Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #44

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #44

Nancy Drew books

August 19, 2017: “How’s the weather,” I asked tonight. “It’s cool, and I’m under the covers. I’ve got more Nancy Drew books, and some more Hardy Boys too. They’ll be here when you come, and you can take them home if you want; I’ll be finished reading them by then.”

I told Mama we had pizza for lunch, and… “No Thank You, I don’t want no pizza, don’t think I’ve ever eaten one and I just don’t want it. I’d rather have a slice of apple pie. I could go for that right now with a cup of coffee.”

While I was talking, I kept clearing my throat and Mama said… “well if you can’t get that frog out of your throat, just swallow him.”

I told Mama that when I come next April (2018) we will go to Perry for the big book sale at the GA Fairgrounds. Maybe I’ll find one of my old Nancy Drew books. If I did write my name in them, I have no memory of it. Mama said, “I have no memory either or even what happened to your books.

August 23, 2017: I caught Mama almost dozing when I called. “I was just going to take a nap after coming home from the center today… picked at my lunch down there, nothing good. I stirred around my plate, but there was nothing on there I wanted; Carolyn took Johnny home a plate. I’m too picky to eat most of the times, as I’m only going to eat what I like. I guess when I was pregnant, was the one time I ate more than I ever ate in my life; I ate turnip greens all the time. Maybe I got my “not so much” appetite from my father, as he wasn’t a big eater either.”

“The house that June Boswell lived in uptown in Siloam, was across from the corner gas station. Daddy almost bought that house after Mama’s mind got bad. It would have been better for Mama if he had moved to town, as she would have had more company. I wish he had bought it, as I always liked that house. Daddy had money, he had money in several banks… in Greensboro, Union Point and Sparta. I don’t know why, but he liked to keep money in different banks when he was young. Later on, he put all the money in just the Union Point Farmer’s Bank. My father had some money, but he never dressed in anything other than his overalls and his old hat. His clothes were clean, but he dressed as a farmer!”

August 24, 2017: When mama answered, I asked… “did you go to the center again today? “Yes, I went there and let them look at me. I guess some of them think I’m funny!”

I told Mama how McKinley was playing with her mother’s pink magic 8-Ball and asked if Santa would bring her a new baby doll, bottles, and a carrier. She’d then turn it over and ask me what it said. Mama said… “You never liked Santa when you were small, you could care less what he brought. You didn’t even wake up early like other kids to go and see. And then when you were older, you’d know ahead of time what was under the tree because you unwrapped everything and re-wrapped it. I only fooled you once by putting your father’s name on your gift.”

August 25, 2017: After telling mama I wanted to sew myself a Nancy Drew bag to carry when I go book shopping, she said… “Oh, I want one too! I’ll carry it down to the center.” Oh, the pressure now of making two bags… maybe she will forget!

August 27, 2017: I didn’t call mama Saturday night and when I called on Sunday evening, she said… “I haven’t heard from you in awhile, I thought maybe you were halfway to Georgia!” Boy, do I get in trouble if I don’t call “every” night… I know she’s gotten used to that phone call nightly, but once in awhile, I’m out late and just can’t call… and she lets me know I forgot!

August 28, 2017: Mama asked me tonight… “when are you coming down, soon I hope.” I said probably early October, why? “What are we going to do when you come.” I said, “maybe go visit some old cemeteries, I love walking around in them.” Immediately she said, “I don’t want to go to any cemeteries, I’ll be there soon enough. You know I don’t want to be buried in one… when I go, just tell Boo it’s time for him to go too and we’ll go together. Cremate us, take my ashes up on a plane and let us fly.” Me… Ok, that’s enough of that conversation!

August 29, 2017: As soon as I called tonight… “I’ve gotten you more Nancy Drew’s, The Mystery of the Clock, The Hidden Staircase, and The Missing Map…one book even has two stories in it.” Me… “What are you doing, sleeping with them?”… “Well, they are sitting here on the other side of the bed.”

Sept. 3, 2017: I told Mama about McKinley showing me the weathervane in the garden at their new house… and McKinley said, “these are supposed to go on top of the house and not in a garden.” I told her “you’re absolutely right, so tell your daddy where it’s supposed to go.” Hmm… wonder how that conversation went!

Sept. 4, 2017: “I really need to go to the center tomorrow and then to the store, but I don’t  know what I want… but I need some groceries.” Me – just go up and down the aisles, you’ll find something. “What I’d really like is to just stick my feet under my mama’s table, just one more time, but I know that’s not possible.”

“I’ve been watching the news abt Hurricane Irma coming, hope it doesn’t hit Florida like they’re saying; I see people leaving. I don’t ever remember hearing about any hurricanes when I was growing up or even when we lived in Perry.”

In talking to Mama about the pictures Lynn had from Miss Bay’s house… ” yes we used to like to sit and look at those photos. Margaret (Lyn’s mother) and I could sit all afternoon looking through the viewer that Miss Bay had. There would be two pictures on one card and you’d look through and see a three-D effect. we could sit there for hours and be content looking at them all, but I never heard anyone tell us who they were.”

“The neighbors next door finally moved out, the ones with all those girls… I’m happy, as now they won’t be pestering me anymore to come in my yard. I’d like an elderly couple to move in, hopefully not just an elderly woman, as she’d prob want to come over and I’d be saying, no I don’t do visits. I said, “maybe an elderly man”… Oh no, I don’t want no man either… I’m not looking to meet anyone.”

September 8, 2017: I mentioned Hurricane Irma tonight when I called… “No one is talking about anything down at the center. It’s not going to really be anything, I’ll be alright here. My house is down in a gully, the wind usually just goes right over my house.  Boo and I will be just fine here. The seniors are going somewhere on the bus tomorrow, all I know is I don’t want to get on that bus and ride… anywhere. I’d rather stay home and lay in my bed with Boo.”

“When we lived in Perry, Teddy Bear would go in the dining room and get in the corner. A few times, I even got in the corner with him if a bad cloud came up. Guess that’s why Boo is under the bed… maybe he’s listening to the TV weather reports.”

“My hair was short when I was little, cut with bangs and high in the back. I hated my hair! I think Uncle Walter cut my hair; he was the barber in the family. You didn’t really go anywhere to have your hair cut, it was usually someone in the family who cut your hair, and we all had bangs back then. All the girl’s hair seemed to have been cut the same way… Uncle Walter had three girls and we all had the same haircut.” 

“One of Uncle Walter’s girls, Mildred, died from drinking old, contaminated water out of a bottle… they said she had typhoid fever. Her grandfather took a lot of medicine and many of the bottles lay around outside gathering water. The Dr. thought she caught it from drinking out of those old bottles that had collected water and stood around out there.”

September 15, 2017: In asking mama about school, she said… “We had prayer every morning in the auditorium, and then we went to our rooms. There were some kids in school who celebrated Saturday for Sunday worship, but we all said our prayers silently to ourselves. I thought differently about religion than I do today.”

“My mother never moved any furniture around like people do today. Once it sat down, it never moved. She kept a clean house, a very clean house. Actually, she had no time to rearrange furniture, she was too busy hoeing in the garden, cooking, cleaning, then finally at the day’s end, she’d piece quilts. It was mostly Aunt Mae who made most of my dresses, mama wasn’t a good seamstress for clothes, but she made quilts better than most.”

Oct. 1, 2017: After seeing a movie on TV showing kids living on a farm watching the circus walk into town from the train, I asked mama if she’d ever seen them… “No I never saw them arrive, but they never came by train. They came to town with many colorful painted wagons. I never saw them arrive as we lived way out in the country. Probably some of the city kids in Greensboro saw them. We did go to the circus when they came. Often we had a school day there, but sometimes daddy took us at night.”

Oct. 5, 2017: Mama hasn’t been feeling well lately… “I’m just resting in bed with Boo, maybe I’ll go back to the center soon. Right now a few kind words and cool water is all I want.”

Oct. 8, 2017: Somehow I began talking about grits when I called mama, and… “My mama used to fry the leftover grits as a patty, she didn’t throw anything away. I guess you’d have to put something in them, like maybe an egg to hold them together. Mama cooked grits, usually a big pot when she did cook them. She made hash too, but I didn’t eat it. I guess Daddy ate it, he never griped about anything she put on the table. He wasn’t picky, probably because he worked too hard to get money to put food on the table. Some people grew up with hardly any food on the table. They had better not complain at the table as the next one would take what should have been theirs. There was no time to complain, or the food would be grabbed by the next. People had large families back then, and you were lucky if there was even enough food on the table. We always had food, there was only just me and Leroy with my parents at the table.”

“My grandfather had two families he grew up, both were large families. He was mean to me, he’d come back from town in his buggy with the fringe on top, they called them a surrey. I’d be out in the yard with my cousin Mildred, his granddaughter from his second family; my father was older and from the first family. Mildred was always his favorite, being born in the house where he lived. He would always bring a sack of candy from town in a paper bag and come by where we stood and hand it to her. I never liked him.”

I was on Facebook while talking to Mama and something rolled by on goats, as I clicked on it, it said Goat Island at Lake Sinclair in Ga., so I mentioned it to Mama… “I don’t know anything about goats at Lake Sinclair, but I remember there being a lot of goats just down from the farm going toward Syrup Mill Crossing. The McNairs had a fenced yard and there were goats all over the place, laying all around on the big rocks out in the field. They must have sold goats for people to eat, I did hear that people cooked them, but I’m not going to eat any goat… I could never kill them! (I looked up Goat Island and read that all the goats had been removed from the island there as people were feeding them so much and feeding them all the wrong things.)

Oct. 9, 2017: In talking about cigarettes tonight… and I can’t even remember how that conversation started… “When I worked at Nathanial Greene in Greensboro, I used to know how to get free packs out of the cigarette machine there. Somehow I’d put my money in, but then I’d get a pack of cigarettes and my money back. There must have been something wrong with the machine. I can’t think now how I did it, but I guess someone had shown us. When I smoked, I remember how smoking a cigarette would calm me down, now I could never smoke a cigarette. You couldn’t pay me enough! My eyes are just burning today, they have been burning all day like someone put something in them. I really don’t know of any allergies running around now, so I don’t’ know what it could be. I’ve laid a wet cloth on them right now.”

Before hanging up, I told mama that we made a banana cake and was sending her cake tomorrow in the mail, and … “Oh Good, I’ll have coffee with it and call it my birthday, but you don’t have to send it… but I’ll eat it. “

“I think I’ll go to the center tomorrow, I haven’t been there in a few weeks, but I’m feeling better now. Only one person called me to see how I was feeling, and I really don’t even know her. I think she might sit at the next table to us at lunch. You think you have friends, but then they don’t even call and check on you. They all know I don’t have any family down here, but they’ll go to church and cook for sick people… but never bring me anything when I’m sick. Even the center didn’t call, and they’re supposed to call and check on the people who come down there… I guess I don’t count.” I told mama to not let that bother her, I call her daily, and lately, I call two or three times a day trying to make sure she takes her antibiotic correctly; she has a hard time keeping up with medicine now… and she’ll take it before I tell her too. Thank Heavens tomorrow is the last day for pills, as it’s driving me crazy doing it long distance!

October 16, 2017: In talking about Melissa’s birthday today, Mama said… “tell her Happy Birthday for me.” The conversation turned to the Moss Oaks club as I asked her if moss hung on the trees out there; she and daddy ran the club when I was in high school and she said, “the last time I was in there, they had built the bar differently. It was redone as a round circle in the center of the room.”

To be continued…
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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
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