Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #49
My grandmother, Ola Askew McKinley holding mama’s brother Leroy!
July 29, 2018: I called… “whatcha doing?” “I’m just laying in the bed watching TV. Boo’s in the bathtub. It seems to be his favorite spot lately. I guess it’s cool in there.” “ Me… “going to be a lot of cat hairs in that tub.” Mama, “Oh, I’ll rinse out.” Me… laughing “No you won’t!… “I went to a book sale today and found Ella a lot of Wizard of Oz books. She loves theat movie! Also found them a King Kong DVD, that’s Nina’s favorite movie. I mailed them a box the other day with videos, books and odds and ends plus letters. Rose said they loved the box and took the letters first to read, and already working on a letter back to me. Anna and Nina start kindergarten this year, they’ll be writing soon.”
September 20, 2018: “I went to the senior center today and ate. I didn’t really want it, but I ate. Then we played BINGO… everyone wins something, but I think I ended up giving mine away. When I went home, I checked in the backyard to see if there were any figs on my tree… but I guess the birds beat me to it… and ate them all!”
“I laughed and talked to Carolyn at the center, then I came home to talk to Boo. He knows my moods better than anyone. Sometimes he’ll come running thru the house and jump up on the bed to lay next to me.”
When I mentioned living on the farm, mama said… “I was in hog heaven back then and didn’t even know it. When I was a young girl, I used to draw paper dolls. When I was in high school, I’d draw women and design clothes for them. I probably couldn’t even draw them now.”
“Daddy had a fig tree also on the farm… I used to climb up and eat myself silly… I think it died later on. (I don’t remember a fig tree there or ever any mention of figs when I was young) Actually there were two fig trees there… one was up on the ridge by the barns and the other one was behind the car shelter.”
When mama asked if any of the kids swear… I said, “Grace says “Oh my God” when she thinks no one is looking.”
At the table today, this woman who doesn’t have all her marbles, just sits there and eats and eats like she doesn’t get any food at home. I looked at Carolyn and said, “Oh my God, she’s just stuffing the food in. A lot of the old women there love the old men down there, they better get out of my way, as I’ve had enough of men.”
“I haven’t seen any Nancy Drew books since I bought those for you. Carolyn never even read one or even knew about her… I don’t understand how she never heard of her.”
“We had blackberries today down at the center. I remember when I used to come home from school and I’d go pick mama a pail of them… as I wanted a pie! On the backside of the farm, they would be as big as my thumb. We’d take the dog Fancy, she would kill any snakes she saw. It’d be nice if we could just pull back one of those days… and enjoy the blackberry bushes alongside the road again… they were so delicious!”
September 21, 2018: Mama called me tonight. “I sure wish I had some scuppernongs… the ones I planned by the barn never had any. Carolyn brought me some muscadines today and I took the seeds and planted them, maybe they’ll come up. When I was a young girl, I climbed the trees and ate them. It’s a wonder there wasn’t any snakes hanging up there, as they like them too. I never gave it a thought back then, as to whether a snake could be up there or not.”
October 4, 2018: While talking to mama tonight, I told her about seeing all the potato fields in Maine on our vacation, and she said. “Daddy grew potatoes, both regular and sweet potatoes. He’d bury them under big hills of dirt and sawdust after he dug them out of the fields. When we wanted some, we’d just dig into the hill and take what we needed. They stayed all winter there; he had two different hills.”
“Daddy bought blocks of ice, as we had no refrigerator… he’d take the ice and put it in a croaker sack and bury it under the sawdust pile. Daddy kept the big sawdust pile away from the house as he always told me sometimes they burn hot at the center and could start a fire. He often warned me to never play in a sawdust pile as I could fall in and smother or be burned.”
“I went to the center today, but there was hardly anyone there as they all had gone on a trip. I brought my food home, I’ll eat it later.”
“I used to shimmy up pine trees with no limbs when I was young. I’d use my feet and arms to pull up myself up, then wrap my legs around the tree… digging my feet in. I used to do that while Daddy plowed with the mule. He’d yell over, “you’re gonna fall.” “I never fell! I’d do anything to get out of being in the house because if I hung around mama she’d make me do housework or churn. I hated churning… going up and down with that stick! Mama was happier to have my brother around, I was daddy’s girl!”
October 31, 2018: I called to tell/remind Mama that it was Halloween. “We used to have Halloween parties at school; after one of the parties daddy let Roscoe Jarrad take me to a scary movie playing at the Greensboro theater… he had been my brothers friend. All the girls were so jealous as he was much older than I was. I wonder what happened to him? He used to run a small store just outside of Siloam.”
November 1, 2018: “I was just about to fall asleep when you called. I went to the center today, but wasn’t much there that I wanted to eat. I guess I ate something, but I don’t remember now what it was. The sun was out earlier, but it’s raining now… good sleeping day.”
November 27, 2018: When I called tonight… “What a dream I had last night… it was a good dream too. I dreamed that I went back to the farm… seeing everything there just like it used to be.” She scares me having dreams like that!
December 7, 2018: Mama told me this pretty much as soon as I asked how she was… “I feel like a little lonely petunia in an onion patch. I went to the center today, but I didn’t feel good and left. Boo is worrying me now… he wants to go out on the porch.”
December 14, 2018: When I saw on Facebook that Georgia had an earthquake today, I called mama. “I didn’t feel anything and I’ve been laying here in the bed all morning. I don’t pay any attention to all what they say. If my bed had started shaking and my TV was rolling, then I’d pay attention. I stayed home because I didn’t feel like going to the center… it’s boring down there.” The conversation today was going nowhere, mama is getting harder and harder to talk to lately… she’s very negative and anytime I try to be partial, and not agree with her, she becomes quite angry with me. It was going that way today, so before a fight occurred, I told her let’s end it on a good note!
December 15, 2018: When mama answered… “I just got in the house and pulled my drawers off. LOL I brought the mail in but I don’t understand this paper about my car, something about financing or warranty out of date?” Why do they send these type of papers to seniors! I told her to just throw it in the trash!… “Ok, it’s in the trash… all gone! It’s not too cold outside today, but it’s “sneaky cold.” You stay outside long enough, and the cold sneaks up on you!”
“I’d hate for someone to depend on me to cook for them. I’m just never hungry anymore. The only thing I’d like to do, would put my feet under my mother’s table… just one more time! I didn’t know I had it so good back then… it was just food to me. Mama cooked the best fried chicken, vegetables from the garden and how I’d love one of her homemade biscuits and a glass of sweet tea.”
“I ate a little down there at the senior center… probably stirred it around on the plate. Some of those old people are such gluttons down there… they just eat and eat, and eat! I just don’t care about eating that much anymore.. I’ve got a “gone ass” now… it’s just gone away!”
“I found myself a new pocketbook at the senior center today in the clothes closet. It’s so cute, and I only paid a whole quarter for it… and doesn’t even look like it was used. It’s the type that you hang on your shoulder. When I lay down, I’ll add everything from my purse into it.”
“Well you go eat lunch, and I’m going to finish taking my clothes off and lay down, I’m tired… nap time!”
December 16, 2018: There was no answer in the morning when I called mama… but as usual I called back five minutes later… and she answered. “I guess I hit the wrong buttons when you first called as I was sleeping (10:30 a.m.). Seeing that it was now too difficult to have a conversation with her as she was groggy… I told her I’d call back later.
I called back around 2:30 p.m.… at least she answered the phone right away. “I’m kinda awake now, but it’s my tired day today.” I laughed and said, “it’s your tired day everyday!
She came back with… “I’m an old woman, what else is there to do!”
February 6, 2019: What are you doing I asked, when mama answered. “I’m piddling around, going through papers. It’s pretty outside, but a little chilly… the sun is really bright! I remember when I was a kid, people thought about each other, today no one cares.” This was another conversation that went back to the senior center… she feels no one cares about her anymore or wants to be her friend there.
February 27, 2019: When I called today… “I went to the center and ate… actually it was pretty good, at least the macaroni and cheese was good; I picked at the rest. I took some clothes of mine back to the center… things I’m not going to wear anymore.”
“There were no senior centers when I grew up, never heard of anyone going anywhere like that. They did have places where they gave out commodities to really poor people, but not like today… too many receive help today that should be working.”
“When I grew up, I came up in a good family, my daddy knew how to make money. He signed up for a government farm… they took half of what he made to pay for the farm. Daddy knew how to stretch his money, many lost their farms… they had to leave and go live in a poor home. My daddy had no book smarts, but he knew how to make ends meet and make money.
“I remember being very scared of airplanes when I grew up… I associated them with planes carrying bombs and always thought they were gonna drop one on me; I always ran and hid.
“Mama was smart in how she took care of the house… canning all the vegetables from the garden… sewing all our clothes, even our underwear. She always had more canned goods than we could even eat… we gave many away to family who needed them when we visited.”
February 28, 2019: When I called tonight, I told mama about McKinley losing two teeth… one last night and one today at school. She got two dollars for her tooth from the tooth fairy. Mama said… “I never got anything from the tooth fairy… if I even knew about one. I’d have been good to have even gotten 5 or 10 cents when we went to town on Saturdays.” Mama laughed when I told her what Frank said about the tooth fairy having to come back tonight. He said, “Gigi, there is a one-visit rule on when the tooth fairy comes and she just came last night, so she won’t be able to return until next week.” Mama laughed, saying… “I love my Frank.”
I asked mama if grandmamma ever made pickles… “Mama put them in her potato salad and we’d eat them with our sandwiches. She made the best potato salad with those sweet pickles she made; she learned to cook and can from her mother.”
In asking mama about when they had party lines on the phones, she said… “Yes if they were on your line, you could listen in. When you wanted to make a call, you just picked up the phone and the operator immediately came on… you just told her who you wanted and they rang her phone. One time you picked up the phone and told the operator you wanted to talk to your grandmother. The operator thought she recognized the voice and put you through to Mrs. Morgan. When I walked in the room and took the phone from you, I recognized her voice and she told me that she had thought she was talking to her granddaughter Ellen. Your father worked for her son, Rusty Morgan. Mrs. Morgan gave you the silver baby cup you have.”
It was a talkative night…
“I remember square dancing over at my grandparents home. The McKinley’s ran the town of Siloam, they were the law… Uncle Joe was the police and cousin Lawson McKinley was the Mayor. When daddy grew up they feuded with the Walkers… the Walker’s were mean, but they never messed with the McKinley’s. The McKinley’s and Walker’s never got along. When the McKinley’s had a dance at someone’s house… the Walker’s would try and come over and bust it up. They were always fighting… but funny how my best friend ended up being a Walker. Her grandmother couldn’t believe how we became best friends. My best friend, Willie Mae Walker, never messed with me, we never really fought, but we did fight over clothes! We’d russell on the ground over who’d wear what!”
March 12, 2019: Mama picked up, and… “I’m tired.” Me, “why, whatcha been doing?” “Well, I’m trying to clean this house, it’s strewed!” Me, “I didn’t think you cleaned house anymore.” “Well, I can’t do it, but I need to. Boo’s litter box needs cleaning, but tomorrow is another day, I’m too tired tonight.”
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