#13 Memories and Fig Preserves

Photo Credit: http://www.indiamike.com
my grandmother........

my grandmother that didn't have a "grandfather" to go with her ............ever....... in my entire life............the young one, I can remember her age easily (my age +40).  I knew her well and visited her often as a child, we lived in the same town and she adored me.

my grandmother, the telephone operator that worked for "Bell." and even retired from the company but didn't know how to make a collect call from a touch tone once she did.

She taught me that I could like and tolerate eating rice (after adding sugar and butter to it), how to play the juke box and dance and sing in the donut shop down the street, how to pick figs from a tree and most of all how it is perfectly ok for me to scream and yell and leave "The" Baptist Church because they didn't "know how to do Church Right."  **disclaimer *I was 4 years old and my memory may not have it all right, but I do know that I left and didn't get in trouble and I wasn't quiet about it. 

I don't think she has been the same for many more years than they are documenting.   She has been dillusional about things such as "paranoid" that people want to and have stolen from her and some even return the goods all when she is not looking.  In addition she was mean to females that tried to help her or give her advice, she was childlike in nature and very jealous of the affections of others (me, my dad etc) being shown especially in her home.  I am not sure the proper diagnosis but there has bound to be one. She not only did not want my niece in her home but she also believed that I had taken some of her flatware home with me ,  this was after I cleaned her bronze table in her living room and hooked up her VCR broke her microwave and made her television inoperable. (omg!)

The same woman that is "blind" with macular degeneration........the same woman that walks everywhere she goes.  The same woman that didn't have a color tv, a husband nor a car for as many years as I can remember.

Baptist Church in Natchitoches

She documented and kept everything for years on a calendar.   She lived her life , waiting.............waiting....for a phone call or a visit.... from a few people that she likes and trusts to visit or call her.  She wasn't and isn't always nice to them and yes is inappropriate with "time of day/night" and also some topics of discussion.  She gets angry if you ask her too many personal questions and her perception of "personal" is distorted.
IE:   Bathroom Habits and Shutting the door while using the Bathroom are optional and acceptable in her mind at any time and in any detail

AND it is not acceptable to discuss any of her marriages, or relationships around those marriages at any time.

When my parents split up ..........my Grandmother was only in my life when my Dad was, which wasn't often but she did send me things in the mail , and pictures of herself.  She moved.  Rumors and Tales were told to me and around me about the escapades of my young grandmother, her misfortunes and also her lack of discernability  (is this even a word?)  around and about men.  I was told that my father hated his mother , but these words were never uttered from his mouth to my ears.   I was told she was crazy...............but no one did anything about it.

I think she was 14 or 15 when my father was born, some say it was a shotgun wedding.......... I wonder if there was ever a wedding at all............no one that was there wants to talk about it.

I was told she was an "embarrassment" to my dad as his friends sometimes dated her when he went to college..............again............words that were never uttered from my fathers mouth.........but rumored around town and brought to my ears for some unknown reason?  I loved my Grandmother and could have cared less about what happened before I was born, much less my Dad.   Yep and I "gathered" from my Dad's off handed remarks, coupled with a few other people's chosen words that in fact my Great Grandmother (more on her later) played a huge role in raising my father, while my grandmother worked as a single mom. I really don't know all of the details and some part of me would love to learn about them though as I feel that the missing puzzle pieces may help explain many circumstances and reactions of others that always confused me.

They put her in a Nursing Home last week.  They say "she hasn't been the same since she had that UTI a few weeks back after injuring her hip" and having to go on a catheter in the hospital I am assuming?   She is now 89.

There are only a few of us left............and then there is an outsider................an evil one............with a will in her purse...........(.this is a true story, I couldn't make something like this up) lurking around all of this sickness in the shadows ,  and pushing buttons and pulling strings to hurry things along.......... GREED is the motivat
There is a lot more to this #13 to tell and maybe #13 will have an adum with important details later............but the one thing I must add before closing................. she was proud of me and her son.......  this I know
before the dementia set in ..................she would have done anything she could have for me
She even bought my first real camera for me.

Once she told me that all she ever wanted out of life was to be loved the way she saw some of my ex-boyfriends love me.   How sad to think that she is now 89 and the possibility of that never happening for her ................grows by the minute...............

this was her favorite song to sign to me.... when I was a little girl and when my children were young..


#12 ............ The Girl in a Box........... Kathy Whiteside

photo credit: http://laissezfairedesign.blogspot.com
I was only 7 or 8 when we moved to Shelby Drive in Richmond, Va.  The house was awesome , it was a two story brick cape cod.  It had a garage and a screened in porch.  I don't have many memories from there as I only lived there a little over a year but I can remember the layout of the home and the details of the rooms.   It was in this house that the beginning of the end of my parents' relationship occurred.  I do remember that vividly.

Our next door neighbors were a happy family.  A mom ,  A dad , two older brothers and a younger sister. The youngest sister was "Kathy" and she was a couple of years my senior but she was my friend.   We didn't go to the same school but we were friends and hung out together over at least one summer.

Kathy was "deaf and dumb" I was told, sort of like "Helen Keller."   I didn't know what either of those terms or groups of words meant but was soon on a mission to find out.   She definitely was not blind and could talk when she wanted to........I heard her.  When she was angry she could muster up sounds that made words i could understand when she called her brothers "stupid" and told them to "shut up" ............she wasn't "dumb" in any sense of the word and I was convinced of this fact.  Her voice sounded strained when she talked and kinda like she had a cold...........but she COULD TALK. 

Kathy could also talk with her hands.  She knew sign language.  She knew many words and taught me the entire alphabet one letter at a time, I still remember this.  She also taught me a few words only a couple of which I remember now so many years later.  We would sit in a cardboard box that an appliance arrived in when we moved in.  We made it into our fort, our clubhouse .........complete with windows that opened and closed .......cut out of the sides.   I would write a word with a crayon ( sidenote:  I was taught that this was /is pronounced CRAY-AHN until I moved here where many people call them "crowns" for some reason) on the inside of the box and she would show me how to say it with my hands.  I wish I remembered everything she taught me but I don't.

My Father was and is an animal lover.   He has always had pets and in many ways relates much better with animals than he does humans.  He decided while we lived there on Shelby Drive to breed  White German Shepherds.   We had one, named after me..............."Lady Angela"   Its funny that he would choose that particular place and time to do this as the White Shepherds .....were so very similar to ms. kathy whiteside, who could be....."  quite vocal, tending to whine, mumble, and grumble in attempts to communicate with you".

It was near Easter............I remember that............someone had brought over their male German Shepherd to breed with Lady.  I didn't know what that meant and I think my Dad told me that they were going to "make puppies" but no one went into any detail.   I was in my room and Kathy came over to play...........she was very excited and trying to tell me something.  She was making this hand movement with her fingers that I did not understand............it looked like she was trying to say OK with one hand and her finger from the other hand was going into the "O" part.   You get the picture?   I didn't.   She became very frustrated and dragged me over to the window and said the "F" word very clearly and drawn out.  The dogs were "stuck" outside and appeared to be upset and crying to me.  I ran downstairs and told.  My Dad sprayed them with a water hose and they ran apart.   It was very traumatic...........no one wanted to explain anything and no one did..........

After that experience I wasn't allowed to play very much with Kathy.............as she was older and obviously knew about topics that I wasn't  privvy too at the time.   The next vivid memory I have of Kathy growing up was when my parents got into their final "war of the roses" and my mother pulled me from a neighborhood softball game over to Kathy's house and then from there we were whisked to a hotel. 

Years later............... I was working at Olan Mills and met Kathy there............ she was being photographed with her fiance, she said she remembered me but I didn't see that tell-tale sign of recognition.   I didn't make that big of an impact on her life I am sure............but she did make some lasting memories for me..........
my friend the deaf girl who definitely was anything but "dumb" in my book.......the girl from inside the box.