front yard for God and everybody to see. When it gets stolen don't come crying to me. And I'm not riding the roads looking to see which little boy is riding your bike when it happens..do you hear me"? Needless to say, although the bike is being moved, no one is really listening to me. Me and my rant.
Now, we're in the car. I'm breathing hard, because I have been belting out my words at the highest possible volume. Josh is sitting next to me saying nothing, because he has always been the wise child. The child who knows when to remain silent. And Zach is sitting in the back. Looking sullen and angry. Like he would like to tell me a thing or two himself. I can see him. As he thinks this. In my rear view mirror.
I begin to back out of the drive. And suddenly we are slammed to a stop. I cannot imagine what it is. It's not the bike. I'm looking back at the porch. And I can see the bike. I try to back up again. Now, I already know what your thought process is..and to answer the obvious question. I don't know what made me think, if I could not move before, I could possibly move now. I am rattled. From fussing. Over missing gloves, a shoe, and a lucky sock. Over bikes laying in the pathway, ripe for stealing. Going backward again does not work. It's worse. We all slam forward. Victims of whiplash at this point.
I get out of the vehicle. I go around to the back of my vehicle, to make sure there are no carcasses lying underneath. Because at this point, I cannot imagine what else I could have hit. Then I see it. The Ramp. The high end of the ramp is LODGED underneath the back end of my vehicle. Like completely lodged at this point. Because I have not only backed up once. I have tried to back up twice. Which has ensured that the ramp, if it wasn't stuck the first time, is without a shadow of a doubt, stuck now.
Now, the ranting really begins. The crazy lady has been set loose. I am screaming and hollering at the top of my lungs for everybody to get out of the vehicle. GET OUT NOW. They both climb warily out. Their eyes are darting rapidly, back and forth. I am supposing, looking for a place to run. I'm not sure at this point, if they knew what was wrong, what had really happened. But they knew by looking at my exploding face, spewing awful, unsanitary words, that it was not good. I am mid-way through my rant, and the words " YOUR @%###$ RAMP is under my vehicle. DO YOU SEE IT?? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THIS? THERE IS NO TELLING WHAT HAS BEEN RIPPED OUT AND TORN UNDERNEATH MY VEHICLE. THE ONLY VEHICLE I HAVE, YOUNG MAN. THANKS TO YOU WE MAY BE WALKING. AND GUESS WHAT, YOU CAN KISS THAT TEE-BALL GAME GOOD-BYE TODAY, WE WILL NEVER MAKE IT NOW. "
Yes, all that and probably much more came out of my mouth for another five minutes or so. Until I was exhausted and could holler no more. I was trying to calm down and think. When I remembered. I could not just NOT go to that tee-ball game. My parents were there waiting on us! They came to all of Zach's games. They didn't have a cell phone. They refused to succumb to the age of our technical society. To be TRACKED down. So, how in the world would I let them know? They would be frantic with worry. My mind is whirling in a million directions. And all the while, I began to rant again, with my newest crisis. My parents. And a whole string of.." You see what ALL of this has caused" began.
Then, it comes to me. What to do. I will go forward, to loosen the ramps. Made perfect sense to me. If going backward tightened the hold. Forward should loosen it. I shout at my children to stand back. Get out of the way. I get back in the vehicle and it begins. I go forward, nothing. I back up again. I know, I know. I don't know why I did it, I just did. Then I go forward again. FAST. Nothing. I roll the windows down and tell my boys to move again. Further. Move further back. And then it begins. I begin to RACE through our yard. Forward. Then slamming on brakes. As fast as I can. To loosen the ramp. Trying to dislodge the ramp. ALL OVER THE YARD. The front. The side. I am doing 30mph in my front yard. Slinging dirt and grass everywhere. Slinging dirt and grass, because my vehicle is now a tiller. A plow. I have ruts the size of craters in my yard. I proceed with this action for another five minutes or so. At some point, as I am crazily plowing through my yard, trying to avoid trees and my swing...I see their faces. My childrens' faces. They are standing there with stunned disbelief, and what appears to be, something kin to horror, plastered across their faces.
Then it happens. In the next minute or two, the ramp comes loose. I can feel the difference when it happens. My vehicle is no longer hampered by the ramp. It is moving freely now, and appears to still be, all in one piece.
I pull up next to my children and tell them to get in. Tell them we have a tee-ball game to go to. Neither one of them looked very happy. And neither one of them wanted to get back into that vehicle or any other vehicle with me. Ever again.
In the years after, when Joshua tells this story, I feel totally misrepresented. Zach says his memories of all that are not very clear. Joshua however, has no problem relaying what a maniacal crazy woman I was that day. I feel, as I always do when these types of things happen. That I was doing whatever it took to GET IT DONE. My kid had a tee-ball game, and people were waiting on us. Yes, we had a crisis, but we had to get past it. To get it done.
And as usual, when I make a horses behind of myself, I always feel I must justify my behavior somehow. With something. That Spring, I had not planted any of my spring Caladuim bulbs yet. And guess what? I saved myself $25. WOO HOO! I didn't have to rent a Tiller from Bell and Bates. Between Zachs' ramp and my Buick, I had already tilled that land to completion. GO ME!
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I have had a bad temper as far back as I can remember. Sometimes, it can actually result in a funny story. Most times not.
I was seven months pregnant. With Joshua. I had decided that our ugly 1968 single wide trailer needed some home improvement. I got the bright idea, that we would paint the entire outside of the trailer. Before I started it was Aqua with White trim. Yes. I said Aqua. I also said...1968. Quit laughing and keep up. I bought paint. Brown and Beige. And proceeded to get started. I was not working, it was filling my time, and it was serving a purpose. I became "the project" of our trailer park. As you can probably well imagine. A woman seven months pregnant on a ladder..painting. Draws a lot of attention. Now of course, I could not do it all, my ex husband had to help. And he pretty much did when he would get home in the afternoons. Not fast enough to suit me, but I have always had an instant gratification flaw. And I have ALWAYS been a tad OCD. I have an insatiable need for cleanliness and order. While my ex husband had absolutely no need for either.
The paint was not what caused the problem. It was the grass. The grass that was up to my knees. I had tried earlier in the day to cut the grass. I could not get the mower to crank. I had gone out several times throughout the day. Trying to crank it. Each time without results. I had waited all day for him to get home. So he could crank it for me. So I could cut the grass. He came in, sat down on the couch. And that was as far as he intended to go.
I asked him nicely. Several times. I began to get agitated. Now, I still stand by the notion that one of the obvious factors of all this agitation was my seven months of pregnancy. Pregnant women are not always rational. But in all fairness, I probably cannot pin the entire incident I am about to tell you about, on a blown up belly and crazy hormones. My strife excelled to a level of out of control and crazy. How dare he, not get up off his behind, and come crank the mower for me. I was, after all, willing to cut the grass. For which I thought he should be ashamed anyway, to tell you the truth. What man, would really let his pregnant wife get out and cut the grass with a push mower? Mine. Mine would. He wouldn't get up. He wouldn't come and do it for me. Not right now he said. Mistake number one...I was drinking a glass of tea. Mistake number two, the glass was now empty. Mistake number three, I am a thrower. I am a fit pitcher from waaaaaay back. It was inevitable. That glass was about to leave my hands and nothing good was going to come of it.
I slung it at the wall, behind the couch, above his head. With all my might. Now, for this part, I think he should take complete responsibility. If he had just let it fly, let it hit the wall. None of what I am about to tell you, would have ever happened. But no, he had to be the big man. He had to try and keep it from shattering all over the wall and getting glass everywhere. Which everyone knows is THE best part for the professional fit pitcher. He tried to CATCH IT. With his hands! Who in their right mind wants to catch a glass flying across the room at the speed of light? Him. He did.
He begins to bleed. I feel a little bad. But not much. I am hollering at him..telling him what an idiot he is..why did he do that..look at him..getting blood everywhere. Look at what you've done. When, we both begin to notice. His hand is not just bleeding. It is spurting. A piece of that glass had cut into his finger and hit an artery. There is blood everywhere. Spurting. Every time his heart beats. I know at this point I have got to get him to the hospital. So they can stitch him up.We wrap a towel around it and it we are off.
Now, by the time we get to the hospital, which is only 10 minutes away..that towel is soaked. With blood. It looks as if his whole hand must be gone. Nurses are surrounding us. They must be thinking the same thing. I am trying to explain what has happened. Not what caused it of course. Why I should I be the crazy monster when he was the lazy ex husband? They take him back so they can get a look at what's going on. An hour later, they come back out. I think we are leaving. We are not. Because of the location of the cut, because of the way it went into his finger...unless they do SURGERY to repair the nerves..he may lose use of that finger. He would be staying over-night.
Now, I do not have to tell you how awful that sounded. How ashamed I felt. I had to call his parents and relay this story. Which was shameful and humilating. I had to call my parents and do the same. And funny enough, though it's not really funny at all..I spent 20 minutes trying to convince my Daddy, that my ex husband did not do anything (physical) to me to have caused all of that. I'm sure he found it hard to comprehend that his sweet little girl could have done such a thing. Well, maybe not too hard. He is my Daddy after all, he knows me well.
To this day, I don't know why we went to the trouble of having that reconstructive surgery on his finger. Because while he has use of the finger, it is still crooked. He tells everyone he comes across (or he used to at least) that I am the reason his finger is now deformed. I maimed him for life. In a fit of anger. For no good reason. I however, think he should thank me. He has been asked more questions about that finger than you would believe. What a conversation piece I have provided for him. Entertainment even, if you will. That crooked finger has brought him more attention than any other part of his body. What a special finger it is now. So unique. Because his finger..leans just a tad.. unnaturally.. to the left. Heck, who wants to be like everybody else, I ask you? You can bet your bippy..nobody else can give the finger like he can. He just better watch out who he flips off in traffic though...talk about being a dead-on pick... in a line-up.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
And as I looked around, watching the games, and then the ceremony..I realized. My land...time has just absolutely flown by. At some point during the night, I watch Zach and a cutie classmate pass us by. Heading for the concession stand. Zach and Callie are waiting their turn in line, another buddy walks up..is janking with Zach..trying to give him a hug..and they are all laughing as Zach dodges Myles and his silliness. Then Zach leans in on the counter..and is talking. I cannot tear my eyes away from the scene before me. How grown they all suddenly look. All of a sudden, I recognize that guy. Zach is that cute guy in high school, one of the ones that everyone likes because he's so cute and so funny..and so nice. My kid is THAT kid. When did all that happen?
They find their way back to the end of the gym. With their buds. To finish watching the game. Everything is in real time for me now. The Miss Munroe contestants are being introduced. I love them all. They are all beautiful and talented girls. Although I do have a special young lady I am rooting a little bit harder for...to win. She does not win..but she will. She is a very special girl. Her days ahead are bigger than most of us can imagine. Katy Jo is beautiful, inside and out.
The last of the basketball game begins again. And I continue to watch the crowd. Watch the people, the children, and the parents. Most of whom I have known for a very long time. Zach has grown up in this wonderful school called Robert F. Munroe. He has attended from K5 until now, as a Sophomore. It's a small school. One class per grade. So, he has also grown up with the same, give or take a few, 24 kids all of his school life. They are like family. The whole school is like family. The small town, family concept works for Zachary. He has flourished as a child, a son, and a young man. By the time he graduates, he will have spent 13 years of his life with the same small group of children. Year in and year out. What wonderful memories they will all have. And the best part...they will all have the SAME memories. Because they have never been separated. It's almost like a Leave it to Beaver kind of life. What a wonderful way to grow up.
The game is over and we are ready to go. We worked all day, it's 9:45pm, and Mims and I are tired. I climb down from the bleachers. And as always, kids are coming from all different directions to greet me and give out hugs. I am not special. These children are, and they do that for all the parents. I have seen everyone now, but my child. I am looking for him so I can say good bye. There is a dance afterward and I thought he was going to stay. I look from one side to another..no Zach. Then, I spot him. At the end of the gym. Dancing. Silly dancing. What he calls the "white boy's gotta get his groove on" dancing. To Donna Summer's "Last Dance" that is playing out over the loud speakers. I stand there, frozen in time, watching him with his pals. Knowing, that this time too, is passing far too quickly. My mind is a flash drive, capturing memories for safe keeping.
I walk down to where he is..and I just stand there and watch him still. Laughing amongst his friends. He has decided not to stay for the dance. He too, says he is really tired. I listen to his buds banter back and forth, then Zach looks at me and asks for the keys. And there he is. Standing in the gym. With his Letterman jacket on, his curly hair, and his grown body, asking me for keys. So he can drive me and his Dad home. When the heck did all that happen? When did he become the almost grown up, driving the old folks home. I'm really just not sure. I try and remember how we got here. To this point. But my eyes are puddling with water, and it's all a blur. Another wonderful memory, blur.
copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Your hair gets thinner. And I mean naturally thinner. Not just because you have decided that L'Oreal Inc. doesn't know what the heck they are talking about. My hair is harder to color than most. So, I decided, if the box says 40 minutes for normal hair, 45 minutes for hard to color hair...then 60 minutes ought to be just perfect! Uh No. I did that for almost year. And then my hair began to give up. And FALL OUT. I am currently on hair color restriction. Have been since September 2010. I must have the salon do that for me now. Or maybe forever. I don't know that my stylist will ever trust me again on my own..with a box of hair color.
My eyes started failing me when I was about 42 years old. For the last 3 years, I have had my lens changed once a year. They are beginning to look like Coca Cola bottles. So thick. Like the kids that we made fun of in school. The geeky ones with the thick lens. I cannot see two feet in front of me. And read?? FORGET IT. I went to the grocery store a few months back. Left home without my glasses. I got half way up the road and realized it. I thought to myself, I can do this. The grocery store is nothing. I get the same things every week. Well yeah, I do. Like milk and bread. That I have to read the expiration dates on...I left the buggy right where it stood. On the bread aisle. That was as far as I got.
And the wrinkles. Lawd have mercy. The ones around your eyes and your mouth. On your hands. And age spots on your hands. No miracle cream that I have found, really gets rid of any of that.
My bones hurt every day. All of them. Not a day goes by that I don't know I have a back. By the end of the day my feet hurt. I am overweight. But I choose to say it's old age. Funny how we pick and choose being old as being our problem when it suits us.
I don't remember the last time someone asked me for my ID. Well, yes, I guess I do. Today when I had blood work done. Now, I know this was for security and identification reasons. But really, is anyone really going to come in and voluntarily give blood for someone else. I wasn't having a drug test. Because you know, people will loan out their urine in a minute. But blood..nah. That involves needles and pain. Most folks are on their own with that one.
And my memory...it is absolutely shot out. I cannot remember from one minute to the next. I make everybody right everything down. I have a purse full of sticky notes. I have no idea who they came from now, but I have them. So, if you give me a note, better right your name down on it. Or else when I come back from CVS you might get a bottle of Maalox instead of the chocolate covered cherries you requested. I leave myself messages on my own work phone and house phone. You should see my face at 8am, when I am listening to the messages on my phone. And the one I left for myself the night before begins to play, and I am wondering, why I am hearing a voice that sounds familiar, because I didn't remember doing it.
Today though, today was bad. I had appointments in Tallahassee for some medical tests (which I am finding are a MAJOR part of growing old) and blood work. I am about home. Still driving, talking to my mother on my cell phone about my morning. I get all the way home. Getting out of my truck, under my carport. I turn to get something out of my backseat. And I see him. A State Trooper. A very young State Trooper. I just stood there. The blue lights were going. No siren. I guess if I had not turned around, I would have come straight on into my house. He would have had to have gotten out and knocked on my back door! Anyway, I asked him was he following me. He said yes. I asked for how long. He said for about a 1/2 mile. I was shocked..stunned..I said really? He said yes, ma'am. And asked to see my license and went back to his car. With the blue flashing lights..still going. About 10 minutes later, he rolls the window down, and calls me over to his car. He asked me did I have my registration and insurance cards. I said yes, would you like for me to get them. He ignored me. He said, "I am going to try and help you today Mrs. Mims. Where were you coming from", he asks me. I tell him, and why. Now I have to admit, I laid it on pretty thick. About my medical stuff. And I shamelessly took off my jacket so he could see my bandaged arm from my blood work. My proof. He's still writing, not talking. Paper is coming out of a printer. Yes, he had a printer in his car. I was looking all up in that rig. I was not despondent enough that I forgot about being nosy. He pulls the paper off the printer and says, "I am going to help you today. I am writing you a warning ticket for the 62 in the 45. But for your non-proof of registration and insurance"...I try and interrupt, he held his hand up..and continued..."that I was not able to see today, I am writing you a ticket for both. If you take these tickets, to the courthouse, with your proof of registration and insurance, the tickets will be waived." I could have kissed his face. I thanked him a gazillion times and swore to him again that I did not see him. I would not have just kept driving like that. Funny how old people have the need to be believed. He said, "Yes ma'am, it sounds like you had a bad morning. But, please do me a favor. If you have to get back out on the road today, please try and pay closer attention to the speed zones and your surroundings." I promised that I would, like the sweet little old lady that I am, and I waved as he drove off. It's a southern thing, we wave at everyone who's leaving. From anywhere.
I don't really know when it started. This getting old deal. It just seemed to jump on me from out of nowhere. But it's here, as much as I try and ignore it. I hate all the bad stuff about it, loss of eyesight, hearing, memory, and mind. But I try and think of the good stuff. Old people get discounted airfare, hotel rooms, and restaurant costs. At least I'll have more money in my pocket. I may not know how to count it anymore..but I'll have it.