Mom Took Sick III

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’m going to try to monopolize the computer this evening while everyone is at church. Doesn’t matter the denomination, they all want a second chance at you on Sunday. That works just fine for me. Once I start remembering something ,it’s hard for me to let go before I finish. Here goes. 

Well, we left off earlier today with me standing at the foot of Mom’s bed in Asheville’s Memorial Mission hospital. Mom was looking like one of the telepaths in the movie Minority Report. She is pale, asleep, and breathing deeply with hoses running everywhere. I sit for awhile and text Mulva and Jackson that Mom is alive, and looks like she is being cared for. I sit for a bit and then head to the cafeteria to see if I can find something to eat. When I return, one of the nurses stops me to give me an update. Mom is suffering from severe dehydration which has resulted in a sever bladder infection. Turns out the bladder infection is so bad that Mom’s urine has turned to mucous. I am informed that Mom was, “within hours of death”, but was awake now.

I go in, and Mom manages a weak smile before asking, “what are you doing here?”

I reply, “more importantly, what are you doing here?”

Mom rambles for a while before she relates some story about Charlotte and blackberry root extract. She finishes off the story in classic Mom style, “I told Charlotte I brought you into this world and I can take you out!”

There, for just a second, she was back to her old self. Mom then kind of looked drunkenly around the room and went to sleep. I sat for a little while and then tried to compose my thoughts as to what the most important things were for me to do while I was here. I dreaded it, but I knew I was going to have to talk to Aunt Edna and my sister Charlotte to get the details behind this episode. I also needed to get a feel for what they saw in the future.

Aunt Edna lives in West Asheville in an old Craftsman style house. Edna uses the main floor for herself and rents out the other floors as apartments. Mom liked the concept so much that she bought the house next to Edna’s and moved in. Later on, when their younger sister Matilda bought a third house on the street, they were joined together as they never had been as sisters. Mom referred to the sisters as the “Golden Girls”. Mom seemed to be happiest during this time, then long time smoker Matilda died. The passing of her younger sister seemed to change Mom’s general outlook, for the worse.

Next, Charlotte moved in to Mom’s basement and earned her certificate in mental disease. A few years later, depending on the teller of the story, Mom needed to move on and bought a condo overlooking the golf course. Mom was living independently in her condo with some minor assistance in shopping and Doctor’s appointments from Charlotte and Edna. Charlotte, an “unorthodox Jew” was not available on the Sabbath, which was sundown Friday until sometime Sunday, so “don’t call”. Charlotte’s faith did allow her to use the internet, though. You could email Charlotte any time day or night, if you needed to get a message through. Ironically, Mom lost her internet skills several years ago.

I pulled up in front of Aunt Edna’s house and took several deep breaths before knocking on the door. Edna answered in her bombastic manner, hugs and kisses and salutations. Edna was wearing her hair long like Camryn Manheim, and the resemblance was frightening. I accepted Edna’s offer of coffee and settled down to try to find out what the heck was going on. I wanted to gain knowledge, while trying to not absolutely lose it over what the knowledge conveyed.

I updated Edna with my talk with the nurse and start probing as to how and why we got to this point. Edna hemmed and hawed and related her own high blood pressure problems. Edna related how mean Mom was, and how horrible Mom had been to Charlotte. Edna went on ad nauseum about how nothing pleased my Mom. I nodded my head in agreement, I knew all of this. The question was, “how do you let somebody that you’re seeing everyday get sicker and sicker for a week or so and not spring into action?” I forget how I asked that question, but I will never forget the answer, “Well, she’s got that DNR you know, I’ve had my nurse’s training and I know you don’t mess with a DNR”.

“Well, screw me”, I think. The question that still remains unasked is,”Were you going to let your sister die in her own filth in excruciating pain, because, once upon a time, you wore a white uniform and emptied some bed pans at an old folks home?” I did ask Edna to clarify what “D”o “N”ot “R”esucitate means to her. After a great deal of rambling, Edna’s response was generic enough to where, if Mom had fallen down the steps and was semi-conscious on the sidewalk, Edna was ethically bound to leave her there. I guess the look on my face was not giving Edna the positive reinforcement she thought she would get. She went on to relate that “use to”, mountain folk would just take to their beds and never get up again.

“Well, screw me”, I think again. I touch on the fact that bladder infections are prevented by drinking a lot of water. I headed off Edna’s objection by replying, “But Mom doesn’t like to drink water because it makes her go to the bathroom”. Edna nodded in agreement and then related that Charlotte had been trying to treat Mom’s infection with some holistic medicines. “Is that where the blackberry extract came from?”, I ask.

Edna replies a cautious, “yes”. Edna then gives me ten minutes on how mean Mom was to Charlotte the last time Charlotte went over and tried to give Mom a dose. “If you could have seen the look of pure hatred your Momma gave poor Charlotte, it would have broken your heart”. Well, I seriously doubt that.

I make some inquiries about Mom’s properties and what would Edna’s best advice would be for handling Mom’s affairs, short term and long term. After a while, my head is just spinning. I wave off Edna’s offer to have Charlotte come over and join our discussion. I head back to the hospital and go to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and to call Jackson. I give Jackson the view from 50,000 feet and ask him to stay put, at least until I leave. At this point I’m sure Mom’s caretakers are unable to help her anymore. The “Golden Girls” have turned to tin.

I meet Mom’s doctor in the hall and she looks like she has just come from cheerleader practice. I am old, she is young. She relates the seriousness of Mom’s illness, “doesn’t know why in the world Mom hadn’t gone septic”, and, for right now, they were pumping fluids and antibiotics. The doctor is hopeful that if Mom’s cognition returns she may be released to home health care in a few days. I go in and visit Mom until dinner time and she slips in and out of consciousness. I tell her I’ll be back tomorrow and head out to meet my niece Maggie for dinner.

Maggie relates the day from her perspective, and it ain’t pretty. To get Mom to the hospital they had to use Mom’s van, which Maggie has left back at the condo. Maggie gives me Mom’s keys, which weigh about seven and a half pounds. There’s a key for every lock but the “Pearly Gates” I surmise. I thank Maggie profusely for her stepping in and tell her I’ll stay in touch. I’m in a hurry to get to the condo. I’ve got to see what this horrific mess is that needed cleaning so desperately. Close inspection of the condo reveals no evidence of a mess, or that anyone had vacuumed or dusted or cleaned the bathrooms in quite a while. I call Mulva and fall asleep watching Seinfeld, just like at home.

More later.


Mom Took Sick II

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’m a firm believer that the world can get along without my contribution until the sun is up and I’ve had the chance to caffeinate myself sufficiently to withstand the rigors of the day. Any deviance in that routine risks a change in the tides and bird migration. Be warned.

When we left off about one AM last night, it was New Year’s Eve day and I was headed across the hills to Asheville. I am on a mission to find out whatever state Mom was in. Jackson called me in route and said that he’d heard from Maggie. Maggie had been able to get Mom into the car. When Maggie had called Mom’s Doctor, he said to just go ahead and take Mom to Memorial Mission. They admitted Mom with a blood pressure of 60 over 46. Jackson asked if he should come on to Asheville or hold back. I told him to hold back because I didn’t know how much longer I’d be free. I knew that at some point I was going to be out of the picture for a while and I wanted to carry as much of the load as I could until then.

Let me take a small break here to point out that while I love American Iron, as my Firebird will attest, there is one indispensable piece of equipment available on new cars that the old iron can’t match, Bluetooth. Controlling a car on a windy mountain road while trying to talk holding a phone is at least one thing more than I am capable of doing at the same time. The infernal ding, ding, dings of Charlotte’s incoming texts and calls on my cell phone are enough to make me want to jump the curb, but I don’t. Anyway, parents, make sure your kids have cars with Bluetooth. Try to combat human nature at least that much.

I stop for gas and to catch up on Charlotte’s urgent messages. Charlotte’s text messages let me know what I already know. As much as I hate to do it, I’m forced to call her for more current information.

“Where are you?”, she inquires.

“About half way there”, I reply, “are you at the hospital?”

“No, Edna and I came over to Mom’s condo to clean up”, she says. 

I am absolutely gobstopped. I have promised myself and Mulva that I am going to be the “adult” in the situation. For the next few days, I will not let my feelings run rampant. Besides being a good habit to develop, I also have my freedom to consider.

“Mom is near death in the hospital, and you and Edna are at the condo cleaning up?”, I say as tempered as I can.

“We figured we’d clean up before you and Jackson came in, you’re planning on staying here aren’t you?”, she replies.

“I don’t know where I’ll stay or for how long”, I reply, “I’ve got three days right now before I have to report back in person”. “It sounds like Mom is close to death and I don’t know what all that means”, I continue,  “what are you and Edna cleaning up at the condo that’s so urgent?”

“Well, Mom’s been sick for about a week and I tried to get her to let Chris Coe come over and straighten up for her”, she whines. Charlotte then anticipates my next question, “Chris Coe is a fellow Edna met at church that cleans and does odd jobs for me and Edna”.

Now, I have visited Charlotte just one time in her new digs. It is a basement apartment in a building Mom owns in Asheville. It was back on that fateful Thanksgiving when I had a crisis of conscience in not warning her then current husband to run for the hills. Charlotte’s apartment looked like Fibber McGee’s closet had mutated to twelve hundred square feet. The only organized part of the apartment was the laundry room where shelves where filled with boxes of sterno, butane, toilet paper, meals ready to eat and bottled water. Floor to ceiling, a doomsdayer’s wet dream, just waiting for the apocalypse, or a spark. I had mentioned to Mom that one call to the fire department for an inspection would serve as an instant eviction notice for Charlotte, should Mom ever need to kick her out. Mom never played that card, she had Charlotte right where she wanted her.

“I gotta go”, I said, ” I should be there in about an hour”.

“Ok, bro, see you then”, she replied.

Again with that “Bro”. Jesus, I’ve got to cure that feeling I get when she says that. I nudge the Firebird a little over the limit, I figure it’s not going to be worth any Smokey’s effort to write me up for going six miles over the limit. I’ve picked up WNCW on the radio and I’m enjoying the Bluegrass as I motor along on the highway to Hell. I follow the signs to Memorial Mission hospital. When I arrive I am confronted with one of the 8 wonders of the world, the Memorial Mission parking lot. I tell you what, if Charlotte gets her Apocalypse, the two things left around will be cockroaches and that parking lot.

I negotiate my way to the lobby to a septuagenarian manning the information desk. Based on her attitude, I’m guessing she was a volunteer. I do manage to wrangle Mom’s room number from her. Mom is on the third floor in the Women’s Health Unit. I make my way to the nurses station, which is the hub centered to the rooms spoked out all around. Mom’s room  is on the backside of the building. When I walk through the door of Mom’s room I am confronted by two indelible pictures, Mt. Pisgah through the room’s picture window, and Mom connected to machinery. If Mom was an octopus, all of her arms would be attached to machines with lights and digital numbers. If Mom was an octopus, she’d look better, even if she’d been out of the water for a while. In spite of our relationship, it still makes you catch your breath.

We’ll continue on more tomorrow.


Mom Took Sick

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Good news! The shrink says I’m making real progress in sharing my feelings. The word from my sponsor is that I’m towing the line straight and narrow. Maybe there is something to all of this touchy feely crap. Hold on to your hats, I’m about to give you a few more shovels full of touchy feely.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Mom missed her opportunity to walk on those “streets paved of gold” back on New Years’ Eve day this year. In my opinion, she missed her opportunity many, many years ago, but, I’ll not dwell too long on the differences of my valuation of her life’s work, as opposed to her self-evaluation. Long story short, she was knocking on death’s door, and it is a matter of opinion as to who was going to answer. Smart money is on Beelzebub.

December 31, 2014, New Year’s eve day of 2015, I am at home here at TackyToo, out on bail, awaiting trial that is set for the 15th of January. Mulva had relented and gone bail for me. I was able to return home while I waited for my “just desserts” in the matter of vehicular homicide of a fiberglass bee. The predawn morning is shattered by the phone ringing. I see by the caller ID that it is my sister Charlotte. Now, the thing about caller ID is, like anything that gives a glimpse into the future, your imagination will take you either way. A call from the bank can mean that they made a hundred dollar error in your favor, or, that your paycheck bounced. It’s 50-50, it could go either way. Not with Charlotte, it’s 100% all of the time going to be bad. The question is, “bad by how much?” At this particular juncture of my life I am like my step-daddy George used to describe as, “being in Hell with your back broke”. Now, I’m about to find out from my sister that this little spot of Hell that I occupy is right below the septic leak.

“Mom’s sick, she needs to be in the hospital”, Charlotte whines into the phone.

“Why are you calling me”, I respond, “why aren’t you calling the doctor?”

Charlotte whines, “she won’t go to the doctor, she says she has an appointment on the 15th, she’ll go then”.

“Well fine, take her then”, I say.

Charlotte drones on, “But Edna says Mom’s blood pressure is 70 over 45 and that she really needs to go to the doctor”.

Edna is our aunt Edna who helps Mom maintain her “independence” by running errands for Mom, and, generally keeping Mom grounded in reality. Well, I’m no doctor and I know that 70 over 45 ain’t good.

“Jesus Christ”, I say, “why didn’t Edna call the EMT’s?”

“Edna didn’t want to fight with Mom helping her get into the ambulance”, Charlotte whines, “it would just break Edna’s heart”.

At this point, seismic equipment all over the world begin to pick up enormous changes in the Earth’s crust centering in North Georgia near a town called Nonsuch. I feel the heat in my ears.

“And what did you expect me to do?”, I hiss into the phone.

“We thought you and Jackson could come up and take Mom to the doctor, or the hospital, whichever you think is best”, Charlotte whines on.

“I’m nearly three hours away, even if I can leave town, which I don’t know that I can”, I retort, “Are you all just going to leave her there until Jackson and I can get there?”

“Well, we’re just at our wits end and don’t know what to do”, Charlotte continues to whine, “Mom called Monday night and wanted me to stay over there because she thought she was having a stroke, but I just thought she was faking to get attention”.

What followed was ten minutes of self serving clap trap that I basically tuned out while I explained to Mulva what was going on with my hand over the receiver of the phone.

“Is there anyway you can get Mom to the doctor?”, I interrupted.

“Well, I could call Maggie to see if Mom would go with her”, Charlotte whined. Charlotte then proceeded to go into a ten minute character assassination of Maggie, Jackson’s daughter who lived in Asheville.

“Well then, for the love of Christ will you call Maggie and get her involved while I see if I can leave town?”, I replied. “I’ll call you back when I hear if I’m allowed to leave”, I said. 

“Ok, bro, and I’ll let you know if Mom makes it to the hospital”, Charlotte chimed.

The use of the term, “bro” ruffled my feathers beyond description, but I needed to calm down before calling the appropriate people to see if I could leave the state for a day or two. Phone calls were made, promises were made, considerations given and a couple of hours later I’m throwing my duffel bag in the back seat of my 1977 Pontiac Firebird, Smokey and the Bandit Edition. I am headed out for Asheville. The three hundred horses growl, the cassette growls louder, “When you’re goin’ down the road at night, and you feel the Wild Turkey’s bite”. I pop out the cassette. No sense inviting more trouble. It’s 6:30A.M. and I’ve taken my coffee to go. I drive with the confidence of a man who knows he can pass anything on the road but a filling station. This is not going to be pretty.

We’ll continue tomorrow.


Meet the Lites – Mom IV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. The veins in my neck are still popping from a run in I had with Mr. B.A. Ware in Number One this morning. I strongly suspicion he’s the peeping Tom I’ve been getting complaints about. When Mulva said she saw someone peeping this morning and screamed, the next thing she heard was the door on Number One slamming shut. Well, I took off right over there. There then transpired an argument of, “suppose this and circumstantial that”, that got me perilously close to returning to lock up. Mulva is madder than a wet panther and I’m thinking I’ll just let her handle it. She’ll jerk a knot in his tail.

When we last left the other strong woman in my life, Mom, she had secured all of the property and served Daddy with papers. Mom had hired some crazy person to babysit us, she called her a governess. Until I learned better, I thought governess was just a euphemism for bat sh*t crazy. It was as miserable a time as I believe I’ve ever had. If I heard, “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”, once, I heard it a million times.

The coup de grace came when Mom brought home my new school clothes for the start of the school year. She had bought the same ugly plaid shirt in three colors. I’m no fashion pate, and I know money must have been tight, and three shirts for a dollar must have seemed like a great deal, but if something is ugly in blue, it’s probably ugly in yellow and ugly in red. That crying did give me the promised, “something to cry for”, a full force slap to the side of the head that sent me to the floor. I was stunned, laying in the floor with my ears ringing. I don’t know that I’ve ever been hit in the head that hard since. At least if I have, it didn’t hurt as bad.

In retrospect, I think that sealed the deal for me. I knew my sister Charlotte was intent on killing me, which we’ll talk about another time. The governess was crazy, and who can predict crazy? Now I was sure my Mom was capable of cancelling my birth certificate. I was ten, but I wasn’t stupid. As outlined in my story about Daddy, visits to Daddy at TackyToo just got longer and longer until we didn’t live with Mom anymore. Living with Daddy was hard, but at least the threat of enemas for bad behavior was a thing of the past.

We didn’t see Mom at all for seven years. No birthday card, no Christmas present, no nothing. I guess she thought of herself as the injured party. When I was a Junior in high school she had her new husband, George, contact us. After a few phone conversations with George, we agreed to meet for dinner. George carried the conversation and he was a fellow that Jackson and I both took to right away. Looking back now, we should have asked more questions about how such a great guy and my Mom met up, etc. We should have known there had to be a dark side there somewhere. But we were just kids, we liked steak, and Daddy was in a low period.

I was anticipating heading off to college, and when I left, that would leave Jackson without adult supervision. So, that following Summer, Jackson went to live with George and Mom in Asheville, N.C. It was a fine big brick house that backed up to a drive in theater that showed adult movies. Every teenage boy’s dream, right? Well, I went on about my life. I trusted Mom, and certainly George, to look out for, and do the best thing for Jackson. Now that I’m just now thinking about it, I don’t remember a lot of visits over the next few years, not Christmas or anything. I know Jackson and I stayed in touch, I just don’t remember visiting in Mom’s house. Strange memory to have pop up all of a sudden.

Turns out George is an alcoholic. Not a mean drunk, thank God. If he did do something that begged forgiveness, he would always make up for it. A great example of his repentance is the time he bought Jackson a 442 convertible. Guilt is a powerful motivator, I think I’m going to have that added to my tombstone.

Jackson married right out of high school and Mom’s parenting officially ended. Unfortunately, she was not able to rest back on her laurels and stop attempting to micro-manage everyone’s life. A logical mind would know that we are given opportunities to do certain things but once, and when that time has past, you have to let go. But, I said a logical mind. Mom is still hanging in at 88. I thought she had gone to glory this past New Year’s Eve but she slipped the Devil’s noose. We’ll talk about that another time.

Well I’m exhausted, I think I’ll go “peek” in on Brother Ware and see how he’s doing. J.K.


Meet the Lites – Mom III

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. The hint of rain in the air was as false as Granny Waller’s teeth. Whatever clouds there were, died of loneliness, and we greeted this morning to the promise of another asphalt melting day here at TackyToo. I’m going to check my anklet’s waterproof qualities after while by jumping in the pool. That is, if I don’t hit the range finder first.

When we left off with Mom last, the family was living in town in a little rental house on the main drag. There were two of us kids, and Mom stayed at home to watch over us and perform the duties of house wife. Daddy had just started in the job that the universe designed him for, salesman, specifically insurance. With the ease of a round peg going into a round hole, Daddy excelled at insurance.

By the time I was four we had moved into a house that we were buying in a toney neighborhood. We had new cars, we took vacations, Mom had a maid, and when I started school, Mom located a private school for me to attend. Turns out, teaching myself to read at age five had resulted in me being sequestered from my neighborhood friends, who all attended public school. I was sent to a private school with heavy religious ties.

There were high expectations for the child that Mom would be able to mold herself. Mom felt that my sister Charlotte had been “spoiled” by her aunts, and with me, she had a second chance. So while Mom was taking care of the “baby” and occasionally dealing with the antics of my older sister, I filled the void by learning to read. This would be one of the personality traits psychologists call “middle child syndrome”.

During this time, there are vivid memories of the new Cadillac, of an extensive vacation in Florida carrying the grandparents Lite along, of Atlanta Crackers baseball games and the occasional UGA football game. My most positive memory of Mom of this time was when she came to school one time in her Sunday finest. I remember thinking at the time that she looked pretty, and my thoughts were confirmed by several of my buddys. Good times.

Well, Daddy was printing money like he had a press in the basement, and Mom was not going to let that cash lie idle. Maybe she suspected that with Daddy the money wouldn’t lie idle for long, but either way, Mom was ready to invest. A financial truism that has been hammered into my brain since I can remember was “they can print out more money but they can’t print out more land”. Mom used this truism to mount her empire. Her first investment was a boarding house two doors down from Grandma and Grandpa Lowe.

The boarders were people who were just going to be in the area for a short while, or folks who had a limited income and could get by on a bedroom and shared bath. Running a boarding house is hard work, and with the first meal at 6AM and the last at 6PM, you’re working 14-15 hour days everyday during the week. Mom had one phenomenal cook, Bootsie, that did most of the cooking. Bootsie was supplemented by two helpers. On the weekends the boarders were left to their own devices, but Mom always had some task that needed catching up on. It seems like we were at the boarding house as much as Mom was.

Mom was perturbed that Daddy had to be on the loan for her to buy the boarding house. When it came time to buy the house next door, using the cash generated from the boarding house, she was absolutely apoplectic when the loan office asked her to bring Daddy in to sign the papers with her. Same thing when she bought the house across the street from her other two pieces of property. Mom reasoned it was her business that had generated the income, she shouldn’t have to have a co-signor. It just didn’t work like that in the 50’s.

Coinciding with the purchase of the third house, Daddy got himself sideways with the insurance board. He was in deep and needed help to avoid prosecution. Mom was willing to help, for a price. For help in getting clear of the insurance problem, Daddy signed over all of the rights to any property that they jointly held, to Mom.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of whooping and hollering going on at our house every night. I was told that for the promise of no divorce Daddy agreed to put everything in Mom’s name. I think it was about 10 days after the signing that Daddy was served papers and forced to leave our house. I will never, ever, forget the night when Daddy told Jackson and I that he was going to have to leave. Our hearts were truly broken.

Well, the Dr.Pepper clock says 1:30AM, so I better head back over to Number Two before Mulva gets her knickers in a knot. Good Lord willing, and I don’t suffer a massive embolism from remembering all this stuff, I’ll be back tomorrow.


Meet the Lites – Mom II

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. If brains were a dollar bill, I’d be three quarters short. I woke up feeling pretty good this morning and I thought, “I’ll just walk the loop around the park for a little look-see”. Well, I got four trailers down before my anklet started going off like one of those disks they give you at Chili’s to let you know your table is ready. Lesson learned. The run back to the phone to call my monitor was plenty of exercise enough for today.

Today, we’ll further plumb the depths of my soul, and relate more facts and suppositions about my Mom. By her own account, Mom was an excellent student and was typically at the head of her class. There don’t seem to be any contrary stories, which is the advantage of having your closest sibling eight years your junior. We’ll advance the story of Mom’s scholastic accomplishments to high school. My Daddy was a Senior in high school, and Mom a Freshman, when the “love that knew no bounds”, germinated. My Daddy was athletic, quick of wit, and “came from a good family”. My Mom was pretty, for a fourteen year old, but she was, a fourteen year old.

There are absolutely no accounts of what the burning issue of their immediate marriage was. My sister Charlotte was born over two years after their marriage. Maybe there was a pregnancy scare, real or orchestrated, I can’t say. Clearly, there was a fourteen year old girl who was ready to leave home, for whatever reason. The closest I ever got to a reason was a rambling dialogue from Mom a few years ago about men going off to war wanting their bloodline to continue (sounds like a line Daddy might use) and the fact that service wives got an “allotment”. The allotment rings a little truer for me. An opportunistic country girl might see this is as the opportunity to break free from whatever was going on at home and take a chance that with an “allotment” she might be able to make it on her own.

Anyway, the happy couple lived with the Lowes until Daddy’s induction. After Charlotte arrived,  Mom moved out on the farm with the Lites and waited for Daddy to come home. There were still sisters of Daddy’s living at home, so Mom had Granny and Grandma to watch the baby. Mom had her sisters-in-law to be a teenager with. Mom’s accounts of this time were very happy with the exception of how “spoiled” the family made my sister.

Mom finished high school and had high hopes of going to college, perhaps even “reading for the law”. Her hopes were dashed by Grandpa Lowe, who told Mom she was “putting on airs”, and he wasn’t going to stand for it. The crushing blow to Mom’s aspirations for a higher education came when Grandpa Lowe asked the question, “Do you think you should do better than me?” Grandpa Lowe’s own insecurities could not allow him to have a daughter (woman) be more successful than him. The theme continued on and on throughout his life, even though Mom was very successful in her business dealings. I guess, for Grandpa Lowe, it was one thing to have a strong woman at your side carrying you to success, but quite another to have your child outshine you.

Well, despite all of the best efforts of the Nazis and the Nipponese, Daddy returned home physically sound. The big tattoo of Buddha on his torso spoke volumes about his mental condition. In spite of Buddha, or maybe because of it, Daddy was given a lot of time, by Mom’s account, to get himself squared away. One day, Mom’s patience clock ran out, and she and Charlotte moved back to town to live with the Lowes. For Daddy to follow, he had to agree to a course of self improvement that would lead to success for all.

Now, I have charted some crooked courses in my lifetime, but Daddy’s next move was a forever puzzler. He used his G.I Bill to learn to be a butcher. Maybe it was the shortest course of anything available, who knows? I just know that when I came into being we were living in town in a little rental house on the main drag. Daddy had quit being a butcher, and had quit being a heavy equipment operator, and was now establishing himself in the insurance business. Mom stayed at home, and was charged with keeping me from expressing myself through dangerous activities. She was not very successful, and I’ve got the scars to prove it.

Well, it’s late and it smells like rain. We’ll pick this up again tomorrow.


Meet the Lites – Mom

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I caught a coughing spell today that made me wonder if my time was going to be sooner than later. Seems this weather has been making the air dirtier than usual and folks with a “sensitivity” are supposed to stay indoors.  Thanks, Georgia Power for doing your part in making the Smokey Mountains truly smokey.

Today, as part of my ongoing effort to resolve my issues, we will begin talking about Mom. Mom was born in 1927 and was baptized as Hanna Bea Lowe. She was the oldest child of Wilton Ben Lowe and Rose Bush Lowe. Grandpa Lowe was a journeyman barber and seemed to set up shop around the South in communities where there was kin that he could stay with while he “got himself established”. His efforts were aided by Grandma Lowe who, it was said, could squeeze a quarter so tight that the eagle would scream.

While barbering up in Kentucky, staying with Grandma Lowe’s kin, Mom popped into the world. It was eight years before my aunt Edna was born, four more years before the “baby”, Matilda, was born. To the casual observer this suggests that Grandma and Grandpa’s intimacy level was not very high, or that there was some sort of Leap Year schedule in place. Anyway, they moved around until settling in Blairsville, where Grandpa opened a shop of his own.

Apparently, when held to task, Grandpa Lowe could generate income, and with a little help from kin, they bought a house not far from the shop. This was the Depression, and Grandma Lowe reckoned that if times got too bad that Grandpa could carry his lunch to the shop and walk back and forth. As it was, Grandpa drove their Chevy home everyday for a hot lunch, perfunctorily prepared by Grandma.

My early memories of them were of the smell of talcum from Grandpa, and the smell of vinegar from Grandma. Grandma cleaned constantly and vinegar was the cheapest cleaning product available. She used it to clean everything. I interject my personal memory here because it must have been the same for Mom. The sweet smell of talcum from Grandpa, the sour smell of vinegar from Grandma. I know that children are effected by smells from very early on. Many is the time I’ve been told I smelled like a wet dog by my kids. So, I guess I’m wondering if a child’s affections could gravitate to one parent or the other based solely on sense of smell. Maybe.

More likely, the fact that Grandma suffered from headaches, and could launch into verbal attacks that would scald the hair off of a dog, might also have had a negative bonding effect. Grandma would usually follow the headache with a “sinking spell”, and then eventually get her cart righted again. Lest you get the wrong impression, Grandma rarely ever took to her bed during these fits. Hot lunch was always ready when Grandpa rolled up at 12:05, the house was always antiseptically clean. The family never missed service at the First Methodist Church on Sunday or prayer meeting on Wednesday night. Grandma made sure Grandpa’s church attendance was perfect as well, including his Men’s group on Monday night.

Grandpa was free to pursue his passion, hunting, after work or after Church on Sunday. Grandpa raised, trained and sold bird dogs. By all accounts he was good at his “hobby”, and people would come from all over to put in their dibs when there was a new litter. I seem to be giving more information on my Grandparents here than Mom, but in her case, I think it’s real important.

Well, the Dr.Pepper clock on the wall says it’s 1:15 here in the Rec room so I better snap this one off. I’ve got to take another dose of Tussin DM before putting my head down. It’s the only alcohol free cough syrup Mulva could find over to the Walmart. Can’t start back slidin’ now. More on Mom tomorrow.