Sunday, October 23, 2011

Smoke Burning, Eye Glazing, Good Times

Kornbread Jr. crazily eying my beautiful Sycamore Tree with his saw.
As I pick up the clothes that are in the dirty pile, I catch a whiff. I began to feel a little lightheaded. My eyes roll towards the back of my head, and I am sixteen again. Back yard bonfires. Teenagers. Laughter. Sometimes tears. There's always going to be a break up and a match up on any given night. And smoke. Glorious, hickory smoke.

I didn't need alcohol when I was a teenager. Put me around a campfire and you'd better put a leash on me. What a natural aphrodisiac! Whew! If I went to party without a boyfriend or a date, and there was a bonfire rolling smoke, I had one before I left. The minute the smell would hit my nose, my eyes would begin to glaze over, my legs would get weak, and any boy in camouflage, without a date, was destined to meet me.

I can't say I'm much different now. The weakness is still there. If I stop at a curb store during hunting season, and a pile of those men climb out of big trucks, dressed in camo, I have to sit in my vehicle with the doors locked...until they are I can't get out or else I may embarrass myself! And low and behold if there are smoke piles burning in the adjoining neighborhoods. I'd just as well not even leave my house.  That loaf of bread can wait.

A few minutes ago I heard the saw crank up. I don't have a thing for saws, but I do have a thing for the trees they cut down, the burn piles they create, and the smell that comes after. My heart began to race a bit. I walked outside to see what was going on. A couple of trees had already taken the hit and Zach was dragging what was left to the road. I was mostly making sure none of MY trees were taking a hit, and Zach of course, smiled and said, of course not Mama, in his sweet little boy voice. I asked him why we weren't going to burn them, he reminded me we live in the city now.

Darn this city living for so many things. Non-burning laws is one of them. When the boys and I lived out on Hwy 65 we had a HUGE burn pile that we kept going year round'. And first sign of it being cool enough, we'd drag lawn chairs around it and sit half the night. Toast marshmallows on sticks, hot dogs, and watch Zach continue to throw stuff in it to watch it flame and spark up. Mims was always on stand by with the water hose. Just in case we let it get out of control. Which we did. A few times.

I have passed this love of smell onto my children. We ALL have very strong smell sensor's.  Zach walked though the house with his white undershirt from last night, rammed up his nostrils, sucking up the smell as hard as he could. And I'm pretty sure I saw a little eye rolling going on.  No doubt, he loves that smell as much as I do. I wonder how he feels about girls in camouflage?

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Going Forward Or Backing Up, It All Feels The Same

There are a lot of days that when I wake up, before my feet even hit the floor, I know, are not going to be good days. Today was not one of those days. Even knowing that my preliminary lab work had to be done, I woke up in a positive mood.  Even though I had to drive all the way to Tallahassee to be stuck with a needle the size of a crocheting needle, anywhere from 3-5 times before a successful blood draw would happen, did not deter my good mood.

Off I go, driving the speed limit. Don't need any tickets. I thought about stopping at the Flying J to fill up with gas. But I had a half of a tank. The procrastinator that lies deep inside of me won. Well, not like deep, deep. It sort of lies right on top. And comes out a lot. Just the same. I didn't stop. It could wait.

I arrive at the Southern Medical Group building. I enter the closed in parking lot and find a parking spot relatively easy. A nice, big, wide open one. The kind that me and my truck can turn into without leaving half of my truck in one space, and the other half of my truck in another.  I gather my things and prepare to get out of the truck. I'm standing outside, start to walk off and remember, I have not locked my truck. I use the "clicker" on the key ring and lock it. Now everyone who knows me well will tell you, I rarely lock my vehicle. I have no real reason, I just don't. But you will never know of me NOT locking it if I have parked in any kind of parking deck. I watch a lot of CSI and I know, people get killed more in parking decks than any other type scenario on those shows.

My truck is locked and I am going inside. The lab is to the right, I walk in, and I am the only one standing to be waited on. I look inside the waiting room to the left, and there are only six people sitting in there. Oh mercy me, this is going to be my day. I sign in, give the pertinent information that is required to prove I am who I say I am and they tell me to have a seat.  Which I have to say while I'm here talking about this, who in their right mind would give false information to have lab work done? Truly? I mean, you don't get drugs or pain killers, you get PAIN. No one fakes being ANYONE to receive free PAIN.

Now the doctor I go to for my blood pressure and low iron is in the Internal Medicine building. I am ALWAYS the youngest person in the room. I am USUALLY one of the few still walking on their on accord. I walk in the waiting room and everyone is looking behind me to see who I might have brought to their appointment that day. Because I have neither a walker, a cane or a wheelchair...and I am under the age of seventy years old. 

I sit there maybe ten minutes, long enough to send my first text message because I am bored, when they call my name. WOW....ten minutes. Cool. I get up, walk to the back and get ready for the worst part of my day. I get a little panicked when I walk in, there are two women taking blood, and I only recognize one of them. "My girl" is not working that area today. I know because I ask where "my girl" is, and they tell me she is giving flu shots down the hall. I'm starting to worry now, because the "new girl" is taking my purse and asking  me to take a seat.

She begins to poke and prod trying to find a good vein. I tell her straight up, I am a hard stick. She asks, is there any particular place you would like me to start? And without missing a beat, I say, wherever you know you REALLY see a vein and can draw blood the first time. And the search begins. Both arms twice, both hands twice. The nurse beside us has seen and drawn four other patients and we're still "feeling our way".

Finally she thinks she has found a good vein in my right hand. I ask her not to 'announce' here comes the stick, I turn my head, and she goes to work. I grimace a bit, the needle is in and she hit jackpot!!! WOO HOO!!! Crazy unheard of for me! She has three vials to take, so it rocks on for 10 minutes or so. She removes the needle, bandages me up, I look at her name tag, thank her profusely by her name, and commit it to memory. For next time.

I'm back in the parking deck, practically skipping to my truck. I pull my keys out of my purse and begin to push the unlock button on my clicker. It doesn't sound quite right, I reach out to open my door, and it's still locked. I do it again. Still locked. Front and back door on the drivers side is locked. I walk around to the other side. I click again, and the back door on the passengers side unlocks, but not the front. I open the door, my mind thinking, "Crap, I'm gonna have to climb over the middle console to get to my drivers seat". My senses catch up with my panic, and I realize, "Silly girl, you can just reach in and unlock the front passenger door manually and scooch across the front seat and unlock your door."

Front passenger door is now open, I climb up into the truck, on my knees, with all of my backside and it's glory, scooching across the front seat. I unlock my door. I begin to now, take my glorious backside and begin scooching backwards to get out.  I climb back onto the step first, then back down on the concrete. I turn around. And two vehicles down, is a ninety plus year old man, watching me. Window rolled down, hand propped on his chin and the door frame...watching. Probably had not seen a sight such as that in years..if ever.

Now I'm a little frazzled. But nonetheless, I'm in my truck and all is good. I drive to the gate lift, the one that you have to put your dollar in to get out of the parking deck, and I can't reach. I can't reach because I have short arms. I try to open the door, and of course, since my truck was engaged, the doors had locked again. I manually unlock it and begin to put my dollar in. I put that perfectly straight, non-crumpled dollar in sixteen times before it would take it. I had half of the senior citizens of Leon County behind me, waiting to get through the gate.

The trip back to Gadsden County and work is uneventful. I get to work and am telling a co-worker about my truck problem, telling her I'll have to find time to get it to the Chevrolet place to be checked. I am not even half way through my story when she looks at me and says ..."Why didn't you use your key?" I said what? Again she said  "Why didn't you use your key to unlock your door, the key itself would still work...right?"

I had nothing left. Not a word. My face had gone blank. My mind, even more so. She walked over, hugged my neck, patted my back, and said 'Nothing personal, but please don't make any major financial decisions today."

So the questions here today are, have we become that dependent on new technology , or am I just an idiot? Is this a part of that whole menopausal 'you'll lose your mind for a few years' thing or am I just an idiot? I swear to sugar, I questioned my ability to qualify for an adult the rest of the afternoon.

But more than any of that, I was really wishing, that if I were indeed, very possibly, entering the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, that I had at least, had the forethought to get the phone number, of that ninety plus year old man in the parking deck. Because by next week, I might not even remember I had an admirer, two cars down!

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Late Night Treat

Sitting on the glider last night, relaxing and talking with Mims, when his cell phone rings. Mims goes inside to answer it, and it's my Daddy. As he comes back outside, with his cell phone, talking so loud that all neighbors can hear, my mind begins to trail off and I'm smiling.

They think they have this secret code. He and my Daddy. Only it's not so secret. When they only want to talk to one another, man talk, they call each others cell phone. Because they know, no one else is going to answer it. They're not going to be forced to make nice social talk with anyone else, in order to get to, who they really called for. The man talk begins as I scuffle my feet to make the glider move with ease and grace.

At some point the subject turns to drinking. Alcohol. Which is strange, because neither my Daddy nor Mims drink anything alcohol related anymore. My ears are winding in and out of the words coming from Mims when I realize they are talking about my Granddaddy. And his nightly "treat".

Now to fully understand all of this story and how special the events are to me, you'll need to go back to the beginning of my blog and read the Butterfly stories. There are only a few. It's not like you have to buy a book to catch up. The blogs are free, and are a direct relation to this blog today. Makes everything come full circle, if you will. Or not. You can wing it and try and figure it out yourself.

A few years before my Granddaddy passed, I invited him to stay the weekend with me and my boys. I had already moved to Quincy, to the house out on Hwy 65. None of my grandparents had ever spent the night/weekend in any of my homes before so this was quite a deal for me. That and my relationship with my Granddaddy was probably the most unusual of them all.

He drove down on a Saturday. Joshua and Zach took him for the tour, showed him where he and Zach went to school. Joshua was not driving yet, so they of course came back with wild, funny stories of my Granddaddy's driving abilities. We all had a nice big dinner, we talked and laughed and remembered.

After dinner, the dishes all washed and the kitchen clean, we all retired to the front porch. It was a nice evening outside, perfect for front porch swinging and talking. My Granddaddy went to Josh's bedroom where he would be sleeping, went into his suitcase and got out his "treat" bottle. Every night, for as long as I could remember, he would have a small shot of whiskey as his nightly treat. Sometimes he would smoke his cigarette, sometimes not. Depending on the timing. If he was in a flux of "I'm not smoking anymore" or if he had succumbed to the old habit and he was. He would pour less than a quarter of his treat juice into the glass, three fingers I think they call it, sipping it slowly, waiting on the familiar warmth to fill his body. Sometimes he had a cold beer as his "chaser", but not always. But it was one shot, and one beer, no more.

My Granddaddy was in World War II. He was in the Navy and was injured before he came home. At some point during his treatment he became addicted to the pain medication. It delayed his return home by several months. I think he always knew, that he could become addicted again. Which was the very reason for the one shot, one beer and no more.

The talk on the glider last night brought flashes of memory crashing inside my head. Of my granddaddy, and how proud he was to see where we were, where me and the boys had moved. I can remember sitting on the swing that night, wondering if my MaMa was looking down at all of us. Looking down at her two great grandchildren, the youngest who she never knew at all before she left us. My Mims, who she never knew but would have been crazy about. And her husband, the man who loved her like he would never love another. Listening to us laugh and talk. 

My MaMa had known from the start where we were, where we had moved to, but now, my Granddaddy who was still here, could also be at peace. Once he got back home to Phenix City, Alabama, he could close his eyes at any given moment, and be back here with us. And know that we were safe and in good hands. And happy. All of us were happy.

That weekend meant everything to me. It was a partial healing. A healing of what exactly, I'm not really sure. Two people who never really understood one another. Two people who loved one person as much as you could ever love anyone. And one person, me, who would realize too late, the different forms and measures that love presents itself.

My MaMa was a smart, smart woman. Full of compassion, love, patience and forgiveness. That she loved a man named James Ray Mount was enough for me. And that he loved her, and she married him, made him the luckiest man in the world.

MaMa and Granddaddy, we're all still here in Quincy, over here on Lowe Street. Joshua is in Tuscaloosa, but he and his Josh will be here next weekend. Get some rest. Because we have a weekend full of things to do. Football game on Friday night. Mama and Daddy will be here Sunday for dinner. We'd love for you to come. Let me know when you're here, show me a butterfly or two. Pull up a seat, and sit with us while we laugh, talk and shoot the breeze.  Everything we are began with the two of you. Without you, there would be no us. We love you and thank you for bringing us to one another through your love. See you next weekend, come as you are, stay as long as you can.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Absence Does NOT Make The Heart Grow Fonder

Broken Ties,  riddled with weeds from unkempt behavior
I tried to be the bridge. Last year and the year before, I reached out and did the communicating. Gave the scores by text. Baseball, football, and basketball. Sent pictures. Tagged pictures. Posted and shared publications from your oldest son.

The products of divorce are not responsible for being the communicators in the aftermath. No matter where my children might be, I will not let the lines of communication close down. Even if am the only one calling, I will not let the lines of communication collapse. It's my job, as the parent, to make sure my CHILDREN know that I am paying attention. That I still care.

That I really do wish I hadn't missed your first prom and how handsome you were. Your biggest tackle and the after game re-plays at 2am. Your first break up and the heartache that shows all over your face and in every step you take for weeks. Your first publication and the joy and pride in your voice along with the next seven or eight publications that would follow.  The fear in your voice as a tornado rips through your town, ripping apart everything 7 lanes over. The everyday joys and heartaches of being a teenager and young men maneuvering their way through manhood.

How do parents think it's the child's responsibility to care? Two hours, six hours or twelve hours, you moved away from the child. You need to build that bridge. Maintain that bridge on a regular basis. Reinforce the nails and bindings to keep it strong. To ensure, that ANYTIME someone needs to cross over, there will be no mountains that have formed too high to block the other side.

The thing is, I am here. I am here for everything. I see it all. I absorb all the the good and all of the bad. I gave both of the sex talks to both of the boys. Both of them, more than once. And I mean, good, descriptive, and detailed talks.  And in case you're wondering, I, together with their Daddy, have raised two of the most wonderful and respectful gentlemen anyone would ever meet.

They both know how to fight for the underdog, help those who cannot help themselves, treat both men and women with respect, and work damned hard for what they want. I didn't raise lazy children. They have both had paying jobs since they were fifteen years old. And both learned early, money doesn't grow on trees, come from fairy money angels, but from hard, tough work. If they misbehave, they know there are consequences. If they treat people badly, there are consequences. If they are five minutes late with no phone call, there are consequences.

While I appreciate the monetary assistance you provide, which pays almost half of the youngest child's' tuition, they would both appreciate a real phone call. Or a real text. Or a real comment on their face book wall. I quit sending you pictures or tagging pictures and stories that got no comment. Comments that would have not been for me, but for them.

Every person directly involved in a divorce deserves a second chance. The children, the parents, everyone. Everyone who was part of an unhappy situation deserves to be happy. Children gain bonus parents and sisters and brothers. It should work that way. It doesn't always. Distance can make that hard. Hard, but not impossible. Sometimes, you have to work hard at it. Sometimes, you have to keep putting yourself in their faces, letting them know you care and you're not going away. Infuse yourself in their lives in such a way, there is no doubt, that you are expecting to be a part of it, no matter what. No matter how hard they make it for you.

I did.  I did that. It works. I have bonus children and grandchildren, and they are eight hours away from me.  I have no blood relation, but now I'm a MeMa and I couldn't be prouder. And quite honestly, I haven't even had the pleasure of meeting some of them personally yet.

It's not working out that way for you, because you're not invested. Your soul and your heart are not invested. You're not trying. At all. So, you get what you get. You get silly forward texts that are not addressed to anyone in particular that you send to your sons, that are not answered. You get cell phone messages that are not returned. I know it's like the oldest thing in the book, but we still have a house phone. Call it. You can better believe I can get someone to the phone for you.

Try. Before there is no turning back. It's very close. I hope you understand that. The death of your relationship with your children is so close, you should be able to smell it by now. It's so stagnant, rigor mortise is setting in. Save it. Save the relationships before all you have left are memories of what you left behind.

Quite frankly, if I were part of your new memories, it would scare the hell out of me how easy it is for you to walk away. From your own children, your parents, from everything you used to know. For there, by the grace of God, go they.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Monday, October 3, 2011

As The Seasons Turn

Sweat pants. Dark before six pm. Leaves falling. Yard work is raking instead of mowing and beds are filled with straw. Haystacks with pumpkins and scarecrows. Pumpkin pie and carved pumpkin faces. Spongebob, Superman and Cinderella take over the streets. Buckets filled with sweets and fresh fruits. Cold mornings, warm days, cold nights. Furnaces lit. Wood cut, gathered and stacked. And a lucky few still have cherished wood stoves to claim and light. Yellow, orange, rust and white Mums in twin pots on front porches.

I'm ready for everything October and the next few months brings. Burning leaves with a smoke that intoxicates and perfumes the air with a scent that makes my spine tingle with pleasure. And neighborhood bonfires. Nights spent with good people and loads of laughter. And smores. I'm ready to fumble for my keys in the dark, because I've worked late and now the sun has gone down. Gone down an hour or so earlier than summer time would know about. I have already started gathering winter blankets to put on top of bedsheets and under comforters. I'm watching Zach scrambling for a jacket in the morning before he leaves for school. 

I'm ready to sit on the front porch glider, bundled up in a warm hoodie until my bones begin to ache from the cold. I'm ready to fill the feeders for all the birds that are surely headed South for the winter. Further down South, but we will see them first. I'm ready to gather pecans to crack and shell as I sit and watch football on television because it's too cold and nasty to venture outside.  I'm ready to cook big pots of soup and big pots of chili for those cold weekends when you spend your time looking for whatever will warm your soul from the inside out.

And I think I am REALLY, REALLY ready to see Zach in something else besides those dang nylon gym shorts and white tee shirts. there a teenage boy ANYWHERE who owns any other clothing than that I ask you?! He has so many nice shorts and shirts (I would say nice tops here, but if he reads this he will freak out!) that I have maybe seen on his body once or twice. Instead he would rather wear some FAMU hoodie somebody 'gave' him, several tee shirts I KNOW I did not purchase, and Tater's camouflage clog shoes he wears like they were made of gold.

And with the cold, brings the next season of ball, which is basketball. And even if Zach decides not to play school ball (which he is pondering as I write) I know our own driveway and goal will get a workout like nobody's business. He and Matt and whoever else piles up at our house, will be right outside my front window, whooping and hollering, laughing, trash talking, shucking and jiving. Bringing life to a too long dead driveway and this old lady sitting on the inside listening. And smiling.

The man cave will come alive with ping pong matches, Foosball games, and musical instruments long neglected for more fun outside.  Drums, electric guitars and piano's blaring noise that is truly music to my ears.

Yes, I'm ready to hibernate for awhile. To be able to come home, sling off my work clothes and grab some sweats and a comfortable old tee shirt, claim my recliner and not move. Because I don't have to move. It's dark, it's cold, and I don't have to feel guilty about doing nothing. Get caught up on my reading. I probably read three times the number of books during winter than I do any other time. No guilt. No flower beds to be weeded, no lawn or flowers to be watered, and no sunshine to lure me outside.

But come Spring, be guaranteed, I will be so ready to see it again too. So ready for some warmth, longer days and beautiful blooming flowers. I'll be whining about being ready to go fishing, hooking some worms and smelling some lake water. Kind of brings you to that old saying we've all heard a million and one times, "We're just never satisfied are we?"

So folks, grab a book, a blanket, a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup and join me. Live the good life on the inside for a few months. Get to know everybody in your house again. Get caught on your television shows. Get your inside projects done. And get rested up for the next season in line. I don't know about you, but I'm not getting getting any younger, and it takes these slow, cold winters to help me gear up for those fast, hot summers!

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims