It hurts my heart to know that what once was a big, rolling and romping famiy full of fun, mischief, acceptance, but most of all love is sadly reduced to a handful of us who bridge the gap one or two at a time, here and there for a few brief minutes, to speak. There are no family photos, no pictures of kids passed around, I have no wall of family, there is no trace that any one exists in my life other than me and my sister. It extremely painful that our once beautiful, loving and close family has been reduced to stealing rarefied pictures of those who are still very dear to my heart out of pictures posted on social media. I’m sad that my kids grew up indifferent to family pictures and family members asking who’s that? When I save pictures to my phone as keepsakes for myself. I think the most devastating blow to my heart was the other day when my now 18 year old son brought me a blanket and asked what to do with it. I said, ” you keep it” he said “why, I was putting it in the goodwill”. I explained ” Nana Mary made that for you when you were little” his.answer was “well, I didn’t really know her, and I don’t want it, but you can keep it if you want it”. I snatched the blanket and held it tightly. I felt felt like someone had just run over my dog, he laughed about it and walked off. I felt so very betrayed. My Nanny made that blanket with her own two hands! Not a machine, no precut pieces, no measuring boards. She eyeballed, she drew, she cut, she sewed it by hand – No less to make something special for you, you little snot. Then I had to stop and breathe and realize, he was, to my deep sadness and regret right. He never had those family ties I cherish in my heart and hold onto as a beacon from childhood. I’m heartbroken that some of the people I love most in the world are still around, but absent from our lives. It hurts even more that others have left this world now, and my kids never knew the joy of their touch on our lives. It pains me that they never got to build forts under Nanny’s table, or watch her chase you round the kitchen swinging a wooden spoon hollering ” I’m gonna git that butt” knowing she would never really hit you. Laughing when she called the proverbial name list that never failed to start with your dad’s name! She either finally ended with your name or “you know very well I’m talking to you, now pick that up!”. They never got to experience the thrill of visiting Grandma Leatha, who was always ready to party, despite her age, make up completely on point, hair done, sitting in a sequined shirt and insistent that you be fed honey buns from the bakery on the corner where she bought them fresh daily. I want to give my kids a short glimpse of what they missed out on. A sassy, vivacious woman, over 80, chain smoking, ready to party every day of her life driving a giant pink Cadillac is not something to be stopped, nor argued with, but my lord she was something spectacular to see! I want them to be reminded every time they smell lavender, of a bathroom at Grandma Velma’s with a window in it that opened, not to the outside, but into the den, and how you pulled the curtain around to be sure no one could see you. No one ever could, they were focused on beer, arguing about football, still…just to be safe, because you were a self-conscious girl who in reality were too short for anybody to see anything but the top of your head you adjusted the curtain and ducked! 😂 I wish for my kids that they could have gone for those Sunday breakfasts and sleepovers I now know we were often invited but not allowed to go, they were never mentioned to me or my sister. Somehow, we always felt left out because no one ever asked us. They did though. We were kept away, separated, except under the most important holidays when my father absolutely insisted we attend. Even then, the list laid out of ” You better not, or, I don’t want to catch you” rules were a mile long. All given away from the presence of and never allowed to be repeated in front of our father or the beating promised would be severe. The problem was, unlike Dad’s family, she could never wait to score a reason and wait for him to leave the house once we got home so she could use it. Enough of that. Anyway, I want to give my kids a brief jaunt back in time to those beautiful Sunday breakfasts, because grandma Velma’s and Aunt Dorothy’s biscuits and gravy melted in your mouth, and were literally to die for. It’s hard to explain how holidays started early in the day, were spent with gaggles of kids underfoot tumbling here, rolling there, hearing get out of my kitchen-don’t you lick that spoon till I get done with it. Middle names meant they might actually get up and chase you out of the kitchen, but you could usually hear them coming, hollering “where’d I put that spoon, I’m gonna tear up that ass” followed by ” git out of my damn kitchen and go play outside”, unless it was cold, then it was “get back in the den, nobody said you could come in here” followed by the random swat in your general direction. Make no mistake, we were NOT mistreated. Usually, this behavior resulted in laughter and jokes on everybody’s part. Another common family phrase was “You better not have those dirty fingers in my chocolate pie!” Aunt Ruth took her cream pies seriously, if you stuck your finger in one you better smooth it out quick, she moved wicked fast! Heaven help you if you stole cobbler, pumpkin or the mince pies Aunt Evelyn made for Randy and Uncle Biily, she really might smack.you in the back of the head as you passed, all in fun though, not to hurt! My sister and I grew up in a timeless point where kids made memories that are supposed to last a lifetime, where family is held above all. I am glad that I experienced some of those important moments as a child. It taught me so much that I carry with me as an anchor in my adult life. Sometimes, it’s my landline amidst the chaos in the storm of my mind. Because inside my brain today, up until the age of 14, there are black holes and there is nothing to remember. Nothing can be pulled out, even with the best therapist and types of therapy. I regret deeply that I also have less than a dozen memories from childhood I can share with my son. Sometimes today, the smell of rain, wet dirt and a slamming spring door is the best sound in the world to re-connect me with me.

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