Thursday, April 19, 2012

White Truck, Open Field

It was a white farm truck, maybe a 70's model, standard in the floor. My uncle had been teaching me to drive. It was the summer between 8th and 9th grades and I had gone to spend the season with my grandmother.

Her home was in the same large yard as my uncle and aunt's home. It had a lot of grandmotherly touches. The front porch was filled with flowers, and once a week the Schwan's man came by and filled the freezer out front with delicious processed foods.

My uncle and aunt, the parents of 5, almost had no more children living in the house. The youngest had left us all too early, all too young, and the next youngest was a senior. Her prom dress was jade green, and the man she wore it for is still her husband today.

The family story is he taught my mom to drive, and he would teach me and later my younger brother. It would turn out that my weak arms didn't have the strength to pull that old truck out of gear, so he'd reach over with his left hand and place it on top of mine when it was time to shift gears. My aunt tells a story that my grandmother laughed to see me driving over the hay field, engine grinding in too low a gear for my speed.

And that's how I learned to drive.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"The Rockford Files"

"They don't even allow tombstones. Just brass plaques flush with the ground so they don't interfere with the lawn mower. I think graves should be a little untidy, like our lives."
Katie Brannon

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ladies of the Church

This is sad reason for a funny story about Southern ladies of the church.

My cousin died a few weeks ago. He had been a career policeman and retired for health reasons. He was a member of the same church my parents attend, and at which my mom is employed as the church secretary.

The reverend was insistent on the ladies of the church providing a meal at the church social hall after, which is customary. Though some families opt for food to be delivered home after the service and just entertain a family meal there.

But the reverend knew that the police department was going up en mass, as well as many family members have traveled for the service. So he gave directions for food so that all family and police were welcome.

I made arrangements to be late to work to attend the funeral, but simply did not have the option of staying for the graveside service and the meal, as I work about an hour away from my hometown, and needed to come back to work.

Before the service, Mom asked one of the ladies in the kitchen if they would make for me a to-go box and I would walk over and get it after the service. Of course, it's my hometown and I visit with them regularly, so I know several of the ladies. As I ran through trying to make it to the bathroom, one lady said, "What do you want to drink?" and I was momentarily confused before she said, "Your mother asked us to get you a to go plate. What do you want to drink with it?" I delightedly said, "tea."

You know the clam shell style styrofoam to-go boxes from restaurants? The kind with 3 separated compartments inside?

Post bathroom visit, another lady walked up to me with a grocery store plastic sack that had two of the big boxes and 1 small box inside. "I've got all the hot food in one, the cold food in one, and dessert in the small one."

For the drive to work, my car smelled like a buffet restaurant. I got to work and had chicken, pulled pork with sauce and a bun, an assortment of side dishes like potato salad and cole slaw and topped off with a yellow cake.

That's one time it really paid off to have my mother working as the church secretary. And to be in the South.