Monday, March 31, 2008

The Grocery Caper (A writing prompt exercise)

Screams of laughter greeted me as I made my debut through the kitchen door sporting egg yolks as a new styling mouse. A veil of lettuce cascaded from the top of my head down to the new fashion statement of chocolate syrup graphic t-shirt art and self tanning gone wrong with cooking spray and puffs of flour billowed from my shoes with every step.

“You really got into your grocery shopping, didn’t you, Mom?” mocked my fourteen year old daughter.

“No, Jan, it’s that great new game show – you get points for wearing the most groceries instead of getting them in your cart. What’d you win, Mom, what’d you win?” my twelve year old son Matt begged.

“What do the other contestants look like, honey?” my husband, Ben, joined in the mocking.

Great. Not only do I smell like a garbage can but my sweet, loving family mocks me as I stand in my kitchen dripping groceries. They didn’t even ask if I was okay.

Just as I was about to respond to my family’s comedic chimes, my five year old came into the kitchen and began screaming bloody murder! He thought I was a monster – my own baby boy didn’t even recognize me!

“It’s okay, buddy,” my husband comforted. “It’s mommy, see? It’s mommy?”

As Timmy reluctantly turned to confirm what his daddy was telling him, the tears and screams morphed into giggles of relief for him, more humiliation for me.

“Doesn’t anyone want to know what really happened?” I quivered, about ready to cry myself. “Or would you rather just stand around making fun of me?”

“We’re sorry, Hun,” Ben said. “What happened?”

Jan handed me a roll of paper towels and Matt pulled out the bench at the kitchen table for me to sit on, I began my explanation.

“Well, when I got to the store I was really nervous that the manager wouldn‘t let me in because of what happened last week. I walked in quietly and got a basket and turned to get on with my shopping. I got through the produce section – no manager – so I continued on. I was strolling down the back isle and I was about half way down the isle, looking at the chicken when there were sudden screams coming from both sides of me. I turned around to see what was going on and SMACK! An egg hit me up side my head!”

“What!?” Ben asked understandably shocked. “Someone hit you with an egg?”

“Not just one somebody and not just an egg!” I continued. “As quickly as the first egg hit from one side, another one hit from the other! Then I looked from side to side to see who had thrown the eggs and it was those same two little brats that were there last week!”

“You mean the two that disappeared leaving us to take the blame for all that mess?” Matt asked.

“Those were the ones and I wasn’t about to let them get away with this. They were standing there laughing and I went after them.”

“Megan, you didn’t?” Ben asked, hoping I hadn’t just said what did.

“I sure did! I wasn’t going to take this from these two again. First, they abandon the scene of the crime last week leaving Matt and Timmy to take the blame and now they assaulted me! They weren’t going to get away with it this time!

“Did you catch, ‘em, Mom?” Timmy asked with glee.

I continued my adventure. “As I said, I went after them. But of course, they split up. One went down the baking isle and since he was the closet one, I ran after him. This kid grabbed a can of cooking spray off the shelf as he went by and turned and sprayed it on me! Then he grabbed a sack of flour and tore it open and began showering me with flour. The next thing I knew the other kid was behind me squirting chocolate syrup all over me.”

“How’d you get the lettuce in your hair, Mom?” Jan wanted to know.

“They took my lettuce out of my cart and slapped it on my head after I fell in the flour. I was just sitting in this muck, not believing what was happening when I looked up and saw the manager at the far end of the isle. I think steam was coming out of his ears!”

“He started power walking toward me – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him move that fast!” I laughed. I looked around and my family – I had everyone’s full and undivided attention. I couldn’t remember having everyone’s attention at the same time before. I was kind of enjoying it.

They all looked around at each other and then back at me, “Why did you stop? What happened next?” they all said in unison.

“Oh, sorry, got distracted by all the attention. Well, just as he started toward me the kid that had been in front of me tried to slide by. But I grabbed that little booger and held on as hard as I could; given the baking ingredients I was wearing. He squirmed and kicked and screamed – and so did I, by the way – and just as he was slipping away from me the manager grabbed him and pulled him up by this collar.”

“I started shouting, ‘These are the two kids my boys were telling you about last week, Mr. Johnson. These were the ones who made that mess, not my boys!’ I have never heard anybody apologize more profusely in all my life. He couldn’t stop saying how sorry he was he didn’t believe Matt and Timmy. Then, of all things, he let go of that kid!”

“Let go of him? Did he get away?” Matt asked?

“Well, he started to run off but Mr. Johnson bellowed louder than I had every heard him say anything – ‘Stop right now, young man.’ I imitated as gruff and loud as I could. ‘You get over here right now and apologize to Mrs. Hamilton.’

“’It was self defense! She was chasing me!’ that little brat started hollering! I about came unglued. ‘What?’ I said. ‘This kid and his cohort pelted me with eggs! You better believe I was chasing them. Then they sprayed me with…..”

“Mrs. Hamilton, Mr. Johnson interrupted me, “I owe you and your boys an apology and you don’t have to defend yourself. I know you are not to blame.”

Since I had gotten most of the baking ingredients wiped off while I was telling my story I got up to go shower and change.

“Wait, Mom. Did Mr. Johnson go get those boys’ mom and ban them from the store like he did us? Are Timmy and me allowed back in the store?” Matt asked.

“No, he didn’t go find their mom. And yes, you and Timmy can go back to the store. In fact, we get free ice cream for a year.”

“But why didn’t he go find their mom? That’s not fair,” Matt complained.

“Mr. Johnson didn’t go find their mom because it wasn’t necessary. He was their dad! Ice cream is in the car if anyone wants to go get it!” I hollered back as I headed to the shower.

They sounded like a herd of buffalo scrambling to be the first one out to the car! And the ice cream was particularly refreshing that evening.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Remembering Granny

Granny. What can you say about her? She had a quick wit, a sharp tongue and a servant’s heart.

She could walk into any situation, any home and immediately know the perfect thing to do to help. It was second nature for her to know what needed to be done and have the courage and strength to do it.

And funny. There was never a dull moment with Granny around. She saved funny items she found in newspapers, magazines, church bulletins. People would even send her funnies they found. She always had a snappy come back. She loved funny songs, poems or stories. When I was a little girl, she would recite this silly ‘story’:

“When I was a little boy I went bare footed but I wore my ‘grampaw’s’ shoes. One day I went out to the apple orchard to pick some peaches to make a plum pie. I climbed up in the cherry tree, shook out some hickory nuts and fell out straddle of the fence with both feet on the same side.”

I remember trying to figure out how someone could straddle a fence with both feet on the same side! It didn’t take much to entertain me back then.

The conversation never lagged with Granny around. She could talk to anyone for as long as they stayed around her. When we would go over to quilt or just hang out she rarely stopped talking. It wasn’t as though she hogged the conversation, she could just steer it so that there was very little down time. You never had to think of something to say, Granny took care of that for you.

Granny would often say she wasn’t very smart. She’d say “I didn’t have much book learnin’.” That’s what she called it – “book learnin’”, meaning she wasn’t at the top of her class in school. In fact, she almost didn’t graduate high school. But as we all know, especially if you knew Granny, ‘book learnin’ isn’t the only way to measure intelligence. Granny was one of the wisest, knowledgeable women you could ever meet. She had common sense. Common sense about raising kids, taking care of a husband, duty, caring for others, right and wrong. She knew that little tiny bits of peppermint would soothe a baby’s cough and help them breathe. She knew that holding a baby tight in your arms, singing a lullaby and rocking would calm even the most determined little one and help them fall asleep. She knew having a meal ready for her husband at supper time was not degrading to her but fulfilling and would enrich a marriage. She knew (long before Oprah) that serving others makes you feel good about yourself, although that’s not why she did it. She did it because ‘that’s what you’re supposed to do’. Her strong sense of duty to the church was unmatched by anyone I have ever known.

“This old world” as Granny used to say, is a far less funny world without her. There is less serving without her. But maybe her wisdom and legacy lives on in the lives and hearts of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I doubt she ever realized what an impact she had on her family and anyone who knew her.

If you never had the privilege of meeting Granny, read Proverbs 31. Then, you will know her. She is truly a Proverbs 31 woman.

I miss her.

“And her children rise up and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31.

The Proposal

He was eighteen. She was seventeen. They had been dating for about a year, if you call going to church and Bible school dating, which back then you did.

He and his brother had moved to this little town in Texas to go to a school for preaching. It was much bigger than the one they came from. They had moved from Eden, Texas to Kerrville, Texas – both brothers determined to become preachers of the Gospel.

Her family had moved to Kerrville for the sole purpose that she find a good, Christian husband. That may sound odd to people but if there were no suitable young men where you went to church and you wanted to do all you could to ensure your daughter married well, that’s what you did. Still, it was a little uncommon for the entire family to move. But that they did.

As was the practice, a group of students, men and women, would go to other churches for camp meetings or would travel on the weekend in order for the men to practice what they had been learning – preaching. And it was one of these weekend jaunts to Corpus Christi, Texas that changed their lives forever.

This was a weekend meeting and of course there had been a service on Friday and Saturday evenings. The visiting young men and women had been invited to a get-together after services by one of the families of the local church. But Roland wanted to spend some time alone with Wanda. He had a plan.

They set out for a drive through the countryside where he had scouted the perfect place earlier in the day. The ocean air was still fragrant even though they were quite a way from the ocean. Roland turned down a country road and since shock absorbers were far from perfected in those days, the car hopped and jumped down the dirt road almost tossing petite, little Wanda to the other side of the seat.

“I’m sorry, Sweet,” he said, turning the car around, back to the highway. “I must have taken the wrong road.”

She turned and looked at him and smiled. “That’s alright,” she said. His slight dimples danced in the moonlight when he smiled back at her. How handsome he was, she thought. But more important to her was that he was a man of God.

The two might seem an odd pair to some. She was shy and quiet. He was outgoing and funny.

A few more turns and they arrived at the spot he found earlier. The bluebonnets glistened as they reached for the moon. The stars were twinkling and a soft breeze wrapped around the couple. The livestock in the field were sleeping and only the sound of crickets and rustling leaves were heard. It was a perfect night.

He stopped the car and took her hand in his. His heart was beating so hard he was sure she could hear it. He was never nervous. Always very sure and confident. I know what her answer would be, right? His blood pulsated through his arm with every beat of his heart. He took a deep breath as though breathing in the night air. He didn’t want her to know he was nervous.

“Roland?” she asked. “Why did we stop here? This isn’t the place where the get-together is supposed to be, is it?”

“No,” he began, “it isn’t the place for the get-together. I thought we might enjoy the moonlight and I know how you love bluebonnets.” The moon and stars lit the bluebonnets it seemed, just at that very moment.

“They are lovely, aren’t they?” she offered.

“Wanda, I didn’t bring you out here just to look at the bluebonnets,” he said. “Wanda, you are the love of my life. I can’t imagine my life without you. Will you marry me?”

He took out a simple diamond ring from his pocket and as she whispered, “Yes, I’ll marry you,” he slipped it on her finger.

Their eyes met and each knew in their hearts that this was a love that would last two lifetimes. He kissed her sweetly and gently then they sat holding hands until time to go back to the others.

When they got back to the get-together, they announced their engagement and shouts of joy filled the air and hugs of happiness soon followed. He laughed, almost giggling, dimples showing and she sweetly smiled as she looked up at the love she had found.