1.07.2011

Long Wait

Movie Clip Wednesday is here


They's supposed to move Granny Cracker to a "step down unit" today. Still not stable enough to go to normal room with typical nurse patient ratio, but, we is happy fer any improvement.

Sorry I ain't answered the comments y'all left here on the Mack & Mary post--an' I will git to them I 'spect, when thangs smooth out some.

I'se leavin' the post up so that when I git a moment, I'se gonna respond --

Be back when I can, an' around to yore blogs when I can.
* * * * * * * * * *



She come from Kentucky.

When I met her I knowed we's
never gonna be chums: I doan do low slung red Mercedes two seaters.

She wuz 31, newly wed to husband #2. Another strike. An' hubby #2 was still a chile, 29 years old. She navigated through a profession mostly held by men an' made her own money, so it were a marriage of love. She had the car before she had Mack. He needed her. I see that now. He'd already fallen in a rut, single 'til then, he drove a pricey but boxy sedan. He stewed over IRAs, not rain foiling the their weekend plans.

He reminded me of--- me: Seventeen year old Uncle comes up the porch to court 15 year old Aunty who ain't allowed to git off the porch an' date yet. He's holdin' a cigarette. Miss Prissy Prude shrinks back in horror an' gasps, "I doan see boys who
smoke!"

"Ya' do now," Uncle replied wif' a wink. "You could go through life all stiff an' bored, or ya' can go wif' me."

Wryly, I recognized why Mr. IRA needed Miss Red Sports Car.

For Blogger's sake, they names be Mack an' Mary.

Mary threw somethin' offbeat an' fun into their dinner parties. She brought sizzle an flair to everythang she done. A budding gourmet, Mary delighted in complicated cookin' challenges. Uncle an' me went to their gatherin's, since this pair turned up on the edges of "our crowd" then moved toward the center. One day I seen a rosary on her car seat an' wuz taken aback: It din't seem to fit her style. They worked through an annulment
* process for her, then joined our parish.

Mary's clothes were snazzy, but professional. Her hair wuz a glorious mane of mahogany spillin' loose over her shoulders. A gamine face, a sprinkle of freckles, she would break into a thousand watt smile when she saw a rainbow. An' she could dance. Loved to dance. Mack refused to dance. Uncle loved to dance. Aunty's dancin' din't play second to nobody. On New Year's, big party night, Mary asks Aunty, "How about we share Uncle tonight?" Aunty is amused. "Shure, darlin', he wears me out, I could use the help." A happy dancer mahself, I had pity on a lass wif' a non-dancer mate. "Ya' shoulda put it in yore vows," I told her. "I promise to have an' to hold, to dance for better or for worse."

One drizzly January day' some six months after meeting Mack an' Mary, a call comes early mornin'.



"Do you have time to take me to a doctor's appointment today, Aunty?"

"Yore red slink on the blink, Mary?" I as't her.

"No....I might not be able to drive afterward. Mack's out of town."

They twisted her lovely hair up on her haid, in hopes that the radiation wouldn't cause baldness except jes' at the nape of her neck. She'd had a cough that began in May on their honeymoon an' worsened through the summer. It'd come an'go, but afore Christmas Mack insisted she get a full battery of tests.

Hodgkin s Disease. You'll beat it, the docs told her.

"I'll beat the hell out of it!" Mary told the docs. "I've only put 9000 miles on my car," she told me, an' flashed that electric smile.

Mack cooked. He cleaned. She wretched. He put a chaise out into he back yard for her, tucked a blanket over her, an' trimmed the hedges while she dozed.

When five years passed with no recurrence of her cancer, they began the adoption process. The gang wuz at Aunty an' Uncle's fer a Christmas party when they got the call from a doctor who did private placement. Their baby girl had arrived, an' they could fetch her on Christmas Day. Christmas morin' the whole crew of us'uns showed up to watch as Mack an Mary brought Wee One over the threshold--a tow headed cherub wif' a piercing wail. Mary, instinctively, swaddled her child so tightly that the baby felt secure an' fell instantly asleep. We all stood thar, a quiet realization ballooned over us: Christmas in the flesh.

Two more daughters joined Mack an' Mary over the next three years. She tried to work from home, but her heart wuz in the girls, not the job. Once, the whole crew of us, includin' a favorite priest-buddy, went to Rome. Mary's mother from Kentucky, an' Mack's mama, too, came to shepherd their girls.

I ain't ever gonna fergit a shoppin' foray jes' off the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.



Italian leather is beyond sensuous. All us couples squeezed into a celebrated shop. The menfolk razzed each other about sportin' Eye-talian man purses but each found somethin' that fit his own sense of hisself. An' each fella pretended to be jabbed in the pocket when their sweethearts chose some supple example of the Italian art of leather craft.

Except Mack: "Get real, Mary."

She done slipped into a lipstick red bomber style jacket. It wuz as smooth as her daughter's apple dumpling cheeks. Radiant is the precise word to describe how Mary looked in that jacket.

"Mack, it's so
fun!" Mary chirpped. He turned his back to finger some belts, "It's not reasonable," he mumbled.

One of the other fellas twirled Mary around in the jacket an' leaned over her shoulder to leer at Mack, "She might be a fun date in this number," an' gave him an exaggerated wink.

"Take it off, Mary" Mack said.

Mary's smile never lost its shine. She wuz pleased enough to walk out with a pair of lemon colored gloves. That night after dinner, the menfolk left fer a cigar stroll up the village street behind the convent whar' we's all stayin'. One of the men told Mack that iffin' he din't get Mary that red jacket, the rest of them were goin' in together to git it fer her. The jacket wuz purchased-- by Mack-- over the phone the next day an' shipped to Florida. He never seen her in it, but we all did.





Mack had to travel, pulling wagon alone now, he would call from airports in the days afore cell phones, "Do you know where my family is? Nobody is at home." One night when the girls wuz out late fer a dance rehearsal, Mack called Aunty, " I'm whipped, I'm sick of airports, an' nobody is home at my house. What's happening at your house?"

He wuz a fun fella in that way, interested in domestic matters most men brushed away. Mack would remember that one of us tried to locate a certain variety of tree an' call if he came across it. Or, have special coating chocolate sent to ya' from his travels cause last Christmas the grocery store stuff din't cover your truffles smoothly.

"Well, okay, good night. I always call home to say good night, so Aunty, tonight youse home fer me. Tell Mary I did call her, please."

I sighed, "Mack, we wimmen doan often appreciate the sacrifice that a travelin' fella makes. Good night, Sugar."

Headaches and backaches could flatten Mary, literally. A trio of us'uns took turns fillin' in, such that her li'l girls took to callin' us the Fairy Godmothers. She would save her energy an' marshal her strength for the weekend. "Mack doesn't need to come home to a wreck of a woman," she'd lament. Mack loved his girls an' always wanted some fun activity to do wif' 'em fer the weekend."

"I can't repay you," Mary would say to us Fairy Godmothers, "But you might owe me, since I'm making such a good place for you to practice your kindness." We'd laugh because iffin' one of us cried the whole batch would go to squallin'.

One summer Mack came home an' told Mary they's movin' up nawth. He'd been offered a VP position in the company. She din't want to go, of course. Their friends were family. He reminded her that's what planes wuz fer. Besides, as a VP he did not have to travel an' the girls would soon be teens an' Daddy needed to be home at night. She agreed.

Before they left fer tundra-land, Aunty an' Mary an two other of us took a girly trip to Hotlanta.


Mary an' I shared a hotel room. We sat up yakkin' all the night long. The docs had tested an retested an' nuthin' wuz wrong that science could pinpoint. Nuthin' wuz said plain, but in retrospect, I know, now, that Mary had a premonition. We talked that night of serious matters, mostly her regrets.

"Youse a good good woman, Mary. Y'ain't needin' to regret much," I said. "Doan be hard on yoreself.

"Oh," she mused, "no, I'm not. The little things self -appoinnted, self righteous people think are big things? I am not wastin' regret on that."

I wuz glad we had the lights off. Is truth easier to say--or hear--in the dark?

"The heaviness in my heart," she said, "is for Keith. I crushed him. I knew it, but I did not care, not then."

The quiet wuz soft as downy feathers. "Who is Keith?" I whispered.

I heered Mary take a deep breath. "Keith was my first husband, Aunty. A good man. A man I hurt for no true reason. God, but he was good to me. I make myself sick."

I doan know what one says to this. What I done said wuz, "Mary, I'se so sorry."

She laughed in the dark, "That's
all, you're sorry? C'mon Straight-Laced Aunty, chastise me for my sins or I'll think you don't love me."

We giggled some at that. The dark rearranged itself around us again, like a cloud.

"Well, mebbe ya need to tell me, Mary, go on-- git it all off yore chest."

And she did. Her daddy died when she wuz jes' 9 years old, her brother only 6 years old. Mary's Mama went to work, held two jobs an' life wuz meager. Thar's wuz very little money left over for toys or teen-cool clothes. Mary had her own first job at 14, a GED at 16, and wuz workin' in a building supply company to help support her mama an' brother. The company's accountant wuz Keith,the 27 year old son of the owner, who took a shine to 16 year old Mary. He admired her hard work an' her sassy spirit.

Mary's mama warned against courtin' a man that much older. Her mama told her not to go that direction . At 18 an' 29 they married. Keith wuz calm, gentle an' a solid practical fella. He provided fer Mary's family so she could go to school. Mary knew he loved her in a very deep, quiet way. But Mary grew bored. She went to work, her horizons grew beyond where Keith wanted to go. She wuz honest with herself; she'd admitted that she married him for safety an' shelter. After ten years Mary asked for a divorce. Keith din't understand, what did she want? She could not say she wuz simply bored, felt stifled. Yes, she loved him--like a big brother.

Within a year of the divorce Mary moved to Florida, leaving Keith, her mother an' brother behind in Kentucky. She sent money to her mama an' brought her down for long visits. For two years Keith called her, checked to see if she wuz OK. Yes, she wuz fine, thank you, jes' fine. Mary always listened to his recounting of his life since the prior call an' encouraged Keith to date.

At 30 Mary met Mack. Theirs wuz a whirlwind courtship. Mack wanted to settle down, have a family an' by then, Mary did too.

Mary took a long breath after her story. I held still. Then, "Mack loves me, and I love him. We love our girls. Life is very good for us, Aunty. Now I will go live up nawth, in a beautiful house, Mack will be home every night, and life will be even better."

Despite the late hour, the soft comfortin' darkness, I wuzn't sleepy a'tall. After Mary told her story, all of it, I jes' kept still. Thar' seemed to more to come.


"So, then, with all this goodness that has come to me, why am I bothered still by Keith? Why am I uncomfortable deep down?"

I sighed, then offered, "Reckon that when we's really happy, the unhappiness we done to others weighs on us a bit. We feel we doan deserve it, mebbe, or that we wish thar' were some way to make amends?"

"No, Aunty," she spoke low, "thar' ain't no way to make amends. I took another's precious life an' used fer mah own purposes. Sickening. When I think on it a awhile I want to get in the shower, but it won't wash away. And the worst part? Mack is Keith. I married the same sort of man again. Mack is practical, calm, deliberate, responsible--all the same qualities that Keith has. And I love Mack for those qualities. Do you see? Only thing different is that I grew up some, worked in the real world and discovered that those "boring" traits are what I most wanted and needed in a husband. If I'd only waited a little bit longer, I would have come to love Keith for his sterling goodness. I had goodness and did not return goodness. For that I am at grave fault."

Now the dark seemed heavy despite the approach of dawn. I wanted to say somethin' soothin' like,
No, it's not yore fault Mary, you wuz jes' young an' anxious for your future.

"Oh, Mary, that is very grave. No wonder youse bothered," I whispered. "One thang, though, youse gutsy. Not many of us can look our worst selves in the eye, an' name what we see. I admires ya'.

I heered her rustle an' sit up against the pillows . "Aunty, if I told the others this they would say I was just young and scared when I married Keith, using him as a safe harbor. But I knew it not the right thing to do. Yes, fear motivated me some, but, I
know I knew better. I deliberately chose to do wrong. What I really hate about it all is that I didn't really even try to learn to appreciate Keith. I feel as though all my current happiness is at his expense. And it is! "

Dawn seeped under the black-out drapes, li'l fingers of the new day. I felt old but hopeful.

"Mary, doan ya' see? Life is a crooked path. None of us can second guess whar' we'd be iffin' only we had taken a different fork in the road. Life can throw us mercy as well as throw us cancer. I doan pretend to unnerstan' all the whys of it. Pray for Keith's happiness, then git up an put yore red dress on, we's got places to go today."

A year later, in a town far up north, happy an' settled in a new circle of friends, Mary's back gave out--she required surgery if she wuz to walk mor'n a few feet. She faxed me the night before her surgery, a funny little stick figure enterin' the operatin' room on a stretcher, balloon above the head "NOOOOOOooooooo."

Mack an the girls sat wif' her afterward as the post-op stupor wore off. They kissed her goodnight an Mack promised to see her at breakfast time.

As 4 a.m. she pressed the call button. "Something is wrong" she told the nurse. At 4: 16 she wuz gone.

It's been ten years now since Mary died. I still think of her every January. It was a bleak January, 20 somethin' years ago, when a woman I hardly knew called to see if I wuz free to drive her to a radiation treatment. I loved her from that day on--I got over the flippant party- girl facade, the red sports car, the zaney quips, all the un-seriousness that I once thought to be needless frivolity. Thar' weren't nuthin' frivolous about it, it were a great kindness to others to bring happy a moment an' lighthearted mirth wherever possible.

I miss her still.

* annulment

21 comments:

Floridacracker said...

Jesus Aunty! I'm in a public place for crying out loud!

No more tear jerkin' posts like
this while I am in Barnes and Noble using the free WIFI!

chickory said...

oh my God aunty what a killer. I can feel you missing her over the DSL. mercy. She sounds great and you make me miss her too. Great story, great storytelling. kind of a lonesome rainy night in georgia now...in a good way. so sorry for mary. how old were the daughters when she died and do you hear from them now?

K9 said...

still thinking about your friend this morning. love to you aunty

This week's Haiku Monday host page is here.

moi said...

The only way I could recover from the heartbreak of your story was to get back to the image of 17-year-old Uncle teasing prissy 15-year-old Aunty on her porch. And marvel at how, today, that might be considered illegal in several states.

I can identify with Mary in many ways. It seems to me, in spite of your aversion to two-seat Mercedes coups (really?), that you were a true blue friend to her. We should all be so lucky to have our own "Auntys." Now excuse me while I go blow my nose.

Troll said...

On what grounds did her divorcing Keith qualify as an "annulment"?

None of your examples match the situtation.

What is the concept of "annulment" based on biblically?

Did Keith have to concede that their marriage "never existed" in order for her to "work through" the "annulment process"?


If I were him, I wouldn't have signed off on it.

Pam said...

What a story. A human story. Female human story. Secrets of her heart; told with love by Aunty.

Intuitive Eggplant said...

Oh, my, Aunty. I finally got over here to read your post and I am . . . without words, for your compassion, loss, and story-telling. Blessings on you for your wide-flung friendships, willingness to hold memories close after many a year, and ability to share a complicated story.

fishy said...

Ahhhh Aunty, you were a fine friend to Mary. I know she treasured you same as you treasure her. Opposites that become strong friends are bout the best they ever are. And hooray for you Aunty in recognizing the gift of joy can sometimes seem frivolous.

I know it was a different story but I was hearing the I love little baby ducks song while reading of your great friendship with Mary.

Sigh, it is so easy to get it wrong and such a blessing to get it right.

Seems like the fellas what don't have a light of their own want to hold the glow of another. It was not Mary's fault Keith was a good man but no match for her. He surely knew that. And he , as her boss, started courting her as a predator of a teen in a terrible place. Did he expect her to stop growing as a person to shine on him? That ain't love and goodness.
That is selfish needs and use.

I think it tragic Mary had a burden of guilt about him.

I bet the girls turned out great.
Any child blessed to have a mother full of conscious and laughter? Huh, that's about as big as blessings come.

One more thing Aunty, clean out your buggy barn and get you a little 2 seater convertible. It is a grand way to celebrate blessings.

Anonymous said...

Hey all y'all

Thanky fer yore comments.

Will answer them each later, but


this mornin' Ise wif' granny in
the hospital.

Hold the fort.

Aunty

foam said...

What a sad story. It's hard to use a dear friend, especially when they are still so vigorous. and we don't stop missing them.

I have a friend whose fiancee had to go through an annulment for them to get married. despite your explanations in the previous post i still think the procedure is a bit puzzling .... especially since they ended up living together since the annulment process took a loooooooong time.... a few years in fact.

Boxer said...

First sorry to hear you're spending the weekend in the hospital.

We hear about the losses of family, but rarely a friendship and they are equally important to us and hurt just as much when we lose them. What a great desciption you painted of your friend and I love how you two found common ground to grow a frienship.

And I'm sorry for you loss. However, telling this story made her VERY alive.

Floridacracker said...

Dang!
Give Granny a cracker hug for me.

foam said...

ack! how did i not see your comment about your momma! i'm so sorry to hear this!

Milk River Madman said...

Best wishes on a speedy recovery to Granny.

What a beautiful story. I have little else to say. Just thinking of great friendships.

As for the anullment process. Not to sound cynical but like a lot of things in life, if you have the money you can get anulled, no matter what the circumstances.

Aunty Belle said...

Howdy all,

Granny is still in hospital, but may be moved out of CCU into a "step down" unit. This is elating news, as two nights ago, it seemed grim.

I will leave this post up as I wanna answer yore comments. Pls ck back in a bit. Thanky so much!

Meanwhile, there is a new post for Haiku Monday here

Ether Capacious

fishy said...

Aunty,
So sorry to hear about your Granny.
Godspeed to you both. I'll certainly pray for a recovery.
Glad to read of the improvements.

Karl said...

Good afternoon Aunty Belle,

You honor your friend well.

All the best to Granny.

Aunty Belle said...

FC!

Hope yore own Mama is on the mend!
Sorry fer the tug at yore heart--I am real real shure that Mary wuz yore kinda lady.

Chick9!

Why thanky--her daughters were 7, 10, and 12 when she died. Very tough. I do hear from them at Christmas--photos too. The eldest graduated from a northern university this summer.

Moi!

hahaha! I coulda guessed you'd be the one to key in on Uncle's KoolKat line. Promise ya' I ain't stretchin' that story none a'tall.

As fer the red merc two-seater--no no no, the problem isn' the two seater--it's the color! RED?? I mean, isn't a Mercedes sports car
"bright" enough? HAve the car, jes' make mine mallard green--some discrete color. Moi? You'd have adored Mary.

Aunty Belle said...

Troll-Man!

Well, now, thas' a tough set of questions.

On the annulment, I has to say I doan know--I doan know what the grounds were--she din't say. Were I to guess, I'd say she married too young to know what she was actually committing to--but that won't sit well wif' Aunty, who also married at 18 an who knew VERY WELL EXACTLY what I wuz committin' mahself to. Or, mebbe the grounds were that she never intended to commit to what marriage means--she was young, poor an' Keith looked like a lifeboat? So she mouthed the words, but did not intend to make that level of vow?

I'se pure T guessin' now--I has no knowledge of what the grounds were. Mebbe he wuz an unbaptized person. Mebbe they warn't married in a church, but on a riverboat or somethin'--in short, a non-sacramental marriage.

I could speculate that very little marriage preparation took place. It doan always happen, but for the most part, gettin' married in the Catholic Church requires at least three months of preparation--that is, the couples hear clearly what it is they are about to vow--an' I shure wish I could say that it means rare Catholic divorces, but
in the USA that is not true.

The famous Barna report shows that the divorce rate for various faith groups is less that the national average of 40-50% (trending lower since the highest divorce rate in the 1980s) but still disturbingly high:

Evangelical Christians --34%
Jewish-------------------30%
Baptists-----------------29%
Mainline Protestants-----25%
Mormons------------------24%
Catholics----------------21%
Lutherans----------------21%

Biblical warrant for annulment? The teaching on marriage is Matt:9 where Jesus says what God has joined, let no man put asunder--that is, no divorce,

The problem often comes from the modern/ revisionist translation of Matt:9:9 as "except for adultery" but the accurate translation of the Greek word "Porneia" is not adultery, but fornication. (Cf. Wycliffe, KJV, Gutenburg) Here Jesus is speaking of the cases where the "marriage" is not marriage but "fornication" because the pair are not legitimately bound. Some scholars think Jesus had a famous pair in mind when he said that:

Herod Antipas an Herodias. (Matt 14: 3-12) When John the Baptist pointed out this sham marriage (she was married to Anipas' half brother, Philip) Herodias plotted to have John beheaded.

IN short, those who "marry" with impediments, are not joined in God's eyes.

Aunty Belle said...

Pam OKC,
yes, indeed. The poor human heart.

Eggy!

She wuz special, an very oddly, given Aunty's corseted attitudes, we became very close. She was brave, stoic, uncomplaining. And I do miss her.

Fishy!

Well, now, in no way did Mary every describe Keith as a "predator", more as a quiet, good young man. He wuz 11 years older, but she never hinted anything like yore worry. But..yes, her girls had a real blessin' wif' Mary for a mama.

Foamy!

Oh, the two of ya would have been pals, I'se sure of it--ya remind me of her in some ways. Yep, the annulment process is confusing, often handled badly--but then, so is marriage. Marriage is serious bidness--another post, but the data and studies indicate marriages gone awry causes more harm than most folks realize at first.

Thanky fer well wishin' towards Granny.

Aunty Belle said...

Boxer-Babe!

If tellin' this story made Mary come alive, then I is real happy I shared her story. Oh, how ya woulda loved her too--even iffin' her libation of choice was Kentucky Sour Mash.

A little quirk about Mary: The confident self-satisfied, got-it-together types? she could an' did rag on them fer their foibles. Hypocrisy was called out. But a timid, broken, hurtin' soul? Ya never saw a more tender, nurturin' heart, than Mary's. She done a heap o' quiet good works for folks that could never return her kindness.

Milk River Madman!

Hey hey, happy to see ya on the Porch! Thanks fer good wishes fer Granny. AN thanky too for seein' how rare an valued good friendships are. Know youse sayin' it true--too often annulments is handed out like sweet tarts. Doan know yore own faith or affiliation, but can say that the Pope done told the US bishops to tighten up--doan marry folks unless they's been sat down an' helped to see what the deal is, an stop liberalizin' the annulment process since God ain't fooled none. It is gettin' better--the old 60s 70s era US church bureaucrats wuz more faithful to the US culture than to the bible.

Karl!

Thanky. I meant to honor her, not blab her inner secrets--but she is the sort that would tole ya all this herself, had she been bloggin' wif' us--she never spared herself none when it came to an honest appraisal.

All y'all,

Granny is still in the hospital, an will be at least another few days. She is makin' very slow progress, but that is better than we'd thought a week ago--an' she has had a kick outa hearin' that bloggers all over the map done wished her well. She an' I both is charmed by yore kindness.