Milestones

A common saying these days is “life comes at you fast” and it only seems to come faster as we age.  When we’re young and think we will live forever we begin to place milestones in the future as we hope it will unfold.  Well this isn’t about me or any regrets that I may have, I talk about that enough, too much in fact lately.

This is about my daughters.  They were born seven years apart and are as different as night and day, but so much alike.  It amazes me to watch them as they interact with each other even today.  My amazement I guess comes from the fact that I was an only child so every day is still new to me.

We don’t get together as much as we used to.  The last time was just over two weeks ago for my birthday.  The oldest has her family including her son Graham, now six months old.  The youngest is a senior in college and tomorrow is a big day for her, she sits for her GRE.

The oldest is a pharmacist with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.  This was what she had determined was her path in life when she was in high school.  When my youngest was a junior in high school, I had a mid-life crisis, but I was in my late 50’s.  After a period of time, I got my act together, but there was an impact on my youngest.  In her senior year of high school, I realized that I was in no shape to get her to college.

I asked her if she could wait one year,  an eternity for a high school senior, while her classmates moved on. I promised that I would get her where she wanted to go.  It was tough news for her, but she worked, I worked and one year later she entered the university of her choice.

After three and a half years, tomorrow is a milestone day for her.  She has an overall GPA of about 3.8 and can pretty much pick and chose where she wants to go next.  There is a lot going on in her world and I am so proud of her.

There is a lot going on in the world in general right now, in the United States in particular.  Tomorrow, promises to be a day like we haven’t had in this country in quite some time.

For me, tomorrow is a day of pride.  My baby sits for the GRE tomorrow afternoon.  That’s a milestone for her.  It’s a milestone for me.  I’m so very proud for her.  I know she’ll do well.  The rest of tomorrow, for me will just be noise.

 

Lawn jockeys and new friends.

Today I had occasion to travel the brief fifty miles back to my hometown.  I live in Greenville, SC firmly planted midway between Charlotte and Atlanta along Interstate 85. I grew up in Greenwood, SC and lived and worked there for almost 60 years.  Greenwood is sort of in a Bermuda Triangle of north-west South Carolina.

Greenwood is south of Greenville and Anderson, also along Interstate 85.  Greenwood is north and west of the capital of South Carolina, Columbia and thus in the middle of nowhere.  People often say,  “It’s a nice town with friendly folks, but you just can’t get here from any where else”.

Greenwood has four lane access to Greenville, but it’s not interstate.  You can look at all of this on Google maps.  Access  between these two cities is by way of US 25.  US 25 was designated an US Highway in 1926 and originally ran from Brunswick, Georgia to Port Huron, Michigan.  Currently it terminates in Covington, Kentucky at the Ohio River.

Having said all of that.  The drive from Greenville to Greenwood this afternoon was one I had not made in several months.  It started as a partly cloudy day and was mostly cloudy by the time I arrived in Greenwood.  I was meeting a new friend to retrieve a valuable family heirloom found in a thrift store.

The drive down was not congested at all and I was able to reorient myself with several landmarks along the way.  Throughout my lifetime there have always been two places along this highway that made and sold concrete yard ornaments.  You know what I’m describing here, right?  Birdbaths, squirrels, horses and bears.  Things we here in the south proudly were once known to use to decorate our yards.

Today, I noticed a new addition to the concrete statuary competition.  An old single story farm-house with a collection of concrete statues within a former chain link dog pen.  And there they were.  Lawn jockeys.  Not just raw, freshly poured concrete statues, but those painted in black face, with orange, yellow and red overalls ready to take home and proudly plant in your new flower bed.  Really?

I haven’t seen those in years.  They have become a rare sighting.  I mean if you live in South Carolina you’re more likely to see pickup trucks with  dual flags in the back.  You know – “Don’t Tread on Me and the Confederate Stars and Bars” mounted in jacked up  trucks flapping in the breeze as they speed past you.  But black-faced lawn jockeys?  Where is the market?

I was really flabbergasted to see these on the side of the highway today as I journeyed to my hometown.  Based on what we have seen in Charlottesville  and other cities besieged by hatred  this year, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Anyway, the reason for my trip was to retrieve the previously mentioned family heirloom.  After a delay, the lady with this treasure arrived.  She knew me from earlier life, though in all honesty, I didn’t know her.  Soon she drove up with the portrait of my daughters that she had bought in a thrift shop simply for the frame.  She didn’t have any idea who the two girls were but had put out word on Facebook that she would surrender the portrait to the rightful owner.

We talked for a few minutes about our past lives, hugged and shook hands.  She had the portrait wrapped in a baby blanket and insisted on showing me that it was in perfect condition.  She was so happy that she had found the rightful owner and it showed in her eyes.  I was tickled and repeatedly thanked her for her kindness and loaded the portrait in my Blazer and headed back to Greenville.

On the drive home, I passed the black-faced lawn jockey statues again.  My thoughts going back home were different from they were on the way down.  Going down, I was almost incensed by the presence of the lawn jockeys.  Headed home, I thought hopefully there are at least two people looking to return treasures to their rightful owners  for every one that’s looking to purchase back faced lawn jockeys.

 

 

 

Family

We all have family that we care about.  Family that we treasure and love beyond belief.  I have one remaining Uncle at this point in life.  When my Dad was initially diagnosed with a brain tumor in early 1996, I couldn’t go to Duke for the diagnosis.  My Uncle went.

I felt so helpless.  My Dad had always been there for me and now I couldn’t be there for him.  I won’t go into the reasons, but there was just no way I could leave town and travel to Duke.  My Uncle and Aunt went, they had time, or maybe they just made time, but they went.

I talked with my Uncle on the phone when they were at Duke and my Uncle said to me – “this is what families do”.  That comment has been ingrained in my soul for the last 20 years.  I have repeated this phrase to my two daughters time and again as we have sought to cling together in the tumultuous times together in these last 20 years.

I had four uncles 20 years ago.  Three were brothers of my Dad, the other married one of my mother’s sisters.  Two of my Dad’s brothers are gone now and tonight  one of my daughters told me the one that was married to my mother’s sister was also gone.  He died about a year ago.

He was a conflicted individual to say the least.  My mother’s sister suffered from Alzheimer’s and Lord knows when she died.  They had no children, only each other.  I don’t want to go into the things that happened as my Mother’s oldest sister died, that’s done and in the past.

I just hope that the money that he got from my other aunt’s estate eased his journey into hell.  She had written her will so that pretty much everything, including her house would go to her church.  Well this SOB left her church standing at he altar, if you know what I mean.

As my Aunt was dying, her friends from childhood could not get in to see her and console her.  She was held captive in her sister’s house by this asshole previously labeled as my Uncle.  I told one of her closest friends from childhood that there would be a special place in hell  for certain people and an express lane reserved for a special few.

The bastard has been gone now for over a year and his descendants have his money.  They also have my other Aunts money, but they didn’t get my Mother’s money.  That went to my two daughters.  They are fine for now.

Twenty years later, my other Aunt’s church is fine.  I hope that the bastard’s great-nephew has enjoyed the money and is fine.  When he looks in the mirror and it has a wiggle in what he sees, I hope it gives him pause.  His great-uncle was a great big ole pile of crap.  Full Stop.