She called me the other day to tell me that she had gone to her first cousin’s nursery. As I mentioned in a previous article she loves flowers. It’s something that gives her peace, tranquility, and gives her a productive way to pass time. She was really excited about the availability of herbs there. She exclaimed happily, “there’s Rosemary, mint of all kinds, cooking herbs like basil and Sage – bushes and trees. Your heart will be happy when you see everything.” Before I realized it we had been talking over the phone for over 20 minutes! The best part was that she could hear me. It was a two-way conversation. 🙂 She and I have not had very many two-way conversations in the last couple years. Her hearing has been slowly leaving her for the last 15 years. And over the last couple years it’s been so bad when she calls, she just tells me something, can’t hear my response, then she’ll just hang up when she’s finished talking.
She’s in her eighties now. She and I had a very rocky relationship for the first 20-25 years of my life. On my side it was a love/but-don’t-want-to-be-near-you thing from time to time & on her’s it was a love/frustration thing. I’m quickly approaching my 40th birthday in a few days & maybe this is why I’ve chosen to write about her. It’s therapy for me. It’s an understanding of who I was as well as who I am now. I don’t think that 40 is old, but I’ve always thought of it as a halfway point in life. Now that I’m here, I realize how awesome she is and I was never able to see that before.
By age 40 she had already lived a very eventful, energetic, entertaining and absolutely amazing life. She taught herself to play guitar when she was about 10 years old by watching the older gentleman in town play. She was fiercely independent and generally self-taught in just about everything. She had worked on the farm, went out with her sisters, was a waitress at Blue Circle, and sewed at Standard Knitting Mill. She had a couple of short-lived marriages, experienced living independently, and enjoyed attention as an entertainer. She met Dad in a club (he was the entertaining musician of the night) & joined up with his talent to hit the road as an entertainer. She recorded in Nashville and was courted there by some big-time small names. She used her resources & connections to boost & mold Dad’s career. When she realized some of the contractual deals he had made in the music industry, she took over and became his manager of sorts. She started negotiating his deals. With her resources, resilience, and intellect they made a lucrative living.
She married for the rest of her life, for better or for worse, in 1968. She was 33 years old. She had always wanted children but for some reason biologically could not bear any herself. She prayed and she had almost the entire city praying with her – that she would have children. And one day, in 1976, her prayers were answered.
There was a phone call from a lady that they knew on the south side of town. This lady said if you still want a child you can have my youngest, but you have to come and get him right now. Dad went to pick up the ugliest baby boy in the world, who would become my brother. (If you ever read this dude, you know I love your ugly face.) They had him for several weeks when they received another phone call from another lady. This lady said to them, I’ve heard that you wanted a baby and I’m on my way to the XXX Home for Children with both of mine. To make a long story short, this is where I come into the picture. There’s an argument over whether I was two-and-a-half or three months old at the time, regardless I was a baby. I was a pretty sick baby, so she leaned toward my experienced Aunt Evlou to help for the first few nights.
At 40 years old she adopted my brother and I. At a point in her life when other people would be considering retirement, taking it easy, trying to finalize how they want to enjoy the empty nest years, she became a parent. I never gave it much thought in previous years, but now that I am approaching that very same age I realize what a heroic feat that was!
At this point in my life, I am very close to the empty nest years. I cannot image chasing a little one around and changing diapers at this age! Most of mine have moved away and I only have one teenager left at home (on a daily basis) – who will leave me soon I’m sure. I am considering the future, and how I would love to retire one day. I’m dreaming about buying an RV and traveling, or purchasing the boat my husband wants and sailing up & down the coast for a few years. I’m considering how I want to rearrange the rooms in the house and could create an office and workout/hobby room in those empty spaces. My Mom was considering how to convert a music studio into a nursery and buying formula, diapers, while seeking parental advice. I wake up in the middle of the night to text messages asking me for gas money; she woke up in the middle of the night to check on two infants breathing.
To be continued…