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