Another Pleasant Sunday…

A Sunday dinner at Pappy and Grandma’s house at first glance was a basic affair where we gathered to eat, talked and just enjoyed the company of family. To the untrained eye of a child, each dinner seemed to be a repeat of the one the week before. After the obligatory hugs, kisses, you’re just as cute as a bug in the rugs and hello uncle somebody that I have no idea who you are; the children were exiled into the yards to explore their imaginations. There, the youngest of the kids usually had to suffer from the domination of the older children who dictated as to what games to play and even which rules would be followed on that particular day.  

Inside the house, the adults split into their groups. Usually, but not always, decided by gender. The females occupied the kitchen and the back of the house. Having never been a member of that group, I’m positive that they have their own stories to tell. But my ignorance of the subject dictates that I am better off not leaving any comments on the matter.

The male species would move to the front of the house where Pappy could keep a keen eye peeled on the comings and goings of the neighborhood. His chair was also stationed directly beneath the thermostat. Which made him king of the temperature control. In the various chairs and couches, the older uncles, fathers and brothers would take up their places as befitting the lords and under lords of the castle. Underlings, those that no longer had to be exiled for immaturity but lacked the experience to contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation, sat about the floor. Or if there were too many of them, they migrated to the front porch to form their own group. They always stayed within site of the herd in case some opening should occur in the seating arrangement. Or some topic of conversation might justify them to speak to the elders of the tribe. Conversation varied greatly depending on which council members sat in judgement on any particular Sunday.

The things a young person was taught in those hours spent were far more precious than just a free meal. Those things would never be learned while attending any school. We learned about religion, weather, rotating crops, which politicians were trustworthy or just downright criminals. A question would always come along that would require some hands on training where we would all stroll out to the garage to learn the proper way to replace an alternator or to the garden to view the best way to fertilize tomatoes. We learned respect for those that were more experienced. We learned the art of conversation. No TV’s blared in the background, no cell phones lit the faces of comatose children, and no Instant Messenger,  Google, Facebook or Twitter, or games pinged their annoyance into the ears of others. This was our social media.

When it came time to eat, there were always two tables. The children were seated and fed first. This wasn’t about getting them out of the way but about tradition. Stemming from the days when food was a scarce and parents made sure that the children were fed so they could survive.

I know that we are all searching for a way back to that simpler life. But the change is never going to be found in a 2/3rd majority vote by some congress. The change that we need is inside each of us. Perhaps a great start can be a return to that Sunday dinner. Just leave the cell phones at the door.

Real Life Friday — Thelma

S.I.D.S. left you cold and motionless. I wondered where you went to in the night. You left your warm dry bed where hours ago you and your sister cooed and played with your toes. You gave us no warning. No crying or gasping for final breath. I heard that you just floated away to heaven, without saying goodbye. They hurried us into the back room as if we were to believe nothing was wrong. But we saw your mother’s tears rolling down her cheeks. They put you in the cold earth and no one ever spoke to us about you.

Aunt Sadie – “You can’t fix others til you’ve fixed yourself”

Now I ain’t talking bout fixin yourself healthy. Although if you’re 100 pounds over where your weight ought to be, maybe you shouldn’t be telling people what foods they should be eating.

No, I’m talking of how we show are kids what’s right and what’s wrong. We tell em they should be saving their money for a rainy day and then run out and stick a brand new television onto our credit cards. We tell em to be kind and considerate for others then go out honking and flipping off other people for daring to drive on the same road.

We tell em to respect your elders and then shove our own parents into some home and forget about em.

We want them to be tolerant of those that are a bit different than us but yet use words like ‘greedy Jews, all Muslims are terrorists, all blacks are lazy, all brown people want to sell us drugs and then steal our jobs.’

Remember friends, we can talk until we’re blue in the face but our kids will learn their lessons from what we do after the talking is over.

Childproof caps…safety or just an old man’s nightmare.

So here’s the thing guys. Everybody knows by now that I’m an old geezer. I don’t try to hide it, in fact I use it to my advantage the best I can. But, I also have arthritis in my hands pretty bad along with several other afflictions that we won’t go into today. So I take what seems to be a semi-truck full of medications. Like all Americans, I have to purchase them at the cheapest place possible. That means Costco Home Delivery (your welcome Costco for the free publicity). My apologies to the local pharmacies but evil insurance makes me do it.

So where was I…oh yeah?

Because I buy my drugs online, they gave me the option to order them with regular screw on lids. Of course, being old and feeble, I chose yes. I assumed they realized that because I had arthritis it would be difficult for me to open the childproof lids. So I thanked them for their concern and left the website thinking how considerate they were for thinking of my well-being.

Well, my package arrived a few days later. A plastic bag sealed up tighter than an armored tank. After a search through various junk drawers to find a pair of scissors I managed to finally get the contents dumped onto the table. It appears that in the world of online medication the motto is, “why use one bottle when you can use three instead?” Yes, three bottles for every prescription and each one neatly sealed with a childproof cap. My immediate thought was that I had made an error in the ordering process. I’m old and that’s what happens to me a lot. But then, lo and behold, underneath the whole thing was another plastic bag filled with my screw on lids.

What am I to do I wondered. Then the answer hit me. I would enlist the help of the one person that I was sure could remove the caps with ease. So I asked the neighbors 5 year old daughter to give me a helping hand. Remember folks, if you have childproof caps, you better have a child around to get them open.

Saturday Short Stories — Jason…

Janice has withdrawn into herself again. She’s setting there on our yard sale couch staring into a TV that isn’t even on. With the old quilt, that our grandmother made, wrapped tight around her; though it’s eighty degrees in our trailer. Her face is sunken and her skin hangs lose from fragile bones. Like all the emotions have been sucked away from her and left her deflated.

I sit down next to her and she leans into me, resting her head on my shoulder. We set for an eternity in our silence just staring at the floating specs of dust in the sunshine. It’s like we’re frozen inside a snow globe.

“I hate Fridays,” she says to me. I smile because I know she’s trying to push away the ugliness that is shrouding her.

“I know Jan.” I tell her, because really I do.

It was three years ago on a Friday that I found you huddled in the woods, just off the path that we used as a shortcut from school. We took that path everyday together…except that Friday. That Friday, I wasn’t there for you because that Friday I tried out for that fucking school play. I found you there, shaking so hard I was afraid your bones would shatter. Your head was in your hands and the tears burning the scuff marks on your cheeks. I heard you whispering between your sobs, “No, no, please no.”

You were only twelve years old and collapsed into a pile of flesh and bones. Left discarded in the woods like some wounded animal. I found you there, with your clothes covered in your own blood. Your innocents ripped from your soul. You wrapped your fists tight into my sweater as I picked you up. Your eyes squeezed shut because you never wanted to look at anything again. There would be no beauty left for you in this world. I carried your trembling body in my arms. Your convulsions were so heavy that you vomited onto my cloths; your tears so large they washed it away again. Your short wisps of breath floated into the night sky along with all your dreams. All I could do was tell you that it was going to be okay…but I knew it never would.

While you searched for some answer, you cried, “Oh God, why, why?”

I don’t think God will ever give us those answers my dear sister, but I will always hate him for taking your childhood away.