As snorky and blergy and self-pitying as I get, I always, ALWAYS know these people love me!
Happy birthday to my brother, Mike, and me! Party at Mom’s! (‘Cause that how we badasses roll!)
Somehow I missed getting a picture of my niece, Kelley and her boyfriend, Jamie. So here’s their picture from the 4th of July!
Good times. Good times.
My mom fell in my grandmother’s carport and broke her hip three weeks ago. She waited almost a week to go get it x-rayed thinking she was just badly bruised. (We’re some tough women!) When the doctor discovered she’d broken her femur just below the ball of the hip joint, he immediately admitted her to the hospital where she had partial hip replacement the next day.
Since it was a partial replacement, Momma was able to fully bear weight the day after the surgery. But until she sees the doctor again, she has to use a walker to make sure she doesn’t fall; and she can’t bend at the waist more than 90 degrees in relation to the front of her thighs to keep her hip from popping out of the socket.
When she went home from the hospital last week, I stayed with her to take care of everything around the house and to keep an eye on her lest somebody find her standing on a chair with her one good leg, trying to change a lightbulb.
This is the third time I’ve stayed with my mom after surgery and we’re a good team. She tells me what to do and I do it.
The problem is that my 93-year-old grandmother lives just around the corner and she wants to help too. She wants to come over and bring food and take care of the cats. That’s fine and very understandable. Even when you’re 77, your mommy still loves you and wants to take care of you. That’s good news! But the bad news is, sometimes Grandmother makes questionable decisions that worry us and can make things harder instead of easier.
Now don’t misunderstand. My grandmother is probably the most hearty 93-year-old you’ll ever meet. We find her out in her yard regularly digging holes during a rainstorm or watering trees in 100 degree weather or sweeping the endless pinestraw off her driveway in the freezing cold.
They had a walking race at the Douglas County senior citizens picnic a couple of years ago and she was PISSED that she finished second. Rock on, Grandmother!
Since she’s not allowed to drive any more, and because she likes to get her exercise, she’ll just walk down the side of the road and around the corner to my mom’s house. And none of us think twice about it.
But apparently people driving past do.
My mom and I were sitting in the den last week when a huge gray Chevy dually pickup with chrome exhaust stacks pulled up to the house. We had no idea who it was. They parked and my tiny little grandmother hopped down the two feet out of the backseat carrying her grocery bags full of ice cream and tuna and biscuits and Edwards chocolate pie. The people who lived down the road from her had seen her walking down the road and picked her up. They were nice folks and turns out the woman and her daughter were from a family we’d known from way back. We thanked them profusely and shook our heads and just laughed.
A few hours later after lunch and visiting, Grandmother headed back home.
About 15 minutes later, my cellphone rang and it was my brother who lives across the street from Grandmother. “Where’s Grandmother?” he asked urgently.
“She just left here to walk home,” I said.
“Well there’s a beat up gray car in her driveway,” he said. “But I see her getting out of it now. I thought somebody was trying to break in her house, but I guess somebody just picked her up and brought her home!” And we sighed and shook our heads. I mean, really, there’s nothing you can do to change her.
But since my mom won’t stop trying, she called and lectured her about riding with strangers. She told Grandmother someone was going to kidnap her and carry her off. And Grandmother agreed (yeah, right) to not get in the car with people she doesn’t know anymore.
But I started thinking about the poor people who’d try to kidnap my grandmother, and this is how I imagine it going down. Bless their hearts.
They’d pick her up walking down the road to take her to her house, but then they’d want to rob her. But they’d have to yell really loud about ten times to let her know their intent because she’s stone-cold deaf! “Let us in your house! This is a stick up!” “What?” “LET US IN YOUR HOUSE! THIS IS A STICK UP!” “What?” “LET US IN YOUR HOUSE!!! THIS IS A STICK UP!!!” “You want to come in and hang my new pictures up? What sweet boys!”
So now they think this is going to be a cake walk. “My God!” they think. “She’s just going to welcome us right in!”
But then she can’t get the garage door open. “This keypad hasn’t worked right in months! Do you think you could fix it for me while you’re here? That would be so nice of you! I’ve got the garage door opener here in my pocketbook somewhere. Would you boys like a butterscotch? Here, hold this used Kleenex and this paperback book and this lipstick while I look for that opener. The keypad hasn’t worked right in months! Do you think you could fix it for me while you’re here? SUCH sweet boys!”
They’re starting to have second thoughts, but they know they’re getting really close.
Grandmother finally opens the garage door and unlocks the back door to go in the house. But an alarm starts blaring. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! She’s flustered and anxious and getting a little panicky. “Boys! There’s something beeping, but I can’t figure out what it is. Can you look and figure out what it is? BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Maybe it’s my carbon monoxide detector. Could it be my answering machine??? Is it my oven timer? BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Did I go off and leave the oven on???? BOYS! I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT’S BEEPING! CAN YOU FIX IT??? And can you figure out how to reset my thermostat? It’s one of these fancy adjustable ones and I can’t figure out how it works. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! And can you help me move this furniture out onto the screen porch? And would you flip my mattress….”
They know this is not the woman they want.
They flee out the back door, right into the arms of the waiting Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy who was summoned by the burglar alarm she still hasn’t figured out how to turn off. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!
She doesn’t even realize those men had any ill intent. The officer resets her alarm. Grandmother thanks him for turning off the beeping, bemoans technology, follows him out to his car and asks him if he’d like a Coke – which has an expiration date of 2006. He politely declines and carefully backs his cruiser out of the driveway and back onto the street.
Relieved to finally be alone, and relishing the peace and quiet, she goes back into the house, changes into her outside clothes and heads out to the backyard. As she hacks at the kuzdu with a slingblade, she smiles, and thinks to herself, “Such nice boys! Such nice boys!”
I meant to put this together yesterday and post it for my brother Mike’s birthday, but you know, I got caught up in stuff like watching The Simpsons and eating multiple pieces of cake and sleeping like the dead. Mike was born two months prematurely, so really I should get a two month grace period for anything pertaining to his birthday!
Some people think it must’ve been strange to have just one sibling and him be twelve years older than me, but I thought it was the coolest thing ever! My mother lost a baby between Mike and me. I had always understood how painful that must have been for Mom, but it only recently occured to me how incredibly disappointing and sad it must have been for Mike too. There was little certainty that my mom and dad would be able to have another child, so when I finally came along it’s an understatement to say that I was doted on and treated like everyone’s little miracle princess with my big brown eyes and my brown curly ringlets of hair. (A princess that wound up a baseball cap wearing smartass, but a princess nonetheless.)
Since Momma and Daddy still had to raise me right and keep me in line, their princess treatment couldn’t be carried to an extreme. But Mike could be my big brother, my friend and my hero. And he’s always been all those things to me.
When I was about four, he had a super-cool bedroom with flourescent green walls, black light posters, and scary things like a stuffed, mounted, fangy rattlesnake head and disturbing Alice Cooper posters. He’d let me listen to his stereo where he introduced me to cool music like “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard and “DOA” by Bloodrock! He’d let me fall asleep in his room looking at all the wonders of the black light. And when he’d come home late, he would bring me surprises like kites and balsa wood airplanes that he’d hide for me to find the next morning.
He played baseball, so I wanted to play baseball. (I remember feeling tricked when my mom signed me up for some half-baked girl sport called “softball.”) He was trying to pack on weight for football, so I wanted to pack on weight too. He was never too old to play catch or throw pitches to his little sister. And we played epic games of H-O-R-S-E where the ultimate shot was to fade away from behind the porch column and bank it in off the backboard. (Fare -the-well for I must leave thee….)
He’d fly me down the big hill behind our house on the handlebars of his badass green Schwinn with the banana seat; and when we got a little older, he take me out for rides down the country roads of Bill Arp in his souped up brown Chevy Nova where we’d sing along to eight-track tapes of The Eagles while the wind blew through the open windows and toussled our long hair.
When I was seven, he was going to college at West Georgia and working nights at Pizza Hut. Some Saturday nights, he would come home after work with a pizza, wake me up and we’d eat pizza and watch “Saturday Night Live” together. I didn’t get most of the jokes, but I’d laugh really hard when he laughed and felt like I was putting something over on my parents by being up so late.
In my early teens, he would take me with him to his day-long softball tournaments out of town. (He hit the ball to the opposite field as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen!) He introduced me to the bewitching concept of chocolate doughnuts and Cokes from the convenience store for breakfast! And I saw some really good softball. (Baldwin Electric, State Champs! Whut!!!)
A few years later when I was in the eighth grade, I was acting like a jackass on the ballfield and at school on a regular basis, and he stepped up and told me he was ashamed of me. Somewhere in the midst of that conversation, I told him how much I was hurting because I was being bullied at school for being fat. He explained to me that bullies just wanted to get a rise out of me, and if I’d just laugh along with them, they’d quit in a hurry. I was doubtful, but I put that plan into action. Within two weeks I didn’t have a bully anymore. And I never wanted Mike to be ashamed of me ever again, so I straightened up my act. My life was truly changed from that point forward.
As I got older, we didn’t spend as much time together, but I’ve never loved him any less. He’s been there for me during my marriage, my divorce, my weird boyfriend, my alcoholism and my depression. In fact, a discussion with him played a key role in my recovery from that depression this summer. He is always there and I know I can always count on that.
Mike has told me that even as a toddler I wasn’t one to express much affection. But trust that even if I’m not always good at showing it on the outside, I am forever full of love and admiration for him on the inside! He’s everything a brother, a friend and a hero should be.
Love you forever, brother! Thank you for all the gifts!