Stuff. We have so much stuff. Allen and I have been stewards of family heirlooms, papers, and stuff. Recently when we were once again downsizing his mother’s belongings, we realized what a burden stuff is. Even the fun stuff. The beautiful stuff. We have spent so much time in memories of the past that we have not been living. So, we are trying to unload even a piece at a time….things that have meant something to us, but are just taking up space.
I bought these drums soon after my 50th birthday. I am about to be 58 years old in August. I took drum lessons. Then, I stopped. Life got in the way. Obviously it was not my passion either. So, my drums have taken up space in our upstairs playroom.
Today I am selling them to a young woman who is giddy about these drums. I am selling them to her for $90. I am sharing this because I want you to know that it is ok to make a little, but not hold out for those big bucks we think we can get. $90 is what she offered that she can afford. I am excited for her to have them. She is getting them for her 40th birthday. This is what life is about. Passing dreams on and continuing with our own dreams.
Allen and I want freedom from the burdens of our stuff. We will see how it goes. This is my first real thing I have been afraid to let go of. Some things I will donate, but if I can make a little for a rainy day fund, then I will do so.
Wish us luck. Letting go…
MOTHER’S DAY 2020
LOVING YOU BOTH WAS THE EASY PART. THAT FEELING OF LOVE-
OH MY CHILDREN, SUCH AN EASY FEELING.
DID YOU KNOW THAT EVERY TIME I CHANGED A POOPIE DIAPER I KNEW I LOVED YOU.
DID YOU KNOW THAT EVERY TIME I RAN TO YOUR CRIB WITH NO SLEEP-
I LOVED YOU.
DID YOU KNOW THAT EVERY TIME I HELD YOU TO MY BREAST –
I LOVED YOU.
DID YOU KNOW THAT EVERY TIME I YELLED WHEN I SHOULD’T HAVE-
I LOVED YOU.
DID YOU KNOW THAT I WAS STILL
TRYING TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT?
DID YOU KNOW WHEN I APOLOGIZED FOR MY SHORTCOMINGS-
I WAS SAYING, “I LOVE YOU.”
DID YOU KNOW THAT LOVING YOU WAS THE EASY PART?
DID YOU KNOW THAT I THOUGHT MY LOVE WOULD BE ENOUGH?
LOVE THEM. AND, I DID. I DO.
AND THEN, I REMEMBERED THIS…
JUST LOVE THEM
THE DAY WE BROUGHT YOU
HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL
WHAT DO I DO WITH HER?
AND I DID.
FIVE YEARS LATER WE BROUGHT YOU
HOME TO MEET YOUR BIG SISTER.
WHAT DO I DO WITH HIM?
WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM?
AND I DID.
MY HEART TAKES A TUMBLE
IN A FIELD OF FAIRY WAND
ONLY TO LAND AT THE ROOT
I wish I could help you. I wish I had all of the answers. Why do writers write?
I write because my brain hurts if I don’t. I write because I want to inspire.
I write because I want to help. I write because I want to entertain you.
I write because when I was a young girl and I began writing poetry, essays, and funny little ditties my mother told me, “you are such a good writer, Cookie, please keep writing.”
In Stephen King’s “On Writing,” he gives his top thirteen writing tips. One tip is to write every day. I subscribe to the notion that like teaching a child to read anything daily, writing needs the same devotion even if it is just a list. A list I can expand and develop into a story or essay. He has twelve other tips, but I don’t much follow them because I am not a good student. Well, I really am a good student, but writing is an outlet for me and I don’t much like to follow the rules when I am writing. I just used “much” as a modifier, so you get my point.
My mother and my grandmother wrote poetry, songs, essays,
and letters. Come to think of it most everyone on both sides of my family is
creative with storytelling or writing. Even the most reserved like my father
can put pen to paper and write an interesting piece. I recently realized this about my dad when I read an essay he wrote about his childhood. It was laugh out loud funny. My dad is not a gregarious guy. He is a numbers guy with that quiet dry humor. When I read what he wrote, I realized he had a way of expressing himself on paper that I did not know he possessed. Before Google he would call me long distance to get my opinion of how a sentence sounded. He would even seek spelling advice if he didn’t have a dictionary handy. I wonder if anyone ever encouraged him to write? If not, I think I will be the one to encourage him.
I write every day. Sometimes it’s just a list, but my lists are detailed and colorful. They are very telling. You can get a snapshot of what kind of a day I am having by the tone and handwriting of my list. Clear legible writing means I am having an even keel day. Maniacal writing that looks like three different people wrote it means I am all over the place. Yes, if you know me you think that most of my lists are like this. Could be. One thing about my lists, they are always thorough and my time is very well-managed. There is always a method to my madness.
When my son was in elementary school he saw one of my daily list which detailed- 2:45 pm pick Ben up from school. 3:00 pm pick Camille up from school. He looked at me and incredulously asked, “You have to PUT US ON YOUR list?!!” My response, “I have never forgotten one of you, have I?”
Yes, writers write for many reasons. Today I am writing because writing each day is on my list of things to do and because my mother told me I should.
Am I going to laugh or am I going to cry? I know what to do. Sit back. Breathe. Be still. I purse my lips together. You know how you do that when you are thinking. Trying to discern what is happening with your emotions. Do you give into them or do you take a deep breath and forge on?
When you read this and look at the date, 30th March 2020, you will be reminded of the era find ourselves. The days of the Coronavirus Pandemic. COVID-19. The common ground of vocabulary. Stay at home. Quarantine. Work from home. We all know the symptoms. We have even had some of them on a daily basis. Oh good. I can smell now. I don’t think I have it. Do I feel hot? Do you think I have a fever? Some of our responses are even comical. Are you short of breath? Of course I am, but is it a panic attack or is it the Corona? By the way, I gave in. I cried.
Social media is full of memes that make us laugh at ourselves and society as we face this together. Are we really in this together? The answer is, yes we are, whether we like it or not. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this virus. People across the board are getting sick and some are even dying. Of course, we hear the narrative on different survivors or those who have succumbed to this virus. We feel somewhat comforted that maybe that person who died was not as healthy as we are or as healthy as we think we are. That’s what we don’t genuinely know. We actually don’t know how it will affect each of us physically. So, maybe in that regard we aren’t in this together. But, I will tell you how we are in this together. We are all scared in our own way. Be it bravado or acceptance. There is an unknown for all of us. For each of us. How are we all going to make it?
I ventured out to the grocery yesterday for a few items. I sanitized. I wore protective gloves. I took an extra pair for after I finished my shopping. I kept my distance. It was Sunday about 6:45 p.m., usually a busy time at our local Kroger. At first, I felt some relief that there were not many people around so I could zoom through and get home. 1. Because I never enjoy grocery shopping when I have to do it. 2. I did not want to be around a lot of people.
Then, the contradiction came through tears right there in the dairy aisle of the Kroger. Grief. I felt grief. There were no people at all. A meeting place in this small town where for as long as I’ve been shopping, I always see at least 3 or 4 people I know. “Hi there! How are you? How are the children? How is your family? Are the children home from school? What you cooking tonight?” Nothing. There was none of that and it grieved me. The very task that I would have normally rushed so I could get home on a Sunday night, now took a sorrowful turn. I went in with an attitude of get in and get out so we all stay safe. We were all guarded. There was no sense of community. There was a sense of respectfully distancing six feet apart as well as let’s stay the hell away from each other. I paid for my groceries. Discarded my gloves in the trash. I sanitized again. The few people, store employees and customers, were mindful of what we could not see.
As I approached my car I heard, “Well, hello! It is nice to see you again!” And there he was stopping and standing six feet away from me, a new friend I met in the grocery last week when we kept trying to do a dance six feet apart on several of the same aisles. A young man about my children’s age named Marvin who is a flight attendant with American Airlines. We talked for a moment about how things have changed since last week when we first met in a much more crowded Kroger. We talked of how concerning and distressing each day brings new information and deaths. We talked about how we are both healthy and will probably be ok, but that this will most likely be our last trip inside the store instead we both agreed the curbside service is a wise choice until the curve is flattened. We laughed that every time we cough we automatically think we are sick. The last thing we said to each other was that we were meant to be friends and maybe when this is all over we will see each other on a flight to somewhere fun or perhaps we will just see each other in the produce aisle and say, “There is my friend. Part of my community. Here we all are again. Packed in this Kroger together buying food for a gathering of friends or for a party. For a wedding shower. For an office luncheon.” For all of those things we miss. Those things we are now grieving. Our community in the time of Corona.
This essay is another tribute to a strong influence in my life. CDS
Kitty Hortense Morris Davis was my paternal grandmother. Granny Davis.
She was born in Mt. Pleasant, Alabama in Monroe County on January 23rd, 1911. She married my Granddaddy in 1927. Grandaddy was a sharecropper. They moved from farm to farm to work in the fields. Granny always worked alongside Granddaddy.
In 1946 they purchased a farm. The farm was theirs-Granny and Granddaddy’s.
They raised cotton, corn and, of course, spent harvest time picking the crops by hand.Granny also helped take care of the hogs and cows they raised. They sold the farm in 1951. Granddaddy said he sold the farm because he couldn’t get Granny out of the fields. She was such a hardworking woman and working in the fields was backbreaking work.
In 1957 they moved to Mobile, Alabama-an area called Chickasaw. My daddy describes this change as culture shock leaving rural Alabama where they had a community of family and friends to this bustling port city where there were so many people. It all seemed quite chaotic to the quiet farm family from Monroe County.
My grandparents were determined and courageous people to make such a bold move.
They settled into the next phase of their lives. Granddaddy worked on a tugboat and Granny worked at home alone while he was gone. They had seven children one of whom died when he was nine years old.
When describing Granny it could be perceived that she was a submissive woman. She did not give her opinion. In most situations she yielded to other people. She was
quiet. Granny spoke when spoken to and exuded a meek demeanor. I only heard her raise her voice one time. She was about 5′ 4” and probably weighed 110 pounds. She appeared almost frail. If you didn’t know her you would think she needed extra care. But, I did know Granny and she had a spirit and a will as strong as steel. She had a stoicism about her. Emotions could not get in the way of life’s obligations. When her son died in 1937 Granny grieved, but she quickly retreated into the manual labor on the farm. When she moved to Mobile she took care of the children and their home while Granddaddy was away for weeks at a time. Neither Granddaddy nor Granny ever owned a car and neither of them ever learned to drive. Granny walked or took the bus when she needed to go to the grocery store or run errands. Friends and community were made through the church which was situated out the back gate behind their new home in Chickasaw and they soon became friendly with their neighbors.
The only time I ever heard Granny raise her voice or yell is when my Daddy and my uncle told her that my Granddaddy had a serious heart attack on the tugboat and was being transferred to the hospital in Dothan. She soon regained her composure. Granddaddy did not recover and he soon died. This was 1969. Granny continued being strong and resilient.
When my cousin, Les, and I were little Granny would keep us and cook delicious meals for us. At different times my other cousins and my little sister would stay with her. She had nine grandchildren as well as great-grandchildren. I always felt safe with Granny. Despite her stature, her attitude of strength surrounded us. Everything Granny did she did well. Her flowers always thrived. She embroidered and sewed pieces that exhibited the work of a skilled artisan. Cooking. Granny was an excellent cook. She could create a meal out of a few dull items. My favorite she always made for me was macaroni and tomatoes. This sounds ordinary, but Granny’s cooking was extraordinary. I still make a version of it today, though it never tastes like hers.
Some of my favorite memories are when Granny would come to visit us. She would let us sleep late and she always did our chores for us. She had a servant’s heart. She was not particularly affectionate, but doing these chores for us was her way of showing love to us. We watched TV shows together. Perry Mason, I Love Lucy and The Carol Burnett Show. She was always stitching something as she watched TV. She also read a lot. Mostly novels and romances, but she did occupy her mind.
What I learned from Granny is that being alone does not mean being lonely. I also learned that if I wanted something I could walk or use my resources to get it. She was a resourceful and self-sufficient woman. Even though her children would ensure her needs were met, Granny did not wait around for anyone. She did not wring her hands waiting.
My daddy would help her with projects around her house as would my aunts and uncles. But, Granny often liked to change her decor and where her furniture was in her house. She did not call anyone to help her move a bed or a chest. She did it herself! There were many times we would return on a visit and the entire furnishings in her house would be moved. Even after she moved into a senior living apartment we would show up and her chest of drawers would be moved to a different wall in her bedroom. Granny believed in the notion if you didn’t work hard you would be weak. I learned this from her.
Granny loved to shop and she wore suits and skirts with blazers. She loved a blazer! I think this was where I get my love of blazers. She had her hair done weekly and she always smelled so fresh. She would talk of coming from a poor farm family, but she said they knew how to use soap and water. They were always clean. Granny’s home and appearance were always in place and spotless.
Granny Davis was a strong woman who despite humble beginnings raised 6 children some of whom were college- educated and all were successful in their careers and business. Her legacy was a quiet strength, strong work ethic, and courage to move to a new place knowing no one and thriving while doing so. These were just a few of the values Granny Davis taught me.
15th March 2020 CDS
Nana and Paw Paw had 8 children. 6 daughters and 2 sons. My mother was their oldest daughter. When one of my aunts was in her preteens her best friend’s parents died. Nana and Paw Paw became legal guardians of my Aunt Debra and her her teenage brother, Rodney. Nana loved them and treated them like they were her biological children. We all did. This was Nana’s example.
In the late 1950’s, when a woman became pregnant most businesses required women to quit their jobs. There was no maternity leave and employers did not want pregnant women to work in that “condition.” Nana worked at a ladies’ clothing store. She loved fashion and she was a talented salesperson. When she got pregnant she did not quit. She hid her pregnancy for as long as she could and worked until it was showing. She enjoyed working and wanted to work. Nana was devout in her faith, never missed church, was a good citizen, she obeyed the law, but pushed the rules if she believed they were unjust. This was one of those rules.
Nana loved her family. As early as I can remember she hosted the Brewer/Smith Family Reunion. Everyone helped, but there was no question who was in charge. Nana.
She didn’t get a new car, but she did keep driving to the mailbox in Paw Paw’s old truck she had kept since his death in 1990.
IT TAKES A LITTLE NURTURING EACH DAY TO THRIVE.
IT TAKES A LITTLE TEARING DOWN EACH DAY TO DIE.
WITH A LITTLE EACH DAY-A GARDEN CAN GO EITHER WAY.
I STOOD IN THE GARDEN
MY FEET BARE WITHIN THE SOIL.
YOU TORE OFF EACH PETAL OF MY SOUL-
A CARETAKER OR A SCROYLE.
MY CRIES TO ST. DYMPHNA
SHE UNDERSTOOD MY PAIN.
A SPIRIT CANNOT THRIVE
WITH JUST THE SUN AND RAIN.
YOU CAN NURTURE.
YOU CAN FEED.
YOU MAKE THE GARDEN GROW.
YOU CAN DROWN THE ROOT-
YOU CAN HACK THE STEM.
NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.
THE WATER FELL. THE SKY WAS BRIGHT.
YOU RETURNED TO SEE YOUR WORK.
THERE I WAS-
STILL GROUNDED IN THE FERTILE EARTH.
IMMURE SOUNDS TOO BEAUTIFUL
FOR WHAT IT REALLY MEANS.
I CAN SEE MY HANDS GRASPING THE BARS.
I OPEN WIDE LETTING OUT MY SCREAMS.
I CANNOT MOVE.
THERE IS NO PLACE FOR ME TO GO.
LYRICAL WORDS DECEIVE MY MIND-
I MUST BREAK FREE.
I CONTINUE TO FIGHT-
MY MAGNIFICENT MENTAL FOE.