Monday, October 27, 2008

Forgiveness and Pain

The Shack is an intriguing theological novel, stringing together Biblical rhetoric with dialogue to fit the author’s personal theology. My personal theology fits comfortably with much of the book. Towards the end, forgiveness is mentioned, emphasized and commended …though the book centers on love. (More info on The Shack)

Tonight I had planned to be at a meeting that will probably form a chapter of Integrity for our diocese. The potluck meeting is being held at the Ministry Center of Christ Church, a place where I am not comfortable. Not in the ministry center, not in the parish hall, not in the nave. The Episcopal Church has way too much organization and hierarchy for me – not to mention factions and power plays. Church politics. No thank you.

Yet, I am an Episcopalian through and through. (click on the logo to go to the Episcopal Church home page) I believe in the real presence of God in the Eucharist. I love the music. I feel joyous when I “pass the peace”. I believe in the priesthood of all believers, in healing, in prophesy, in communal worship, and in community. Like magnets turned the wrong way, Christ Church and I repel each other. My discomfort is gut-wrenchingly real, and the hierarchy has made it clear that my kind need to be neither seen nor heard.

This church, like my parents, is not suited to enhance my growth into the person that God wants me to be. The hierarchy is kind and loving – but not the kindness and loving that I need. My past experience with church hierarchy has much affect on me. I remember the pain though the anger has dulled.

My questions tonight are: why should I keep going back to a place (the Episcopal Church) where I am hurt? And did the scripture that commended us to forgive seventy times seven mean that we forgive the same pain and hurt that many times? For me, these two questions are connected. Common sense tells me to stay away from places where I get hurt. Don’t put my hand into the fire again and get burned. However, if I forgive the past hurts each time they overwhelm me, will I not be hurt again? In many theological discussions that relate to therapy, I am cautioned that forgiveness does not mean forgetting or discarding watchfulness.

Forgiving the larceny of the church hierarchy is something I must do on a fairly regular basis. They have taken away my trust, increased my fear, failed to give me guidance, misunderstood and debased who I am and the work that I have done in loving God’s people. Their anger, distrust, misjudgment, and rejection have worked in me resentment (which I work through each time), distrust (which I discard and try again and again), anger (which I’ve learned not to take out on those I love), and a sense of failure (which is probably not true – no one can take from me the love I’ve experienced in ministry, communal worship and community).

So, I am not present at this churchly meeting. My voice will not be heard. My fear of being hurt is too great to chance another time. Maybe after another 490 or 4,900 forgivenesses.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Loneliness verus Solitude

The topic at the meeting was loneliness versus solitude. I was silently knitting throughout the meeting. Then we went to my favorite restaurant for one of my favorite meals with a couple of friends. It was good.

However, today is bright and warm and sunny here at the beach. Everyone is at the Kite Festival just down the road, and I’m not. I’m pondering the difference between loneliness and solitude, and I’m thinking about how my drunk era perceived that. So long ago that much of the pain is gone (thanks partially to some recent therapy), remembering what I felt at 18 and those years until I turned 35 when I quit trying to drink. My last drunk was about 1975; I woke up one morning on the bathroom floor lying in my own vomit. Not only was I hung over but I was lonely.

When I began drinking, beer was new and exciting, gave me a rush and a voice that I’d not dared to have before. I still didn’t have many friends, but I had some kind of oomph that had been missing before the drinking began. Loneliness was my constant companion…before and after I began drinking. I had no friends…except a couple of sort of boyfriends.

My first semester of college in the dorm was possibly drink-free – too many new things and too little opportunity. Then I moved Mom and Marty to Columbus where college was located and became a day student. Then, I met the Air Force guys. They had access to booze and cars to get away from home. Yet, so many nights I spent in the darkroom and taking pictures – not drinking. Separating the time when I was drinking without getting drunk and the time when I stayed drunk is difficult. But loneliness and needing to be loved played a big part in the drinking.

Escape from home – from Mom (who wanted to live her life through me), from Sue and Marty (screaming sister-in-law and deaf nephew), from the poverty. That escape drove me to places where I could find beer (Budweiser, thank you) or the scotch that Pete had taught me to drink. Irene taught me to play snooker and gave me free beer for coming out to her place and bringing in customers. The guys bought me beer at so many different juke joints in Lowndes County that I can’t remember all of them. One was a night club out in the boonies that was split in the middle, the left side was for whites and the right side was for blacks. The live music was often on the right side, but the doors between (through which only staff passed) let us all enjoy and dance to the music.

I used sex as an escape, too. Between the booze and the sex, I wonder that I’m alive. Solitude was not in vocabulary then. I was lonely, bone-weary lonely, longing for someone who would accept me for who I was (never mind that I had no idea who I was anyway)…just someone who didn’t try to remake me. With a few drinks, no one wanted to remake me – just to make me. So that went quite well.

For a few years anyway. A lot of miles, houses, apartments, jobs and people between that time as a day student in college and the morning I woke up and realized that drinking was not getting me what I wanted. (I’ll fill those in later.) Every time I took a drink, the top of my head felt as though Mt. Vesuvius was erupting inside it. I kept patting the hair to make sure that it was still present. So, I limited my drinking to a scotch and water with a meal. That worked for a while, but I began having horrible headaches and hangovers with just one. So, I’d have a sip of someone else’s beer occasionally.

The loneliness grew, even as I married once, then again, though the second marriage helped abate the direness of feeling so totally alone somewhat. We had lots of kids in and out of our house and they helped.

Now, I sit here in solitude. The ocean is coursing its way back out to the depths as low tide is here. The waves are soothing. I can breathe deeply and not cough. Yet, my partner and people I know are down the beach, laughing and talking and watching what few kites can stay aloft with such little wind. I could join them. I have no desire to join them. I wonder if I’m depressed.

Solitude beckons me often. Sometimes loneliness creeps in, and I wish I’d taken the time to make more friends. Who would they be? So, I am alone – not in perfect solitude, but in comfortable boredom and occasional busyness. My partner is wonderful, and I cannot imagine living without her, but I don’t want much more than that lately.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

wild ocean

Here's a picture of the ocean today! Our condo building is on a high dune about 20 feet above the beach scarp (which you can't see) but about 25 feet above the beach you can see. Aren't you glad I make sense all the time. LOL Underneath the condo is parking; so we are actually on the second floor - very safe from most hurricanes and waves, but we don't put anything down here that we would hate to lose in a hurricane.

The Kite Festival won't be doing much today with the wind so strong and from the wrong direction. All the kites would run into the Sheraton today not out over the water.

I'm snug inside - although the temp is warm; the wind is strong - whistling around the door.

Friday, October 24, 2008

as seen on OCICBW, Wounded Bird, Some Disagree with Mom

Sunday, October 19, 2008

College Days

I was/am a photography bug. When I discovered that I could take pictures, go to the darkroom and produce prints, I was ecstatic. I did a lot of natural light photography - indoors...well, hey, I couldn't afford a flash then, and the ones that belonged to the school were big mallet-looking things that attached to the side of the camera. So, I would go to the "Goose" (the college snack bar and gathering place) and take pictures of my friends as they sat around tables in the afternoon and evening.

Claire (sorry, Yogi), Angie, Pete, Janie, Bill, Ruble, George

Then, I'd crawl through the always unlocked window of the basement photo lab and develop and print the pictures - taking them back to the "Goose" before my friends left. Always black and white (color developing was just coming along), always grainy, usually given to the folks there. But, I smelled of developer and fixer all the time. My hands were a mess because I never used tongs. My clothes were often dotted with white spots when I forgot to put on the apron and got excited about what I was doing.

Some of those photos still exist with me.

Karen tries a vine

This group would often pile into cars and go riding - in the afternoons usually - out to the back side of the gravel pits. We could wind our way through the narrow dirt roads and be completely out of sight of the world. We drank beer, played ukes and guitars, and danced to music from the radios. I'm sure my view is idealized now, but this photo has done that for me.

We occasionally went at night to a different gravel pit and went skinny dipping or just sat on the huge mounds of gravel - never thinking about the avalanches that could occur.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My all-time favorite car

When I was young and beautiful with long, dark hair and flashing blue eyes and figure that made people stare, I bought a 1963 metallic dawn blue Pontiac Bonneville convertible with a matching blue top. A heavenly car - full of power, soft as morning, flashy - this convertible bespoke everything I wanted to be. Unfortunately, I was not yet 21 years old; so the car could not be in my name. I put the car in my lover's name, but no doubt about the true owner.

We went tripping out to Arizona to help her grandmother take care of Grandpa. I loved them dearly. Grandpa finally died of emphysema and congestive heart disease. Before that I often sat outside with him under the palo verde tree and watched him carve. I still have a six inch rifle that he carved for me. Grandma went back home to visit for a few months. Wanda and I moved into an apartment while she was gone. Wanda was gone a lot...and I was left without my beautiful convertible.

When Grandma returned, we moved back in - or at least I did. Wanda, it seemed, had business and love elsewhere. She'd had this love for all the time we'd been together (which really wasn't very long in time but was very long in miles). I asked if I bought her a car would she sign the convertible over to me when I turned 21. Yep. So, I bought her the cutest 1956 Ford - all jazzed up. She moved out and I continued to live with Grandma. We got along fine.

Once when the yard was flooded for irrigation, the fuse blew. The fuse box was in the back of the house; so I donned rubber boots and went around to see what size we needed. They box was taller than me, and I could see that it had those old long tube fuses. I couldn't do a thing. Came back inside and called the fire department. You know those folks came along very quickly (and quietly) and changed that fuse for us. Yep, Grandma and I got along okay.

But I thought I loved Wanda and I longed to be somewhere else. So I put the convertible in the shop to have the ball joints replaced and made my plans to drive to South Dakota to see a guy that I knew and liked. He promised to find me a place to stay while I was there.

Wanda refused to sign the car over to me; she said I didn't need to be driving alone from Phoenix to Sioux Falls. I was tired of taking her stuff; so I talked with the mechanic. He agreed to hold the car until she paid for the repairs or possess it with a mechanic's lien; he didn't like what she was doing either. So, I took the money I would have paid for the repairs and bought a plane ticket to Sioux Falls.

And, that was the end of my beautiful 1963 Pontiac Bonneville convertible.

Here are a couple of pictures of cars from the internet that resembled that one: (my apologies to the owners of these cars - I lost the site address.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My second car, really

credit for photo:

Okay, so I bought a roadster like this that didn't run. I bought new tires, and we were going to fix it up. Wouldn't it have been the perfect car for me. Bought it from the same man who got me the 1949 Chevy. Unfortunately, as I said before, he became ill, and they had to move. I couldn't afford to get the little car fixed or moved; so he gave me my money back. I've always regretted never having that little car. Isn't it a beauty?

For North Carolinians Only

Suzanne Reynolds with Justice Ruth Ginsberg after a class they taught together.

This is a political entry:

Please vote for Suzanne Reynolds for the State Supreme Court. Suzanne is one of the most honorable and reasonable people that I know. She is well-trained in family law and would bring that training and practice to a court direly lacking in that expertise.

This is a non-partisan position, and you must get to the end of the ballot to vote for judges and justices. So please, mark your ballot completely and please mark it for Suzanne Reynolds.

My first car

This isn't my Chevy, but certainly mine was like this. You can find a couple more images at these websites:

My first car came from a fellow I met during the rodeo summer. I started visiting the family and said I needed a car. Being a sometime mechanic, he found me a 1949 Chevy, gray, paint faded, very inconspicuous. I drove it for over a year with a temporary tag...around Memphis and back and forth to Mississippi where Mom lived. This car was not without problems though.

First, the gears tended to lock when you shifted from first to second. So, you had to stop, open the hood, read down inside and grab the rod and pull it back into place, turning off the motor was optional. One day, I needed to go somewhere special and I left my car with Mom and took her car (a bit more reliable Chevrolet and much newer). She was at the traffic light in the middle of town when the gears locked. Fortunately, I had warned her about this and she jumped out, raised the hood, popped that rod back into place and made the turn signal on green. I laugh at that image. She could be very prim and proper, and my image of her under the hood of the Chevy brings laughter.

I learned a lot about cars with that baby. The seller, whose name I forget, came over and fixed a couple of minor things, and then he got sick and couldn't do that any longer. He taught me over the phone how to change the brushes in the generator. Now these brushes are little pieces of metal, about an inch long and less than a half inch wide, less than a quarter inch thick - nothing to do with our image of brushes. They got their name from the fact that they brush the inside of a metal coil and create energy that is transferred to the battery. They are run by the fan belt which hooked onto the motor and the fan and the generator.

One day, the car wouldn't crank in a little town called Nettleton (they make Lane recliners there), and I stopped in front of an auto parts place. I left the car and caught the bus on to Memphis. Got home and called the guy, he talked me through the process and I caught the bus back to Nettleton and did the work myself - until I got to the part where I had to reattach the fan belt. The generator was the critical piece on getting the fan belt tight enough. So, I had help in holding the generator in place with a crowbar while I tightened the bolts that held it to the engine.

Later, after I met Wanda and was living in Memphis, the head gasket blew. In the misty rain, we replaced the head gasket with Mom sitting in the car behind us smoking cigarettes and worrying about what we were doing - and about my being out in the rain.

One night, after I moved back to Columbus and was working for the newspaper, I was going to take pictures of something at a shopping center...rain, fog, started to turn left, was bumped by the car behind me. No damages to either car but the police came and tried to find any sign that the Chevy had damage - none. The other car had a dent from hitting my back bumper.

I loved the Chevy, and it never did get a real tag. We sold it to buy a more substantial car for Wanda to drive back and forth to work about 60 miles away. I've always been a bit sorry that it went away - such a faithful and easy to fix buggy.

The next car I owned was the car of my dreams: a 1963 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, metallic dawn blue with a matching top.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I resolve to take a new picture for my profile. My hair has grown and is still lovely white and curly.

Work day. Am knitting something for display that's not working out - knitting it with the needles that the yarn calls for - too loose. Will show it to the boss and get her opinion. Looking forward to seeing her - she's good people and she was away last week.

Partner will continue to work on the lower deck - replacing some boards, putting up handrails, building a back to the seats there, painting to match the house. She's always up to something. Next she's going to build me a tall, narrow, shallow bookcase for the hallway so that I don't have to give up all my books to the garage. Or maybe she can just add it to the guest room shelf wall so that the hallway stays pretty and wide and open. I told her no on that at first, but I think I've changed my mind.

I'm still making potholders by the zillion and coasters. I hope my friends are in need of them. LOL Christmas gifts?

Kite Festival - we are going there my birthday weekend - at Atlantic Beach, NC. What a lot of kites we'll see - and stunt kites and kites that dance to music and giant kites like the kitten and the squid you see here. We'll probably help out with the Festival since the owners of Kites Unlimited (Don, Geri, and Bret Dixon) are friends of ours. They also have a bird supply shop attached to the kite shop. And lots of fun games and banners and feathers and fun things to attach to outdoor hanging spots.

All are invited to the Kite Festival, October 25 and 26 at Atlantic Beach, NC.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

James Taylor

Just listened to an interview of James Taylor by Tavis Smiley. He talked about how he began making music - referring to the Episcopal hymnal and playing a bit of "Jerusalem", was a good interview. Touting his new album "Covers".

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Last installment too dry

Here's a funny from that time of life. I was a feminine person (tailored) at that time, and I've always loved clothes. So one night I was sitting around with friends in a black pegnoir set. We were talking about our childhood and I said I remember when I could shinny up a tree. For those who don't know about shinnying, it's when you grip a tree and pull yourself up using your arms and legs. They said "No, you couldn't or wouldn't do that." I took that as a dare. We found a tree about 6-8 inches in diameter, and I crawled out the window (shortest way there) and shinnied up the tree in my black pegnoir. Needless to say the nylon pegnoir was damaged beyond repair, but we all laughed and laughed and laughed. I couldn't get back in through the window because it was too tall for me, and hedges blocked my path; so a friend climbed through the window, boosted me up, and he jumped up to the window and we pulled him in.

I also discovered during that time that I couldn't drink champagne. For my 19th birthday, some friends gave me a champagne party. Personally, I think it was just a good excuse to party, but after two glasses of champagne, I remember nothing until I awoke very ill the next morning. I was living in the unfurnished apartment - had a single bed, and oak buffet and a borrowed card table and chairs. I don't know how Pete got me from the party, two blocks away, back to the apartment on the second or third floor. But, he was sound asleep on the floor cushions (very thick and comfy) when I awoke the next morning in the bed. Bless him.


Then I got Asian flu - the stomach kind - in 1964, and dragged myself to the doctor - also two blocks away. They gave me an IV and prescriptions and sent me home. I couldn't afford a taxi to get home. The drug store was next door, and I managed to get the prescriptions filled, but getting home as another story. I began walking, and I ended up crawling before I got to the building. I don't remember the stairs up to the top, but my boss came by to see about me. He called Mom, and she came to get me. She made me take the stomach medicine before we left for Columbus, Miss. As we traveled down the road, my tongue began swelling. I was lying in the back seat, trying to tell them something was wrong. This is nighttime, and we are speeding down the two-lane road in the back side of nowhere. I'm choking by this time and my tongue is swollen and sticking out of my mouth about four inches. Pete was driving, and he saw a hospital sign in some tiny town. We were lucky; the doctor had been called in for a severe cut and was still there. I don't know what she gave me, but it lessened the symptoms, and she sent me by ambulance back to Memphis where I spent the night in Baptist Hospital. Pete spent the rest of the night in a waiting room and Mom stayed in the room with me in a chair.

My soup making abilities developed about this time. Roomie and I decided we would take some of my homemade soup upstairs to our landlord and friend for supper one night. The door was unlocked and we trooped upstairs with bowls and soup and spoons. What a shock to find him and his girlfriend naked in bed. However, we found another bowl and spoons and enjoyed the soup - us sitting on the floor and them propped up in bed - still naked. Laughing and eating soup.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Leaving college

I majored in journalism, and we had a crusty old newspaper editor as head of the department. He took the students on tour each year to the area newspapers - well, the big ones in Memphis and Birmingham. I got so drunk in Memphis at a nightclub where Gene somebody was singing about a haunted house (okay, so I used to know both his name and the popular song) that my buddies had to pour me into the car and take me back to the hotel. I missed part of the following day's activities. But, Birmingham was another story. We dined atop the mountain, compliments of the B'ham News, and toured radio, tv, and newspapers. That was wonderful.

I was taking all my major courses in my second year of college. Somehow I knew that I wouldn't finish - too many problems. Mom wanted me to make decisions and then she could complain when something went wrong. Mind you, this is a 17 year old making decisions for the family. And, Sue and I were arguing every day. Mom finally caught onto the fact that I was really drinking heavily. My boyfriend was getting discharged from the service that year, and I decided I would leave college and marry him. Didn't really consult him about whether that was what he wanted to do or not. Mom and I visited his grandmother, who reared him, in Cullman, AL, a couple of times, and I was not the most popular choice for his family. After the last visit, Jim and his uncle took me to the bus in Birmingham, and I knew I'd never see him again. I didn't tell Mom that. What I told Mom was that I was moving to Memphis to work until Jim and I could get married.

Jim and Mom

Moved in for temporaries with my late brother's best friend and his wife and daughter. Way out from town. Job hunting was almost impossible, and I had no transportation. So, I rode to work each morning with Jack and made my few rounds, and back to their home. On weekends, I would ride to work with Jack, and we would go rodeoing with Jack's girlfriend and a married guy. They were pretty good and made enough to cover our expenses on the road. Jack's wife stayed home. (Needless to say, that marriage didn't last.) Summer was lots of fun for me. I learned to ride and learned to ride barrels. I learned a lot about sex and cheating. I visited a lot of little po-dunk towns in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. I met a vet who gave me phenobarbital for my migraines.

Summer ended and I moved into the YWCA downtown - better to job hunt. I would wander down to Court Square and drink coffee with the sailors from Millington. Later, when I had my own place, we'd do more than drink coffee, especially since I don't drink coffee. But I finally found a good job agency and got a job as assistant editor of a trade magazine.

Now, one thing I haven't talked about much is being sick. I had a lot of respiratory illness during my childhood and had rheumatic fever during my junior year of high school. the illness continued, and I missed some work, but I was very good at my job and my mentor-boss was great. However, when I returned from vacation after my first year on the job, I was fired because they were reorganizing the magazine and didn't want a woman as editor - the only position that would be open. LOL Of course that was 10 days before the law was passed that made discrimation because of gender illegal.

That year at the magazine is a blur. I lived with a college friend until she became pregnant and moved back home. I lived with Sue's sister for a while until I couldn't take the other roommate's obsessiveness any longer. I lived briefly in an unfurnished apartment. During an acute bout of illness, Mom came to Memphis and moved me into a furnished apartment in a house with an old lady who yelled at me whenever I made the least noise. And, when she thought someone was spending the night, she threatened to throw me out.

I bought a 1949 grey Chevy and drove it for over a year with a temporary tag...back and forth from Memphis to Columbus, where Mom lived.

I moved into an apartment owned by a man I met at a bar; I lived downstairs; he lived upstairs, and I was not his official girlfriend. But, I thoroughly enjoyed his red carpet and his tape deck - one of those old big ones that you had to build yourself. One day, he told me that a friend was coming to town, and could she stay with me for a while.

Carol moved in. One Sunday when some college friends were visiting (including the college gossip), I answered a knock at the front door to discover two very butch women, very dirty, standing at the door. Carol's friends. They had all been in the Navy together and all discharged for being lesbians. My friends departed quickly, and I was scorned on campus thereafter.

Carol and I got an apartment that was the entire upstairs of a house near the bus lines. Her friends visited. We took in boys who had been discharged from the Navy because they were gay - kept them until they could get enough money to go home or to go to work and find their own place. We took in one woman who was incontinent, put her bed in the dining room, and finally had to ask her to leave because of the smell. She was very nice, but we didn't have a washer/dryer.

I had a pet skunk (descented) who liked to ride horses with me - would hook his claws into a pad on the top of my shoulder and flatten himself against my body when we rode. We had cats and a rabbit once. They all used the same litter box and ate the same food.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

new computer

Okay, folks, I sinned today,and I am suffering guilt and elation. I bought a new HP TouchSmart computer - the 504 model without tv coordination. Most of you know that I don't watch tv, and that's not important to me.

But, I know I have split the budget wide open, and I have regret, but I also have this wonderful new machine. I will repent in a few days...or else I'll figure out something to sell to help pay for this 22 inch monster.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our reckoning with the budget.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Ummmm, my roommate had transferred from Sophia Newcomb, a women's college in New Orleans. She was shy and depressed. I would sneak out of the dorm after study hour was over, block the fire door open and go to the "Old Goose" to buy snacks for me and others on the floor. A raincoat over my gown was "dressed" for that occasion. And, we discovered that we could sign out for the library at night, go in the front door of the library and climb out the back windows, reverse the process when we had wandered as much as we wished.

My best friend, Yogi, and I wandered a lot. The Dean of Students, Margaret Goen, drove an ancient black sedan, and she would often give us rides when it was raining and we were both trying to shelter under Yogi's wonderful wool cape. The image of friend means a tall, blonde girl in cowboy boots and a long blue wool cape (that she sometimes let me borrow). Jumping ahead: she eloped in our sophomore year, and we didn't see much of each other; then they moved away. Last year, she returned to my life, and I'm grateful.

Sue divorced and convinced Mom to move to Memphis and study computer programming. Back then, that meant hard-wiring boards. Sue and Mom both completed the course, but neither found jobs as the computer industry had moved faster than the training. Sue worked as a waitress at Toddle House. I was in summer school at Ole Miss, studying how quickly I could drain a bottle of rum or case of beer or whatever alcoholic.

One weekend a girl from my dorm asked me to drive her to Memphis to pick up a friend's girlfriend. We went in the friend's car, and we were late. It was a stick shift; so I was the only one around who could drive one. Seems like it was a 1954 Ford that he had "hopped up." And, we flew, at least until the head gasket blew, and we limped into a garage in a tiny town just off Hwy. 55 about 15 miles from Memphis. The garage was filled with good ole boys, and we convinced some of them to tow us back to Oxford. I sat in the back seat with one of the boys and she sat in the front seat with one or two others. We spent the entire time fending off probing hands, and praying for our safety. But, we were delivered safe and sound to our dorm and told the boys that we would be willing to see them next weekend. Bad news bears. The following weekend, they actually showed up at the dorm - all cleaned up and ready to date the college girls. I don't remember what she did, but I hid in my room and bribed the girl at the desk to say that I was ill...and I was - scared silly.

That summer was one of the worst bouts of my drinking. I was failing history (world civ), and the night before the final exam, I took a bottle of rum and a big glass bottle of Coke and went to hide in the cubby where we partied in the woods. I had our car because I was moving home the next day. I do not remember returning to campus, but I do remember walking into the classroom to take the exam thinking "Well, this is it - all over now." The professor was either very sympathetic or the answers just flowed from my drunken brain; I made a D in the course. I lost my honors at MSCW because of that D and the scholarship that went along with it.

I could not drive home; so Mom, now back in our tiny town and keeping Marty, got someone to bring her to Ole Miss and got me. I did not get out of bed for several days after that.

Sometime the next week or so, the doctor told Mom that she had nephritis, an incurable kidney disease, and would be disabled. We had no income. I had a little bit of money left from my part of my brother's estate. I asked if she could withstand a move; the doctor said yes. So, we drove immediately to Columbus, where MSCW is located, and I rented a small apartment. I don't remember how we moved, but we did. And, I entered school that fall as a day student.

Mom subsequently recovered enough to get a job at the new Cable Company as the office person - a job she kept until she retired at age 68. The company grew as did her responsibility, and she had a staff of 10 when she left.

Sue moved in with us. I gave up my bedroom to Sue and Marty and Mom and I share a room. Mom decided we couldn't afford to live there and moved us into the projects. I began drinking heavily again and riding my bicycle everywhere. I made lots of friends with guys at the airbase, and we danced and drank our way through a year.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

More personal history♦

Telling my story in my blog is easier than telling it over the phone to my best friend. So here goes - for her sake and the sake of some good mini-stories.

Near the end of my sophomore year in high school (1961), my drunken Dad began to get violent. He grabbed Mom by the wrists and shook her. Sister in law Sue and I got on either side of him with iron skillet and butcher knife and threatened to kill him unless he quit. We moved the following week. I took final exams two weeks early, and Mom found a dump truck driver who would move us into my grandmother's empty house (she had recently remarried). Mom, Sue and baby Marty drove there in our 1949 Ford and I rode with the trucker to show him where to go. As soon as Mom got out of site and we got on the highway, he pulled over and said he had cancer and the drugs he was taking made him so sleepy he couldn't drive. Could I drive? I was 15 years old, but I'd been driving since I was 12; so that wasn't really a problem. Between tractors and the old flatbed truck we had, I figured out the system quite well. He went to sleep in the passenger seat, and I drove the two hours. We switched drivers just before we got there. He needed the money badly, and I was hooked on driving anyway.

We had no money, no job, little food, and were living in a town of 150 people- so no jobs either. I went to work as a waitress that summer. Grandmother (Mema) gave us what little was left in her local bank account. We stretched it a long way. My brother sent regular checks from his job as a welder's helper with the pipeline. My sister-in-law screamed at the baby. My mother was horrified and somewhat helpless. She was paralyzed by the fact that she had finally left my father, a home, and a job. Of course, that really was a small price to pay to keep us from killing him.

I flirted with the local bootlegger who came regularly to the cafe for lunch. What fun! He was good looking, and his wife was reputed to be on the lookout for his running around. So, when she came in, I slipped out the back door and stayed gone until she left. LOL Did she really think a 15-year-old was competition? Probably not, but it was fun for me.

My brother died in November of that year, and I can't even begin to talk about that on these pages right now. After so many years, the pain is still there.

Sue and Mom hit a horse on the interstate coming back from Christmas shopping in Memhphis, and I found bits of glass in my Christmas presents - they were wrapped and in the back of the car at the time. Mom carried a forehead scar the rest of her life, but both of them survived without too much damage. The car was totalled. The horse was dead. Now, they do have fences to help keep the animals off the road.

Age 17 the dress was white with bright red lace over it

I made friends in school for the first time in my life, and they visited in our home. We had lots of fun that junior year of high school. I had two boyfriends, went to the junior-senior banquet, wrote the prophecy and worked on the school newspaper - including running it off on the ditto machine.

Sue went back to high school with me the following year as a senior. I sometimes rode the school bus and sometimes rode with Sue. Mom got a job as a bookkeeper in a small furniture company; so we were getting by. Marty, the baby, had convulsions with fever and we were so far from a doctor that he lost his hearing as a result of the high fever. He was a good looking tot! Sue remarried sometime that year, and Marty lived sometimes with Sue and husband and sometimes with Mom and me. I started drinking with my next door neighbor that year.

The smoke house behind our house caught on fire that year, and the volunteer fire dept. hoses were rotted; so all we had to wet down the house to keep the fire from spreading was a tiny yard hose. The preacher was screaming, "The house is gonna go, the house is gonna go." Mom was panicking. I told the preacher to shut his damn mouth. So the following revival, I was told that I would join the local Baptist church. The preacher dropped me as he was dunking me, and I personally think it was a deliberate reprisal for my cussing. Of course, the religion didn't last long; they kicked me out the church because I started a teen club where we danced!!!! They said I had to quit dancing or leave the church. So I left. My Mom's buried in their cemetery, but we had a graveside service; I won't go back inside that church.

At Christmas that year, Mom and I went to Texas to see the man who had tried to save my brother's life. We were two days late getting me back to school. The high school principal tried to suspend me for being late. I said cuss words to him because several other girls were not back for school yet. The superintendent of the schools stepped in, converted my trig class to business math and pronounced that I had enough credits to graduate. I had already been accepted at Miss. State College for Women, and so I moved into the dormitory January 1962 and began college classes.

Unfortunately, Mom had her heart set on seeing my walk across the stage and receive my diploma from high school. So, between final exams at college 70 miles away, I traveled back and forth to attend the baccalaureate (Sunday afternoon church celebration of graduation)and Monday night graduation. Then back to college on Tuesday to finish up exams. I made honors that semester. End of installment One