Driving Miss Lucy

spincyclesmallIt’s time to do another Spin Cycle. Finally. I know. This week the topic was “driving”. And, miraculously, I thought of something to say about it.

Now I have to admit, I’ve been real reluctant to write anything lately. I guess y’all could say I’m pouting. See, my new baby grand daughter, and her parents, my son and his girlfriend, are planning to move away to another state. And this news is just so …..crappy…..  that I’ve been in an awful mood about it.

But I do realize that folks move all the time, especially in this economy. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my own childhood. My parents decided to move from Wilmington, NC, my hometown, to Eau Gallie, Florida when I was only five and my brother was a newborn. Now I know how lost my grandmothers must have felt, since we were their only grandchildren at the time.

But the two of them were good friends, having met on the job before either of them even got married. Both of these fine women were telephone operators for Ma Bell in the 1930’s. They both eventually married my grandfathers and settled down on the same street to raise their children. Both families attended a small Baptist church on that same street. My parents were the epitome of “childhood sweethearts”. They met as youngsters in Sunday School.

Having their children and grandchildren move to Florida in 1963 meant just one thing for these two lifelong friends, who were by then both widows. Road trips! My mother’s mother, Miss Gladys, being known as a tomboy all her life, of course drove. My father’s mother, Miss Lucy, being one of the prissiest women the South ever turned out, of course rode. Oh, and she talked. If there is one thing Miss Lucy was good at, it was talkin’ yer ears off.

I’m pretty sure she had some stories that probably lasted the whole trip.

To say my brother and I  looked  forward to these visits would be an understatement. It was a car full of love ( two grandmothers at once!)  that pulled into our driveway a few times a year, just in time for supper. They would usually stay for a few days, bestow us with hugs and kisses and gifts and plenty of grandma stories, and then make the trip back.

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The two ladies seated in this picture are my grandmamas. The one on the left, in the dark glasses, is Miss Lucy. The one on the right, clutching her purse, is Miss Gladys. I think this picture was made at Miss Lucy’s birthday, when she was about 89. When she passed away, a few years later, Gladys wrote the following poem, describing their road trips to Florida to see me and my brother.

LETTER TO LUCY

You passed the door of mystery
The door we’ll face one day.
We breath and live in this world
And one day we’re taken away
To a place with streets of gold
No sickness or sorrow there
Just love and beauty I am told.
God’s love is everywhere.

I’ll always remember my co-pilot
Who talked and guided the way
On trips to see our children;
It always took a day.
On 17 was the way to go
No super highways then.
Some day this I know
You will be my co-pilot again.

With Love,
Gladys (5/19/03)

I’m certain of few things, y’all. One is, I was very close to my grandmothers, even though I was growing up over 700 miles away. And I’m determined to be close to my grand daughter, if it’s the last thing I do. Two, I know my grandmamas, grand ladies that they were, are together again right now. Gladys was able to join Lucy last October. They are up there somewhere right now. And, of course, Gladys has the wheel.

For Wordless Wednesday – BOOKS

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This photo is for Wordless Wednesday, hosted by Dixie over at French Lique, Texas. The theme for this week is “Books”. Since it’s kinda hard impossible for me to post something anything without at least a few words going on and on about it, I have to tell y’all about this photo. This white headed, beautiful southern lady is my favorite author and my Grandmother, Gladys Parker. She passed away last October at the young age of 96, and her mind was sharp as a tack right until the very end.

In this photo, she is sitting at her dining room table in her tiny apartment, which she called her “Penthouse on the Third Floor”.  She is looking over a book of poems that she wrote, a collection called “Then and Now.” The picture on the table is an original oil painting, also her’s. She was a self-taught artist, poet, beloved mother and the epitome of a grand, southern matriarch.

You can read more about Gladys, and read some of her poems, by visiting her blog, The Rock of Gibraltar, here.

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For more Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday photos, visit the other participants at French Lique, Texas, by clicking here.

THE VALENTINE

This week’s Spin Cycle is about, what else, y’all? LOVE.

I could write line after line about how much I love my husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, my parents, my dog. But today my thoughts turn towards a person who greatly influenced my entire life, right from when I was a child. She was the glue that held my family together. She showed me, by her example in everything she did, what it means to have your priorities in the proper order. Her love and her fierce protection for her family never wavered and it never failed. She was my Rock of Gibraltar, my inspiration and my grandmother.

spaceballgladys-parkerThis is a picture of my grandmother, Gladys Parker, when she was about 15 years old.  She wrote the following poem when she was 88. The valentine she describes must have been around 76 years old. She was a down to earth, practical, no nonsense woman – not at all a girly, romantic type. The fact that she saved this valentine surprises me. The moral of the story? You just never know how long those valentines you send today will be saved, or how much they could mean…to somebody.

The Valentine

“You know I love you;
Can you guess who?”
Is written on my valentine.
Another like it, you cannot find.

Its kept among my souvenirs
Of the past – these many years.
Now and then I take it out
And remember how it came about.

Coming in to school one day
Upon my desk – there it lay.
A bright red heart, homemade too,
Saying, ” You know I love you”.

So childish and inquisitive me
Looked around – who can it be?
He had his eyes inside a book
He knew I knew by his look.

Its been so long – long ago;
His name now I do not know.
But many times I wonder how
This old man is doing now!

Gladys Parker
January 2000

Ans this is how Gladys looked in 2000, when this poem was written. She wrote hundreds of poems in her life, and even had her works published in a book, “Then and Now.”  Sadly, she passed away last October at 96 years old.  You can enjoy more of her poems, and read her life’s story here, at The Rock of Gibraltar, a blog I have started in her memory.

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Bathing Beauties in the Fifties

There’s this thing I found, called Wordless Wednesday (WW, for short), y’all. The rules are real simple, if you want to play. Just post a picture, on Wednesday! Only thing is, it’s gotten so gosh dern popular – it’s every day now. So I’ve decided to hop on the “Thursday Edition”  bus.

Of course, bein’ southern and all sort of precludes me from bein’ completely wordless. Just thought y’all’d like to know that this here picture is of my mom, on the far left, with her cousins and sister, taken sometime around 1950, in Myrtle Beach, SC.

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Southern Collards

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OK, y’all. This week’s Spin Cycle is supposed to be a poem.  This one is almost impossible for me, because I practically cut my teeth on poems. My beloved grandmother, who passed on October 23 of last year, was a prolific poet and artist. I already have posted  several of her poems on my blog. And, since my life’s goal was to be exactly like her, I started writing poetry when I was about nine years old. In searching through my archives of poems, both hers and mine, I finally decided on this one.

Being able to cook up a good mess of collards is the number one requirement of being a true southern cook, y’all. This poem is, I think, the last one my grandmother ever wrote. I found this hand written copy, dated May 2007, tucked away in one of her journals – the writing scribbled and hard to read, due to her failing eyesight. It is about one of her’s (and mine) favorite things….collard greens.

I think I know what inspired her to write this poem. My Aunt Barbara, who was was my grandmother’s daughter-in-law, and refered to as her “adopted daughter” in this poem, remarried a man named Benny, after my uncle died.  Benny, who is from Pennsylvania, never ate a collard green in his life, until he married Barbara and moved down south. He loved them so much, that he decided to try and grow them in his backyard.

Barbara, being one of those southern gals who’d rather spend the day shopping at Dillards than slaving away over the hot stove, had no idea how to cook them. So she did what all us southern women do in a pinch. She called up her southern mama, “Miss Gladys.”

This poem is the answer she got.

Southern Collards

By Gladys Parker
May 2007

When I was forty or so
And you were my daughter, adopted you know
I would don my apron the old fashioned way
Because you were coming for Mother’s Day.

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Here’s the collard patch, right outside
It looks a little country-fied
But, begging your pardon,
I like my garden.

The collards were cropped, a leaf off each one.
It makes them grow better – they get big in the sun.
Summer collards are okay to eat,
But winter collards are tender and sweet.

The pot is boiling with a streak of lean.
(Slab bacon, maybe, is what I mean.)
When the meat is tender the fork will tell.
Each leaf examined and cleaned very well.

Now, twist each leaf half in two
Place in the pot, like good cooks do
Cook ‘til tender and seasoned to taste
Drain – nothing goes to waste.

Even the “pot liquor” is good for you.
Or corn meal dumplings, cooked like I do.
So chop up the greens nice and fine
And they will taste just like mine.

IF

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If I had a million bucks
Or thousands – just a few
I would never hesitate,
I’d divide it all with you.

If I won the Nobel Prize
And that I’ll never do
But, if it really came about
You’d be honored too.

If I had just one wish
And knew it would come true
I’d wish for health and happiness
And share it all with you.

Health and happiness – magic words.
Sometimes hard to find
Often when needing them,
They’re right there in our mind.

So many ifs in our lives
Only dreams, its true
But honest – if “ifs” happened
My thoughts would be of you.

Gladys Parker
Dec. 04

What If… we could just slow down?

This week’s Spin Cycle is about the topic, “What if?”

I liked this poem, because it makes me think about how short life is, and what is really important.

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How Do You Live Your Dash?

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning … to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1900-1970)
For that dash represents all the time
That she spend alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard…
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat others with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash….
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
Author Unknown

What the Heck is a Meme?

Richard Dawkins initially defined meme (rhymes with dream) as a noun which “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.  Memeticists often define an individual’s mind as a “playground for memes”  and what they regard as “meme-generated patterns of behavior” can also be referred to as a person’s personality.

These days, a meme is an Internet  list of questions that you saw somewhere else and you decided to answer the questions. Then someone else sees them and does them and so on and so on. There’s even a bunch of websites devoted to memes, like The Daily Meme.

Why am I blathering on about this, you might ask. Well, my good  friend Debbie, over at Buzzin’ By, tagged me with this meme. It doesn’t have any questions, but  here’s the rules:

1. Go to your documents
2. Go to your 6th file
3. Go to your 6th picture
4. Blog about it
5. Tag 6 friends to do the same

There seems to be alot of controversy about how to do this. What if your pictures aren’t in your documents? What if your documents don’t contain picture files? How about if your pictures aren’t in files…just a whole bunch of pictures in one little ole picture file?

Well.

Here’s what I decided to blog about. It’s the sixth picture in my documents, which only contains five files.

ar008502This picture was taken in the summer of 2004, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  This is me and my step daughter, Danielle, getting ready to climb up into the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which was constructed back in 18 70.

Also known as America’s Lighthouse, it’s the tallest brick beacon in the nation. It stands at an impressive 208-feet. The familiar spiral-striped landmark serves as a warning to mariners of submerged and shifting sandbars which extend almost twenty miles off Cape Hatteras into the Atlantic Ocean, known as the Diamond Shoals. In 1999 the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved, at a cost of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, a half mile inland, to save it from falling into the encroaching sea.

It was a great weekend, y’all. My husband, Jeff, Danielle and I were invited up there to spend it with, coincidentally, my same friend, Debbie and her husband, Kirk. They had rented a beach house somewhere near Avon, NC, for the week, and had invited a  menagerie of their kids, step kids, friends and parents. Lucky for us, we got included. It was one of those priceless, summer weekends that will go down in my memory banks as one of the All Time Greatest.

While we were there, I had a decision that I was mulling over. On Friday before we left, I had been called by Kathy, the HR person at Corning, and offered the right to return to my former job there. Three years before, in 2001, Jeff and I had both been laid off.

At the time, I was working as the publisher’s assistant at Wrightsville Beach Magazine. I loved the job. I got to write articles for the magazine and also for it’s sister publication, The Lumina News.  My office had a wonderful view of the Intrcoastal Waterway. I really had no intention of leaving there and going back to the boring production work at Corning. Also, there was no guarantee that  Jeff would ever be recalled, which would mean that the two of us would never be on the same sleeping schedule, since we worked swing shifts at Corning.

However, that beautiful and warm Sunday morning, Jeff and I walked on the beach, stealing a few minutes of solitude with our morning coffees in hand. We found ourselves remembering  how we met at Corning, the days of our courtship, and the friends we had made there. We realized how much we  had been missing for three years.

Monday morning, when we returned to Wilmington, in a move that suprised me more than anyone, I called Kathy and told her I would return.

In February of 2005, Jeff got “the call” from Kathy.

Five years later, I find I miss writing for the magazine, but not much else. The deadlines, the dramas, the stress….are all gone. Right now I am on a relaxing seven day break. I get to enjoy one of these every month, thanks to my schedule at Corning. And during these breaks, I ‘m fulfilling  my creative urges by blogging, thanks to, again, my friend Debbie, who suggested it.

Debbie, I sure do owe you a lot.

This visit to the playground of my mind was fun. Now to tag some more folks!

I’ll tag my son, Kyle, because he really needs to get blogging again. My first “stranger” that commented, Jan, because she has such a unique take on everything. Goodfather, because he’s been laid off, too, and he has already demonstrated he ability to do memes. Another Jan, at Jan’s Sushi Bar, because she and I have a million things in common (we just haven’t discovered quite all of ’em yet!) I guess I’ll tag our Spin Cycle hostess, Sprite’s Keeper, because I’m hoping I’ll become a little more popular by association. Finally, because she likes fried okra, Meli!

My New Year Plan – To Enjoy

This week’s spin cycle, brought to us by the ever engaging and evolving Sprite’s Keeper is about New Year’s Resolutions. From some darn reason, I can’t hardly bring myself to do this one, y’all.  The whole idea of having to “resolve” to do something is way too final.

I think it’s because Southern women kinda shy away from resolutions. It sounds so formal and churchy, as in, “The Southern Baptists have formally voted to adopt a new resolution.” It reminds me of a formal, sit-down dinner. You know the kind, where you send out invitations that say “RSVP” on the bottom in fancy gold letters, and you have to get out your great grandma’s silverware and polish it up? I envision starchy tablecloths, linen napkins and awkward silences, or somebody finding a piece of old food stuck to the back of a salad bowl. Shudder.

I’d prefer something alot more casual. As in, “Y’all come on over for supper, we’re havin’ homemade vegetable soup and cornbread with sweet ice tea.”

And well, sure, we Southern gals sometimes “resolve” to think about it tomorrow, if it’s really wearin’ on our nerves, but any Southern woman worth her weight in fat back will tell you – we are much better at making a PLAN. Now, a PLAN is something I can get all a-twitter about. A PLAN requires a list. And being a true southern gal from “North Cackalaky”, there ain’t  nothin’ I love better that writing (actually, revising, ’cause I always have one)  my good ole ‘”To Do” list. It’s second only to shoppin’ for new shoes, y’all.

In thinking about stuff I’d like to do this year, I’m ever conscious of the loss of my grandmother this past October. I have a fresh understanding of how short life really is, and I feel like we need to enjoy it as much as we possibly can, while we still can.

So, in the interest of promoting All Things Southern, and keeping my goal of enjoyin life more, I give you my 2009 “To Do” list:

1. First and foremost, have more frequent sex. We might as well use it before we lose it! (Hey, even the preachers are advocating this one.)

2.Enjoy the little things that I never give myself time to do. Bubble baths. Hot chocolate. Reading books. Listening to music. Painting. Lighting candles. Watching the sun set. Walking on Wrightsville Bdcp_09801each.

3. Make a memories DVD of the pictures we took LAST summer. I enjoy torturing my family by making them sit down and look at our pictures.

4. Finish scanning all of my grandmother’s old family photos, so I can make  DVDs to send to all of her family, and  type all of her poems, so they are saved in my computer. And then, make poetry DVDs to send to the family. My grandmother had alot of profound things to say, and I’m on a mission to share her words and stories.

5. Start another blog, about my grandmother’s life, with the old scanned pictures and poems. I already enjoy posting her poems, and I want to put them all out there.

6. Finally getting around to setting up my grandmother’s sewing machine, that I’ve had for 2 years and mending some clothes that probably don’t even fit anymore.

7. Help my youngest son move into his new apartment, where he’s going to college, and clean out and re-paint his old room and get new furniture for it. Then we can have friends over for the weekends, another thing I enjoy.

8. Try and get over my phone phobia, by planning to make more phone calls. That will allow me to do something else I enjoy – share a laugh with friends.

9. Plan a vacation. (There. A sentence with two of the most heavenly words in existence…PLAN and VACATION.)

10. Lose 15 pounds. I realize this is on everyone else’s list. I don’t want to stop enjoying cooking, or dinners, or eating out and especially I don’t intend to give up my cocktails. I’d just like to enjoy shopping for clothes again. I might have to join that HASAY thingy.

CHRISTMAS TIME

Grandmama,

Although you are not going to be here today,  I made you collards. Your poem is proudly displayed on our mantle, you know, the one you wrote for us a few Christmases ago about a “little” dog, named Hannah. As we open our gifts this morning, our thoughts will be with you, and the many years we were lucky enough to have you in our lives. We will be remembering your sweet, smiling face and your words of encouragement.

Even though you didn’t make it to Christmas this year, you did get to remind us all of Christmas and make us all laugh when you joked about being “Rudolph the Red Eared Reindeer” while you were in the intensive care, and they had taped a glowing red oxygen monitor to your ear.

Some of us are not doing so good today, Grandma. I think Ryan and his girl need to be gently reminded again, of the advice you gave them the last time you saw them, “to just be good to each other”. If you have any pull in these things now, we could use a little help on this one.

I hope you are enjoying a big bowl of collards with Mama and Papa Green, all your brothers and my Uncle Billy. Please thank them all for me, for taking care of you until we can be together again. Loving you, every day, your grand daughter,

Ginger

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CHRISTMAS TIME

Christmas music is in the air
With songs and praise every where.
It fills our hearts with love and joy
For Mary’s child – a baby boy.

This child was born many years ago.
His name is Jesus and we know
The Story of His humble birth
And mission here on the earth.

Trees are blinking with tiny lights
And dusted with a bit of white.
Gifts wrapped up with fancy bows
What’s in the package? Nobody knows.

By Christmas morn the secret is out.
Just what I wanted is the shout
And happy faces show girls and boys
All excited about their toys.

Its really a magic time of year
A time of compassion, love and cheer.
A time for remembering the Holy One
Jesus Christ – God’s beloved Son.

Gladys Parker
Nov. 2002