Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #32

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #32

I call my mother almost nightly to chat, hear how her day went, and as always, enjoy her stories. Several years back, I began scribbling on paper those nightly musings to me. Later I started a journal on my computer and began Conversations with Mama, and just recently began compiling them here on my blog. On my last visit to mom, I gifted her a book of all I had so far – she had never seen them. Mama was thrilled with the book and took it to the senior center to show everyone. Thank You mama for your nightly conversations, they truly make my night!


Mama as a baby with brother LeeRoy. I love that Granddaddy’s Model T photo-bombed the photo!

May 12, 2016: We were heading home in the car after eating at Stowe’s and mama calls… “I just don’t understand why that car place in Winder wants my van. (Steve is laughing) I’m constantly getting these cards and letters telling me how much they want my car. Now why do they want my card so bad?” Me… “Mama they don’t really want your car – what they want is for you to come and trade it in and buy another car – they want your business!” “Well it aggravates me, she says.” Me… “So why don’t you call them up and tell them!” Mama… “I think I will call them up tomorrow and ask them why is my van so important to you – is there money buried in it? I’m definitely going to call and aggravate them tomorrow and tell them to remove my name from their list.” (and she probably will) I’ve explained to her several times that we all get those type letters – just rip them up before even reading and throw away!

May 12, 2016: I called Mama late tonight, about 10 p.m., she answered the phone with… “wait a minute I gotta get my bowl of Brunswick stew.” She was eating supper late or maybe it was a second meal. “And after I eat this, I’ll have a cup of coffee and a piece of that cake you sent. I worked out in the yard till dark… till it was good and dark and I’m hungry.”

“I  live what’s called “the life of Riley” – that’s the way you live the rest of your life. Just live, you don’t have to do any housework or even cook if you don’t want to! Don’t worry, I’ll wash the dishes when I’m ready.”

“My hydrangeas are blooming like crazy now. You need to take some cuttings home with you. Maybe I’ll just root some for you – I just stick them in the ground near the house, where it stays moist, and they root. Last time you were here, I was digging up some for you but Steve said you didn’t need them. LOL” (He didn’t want to plant!)

“They pissed me off today at the senior center. The local florist had donated their extra cut flowers for our lunch tables this past week. When I was leaving I said to one of the women if they cared if I took the cut flowers and used them for mulch in my garden as they will be all dead by Monday morning. She was like, “oh they’re still good.” “I guess she wanted to take them home herself for her garden, oh well.”

I asked mama if she ever asked daddy about when he was in the Navy at Bikini Atoll during the atomic blast… “I never asked and I guess he wasn’t interested in talking about it. The only thing he ever talked about was when him and some of the other guys jumped in the water after the blasts. Later he began losing his front teeth from the radioactive water.”

“It is so hot here and the pollen is terrible this year; my eyes are swollen tonight and I’m laying here with a cold cloth over them. I’m tough! I’ll be alright. I didn’t even stay out in the yard long today, too hot to work in the garden. It’s just too hot for clothes tonight; I remember sleeping naked when I was a young girl when it was really hot in the summer.”

I was having a drink tonight when I called mama… “I wish I could have a drink but they won’t mix with all the pills I take. My daddy didn’t really drink except when we were out or company came. If we went down to granddaddy’s, all the men would go out behind the barn and drink moonshine. They didn’t get drunk, just feeling silly. I don’t know of any of them who made it, must have bought it somewhere. If me or my brother had ever come home drunk, we surely would have gotten a beating. One time I remember daddy had drank too much and not acting like daddy. I would not get in the car with him and mama to go home. He could have beat me and I wouldn’t have gotten in the car. Finally Uncle Walter said that he would bring me home later. There was no way I was going to crawl in that car – he scared me – I had never seen him like that before.”

“I finally figured out how to work this remote and find my TV programs I like, Walton Mountain, Walker-Texas Ranger and Law and Order. They should have never changed our cable system here, made it hard for the senior citizens, but they don’t care.”

I mentioned we were going to the flea market this weekend, and …“My hobby is clothes. I guess because I like to redo and change things up with them. I need to clean out that back room and give a lot of them away, but I just don’t want to go back there and work.”

“Boo is mad at me tonight and left the bed as I was disturbing him by moving my feet so much where he was sleeping. Now he’s sulking in the back room, hiding somewhere. He will be back later when he gets out of his mood.”

“My roses are really blooming now – they are so pretty. I have pink and red all over the yard; Steve cut me off a piece of a light pink when we were up in Juliette, Ga. last October; I hope it roots. I don’t have a yellow or white and I’d like to find them somewhere to take a cutting of; I don’t want to buy them. I wish I still had a piece of the white rose my mother had in the yard. The day of Monica’s funeral (my sister)  the most beautiful white rose opened up – I cut it and put in her casket that morning.” (Monica was born with spina-bifada and only lived six months)

In an upcoming blog post, I asked mama this question… Did you have rules in growing up? …and she said “They had no rules that I know of, and if they had, I would have probably broke them. The only rule I can remember is when you came to the table… daddy wouldn’t tolerate anyone complaining about the food. You either ate what was on the table or you went without eating. If you dared to complain, you were sent from the table and the kitchen was closed to you later. There were times I left the table, but mama always sneaked me food later on. There were no rules for bedtime that I remember, I always went to bed when I wanted to. They didn’t seem to care, but I had to get up at certain times, so I suffered if I went to bed late.”

“I’m happy just like I am”

May 15, 2016: No sooner than mama said hello as she began telling me… “My eyes are really bothering me tonight from all the pollen and my allergies.” I told mama about the twins when they say the bike we took over there. They both started yelling, mine, mine! Ella was riding her bike really good, she finally got the hang of it. Steve hung birdfeeders around for the kids to watch – they get lots of birds around there, Yellow Chickadee’s, Hummingbirds, Blue Robins and Red Cardinals. I told mama how Ana loved the pocketbook and how she takes it to bed with her; she has it filled with lots of trinkets. She had picked the little leather bag from Tennessee. Ella picked the denim wallet with the angel pins and Nina took the wooden Tikki cup with the necklace. I had wrapped them in tissue paper for them to choose one. As mama listened to me telling her about them, she said… “I guess I’ll never get to see them.”

“I remember in growing up, it took me and my girlfriend, Willie Mae, forever to get dressed; then when we got dressed, we didn’t like it and off it came – then we started all over again and did the same thing until we liked what we had on. One night when we came home late from a dance we outran the law! I lost him over by Syrup Mill Crossing after running through the Veasey area. He didn’t know the area as good as I did. Finally Willie Mae and I got down to the farm and turned the lights out and just sat in the car waiting to see if he’d come down to the farm, but I think he got lost over at Syrup Mill and didn’t know which way we went. Willie and I laughed so hard over that – we had some good times.” 

May 19, 2016: Mama yelled hello when she answered the phone tonight and I was like “why are you yelling?”and …. “I was trying to get the laundry out of the dryer and Boo is under my feet meowing because he wants a different food other than what I gave him. He just won’t stop when he wants – what he wants! At least my allergies are finally a little better tonight, they have been terrible this year.”

I began telling mama about the twins and how they are learning to say grace before dinner. Ella said the prayer and they sat there with their hands together and then said “amen”. “That’s so sweet, they need to learn to pray and go to church when they are small. Once they grow up, then they can make up their own mind at what they want to do; my daddy took me to church when I was small. He didn’t really like to go to church as he said the same people who went to church on Sunday would do bad on Monday. I would sure love to see them.”

May 23, 2016: “I went to the center this morning, then I came home and worked all afternoon and into the dark. I wanted to clean out the area under my bedroom window in the backyard – it’s a mess! I think I’ll buy me a couple of tomatoes and some squash plants. Right now, I am full of dirt! I’m brushing my hair now to get all the dirt out – I need someone to brush my hair.” I told her I’ll send McKinley right down!… “Yea, she would probably hit me in the head with the hairbrush like you did to granddaddy. That was the last time he let you brush his hair!”

“One of my Hydrangeas in the backyard is turning white and another one turning purple. They are all in full bloom around my yard. There is a lot of iron in my soil and that’s why they are so pretty blue, so I don’t understand why the other two are changing colors. I never had a white one before or purple, they’ve always been blue – really strange.”

“Someone put out a little black kitten in my yard yesterday – he meowed all night. The girl across the street came over this afternoon and finally caught him. I really wanted him – you know I love black cats. She loves animals and took him home, but I really did want to keep him. I don’t think my Boo would have liked that!”

May 25, 2016: “Boy did Boo let me know last nite that I had forgotten to buy his special food yesterday. Good thing he was content with some of the food I have for the outside cats. I did buy his food today and he is now a happy cat!”

May 29, 2016: I called mama today as we headed home from being “in the road” as she always says, and… “So what are you doing today, I bet Steve bought more cast iron pans. I guess if he’s cremated he can be put in one of his cast iron pans. “I laughed and said, yea we will give our ashes to you to hold….”Oh No, I don’t want no ashes in my house – no way. I could never have anyone’s ashes in my house. You can take mine and put them under a white rose bush.”

I told mama that someone messaged me, telling me that they found a handwritten recipe of my grandmother, Evelyn Bryan, for cucumber pickles in their grandmothers recipe box. Her grandmother lived next door to my grandparents for several years on Binns St. Mama said… “If I had wanted a pickle back then, I would have gotten one of my mama’s pickles– she made the best ones. I really didn’t have much to do with my mother-in-law, she wasn’t very nice to me; I loved my father-in-law though, he was a sweet man.” (I asked several of my Bryan cousins and No One remembers her making any pickles – that’s funny!)

June 1, 2016: No sooner I said hello tonight, mama said….”It’s thundering and lightening down the road. I have the window open, but I pulled the curtains closed as I don’t want to see it. I don’t know where Boo is – he usually hides when it’s lightening. You’re not suppose to have your animals near you when it’s lightening – they always told me that the animals attract the lightening; you know how their hair looks when its brushed – it gets all full of static electricity.”

“I’ve been experimenting to try and turn my blue hydrangeas different colors. Maybe the new white one I have this year was because of that white concrete/sand mixture I crumbled up near it. I broke it all up and sprinkled it all around the base. I have been putting different things around their bases in trying to get new colors – something to do.”

June 4, 2016: I said hello and mama said… “It is “hot as blue blazing” down here. Poor Boo is so hot that he doesn’t know what to do. I laid a wet towel on the kitchen floor for him to lay on, but he doesn’t understand that it would cool him off.”

Mama always asks nightly about all the girls, I told her we had just went out for lunch with Stephen, Rose and the girls and Melissa; the other two girls were in preschool. As we were leaving, there were two women who commented to Melissa how well behaved all the girls had been. Ella told them “thank you and  have a nice day”… they were like “she’s so polite and has the longest hair. The twins were really good at the table. Mama said...”Rose has raised them to be polite, that’s good. I hope I get to see them one day.”

I mentioned to mama about a person on my Facebook Greene County page mentioning some of the girl names I’ve heard from her, one was June Boswell. “I used to read all of June Boswell’s Nancy Drew books – she’d loan them to me after she read them. I read the entire line of those books, you read them too when you were young. June lived in town, across from the filling station; her parents had a little more money than mine. There was a crab apple tree in her yard and we’d stand there and eat ourselves silly with them. Later her parents moved to Greensboro – her father did something in the oil business.”

“We sure do need rain here, it’s so hot; it rains all around us, but never on us!”

“When you come down in the fall you can dig up some hydrangeas to take home, but don’t expect them to be the same color up there – it will depend on your soil. Years ago, a really long time ago, this land here used to be the dump; no telling what you’d find if you dug down, might even find a money box. I can tell my house has sunk, just from the years I’ve lived here. There was once a well here too, but way before I came here or even when Allen bought it. The well was where that ditch is between my house and Mr. Knights. If you throw something in the ditch, it eventually disappears – I’ve done it and later could never find it anymore. Mrs. Cooper, who lived across the street is who told me all these things.”

“Did you know that way back at the end of my property, between me and Mr. Knights, he buried a school bus to use as a tornado shelter. He nailed the windows shut and built an outside door and cement steps leading down to it. I’ve looked down the steps but never went down inside. Allen went down in there once – it’s actually more on my property than Mr. Knights. The kids liked to sneak down in there and I used to have to run them off. Later someone locked it up and it’s pretty much all grown over now; I’ll show you where it is if you want to go in there, probably loaded now with snakes.”

“My grandfather even had a tornado shelter at their house in White Plains. I don’t know if they built it. or it was already built when they moved there. Grandmama used to keep her potted flowers on the steps there in the winter. It was dug in the ground and had two wooden doors that you opened to walk down the stairs. I looked in there and saw her flowers sitting there, but never went down. If they dug it, the boys would have dug it, my grandfather never did work, he liked to sit on the porch and watch the boys work.”

“I never understood why my grandparents didn’t use any of the rooms on the second floor – and I could never understand why? They wouldn’t let you go up there and if you tried to sneak up, they’d get all over you about it. I couldn’t understand why they were so determined to not let anyone up there – I was curious – I wanted to see! They had several kids still living there, as my grandfather had two families, and they all crammed in the rooms downstairs. That just never made sense to me – they had all that room up there. Later they moved to White Plains after he gave up farming. A black couple moved in their old house and one day after I was older and grown, I stopped by their old house and they allowed me to go inside. I was hoping to get my look of the upstairs, but when I asked to go up there they told me “oh no, no one goes up there.” I guess they thought it was haunted – or maybe it had always been. I still wish today that I had managed somehow to sneak up there as a kid, but I always got caught.”

“The big house my grandparents first lived in outside of Siloam once belonged to Dr. Lewis’s family – it was the first Lewis home before building the newer one that we lived next door to; we lived in the cabin next to them. My father rented and farmed his land in return for living there. He must have managed to save as he eventually bought his farm when I was 10 years old.”

June 6, 2016: Mama called me tonight and I asked her again about the tornado shelter at her grandparents house, and she clarified it more… “That shelter was at their old farmhouse in Siloam, not the other house in White Plains, like I said before.”

“I remember it was so much fun going in the horse and buggy, all the way to Powelton, to visit Aunt Chris (Askew). She later moved to Union Point after her husband died and actually lived next door to me after I married; it was Aunt Chris who made you pancakes every morning.”

And mama is still complaining about her TV and remote and said…. “I’ve given up on trying to find anything, so I just click until I find something to watch.” (Often I find her watching cartoons or even QVC – LOL)

As I had just heard the old tune… The Last Date, I asked mama about it as it had always been a favorite with her. “It’s a piano piece and I was told that it’s about a couple going to get married, but they were killed by a train. That story was told to me when we lived in Perry, and it was said that the couple was from Perry. I loved to play that tune on the juke box all the time at the clubs.”

To be continued…

Like to read more… click on Conversations with Mama and more

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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