Sunday, June 26, 2011

Play Time

“That one!”, I shout pointing at the clock on the wall.

“No,” Jack disagrees. “Let’s use the one in the playroom!”

“But it’s not round!” I point out.

Jack puts his hands on his hips and glares at me. “It’s not attached to the wall, either!”

We argue, again wasting precious seconds of play time. Roxi and Maria are giggling in the corner, Phillip in between them, waiting for us to settle our clock dispute. Georgie (short for Gorgeous) is listening avidly, searching for his chance to jump in and calm things down.

Eventually he appeals to my sensible side. “The one on the wall is probably special and if we break it, we’ll get in trouble.”

This halts all arguments and Jack and I decide the playroom clock is the better clock.

We grab it and bring it back to Roxi’s room.

“Okay, we can start!” I announce, while Jack puts the square clock on the ground in the center of the room.

“Does everyone remember what they are supposed to do?” I ask.

Everyone nods and Roxi and Maria start up their giggling again at the boys. We all take our places around the clock, while Georgie turns on the record player and sets the needle down. Quickly, he moves into his spot.

Bill Haley busts out with “One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock” and we all start kicking our legs and twitching our hips as we dance around the clock.

Well…it was dark outside so we couldn’t build a fort…

And, with our introduction to American Graffiti and Brian Wilson, doo wap becomes a big part of our lives.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Lady Like No Other

We didn’t start the fire, and neither did she, but she certainly kept the flame burning bright…

My grandmother was born in Kansas, the baby of six children. Her father died when she was 6, and she never knew her eldest sister because she died at the age of 2.

She was a farm girl, a valedictorian, a football queen, and a college graduate.

She taught English for 30 years, was Teacher of the Year, District, and Region and started the Public Library for that small town in South Texas that probably had the first drug store.

She had two children while she continued to work…

She was the original working mother.

And one night I had the privilege of sleeping in the same room with her and she spoke about the beauty of the nominative participle…until 1 a.m.

There is much to say about her, but I think the poem I wrote in college says it best…

I remember how she used to touch her hair,
and how she labeled all her Tupperware.
I remember when she was Salutatorian at 13 and Valedictorian at 18.
I hope I learn to say “I” instead of “Me”,
and that a deck of cards was missing its 3.
I remember she ate poached eggs for breakfast, had tea at 4:00,
and her students were silent when they heard her steps upon the floor.
Teaching English was her calling, and rightly so, her first students were her dolls,
she taught people all they needed to know.
After praying before a meal, she would always get that look upon her face,
and we knew what she was about to say –
“Did we say grace?”
I remember 40 tubes, with mirrors attached, of Instant Mocha lipstick,
and designer hose bought from Neiman Marcus.
I remember that shade of taupe she always wore,
and how she fooled her husband and didn’t get
her wedding ring melted to the core.
I remember how she said, “Goodnight!”, when she was shocked,
and how her 1000 books were organized into a card catalog..
The library would not have been possible without her,
nor would my education for that matter.
I remember how she put wax paper between her pans,
and that her favorite song could be held in the palm of your hand.
She loved the Aggies, and was once a football queen.
She was always quite the lady it seemed.
Whenever I watch the Sound of Music, I think of her.
Whenever I read the Lockhorns, I think of her.

I will always be able to feel how much she loved her husband and family.
I will always be proud of how much she accomplished
and how much she loved to learn.
And I hope I will learn to be a lady like no other –
A lady like my grandmother.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Get What You Want...

The cement is white, making the blinding sun reflect right into your face and the sweat start to bead at your hairline. Texas in the summer…

The parking lot is full of cars for this is the only grocery store around for five miles and he parked all the way in the back.

The handles of grocery bags are cutting into his fingers and he’s carrying three in each hand. It was, of course, his idea to go to the store because he is going to make goulash.

He is breathing hard for he is in his seventies and his strength isn’t what it used to be.

My brother is with him and Bill is walking fast, trying to get to the car where there is air conditioning, and a chance to get out of the blazing heat.

But, the older gentleman stops and tells Bill to wait.

Bill turns around and to his surprise, he watches as a seventy-year-old man, already well into retirement, with sweat sliding down the sides of his face, sets his heavy burden down to pick up a penny on the ground.

He puts it in his coin holder, picks the bags back up, and says, “Okay. I got it.”

He is my granddad. A genius. A hard worker. Son to immigrants from Spain. A survivor of the depression. A college graduate in a time when college wasn’t important. A pharmacist. A husband. A father. A no-nonsense kind of guy who used the word, “hooey” a lot.

For 50 years he served ice cream (Blue Bell only) and medicine to people from a pretty small town in South Texas. His father started the store around 1919 and he kept it going with his brother. It was Granddad’s idea to put the pharmacy in the ice cream parlor. I sometimes wonder if he was the first person to think of it…

A drug store.

It had stools that swiveled. I sat there and swiveled and swiveled and swiveled and ate vanilla ice cream.

Granddad was funny. And he could do magic tricks. And he would empty out the mustard and ketchup bottles, put string in them, and then hide behind the counters, preparing to jump out and “squirt” you.

He LOVED Wil E. Coyote. We would watch those cartoons and half the time I would crack up just because he was laughing so hard. I never really thought they were funny. I don’t know why the coyote kept going after the road runner.

I am an adult now and I would have to say that I find them a lot funnier in my old age. I wonder what that means…

Granddad devoted his life to his parents, his family, and his church.

When we sat down to dinner, he would come around and kiss the top of our heads before we said grace.

And he always said, “Get what you want, but eat what you take.”

Which means -- never take on more than what you can handle. But, if you take it on, then do it well.

God bless him…

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dinner And So Much More

Mashed potatoes.

Pot roast.




And jelly.

There was always jelly on her table. There were always white mounds of creamy and buttery potatoes. Her potatoes melted in your mouth like ice cream. It was glorious…

She had figurines all over her house and sofa pillows with flowers on them. She had two china cabinets filled with dishes and no dishwasher.

She played Scrabble and Skip-Bo and kept Blue Bell in the freezer. (If you aren’t from Texas, Blue Bell is the best ice cream in the country.)

She is a third generation Texan, born to migrant workers, and picked cotton throughout her childhood. She has no more than a third grade education, but has more wisdom than most PhDs.

She is my grandma.

She married Grandpa at 17 and had four children. She lived her life to take care of her family and followed Grandpa’s orders without argument.

Some disapproved of her choice to play the role of servant.

But she was married for 54 years and her husband held her hand until the day he died.

We should all be so lucky…