Archive for September, 2008

Today, our mother bought a car.

Now, she’s 78 years old and has been driving longer than I’ve been alive, but . . . there were a lot of “firsts” involved with this:

– first time to make major purchase after husband’s death

– first time to pick out the car she would buy — all by herself

– first time to write her own check for the car (yes, she arranged her own financing and did the financial stuff, too!)

Now, to many people, this may not sound like a big deal. But to me, watching this take place over a period of a couple of weeks, watching her struggle with the decisions, watching her test-drive the cars and deal with the salespeople, then watching her deal with her family (a big family! with lots of opinions!), I cannot tell you how proud of Faye I am and how happy I am for her that she did this. It is a BIG deal.

If you’re read my blog before, you know I speak about this woman as if she’s sainted, and I think she is! Watching her go through the long slow decline of her mate, watching her learn to deal with a disease that nobody knows enough about, watching her learn how to manage both his disease and his behavior, and being there to support her through his death and the aftermath . . . well, I can never say enough how much that impacted me, how much I want to be like her, how much I admire and love her. She is truly amazing.

And, then, just a year later, to be confronted with a major thing like this — okay, to many of us, it’s just a car. People buy cars, keep ’em a year and sell or trade. No big deal. Well, to a woman “of years” who has not had that experience and who has always shared those responsibilities with her partner, perhaps even left them mostly to him, this is a big deal, and I am proud to report she is the owner of a brand spanking new Buick LaCrosse, with full bells and whistles, all safety features — including OnStar, and smell-good-leather interior. She is so proud of herself! And rightly so!

I just hope I’m as spunky as Faye when I’m 78! Hell, I wish I was that spunky NOW!

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Monday The Writer and I drove to the Coast (that’s what we Mississippians call the MS Gulf Coast–the only coast that really matters!); I had a business meeting and he needed to chase flamingos blown in from Gustav. Afterwards, we drove the beach, freshly sand-covered and scraped not-so-clean from Ike’s storm surge, all the way to the Ocean Springs bridge, turning north then to explore the neighborhoods around the Biloxi Point and Back Bay. Three years post-Katrina and still, everywhere we looked was devastation.

Driving around downtown Biloxi was like driving in a ghost-town. Few cars, fewer people visible — even at 5 p.m. there was no “rush hour” until we got to the Keesler gates. We ate early, our experience being that very few places are opening at night still, at a very good Vietnamese restaurant in Biloxi. At 5:30, we were the customers. Sad…

I guess this is really on my mind because of Ike and the devastation of Galveston and coastal Texas. Seeing those pictures on the news brings back flashes of what it was like after Katrina — the heat and humidity, the tears, trying to comfort those who lost all worldly goods, trying to comfort those waiting for word from loved ones who didn’t evacuate, waiting for miracles . . .

Ronnie mentioned that right now would be a good time for the mayor of Galveston to visit the Gulf Coast, to see what it is going to take for her community to recover, perhaps to relay that to her constituents.  Three years later and we are still re-covering — our windows, our hearts, our dreams, our lives.

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Sunday lunch at The Writer’s Mom’s.  The three F’s:  Feast, Family, Fun.  Catch up on gossip from the last gathering; scope out the new boyfriends; kiss babies, wipe notes, and chase kids about to stick something in an eye or up a nose; celebrate passings; invite friends by for a bite, plan for future gatherings….Ah, <smiling> family….

Faye is only gathering us in once a month these days, down from an almost-every Sunday event.  She is tired, but no one has stepped up to carry on the tradition.  Henry and Nita are busy with their blended family, kids, grandkids, etc.  Kenny is busy with his motorcycle gang.  Sharon & Jim are in California.  Ron and I are the family that almost isn’t because of our independence.

I wonder about what will happen to this closeness when we no longer have Faye to draw us in, to connect us, to keep us close. I wonder if, then, one of us will “step up” to the plate (literally, the dinner plate) to protect the unity of the family? I’ve thought about having lunch here at RonaLin once a month, too — just to give everyone another chance to get together.  I just can’t think that most of the family wants to do that…the draw is Faye, at least most of it is–I confess that I’d go just about anywhere for her chicken & dressing!

Just thinking about this makes me sad….I expect that’s why all of us avoid the issue.  We can’t bear to think of the tradition being broken, of Faye not being the one who draws us all close in her loving embrace…she is our home, in every way that matters.

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Such a difference in this storm and the one on whose third anniversary it came!  Lots of rain, some storm surge, some water in buildings on the coast, some flooding.  Not the complete and total devastation of Katrina, despite our fears and anxieties.  I wonder if we will ever feel safe again when the skies darken during hurricane season?  Despite everything, people prepared, people evacuated, people saved themselves and those precious to them.  Will it happen this smoothly, this carefully orchestrated evacuation, the next time a real Katrina comes along?

For me, four days at home.  I spent most of it not working, not DO-ing a thing.  Calm, peaceful, serene, with a side of anxiety thrown in to spice it up.  I went to the library on Saturday and checked out books to entertain myself with during daylight should things be worse than predicted.  And, while Gustav sputtered and spat rain and coughed mild winds here at home, I read.  What a total joy.  At 1 a.m. this morning, i was still reading and not ready to stop, lost in the story, consumed by the lives of those characters, wondering what would happen next, playing and replaying scenes from the book in my head as I readied myself for bed.

That must be what it’s like for The Writer all the time: worrying about his people, wondering what they will or should do next, contemplating, as he says, “how to get them across the room.”  it was hard to come back to my world today, to return to work, to return to “real life.”  It’s good for me to get a taste of this — of what it must be like for Ronnie when I come in from work for lunch and want to ‘chat’ him up about my day, what he’s done, what he’s writing….How difficult it must be for him to shift gears and come up for air!  Well, what’s good for the goose….

Tonight I finish my book!

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Hello, Gustav!

10:30 a.m. on Labor Day.  Rainy, gray, gusty winds, tornado watches.  60 miles from the MS Gulf Coast, we are weathering the storm pretty well.  Amazing how much anxiety I had about this — from living through Katrina and its aftermath.  The panic hit our town on Wednesday, emptying gas stations and grocery shelves.  By Friday, all was pretty much back to normal, but people did wait to prepare.  And prepared we are.  We’re hopeful that we’ll be eating canned beans through the winter cause we didn’t need them during Hurricane season!

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