Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #33

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #33

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. Later I started a journal on my computer and began Conversations with Mama, and just recently last year 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 saw 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!


Ola (mother),  Catherine (sister-in-law), Mama (Helen) and Edgar T. McKinley (father)       Photo taken Flat Rock in Siloam, Georgia

June 11, 2016: In looking for info on Flat Rock, I discovered a place called Eagle Rock and I asked mama tonight… she said… “I remember Rock Eagle, we went there often when I was in school and I even camped there when I was in 4H. I liked 4H, but the teacher never wanted to listen to me when she taught sewing. I remember the time when I had to make a skirt to model on stage. I modeled it all right, but the teacher wasn’t happy. She made me sew it her way… by the directions – while I tried telling her it wasn’t right, she wouldn’t listen; I modeled and prissed all over that stage and got a lot of attention. She had made me so mad so I fixed that skirt – all wrong. I didn’t learn how to sew with directions and my teacher wanted me to, but I couldn’t follow them – but I knew what to do on my own. That skirt ended… hiked up on one side! Mama took it apart and fixed it after we went home; she didn’t make anything by directions either.”

I told mama about McKinley watching TV today when Penelope jumped up in her way and she yelled out… “Penelope you’re in my way, I can’t see TV.” Later Melissa called and was teasing her as to who she was and McKinley said, “this is your four year old.” Grace’s favorite words are “No” and “yep”, but she’s constantly repeating everything her big sister says. If we stop at a traffic light, she watches the light and yells “Go” as soon as the light turns green – a true “backseat driver.” Mama loves hearing what all the girls are doing and saying and she always asked about them.

June 23, 2016: After watching one of my “new” favorite shows – Barnyard Builders – I asked mama about granddaddy’s barns… “The old barn that was on the farm when he bought it. was just a barn with old barnwood, not logs. But the log cabin that I was born in was a real log cabin, and it’s still standing. We will go back there to see it again when you and Steve come down in October. You can’t see the logs from the outside, but inside you can see them. I used to take mama’s thimbles and sit them between the logs; probably could find lots of them if they ever took it down. My brother and I used to play a game called “hide the thimble.”

I asked mama again about Flat Rock, and …. “One time Willie Mae and I took some boys out there on a wild goose chase to ditch them; they were bothering us so much that we led them out there – and then left them there! They told everyone about the hard time they had in finding their way out, and almost didn’t. When my brother’s wife, Cathy, came down from Wisconsin to visit, we took her out there for a picnic; I have pictures of us on the big rocks. I remember hearing this tale when I was small – it was told that a man came and tied a rope between two trees and walked over Flat Rock on top of the rope. I never saw anything like that, just heard the stories. (I’ve found out that it is now fenced off and closed to the public as it was bought and they quarry the rock. Also told that there are many snakes around the area)

From another note with no date, mama said… “I remember in church that there was an “amen” corner in the  Presbyterian church we went to in Siloam. When I was little, I remember that every time the  preacher preached, the men would all said “amen.”

“I also heard this story when I was young – that when the world comes to an end, we will all be in different places. Whenever I saw a large amount of smoke, I’d get scared if daddy wasn’t home. It made me think that the world was going to come to an end – and  daddy wasn’t home!”

An oldie to add – Dec. 11, 2015: “Daddy’s cousin, Lawson McKinley drove a mobile general store around to all the farms. I loved when he came to our farm as he always gave me candy, and I loved candy; that’s how I got the nickname “candy girl.” Silver Bells (kisses) were always my favorite. It was like a general store on wheels and had so many things hanging inside the back when you looked in. After he stopped driving it, he opened the general store in Siloam. It was nice and warm today, I dressed like it was summer; it was 67 degrees!”

June 26, 2016: I asked Mama what she remembered about the square dancing that she and daddy did, and… “Your father and I did western square dancing, it’s a little different from regular square dancing. I even sewed out outfits, making my dress and skirt to match his shirt. I’d sit up all night sewing sequins all over my dress, and always with a cup of black coffee and a cigarette. We often went with the neighbors across the street, Mary and Fred Lampley; I even made them a couple of matching outfits.”

“I remember that they used to have square dances at my grandparents house in Siloam, just down from our cabin. I’d sit on the stairs and watch; the house would shake so much from all the stomping around, that I thought it would fall off the foundation. They often had Saturday night dances back then; the rooms were big in their house – I remember how they’d shove all the furniture back out of the way to make room for dancing.”

I happened to mention Aunt Lena’s jewelry, and …. “Do you still have the child’s ring with the pink stone that was mine? Aunt Lena gave that to me but mama never let me wear it, she always put things up. I guess because she never had anything when she grew up, so she tried to save things given to us. I could never understand how she’d never let me play with some of my gifts. (yes I still have the ring.)”

June 27, 2016: I called mama to check on her with all the high temperatures in Georgia, and …. “It is still hot as hell down here! I’m sweating up a storm in these 90 plus temps; I can’t remember it ever being this hot. I still remember seeing daddy out in the field on hot days when I was young. On really hot days, he poured water on himself out there to cool off – he didn’t sweat. They had a tough life back then.”

“I just had some Brunswick stew, but didn’t really have an appetite in this weather. I can’t let it go to waste though.”

June 27, 2016: Before I asked mama tonight how hot it was, she said… “I think when it rains I’ll run outside naked! One time at the farm, after I moved back, I ran out to the well house for something – naked! Well about the time I stepped out of the house and opened the well house door, I heard someones car pull in the yard. I jumped inside and closed the door, and stood really still! They knocked on my door for a long time, even walked around the house calling my name – they saw my car in the yard so assumed I was home – somewhere. Finally they left and I ran back inside. I had recognized the woman’s voice, but not knowing her husband, and being naked, I wasn’t going to speak up and tell that I was hiding inside the well house. Later I told her where I was that day and we had a good laugh over it. (I had never heard this story before)”

I mentioned tonight that Stephen was painting, and …. “ One time, when we lived in Perry, I tied a rope to myself and crawled out the attic window to paint that window. I had tied the rope to the rafters in the attic to secure myself. The neighbors walked over to tell me that I was going to fall. I always did everything, even cutting the grass in Perry; I cut my grass here until a few years ago, but I’m thankful my friends husband cuts it for me now – and I take them out to eat. We often go to Holcombs for BBQ after he cuts the grass; I always stock up on Brunswick stew when we go, that’s how I get my vegetables – in the stew.

July 1, 2016: When I called tonight…. “I went down to Holcomb’s today with Johnny and Carolyn – Johnny sure loves that stew. They even bought some to bring home today, and I did too.”

“It’s still hot down here, I think we’re just going to all burn up. We haven’t even gotten any rain, maybe a drop or too, which makes it only worse.”

“I can’t wait till everyone around here gets rid of their fireworks, Boo is tired of hearing them and having to find a place to hide. I never liked fireworks as a kid, but daddy always bought me a Roman candle and some sparklers. He also bought firecrackers, but he shot them off or either Leroy did; he wouldn’t let me shoot those. One time Allen shot some firecrackers off at the farm, just after I had told him to be careful or he’d start a fire. The very next second after telling him that, a fire started. It scared him to death as I was yelling you better put that out or you’re going to burn my house down.”

“I remember going to the square dances on Saturday nights when I lived at the farm. Sometimes I even pretended I wasn’t myself if some guy pestered me, saying instead that I was Helen’s sister. There was one boy that bothered me so much, that I always said it to him. Then he’d see me at the restaurant the next week and I’d tell him I wasn’t at the dance, that was my sister – and I can’t do a thing with her. Then he’d see me again the next week and tell me how he saw my sister again at the dance, but he couldn’t do a thing with her and she didn’t behave. I would just fall over laughing.” (I told mama that I did that a few times too; I had a short-haired platinum wig and whenever I wore it, I’d pretend to be my sister. My girlfriend and I thought it was hysterical when I fooled them)

July 3, 2016: I called mama before I left for our Fourth of July party… “Boo is just scared to death and hiding right now. I’m so tired of hearing all these firecrackers and big booms. I can’t wait till they are all done.”

July 5, 2016: Before I could even ask about the heat tonight…. “Don’t even ask me how hot it is, it’s just Too Dam Hot. I believe God is tired of us all, and this world, and he’s just burning up the earth. I remember it saying in the bible, that before the end of time we will destroy ourselves. I don’t think I’ll even go to the senior center in the morning. It’s just too hot to sleep and by the time I do fall asleep, it’s really late. It’s cooler in the mornings so I’ll just sleep in and stay home. Why go down there, as when I leave it feels hotter. If my big window fan hadn’t broken, it might be cooler in the house; although it would be only blowing hot air.”

July 6, 2016: Usually the first thing I ask is about the heat, and  tonight… “Well it’s not as hot tonite, it’s kind of comfortable. It must have rained somewhere, but not here – we are still dry. Those nuts across the street are still shooting firecrackers…. what’s the matter with people, just spend all your money on firecrackers! Boo is laying here on the bed right now trying to sleep, but if they start up again, he’ll be gone – they upset him.”

“I didn’t go to the center this morning, just didn’t want to. Don’t want to do too much and I definitely don’t want to clean my house. I need to go to the store tomorrow and get some Ensure and donuts to eat with my coffee. I always drink my share of Ensure, but they do say it’s good for the “old folks” – who knows, maybe it helps me. I get my vitamins through them.”

July 9, 2016: Before I could even ask how hot it was in Georgia tonight…. “It’s hot as hell down here! I don’t remember hot days like this when I was growing up. I haven’t gone anywhere in two days, and I’ve not even wore clothes for two days—just too hot to have clothes on; you know how I hate wearing clothes at home! Me and Boo are just dam hot! I still believe it’s close to the end of time. I’m in a foul mood tonight as I’m disgusted with everything, most people, the world and housekeeping.”

“When I go get some ice water after I hang up, I think I’ll give Boo some too with ice cubes; he will probably just look at me, then look at the ice cubes, then…. Who knows what he will do.”

I was telling mama about the corn attachment I saw online, how you hook it up to your drill to cut the kernels off, and … “I remember my mother making the best creamed corn I ever ate. Every time I eat corn, I still think about how good hers was. She canned the cut corn and made cream style corn later on. Mama never put any milk in her creamed corn; she scraped those cobs dry to get all the corn milk out.  She never made a big bowl of it either, just enough for two meals. We always ate it at lunch, then finished the leftovers at supper. Whatever she cooked at lunchtime, we always had the same thing in the evening. My father wasn’t a big eater – eating just one thing at a time on his plate. He never crowded his plate with food.”

“When you and Steve come down, we will check out the property where my grandparents lived – it was just down from our cabin, on the left going toward Slip Rock. I wonder if the tree where the swing was is still there. That is where I always played – a swing hung on that tree. The house originally belonged to Dr. Lewis’s father, Judge Lewis. They also owned the log cabin we lived in; it was on the same property as their new house; daddy sharecropped for him until he bought the farm.”

“After daddy bought the farm, he built a tenant house up on the hill. Aunt Mossie and Uncle Josh and baby Rae were the first to live there; they worked on the farm for daddy. Later, daddy’s brother, Walter and his family lived there until he opened the little store in White Plains and bought the house next to the store.”

I asked mama what she had wanted to be as a kid… when she grew up – and… “I always wanted to be a movie star and model clothes. I’ve always liked to dress up and fix my hair and priss around. I’m still like that, except when it’s real hot like it is now, then I just want to take off all my clothes!”

July 11, 2016: The temperature on my phone for Monroe tonight said 72, but when I told mama, she was… “It feels much hotter than that, I’ve got the fan blowing on me – blowing hot air. I didn’t go to the center this morning, everything just went haywire! I didn’t get any sleep last night – too darn hot, but Boo needed cat food this morning, and I wouldn’t have been able to live with him and I needed my prescriptions filled.”

“It’s a little cooler tonight, but I haven’t seen any rain – I think it’s against the law to rain on my street. Some people will say that it rained at their house in Monroe, but never at mine.”

I asked mama if her father talked much about politics at election times, and … “Oh yes he did and every Saturday at the filling station, all the men talked politics. Daddy was a Roosevelt and Talmadge man – he was a Democrat, true and true. But Democrats were different back then vs today –  they were for the farmer. In today’s world – my father would not vote Democrat.”

“I spent most of my time following my daddy around the farm, and he never seemed to tire of all my questions. Whenever I’d ask him, either for something, or could we go somewhere, his answer always was, “let me think about it.”  I didn’t like to ask mama for things, as she would cry – I never understood why as a child, but now I feel like she felt bad because she couldn’t give me the things I asked for.”

July 14, 2016: Mama called me tonight – her phone had rang about three times and nobody was on the line so she thought I might have been trying to get in touch with her.

“The mama cat I have outside brought another kitten home – I think she steals kittens as lately she brings home one every so often. I’ve never seen her pregnant; I think she can’t have kittens so she just goes and steals one.  This one is pretty, it’s every color.”

“I’m still hot, sweat is just popping off me. Poor Boo is hot too. Remember when he was little, Melissa used to carry him around in her purse – you know she wanted to take him home. Just what she needs now with those two girls.”

July 19, 2016: I don’t know how we got on the topic of drinking, but… “I remember one time I came home from Moss Oaks Lounge… so drunk… and I had drove home. I was OK to drive, but once I laid down, the bed became a bed-spinner. I had to stand up, as I couldn’t put my two feet on the bed at one time. It’s been a really long time since I was drunk, and it was never often that I even drank that much – I didn’t like to be that way. I would like to be able to enjoy a beer now, but with all the pills I take, I can’t drink anymore. I’ll just have to remember those times – and laugh.”

July 22, 2016. As mama answered the phone she said… “It’s Hot, Hot, Hot and Hot, and it’ll never quit until winter! I was watching Trump on TV last night – maybe he will straighten out this country, as it sure needs someone to straighten things out.”

“Mama mentioned that there should be a Bryan family reunion and I said “I’d probably feel out of place as I wouldn’t know many.” She laughed and said, “take me along and I’ll talk to everyone – you can just stand there and take it all in.”

“Most of the seniors are quiet down at the center – no one talks politics, but when Obama was running, they talked all the time about him. Me, I like Trump – but while I don’t think he’s handsome, I do hope he will do something to help this country. This world needs help!”

July 25, 2016: Another HOT day in Georgia… “I went to the center today and boy did everything go wrong… I was so mad down there because one woman came in the clothes closet and threw all clothes on the floor that she wanted to buy, then had no money. But did she offer to pick them up, NO… she just walked out. If they think I’m going to pick them up, they have another thought coming, I’m not. I will not hang them back up, but I will put them in a bag to drop off at FISH before I’ll let her come back for them. She does things like that all the time and gets away with it.”

“Well I finally bought an air conditioner today, don’t know if it’s the right size, but Johnny will look at it and if it’s too small, he’ll take it back for the right one. I’m putting it in the living room where the other one was, so If I get too hot in my room, I’ll just go in there and stay.”

July 28, 2016: When I called mama tonight at 9:30 p.m., she wasn’t answering… well that made me nervous – as where should she be that late, other than home. So for the next half hour I kept trying her phone, and the answering machine would pick up after several rings. Finally on the 4th try, she answered saying… “I knew that was probably you calling as I was talking to my friend Carolyn on the phone and I kept hearing this rumbling noise in the background. (So now I know she can be on the phone and the answering machine will pick up – if only she would check her messages!)

“Carolyn’s husband, Johnny, came over today to put the new air conditioner in I bought. He just looked at the one in the window and turned it on – and as it worked good… he left it on for now. It’s nice and cool in my bedroom now and Boo is laying in the living room just chilling… and mama is finally cool! He said he’ll change the air conditioner later on to the new one, but for now this really old one is working good.” So Life is good… Mama is finally cool!

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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