Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #38

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #38

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!

Mama’s fabric covered headboard that she insisted to have so she could pin jewelry on!

Nov. 8, 2016: I called mama and asked, well who’s going to win tonight… she laughed and said, “Trump.” She was wound up tonight about the senior center… “it’s an evil place and going to hell in a handbasket.” Sounds like too much going on down there… not sure if it’s a good thing or bad, but I hope she’s all talk as she certainly was wired up!

Nov. 9, 2016: Mama was having coffee and a donut when I called. “I didn’t get much sleep last night, I couldn’t stop watching the TV – I stayed up all night watching. No one was talking anything at the center this morning, no one mentions politics down there, unless it’s a small group of us together.”

“I had a dream last night about the woman who slapped me one day at the center – and in my dream, I slapped her back. I guess the dream was good enough for revenge.”

“It would have been a miserable life I think to have grown up rich – you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to catch tadpoles, make mud pies or be scratched by briars. I remember scooping up tadpoles in a bucket at the creek across from the house – I watched them grow legs and then after they turned into a frog, I released them back into the creek. I had fun growing up, I don’t know about the kids today. Now if I could be rich as an adult, well that would be OK, but not as a kid.”

“I don’t think your daddy had the same memory as I have. All he wanted to do was play cards as a young boy. Once he learned how to play poker, that’s all he wanted to do; he played with the men at the mill. They were the ones who taught him how, and most days he skipped school to go there.” (I wish I knew how that all began and who or why they taught him)

Nov. 18, 2016: When mama answered tonight, I knew she was sick with a cold. “Yes I have a nasty cold and Boo is mad at me for being sick as I don’t sound like his mama.” I mentioned that it would be good to gargle with salt water and then take a teaspoon of honey and… “I don’t want to gargle but I do like the taste of salt water. What’s even better is when I took one of the green apples on the farm and put salt on it – salt on an apple is good.” She mentioned she hadn’t really eaten anything so I asked if she had some chicken soup or broth in the house, and that got a big response… “yuck, I don’t want any chicken soup, never liked it when I was young and don’t like it now.” I guess that’s why I never ate homemade chicken soup when I was growing up, it was always chicken noodle out of a can. But she did make the best chicken and dumplings, which is pretty close to chicken soup – at least in my book it’s close, but not in hers! I have a detailed recipe she wrote out years ago, but I have never attempted to even try making it. Her chicken and noodles is nothing like what I see in restaurants, where they have thick large dumplings. Mama had very thin noodles in hers…. The more I think about it, the more I can visualize the look, now if I only had the ambition to try and create it!

Nov. 20, 2016: I called mama tonight and asked how the patient is doing, as she’s had a nasty cold the past few days. She sounded better when she answered the phone today, so that was a good sign I heard before she answered… “Well I’m still sick, I’ve just been laying in bed all day watching movies and Boo is still ignoring me.” She’s more concerned that the cat won’t come lay in bed with her and has been hanging out in the living room in the chair. I told her that with that raspy voice, he’s probably wondering who that strange women is… in his mama’s bed – she looks and smells like my mama – but she sure don’t sound like my mama. She just laughed. “I did go out this morning to buy some Ensure as I was all out and since I’m not really eating, I need to be drinking my vitamins.” Mama is obsessed with that chocolate Ensure drink and can easily drink two or more a day. While there I got in the habit of always packing one or two when we went on day trips – she had no problem drinking them up either! I made sure I went to the store and bought a few 6-packs when I left so she was back in supply. (After writing this, I went to Amazon to see if they sold it; who knew they had a subscription service on these items, so know mama will be getting a box of 16 every month!

Nov. 21, 2016: Tonight I asked mama if she ever remembered a census taker coming to the house, and… “I don’t remember anyone coming to the farm, and if they did, daddy probably ran them off. He didn’t like people just showing up, wanting something and especially wanting information. I think I remember someone coming to the house here in Monroe once – I’ve had them come to the house… I threw them out, they don’t need to know my business.” I guess mama’s descendants will never find her in the census in years to come… LOL

“I finally feel a little better tonight and will probably go to the Senior Center tomorrow for their Thanksgiving dinner. I drank all my Ensure, so I need to get out and buy more.”

Nov. 22, 2016: When mama answered, I said “I know where you went today as you didn’t answer the phone this morning when I called.” Mama said… “I told Boo to take my calls while I was gone, I guess he was napping! I went down to the Senior Center for our Thanksgiving Dinner and it was really good…. After not eating much the past week, I ate myself silly. It was so good that I even bought a plate to bring home, I’ll probably eat it tomorrow. Donna said she’s bringing me a Thanksgiving meal, so I can have that on Thursday. We had turkey and dressing, it was really good… it reminded me of my mama’s. There was green beans, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie for dessert. I couldn’t even finish all on my plate and hated to leave it, but I didn’t want to open up my covered dish covered to bring home.”

I asked mama if she remembered cakewalks at school, and… “yes we had them at school, mostly at the Halloween carnivals at school. You walked on numbered squares while music played, and when the music stopped, if you were on the number of the cake being offered – you won a cake! I think I remember winning one once. My mama baked a lot of cakes, and they were so good, but she never baked any cakes for school activities; she didn’t associate with any of the women that baked and even when she came to school she was quiet and kept to herself. If they had them at your school, I really don’t remember and I know I didn’t bake as I never baked cakes, I only made that lemon pie…. I sure could go for a slice of that right now!” (I remember having cakewalks at the Halloween carnivals I had at school, but I don’t think my parents came)

“Those Halloween parties we had at school were so much fun as the entire family came; my parents always came and daddy joined in on the activities. I remember him bobbing for apples with the other fathers. The parents would just turn us kids loose and we had so much fun bobbing for apples and going down the Hall of Horrors. Someone would lead you down the hall in the dark and you’d touch things like grapes and they would tell you it was someone’s eyeballs – and we probably screamed at that point. The Halloween parties were a really big thing and everyone came with their family, there wasn’t much to do back then so the families all joined in on all activities.”

I asked mama if there was any pink stuff served for the Thanksgiving meal… “no, there wasn’t any at the center meal, but maybe Donna will bring me some as she makes it really good. Their dressing was very good, I really enjoyed it.”

“The kids today don’t know about country life, playing in the creek and making mud pies.” I told mama about how the girls love to jump in water puddles and if you don’t want them to, you better hold tight to them as they are going to jump in them. “I’ll have to find a stream I take them when they come down and let them play, that will be fun, maybe I’ll jump too.”

Then I yawned and she yawned…. There’s something about talking on the phone for a long time for me that makes me yawn and I always do it with mama… then she laughs and yawns!

I told mama how the woman at the farm sent me a picture of an Armadillo today and then we started talking about bringing her flowers for the farm next April. “I’ll have to make some angel trumpets and root her some hydrangeas to bring to the farm. I can see Angel Trumpets planted on top of the bank out front and hydrangeas all around the house covering up the bottom. Steve will have to dig up the Ola Lilly down by the barn, as I don’t have the strength to dig them up anymore. By the time I put all the flowers back down there, I might want to live there again; maybe they’ll let me sleep in the shed room next to the bathroom, I can be granny”…. then she laughed. “Sometimes I look out the window in my room and when I see the barn, it reminds me 0f looking out the window at the farm and seeing the smoke house.”

“I think I’ll go make myself a cup of coffee now and have that slice of sweet potato pie I brought home, it was really good.”

Nov. 24, 2016:  Just called mama to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving…. “I’ve been eating myself silly all day. I have a fridge full of food that Donna brought over yesterday. If I had all that food in there all the time, I guess you’d have a fat mama!” I told mama that we were still waiting to eat and I made homemade dressing this year and was excited to eat it.. hoping it’s good. Steve made the cornbread yesterday and I made biscuits this morning. “Too bad you can’t send me a piece to try, you’ll have to freeze me a square to taste next time you come.”

In telling mama about Melissa playing with her father’s talking Trump pen I bought, she said…. “My girlfriend, Willie Mae’s, granddaddy Walker shot the radio one time over politics. Talmadge was running for governor and he got fighting mad over something he said. The Walker’s and the McKinley’s were like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s – they hated each other and the men fought anytime they were around each other. Funny how my best girlfriend, Willie Mae, was a Walker. It’s a miracle that we were ever allowed to even be friends. Grandma Walker used to say if you girls ever have kids that marry each other, I’m never letting them in my house.”

I called mama back tonight to tell her that my dressing came good… it made two dishes so next time I’d need to cut it down. She was watching Family Feud, and… “Why don’t we go on that show, you know it’s filmed up in Atlanta. It could be me, you, Melissa,  Frank and Steve. I think we could do good on it, I’m always getting the best answers. You should contact them and get us on, maybe you could win a new car.”

Nov. 27, 2016: I called mama and told her that we met all the grandkids at the tree lighting last night. When we found Melissa, Frank and the girls, they were asking for a lighted wand, but Melissa was telling them she didn’t bring any money…. Wasn’t much longer before I saw Frank go hand in hand with both girls to go find the man selling those wands. I laughed and told Melissa, “Daddy is scoring points tonight!” Mama said… “yep daddy Frank made their night, that’s what it’s all about – the kids.”  Steve and Rose then came and when Ella, Ana and Nina saw the lighted wands, we went in search for them – they were so excited when they had theirs too! They rode the few rides there, except Ella didn’t want to ride one, saying it was too fast. They all liked the fish pond, but McKinley wasn’t happy that her pig was blue – she wanted pink. I think she would want pink clouds if she thought she could make it happen!

Afterward we all went for pizza, and everyone ate pizza except for McKinley! She still has not eaten pizza… if she would only try it! The waitress was nice enough to bring warm Italian bread and she enjoyed that – then all the girls wanted the same bread she was eating. LOL, it was good all nice and warm and we ate it too! They weren’t really interested in eating, they wanted to go see the big fish tank. It was nice and clean when we arrived, but I’m sure the tank wasn’t as clean when we left! Mama laughed when I told her what McKinley said as we walked to the rides… “ are we going to just look at the rides or actually ride them?”  In telling Melissa, she said earlier that Grace had done something and McKinley said, “Seriously Grace, Seriously! Melissa said, “she gets all that from me, she seems to copy what I say.”

I asked mama if she remembered giving Mama Bryan a copy of the Cook’s Nook cookbook around 1967, as Paulette told me she gave it to her. Mama Bryan told Paulette she didn’t use cookbooks and asked her if she wanted it, so that’s how she ended up with it. I was a teenager then, so she didn’t think I’d be interested. “I don’t have any memory of giving her anything.”

Nov. 28, 2016:  Mama was sewing tonight when I called, then she asked me… “Do you know what flip flop socks are?” “Hmm, no I don’t I told her, unless they are the ones that look like fingers for your toes.” “Well everyone is wearing them here and I thought I’d make myself a pair out of these Santa socks I had, but I’m having a problem,” mama said. “The first one came out perfect, but when I made the second one, I messed it up.” I laughed telling her, “I bet you made the second one just like the first.” “Yep, that’s exactly what I did.” I told her, “I’ve done that plenty of times.” Mama said, “I’m so mad at myself for cutting it wrong, but I’ll fix it somehow tonight as I wanted to wear them to the center tomorrow.”

I asked mama if she found a box today? “Yes there was a box by my door today and filled with Ensure, all chocolate.” I told her that her Xmas present was a box delivery every month… she seemed to like that idea, but I might need to add more deliveries; at least I know she will have them when needed.

Nov. 29, 2016: The first thing I asked when I called tonight was, “did you fix your socks last night?” Mama said, “I threw those socks in the trash, they were aggravating me, I’m not like you, I’ll just throw them out and call it a day.” LOL… she knows that I will drive myself to drink to fix something – I don’t give up easily. She asked me what time it was while she was on the phone, and after I told her, she said… “well one clock is an hour ahead and the other one says a quarter till 12, so I don’t know what happened.” I told her that we turned our clocks back a few weeks ago, so that’s what happened to your clocks!

Dec. 2, 2016: When I called tonight, mama was half asleep when she answered the phone… “I don’t live by time, I just live! When I worked, I told my bosses… you show me what you want me to do, but don’t come bossing me. I don’t want anyone following behind me bossing me.”

Dec. 10, 2016: Mama called me tonight, and ironically we were about 10 minutes from her house; it was a surprise visit. After talking for a few minutes, I said to her, “could you turn the porch light on so I don’t trip over anything when I come in.” She was quiet for a minute, which is hard, then said, “don’t tease me, you’re not here.” I’ve never heard her sound mad, but she really sounded mad. I told her again, “I’m not teasing you, I’m really on your street and almost ready to turn in, look out the window and you’ll see the car lights.” “Jeanne you’re making me really mad now, stop teasing me.” So again I tell her, “mama I’m not teasing you I’m really here, so I’m hanging up, come meet me at the door.”  I could tell when she opened the door that I had caught her so off guard and surprised that she really didn’t know what to say, but she was happy, but also fussed at us for coming.” And like usual, I had to move the three loads of laundry off the chairs and couch so we could sit down, LOL.

Dec. 14, 2016: While at mama’s, Melissa called to I-chat with mama via my I-Phone. The conversation with McKinley turned to McKinley’s “famous” knock knock joke she’s obsessed with and works hard to remember. So it went like this, McKinley – “Knock Knock”, mama “Knock Knock Who”. McKinley – “Orange you”, mama “Orange you glad to see me.” LOL… the whole joke backfired as mama gave the punch line. You had to witness it to appreciate what happened. It was funny to listen to the two of them and then hear my daughter in the background saying, “Angel you screwed it up.” Hmm, new word there for the little ones to pick up on. Before Melissa hung up, McKinley yelled, “where’s Pop”, she never forgets to talk to Pop – He’s No. 1″

Dec. 15, 2016: While at mama’s I did another DNA test… the one I did in April didn’t take and they sent me another one. When I told her she had to redo it… “I told you I didn’t have enough spit.” Well here you go, get to spitting! I sure hope this one takes as I really want to see if her DNA will show some of our Askew lines or maybe even Indian. Mama insists that her mother has Indian blood in her family; probably would be Creek.

I made mama a lemon pie tonight, like the ones she used to make; she really enjoyed it. Of course, we all couldn’t wait for it to chill and ate it warm. I wanted to take a piece for the road, but decided to leave my extra piece for her to enjoy. Next time I come I’ll have to make it earlier in my stay.

Dec. 16, 2016: We left mama’s this morning before the sun rose and it was a beautiful sunrise in the Georgia sky. As we rode through downtown Monroe this morning it was beautifully decorated with Christmas lights on the trees on the main street and the center where the courthouse is had a tree all covered in lights. Almost all the towns around there had Christmas parades, unlike here in CT. I couldn’t get my camera to work to take a good photo, I should have stopped and got out, but I was just thinking about the long ride home of 1000 miles! Mama didn’t even want to get out of bed to say goodbye, it was quite cold for her, but not to us. Her and Boo were all snuggled like a bug in a rug.”

Dec. 17, 2016: “Woke up around 7, hearing others outside the motel getting in their cars. I looked out to see ice, but Steve had already started to load the car telling me that it wasn’t icy out. If I had my way, I would have crawled back under the covers until the sun came out, but he was pushing to get on the road. We ate breakfast at the hotel, stopped at the nearby Dunkin Donuts and then hit I-81. The roads seemed ok, but I did see where people had ventured off the road probably last night and abandoned their cars. I was nervous but he wasn’t, so we pushed on through West Va., Maryland, PA., New Jersey, New York and finally it was good to see Welcome to Connecticut. I called mama when we hit CT., and… “I’m so glad you are almost home, now I can really go to sleep and not worry.” We were only about an hour from home when we see that sign; arrived home about 5 p.m., just getting dark. It was good to stretch out in my own bed tonight.”

Dec. 23, 2016: I called mama this morning and in talking about someone at the center, she said… “you have to get up early in the morning to be in charge of me.”

Dec. 24, 2016: As we headed over to Stephen’s for Xmas Eve dinner I gave mama a call. When she asked me what we were eating and I told her, she said, “if I was there, I’d be hungry as I wouldn’t eat any of that.” Her and Boo were just chilling in bed watching movies.

Dec. 25, 2016: We went to Melissa’s for Christmas dinner and I called mama on the way over. She told me that Donna brought over lots of food last night and then said, “and it was so good that I ate and ate myself silly.” I asked what she brought… “there was my favorite squash casserole and it was the best I’ve ever eaten, green beans, meat and the pink stuff I like.”

Dec. 26, 2016: As soon as I called mama tonight, she said… “Stephen called me this morning with the girls, they all got on the phone and talked up a storm! The twins talk so fast that I could hardly understand them. They were all excited to talk on the phone. I love talking to the girls when they call.”

I asked if she remembered daddy making Banana ice cream…. “No I don’t remember that.” I have vague memories of it when we lived on Smoak Ave. and I remember him mashing the bananas and adding Eagle Condensed milk, but not sure what else. I did find a recipe on the internet and a photo and it looked like what I remember – they froze theirs in ice cream trays like I remembered he did. Here is the recipe they gave:

Banana Ice Cream

2 Bananas

1 Can of Eagle Brand (that’s sweetened condensed milk)

½ Cup of Sugar

1 Quart of Half and Half (that’s 4 whole cups!)

1 Dash of Salt

1 Dash of Vanilla

1 Cup of Pecans (Daddy didn’t add these, but would be good)

Mix  those ingredients up with a mixer – except for the pecans – and pour them into your favorite ice cream freezer.  When the mixture is getting good and ice-creamy, add the pecans little by little.  I like big chunks of pecans, so I broke halves in half. (I remember daddy using the old aluminum ice cream trays… I think he used to freeze it and stir often as it froze. I wish I had a better memory of how he really made it.)

Dec. 27, 2016: After I got into bed tonight I gave mama a call… she’s always up late. When I mentioned that I was cold, she said… “it’s really warm here, it shouldn’t be like this, it should be colder. It isn’t good to be warm this time of year, it needs to be cold to kill the germs in the air. Melissa called me tonight with McKinley and Grace… Kinley was very silly on the phone, but she talked up a storm. I’ve been watching a show called Downtown Abbey, it’s about a family in England; once you understand what’s going on, it’s pretty good. (I never thought she’d ever watch that, boy she never ceases to amaze me.)

Somehow we got on the topic of paper flowers and mama said… “I used to make lots of paper roses out of crepe paper. I made bouquets of them and even arrangements. Just the other day we were talking about them down at the center, but you can’t find the crepe paper that easily now… I know I could still make them.”

 Dec. 28, 2016: When I asked what she was doing… “I was just laying here with my eyes closed, nothing much on TV but a western; don’t know what I want to watch, so I was just thinking.” Then I laughed and told her, well I bet there’s some dishes in the sink you could wash if you’re bored… Mama said “Oh My Heavens let them stay in there. I bet Steve would cuss knowing all those dishes are piled in the sink. Things like that don’t matter to me anymore.”

“It was warm again today, but damp and dreary out. It’s a lazy, lazy day and I’m a Lazy, Lazy old woman!”

When mama asked me what I did today, and I said “work”… she said, “Oh don’t mention  “work”… I’m allergic to it. I remember about when I liked to clean and I’d empty out drawers to clean them out… What was I thinking!”

Dec. 31, 2016: I called mama to wish her a Happy New Year! I told her that Steve cooked me a nice dinner of steak and turf tonight. So nice to have a man that cooks for you! “I used to like steak, but I don’t really like too much meat anymore unless it’s in Brunswick Stew, that’s what I had for supper. I guess you haven’t had a drink yet, wanted to call me before you got tipsy…” she laughed. “Boo is hiding under the bed because they are shooting firecrackers outside, and he hates that. Even ringing bells sometimes hurts the animals ears. Do you remember at the farm when you would ring granddaddy’s farm bell and all the dogs would howl; he’d have to go tie up the rope so you couldn’t reach it.” I had just put on Times Square and was telling her to go look at all the people there…. “I wouldn’t want to be there now for all the money in China, but when I was about 17 or 18, I would have thought nothing of going there; I didn’t have any more sense than they do. Now I just want to stay home, warm in my bed. Guess who called me? Deb (Sisson) called to wish me a Happy New Year and tell me they don’t hear from Karen at all.” I told mama that the girls had haircuts the other day, Frank’s mom took them, and… “ I want that curl of Grace’s, I just love that little curl that hangs down in the back. You tell Melissa that I want a curl! When you were here and did that DNA test, well what is my results?” I told her she’d have to be patient a few more weeks… “ Well I want to know what I am… laughing. I bet the Indian lines show in mine.” I wished Mama Happy New Year and told her I had to go, Steve had my champagne waiting. LOL… “well have a drink for me, Love you and Steve.”

To be continued in 2017…


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

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About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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