Saturday, December 3, 2011

Peaches and Cream.....Color....Elizabeth Taylor, Grandma Alma & George

My earliest memories until I was 9 years old were of living in a real home and I was dressed so beautifully.  I had a little brother whom I loved with my very heart.  His nickname was Billy, though I always called him Wm Ernest.  My precious little brother.......

We had the most wonderful black lady named Josephine who came each day to care for
us ...she cooked, ironed and she would sit and tell us about Jesus and about how the world was going to end one day. I learned to be afraid when I heard the world was going to end. I went with her to a funeral... I remember looking all around seeing everyone
clapping and singing and when their eyes would meet mine, I would see smiles in them.  I was afraid
because of all the noise and I didn't understand what was going on.  The strange thing is that I say black woman now to speak about her.... as a child I never knew 'color'. 

I remember that next door there was a black lady who came to wash clothes out in the yard in a giant black pot where I watched her used a long stick to stir them.  Her granddaughter came with her and I looked forward to laughing and talking and playing with her.  I never knew or saw 'color' then.... I saw my friend whom I was so happy to see.  I've always wished I could remember her name... as a little girl I loved her.  I loved Josephine.  I loved Josephine's daughter who was a teenager then... her name was Maxine.

One day Josephine took us to her house and I remember her talking about that 'today they are going to be killing hogs' and it might be too warm.  I didn't know what killing was ...nor did I know what hogs was.  I do know that I began to hear screams that touched my heart and made me so afraid.  Even at this moment writing about that makes me feel shaky inside.  I never did understand what was going on as she didn't let me see. 

My Grandmother Lola as I always called her... would come to visit me from time to time.  I learned that she was my 'real' daddy's mother... I'd never met him at that time.  She would bring me the most beautiful dresses made by Peaches and Cream... I was dressed so nice at all times.  I've always remembered those dresses and how nice our home was and how we had good meals to eat and though, there was alot of fighting in the home ... it was nice to have comfort around me, and I was safe.  I loved my Grandmother Lola for bringing me those special dresses.

I lost all of that when my mother and stepfather separated... my life went to hell thereafter.  It was hell there but, we had our own bedroom and our own beds and I do remember some happiness and I remember getting real Christmas presents and going on real vacations and having a nice car.  Our home was spotless and sometimes, I got to stand in the chair and 'help' cook breakfast.  I would make tiny sausage patties and put them in the pan on the stove.  I remember having desserts after we ate our meals.. one dessert I loved was a half peach on a pretty piece of lettuce with just a little dollop of mayonnaise on it.  I remember crumbling sausage into molasses and a little pat of butter was added.. and stirred up and put on toast... it was so good... I haven't eaten that since then, and I may just have to try that again.  I remember little potato cakes and even cakes made with mashed up black-eyed peas and cakes and how pretty our dining table would look. The floors were spotless.  I was sitting here thinking of how clean and nice 'my world' was until I was 9 years old.......... my mom and my stepfather worked in a mental hospital and dressed in white.  I have many 'mini' memories of .... then.
One is being in a diaper sitting in the big wooden swing on the front porch.... playing in the sand under the big oak tree in the front yard.... and of getting into serious trouble twice while playing in the sand with my tea set.  One time was when I was mimicking my Grandma Alma... she dipped snuff and would pull her bottom lip out far enough to pour some snuff into it and then, move her mouth all around..... I pulled my bottom lip out and poured sand into it from my little tea cup and began to move my mouth around.... when all of a sudden I was grabbed up and taken into the house to be introduced to .......................Ivory Soap.  How I begin to hate Ivory Soap in my young life... my mom made me wash my mouth out with it!  I never tried to dip snuff again.  I remember saying my first cuss word sitting in the same spot playing with my tea set in the sand... something made me say 'damn'!  Do you know what?  I was jerked up again and taken to the bathroom and was made to wash my mouth out with.... you guessed it! ..... that ......Ivory Soap again.  I'm sorry to say that sometimes I have and do say that word in my life... it didn't stop me from saying it.  After that Ivory Soap and getting by myself I said 'damn, damn, damn'!!!  I was a little mad girl... and I kept sneezing from that soap.  Have you ever tried washing your mouth out with Ivory Soap?

I was about 4-5 years old and my little brother Wm Ernest, and I wanted to be grown up and ..... smoke!  I remember we decided to hide under the dining table where no one could see us and ... smoke.  I don't know whose bright idea that was!  I ended up at the Emergency Room where the doctor wanted to know why I had eaten unfiltered Kool cigarettes..... my mom told him she made
me eat them to punish me for trying to smoke them.  I can't remember if Wm Ernest had to eat any of those ............ unfiltered Kool cigarettes.  I will have to ask him one day.  As a teenager I did smoke for a period of time.... but, you can be sure my mom broke me from wanting a unfiltered Kool cigarette!  She never had to worry about me smoking them!

I think sometimes my step-father hated me because my memories of him was of a tall, handsome dark-
haired man sometimes sitting in the living room with the longest switch threatening me.  I remember one night my mother was in the bed with my brother and I.... and he came in and grabbed her by her beautiful, curly long hair and jerked her out of the bed beating her.  Alot of these things my mind has placed mental blocks because of the grief and pain I had inside.  I can remember some things happening and I can't go past a block.  I will feel shaky inside (strange... I am feeling it at this moment writing) when trying to remember more.

My mother could have been Elizabeth Taylor's twin sister.... if  you know what she looked like... you saw my mother... my mother was just as beautiful... and men loved her, and it'd get her into trouble. 
My mother dressed in dresses and skirts and had her long, curly hair hanging down.  Sometimes, she would dress in blue jeans and a blouse ...the jeans would be rolled up.  No one was as pretty as my mother was, no one...... excepting her 4 sisters.  Each one was beautiful and I loved all of them. 

I remember how pretty my clothes were when I was little. I had to wear pretty white socks with lace on them... and black patent leather shoes and sometimes black and white Oxford shoes.  I got to walk to school since we lived in town and wasn't far from it.  For some reason I hated those pretty white socks with the lace on them.... when I'd get out of seeing distance from the house I would take my shoes off and take those socks off... I would put them back on before getting back home.  'Why' .... I
have no idea to this day... I can't imagine 'why' I did that.  If I'd somehow known as that little girl what was coming in my life.... I'd loved and embraced those pretty socks with the lace on them.  Oh... I hated those black and white Oxford shoes, too! but, later ...I would have welcomed them in my life.  Later, I went to a time I didn't have shoes to wear that were new... they had nails inside that stuck up and kept my heels cut up... and there'd be blood in my shoes.  I always had to walk to school and walk home with my heels like that and it would hurt so badly. 

I remember the time Grandma Alma and George gave me the money to go buy myself a pair of for-real new shoes and I could go to Leggett's to buy them!  I was very excited when I was looking at the wonderful shoes in the shoe department.... I spotted the perfect pair!  My shoes were paid for and I was so proud of them... until everyone saw them.  Everyone laughed at them and I couldn't understand why.... they were beautiful shoes and they were...... purple..........  I always loved to draw and color with my crayons in the white pages of my Grandma Alma's books... and I loved colors as a child.  I loved those purple shoes but, I became ashamed and embarassed to wear them.  In fact, I learned how it felt to be embarassed and ashamed of my clothes and shoes as time went by.  No one
could afford to buy them for me. I learned that kids were making fun of me and ... my life was never the same as I knew it..... until I became a teenager 13-14..... and............ ran away. I learned at my father's home how to dress and be beautifully dressed again, my clothes were starched and ironed... and all around me was beautiful.. again.  The home was immaculate and so nice.  We had a nice car.  There were wonderful meals.... but, I couldn't eat because of the tightness in my stomach and being so nervous and afraid I'd do something wrong.  I lost all the weight of being a chubby little girl and I blossomed into a beautiful young woman.... but, I didn't know that at that time.... I only saw myself as fat, and not pretty.  Little did I know!  This is for 'another time'... story... this was when my father wouldn't speak to me and when I came through a doorway... he'd jump out of it and tell me to go on through it.... I never understood why... he hurt me in the ways he did.  When he spoke to me... it would be so nice... until I caught onto the sarcasm he meant toward me.  Memories of this time in my life will come in time.....................some more of the deepest pain in my life and really, looking back now.. I still don't understand.

I said I thought my step-father hated me but, I do remember when my cousin, Ray, pushed me backwards in his wagon into the ditch in their front yard.  It turned over and threw me out on top of a broken gallon jar and cut me very badly... on the back of my thigh.  The scar today is still big and sort of in an 'L' shape.  I remember being in the hospital and I remember having a cast on my leg and having to lay in my room where the shades would be down to make it dark.  I remember my step-father carrying me in his arms when we went places and he didn't seem to mind at all.  I think he might have liked me at least... a little.  This happened in my 'beautiful life' before I turned 9 years old. 

A funny thing I found out this year... after all these years... was from my cousin, Linda.  She said she and Ray had planned for Ray to turn me over in the wagon.  I thought she was joking, she said she wasn't and I asked her 'why'?  She said she was jealous of me and Jimmy, her brother... he was like my brother.... Wm Ernest had been taken to Wisconsin.  I cried so much for my little brother and I couldn't understand why we weren't together.  So, I guess Jimmy, my cousin, became my substitute brother.  She must not have known how much I loved her and looked up to her, too... though one day I did try to 'kill' her... and that's another story.  She shouldn't have messed with my butterscotch pudding..................................  I will say when Linda told me that she and Ray had talked about him deliberately pushing me into that ditch in his wagon when we all were little children... I felt sick inside... though I laughed and acted like it didn't bother me.  It's strange how not knowing something as a little one..... to find out as an adult... that people you truly loved ...meant to hurt you in a physical way.  I loved them so much.  I loved so many people who were mean to me when I was little.  I, also, hated them....loved them.... hated them....loved them.

It's a blur as to what happened when my world 'ended' as a normal little girl who had a real home and real clothes that were ironed and starched and wonderful meals.  I just know I was at my other Grandmother's home..... Grandma Alma and George... I was at their home and their world was so different.

Grandma Alma....... my wonderful grandma, how I loved her with my heart.  George, the only grandfather I ever knew in my life.  I have millions of things to write about them... they went through so much they should never have had to.  She was paralyzed on one side and walked slowly with a walker.  George was blind, yet ..he'd walk to town with his cane moving back and forwards in front of him.  George was the most special man.... he would take care of Grandma and do her range-of-
motion exercises and afterwards he would rub her with Beauty Ray lotion. 

Living with Grandma Alma and George was unlike anything I'd ever known and I will be writing about them through time.  They loved each other with their hearts but, when they got angry... all 'hell would break loose'... and as a child it would make me hide and sometimes I would laugh because they really could be so funny.  Alot of times I would just tense up so much and be very quiet and stay out of sight.

I would cry alot because in that room ...'the middle room'... where Grandma Alma sat in her upholstered rocking chair.... I witnessed things no child should have ever seen nor heard.  Grand-
ma Alma and George should have never seen nor heard either..... but, looking back 'the middle room' became an arena where all the 'family' would come to physically fight each other in front of Grandma Alma and George, upsetting them so greatly.  I 'feel the shaky feeling' again in my stomach as I write this..... this was the room where I saw so much unhappiness and felt so much fear ... yet, this was the room where my Grandma Alma and George was always in, it was their sitting room... he had a straight-back chair right beside her chair and that's where he'd sit all the time.... this was the room I knew I was loved and Grandma Alma and George would talk to me and tell me stories of when they were growing up.  If someone wanted to hurt me, Grandma Alma would tell me to hide behind her chair that 'no damn body was going to put their hands on me'.  I did what she said... because my grandma was one tough lady if she got riled up... being paralyzed, she could still be a force to be reckoned with... especially messing with her grandchildren.  She'd throw a glass of water on someone in a heartbeat!!!!!  :)))  My grandma loved me.  She was next to my mama... I loved my Grandma Alma. 

Grandma Alma and George would try to comfort me and talk to me... they loved me.  They really loved me though... they were struggling so hard to live themselves.... they didn't really have the extra for a child.  George cooked and Grandma  Alma would try to help him... I remember seeing my Grandma Alma struggle with her walker to come to the kitchen and stand at the sink to wash her hand and take that walker to the table and George would get her the flour and the lard and milk.... Grandma Alma made biscuits... wonderful biscuits.  She would tell George what to do and he'd cook. 

That shaky feeling in my stomach has turned into an ache.. so, it's time to write about something else.  Little by little I will gradually tell my stories, even some of the ones that hurt me greatly.  I will use the colorful words sometimes used by different ones, though I don't like to cuss... but, to tell the story and tell it in the way it happens, I will have to write them.  Just understand that they aren't meant to be ugly at all... some of the best people I know in my lifetime aren't perfect at all and they tell it like it is... yet.. they are the kindest people in the world to others, children and animals.  I think that is what matters most in life and I 'look past' the roughness to see if I can 'see a diamond shining' somewhere.  If I do... that's what matters to me........ people who are good on the inside and their actions reflect that. 

I didn't think I was going to have anything to write about when I began this blog..... now, I have so much to write about and it will take alot of time to tell the stories I have to tell.  I'm glad... it's going to be fun.  Tommy knew so much of all I wanted to 'pass down' to him as my child... I don't have him anymore... so, I will write them here and one day Taban and McKenzie will be able to read all and know about 'family'.  My goal is to have all printed in a book for them.... then, they will know some of their Granny Gee's colors in life... and know some of what I have come through to be here now, and know that though I don't get to see them, that they are loved and thought about... everyday.  My life has been very colorful and I like to think of being a Colorful Granny.... but, my life has been some of the darkest colors, also.  No matter how dark the colors, I always struggle back to the wonderful colors of life.  Granny Gee is a fighter, too.

Skip and I shared a memory of McKenzie this evening.  We both agreed that she is a very loving and caring child and I have my memory of walking with her and talking ... I was thinking to myself how I loved this child, my grandchild.... and how much I really liked her, too.  At three years old she played the best trick on Skip... Skip sprayed her with the water hose and went on to forget about it while talking with her mother... all of a sudden he was being sprayed with the water hose and the sound of laughter from a little blue-eyed, blonde-haired girl!  She was so happy that she played a trick back on her Pa Skip!  Skip loved it and it always makes him laugh when he speaks of it... she is 11 years old now.

Taban... who is now four years old... is as handsome as his daddy with his blonde hair and blue eyes.  He and McKenzie look so much like him (Tommy).  Taban has that same sense of humor and is quite a character.  I noticed that both him and McKenzie as little ones always charmed people in restaurants and being out in stores.  Their personalities were so friendly and their smiles so bright and they both.. are such beautiful children.  I'm their grandmother.... what can I say?  I love them with my heart.

See how one memory can lead to another one..... even all the way to memories being many years apart.  Goodnight Nancy.. goodnight Paula... goodnight Skip... goodnight Kissy.. goodnight Chadwick... goodnight Tori... goodnight Mary Ellen, John Boy and..... and.... and.............................

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