funny stories, memories, nostalgia

Repost: “You want a bun with that?”

Here’s a repost from August 2018 as I wait for my stomach to settle.

Today, I think I’ll write something silly as opposed to something depressing or controversial.  It may not seem like it in most of my posts, but I actually have a pretty great sense of humor.  When I was younger, I had a male friend in college with whom I used to spend a lot of time.  His name is Chris.

I’m still friends with this guy, by the way.  I just don’t get to see him anymore because he’s in Virginia and I’m in Germany.  When we were in college, though, we were kind of inseparable.  We spent hours hanging out and, when he was a drinker, we often got drunk together.  He quit drinking when we were juniors in college.

Anyway…  located right next to our campus was a McDonald’s.  I didn’t eat there very often because I never had any money.  But one night, my friend went there with some of his buddies.  I believe they were all inebriated and likely pretty obnoxious, too.

This wasn’t Chris and his crew… but the idea is kind of the same.

Chris went up to the counter and ordered a cheeseburger.  The guy who took his order apparently got an attitude and said, “You want a bun with that?”

Chris, who was likely feeling no pain, said, “What kind of a question is THAT?  Of course I want a BUN with that!  Who the hell orders a burger without a bun?”

The guys who were with Chris were gently trying to extricate him from the situation, but he was still cussing as the dude handed him his order.

Actually, I can think of a few funny situations involving Chris and fast food.  One of his favorite things to do when we were in college was act like he was going to throw up.  He’d make a fist and sort of hesitantly place it to his mouth, then start fake hurling.  He said he’d always wanted to try that at a fast food restaurant.  He wanted to go up to the counter and act like he was going to puke, then sort of settle down and say, “Can I have another burger, please?”

The funny part of this scenario is that he’d then revert to acting like the no nonsense female worker behind the counter.  Her eyebrows would be raised, unbelieving, and her eyes would be downcast.  And she’d say, her voice laced with attitude, “Do you know how to work a mop?”

Then Chris would revert back to his fake puking self and say, “I just want another burger, please.”

Chris, acting as the female worker, would say, “Do you see anyone else standing back here?  Who you think gonna clean up the mess if you toss your cookies all over my clean floor?”  With a wag of her head, she’d continue, “Now, you know how to work a mop, I’ll give you another burger.”

The little scenario would usually kind of end at that point.  Sometimes, I’d join in and play the fast food worker.

Chris also told me once about how he and his mom went to a McDonald’s once and saw some woman cleaning with a toothbrush.  Chris’s mom, who died in 2009, said, “Chris, I think that woman is a halfwit.  Why is she cleaning like that?”

This isn’t to say, by the way, that I think people who work in fast food are halfwits.  I don’t think that at all.  There is no such thing as truly unskilled labor.  I just laugh when I remember the way my old friend would do these imitations and act out these scenarios, especially in places like McDonald’s, where you’re liable to run into anyone…

This topic comes up thanks to the hamburger meat in our refrigerator that needs to be consumed.  I probably ought to go vegan, but I don’t see it happening at this point in my life.

LOL… that woman says what my mom used to say to me all the time when I was growing up.

Yes, kids, this is what we did in the 1990s, when Internet for everyone was still just a pipe dream.  I kind of miss those days.

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book reviews, business

Repost: a review of Freeman Hall’s Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store– Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate

Here’s a book review I wrote for Epinions in January 2010. I am reposting it as/is.

I once had a stint working as a retail sales associate. Luckily, I worked in a mens’ shirt store, where the customers didn’t tend to be too demanding. I spent about seven months doing that job until I was blessedly delivered from retail hell by a stint in the Peace Corps. I think my little taste of working retail was enough to last me the rest of my life.

Freeman Hall
, author of Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store– Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate (2009), did not have as much luck as I did breaking away from retail slavery. Hall, who is very much an out of the closet homosexual, writes that he loves stylish clothes. Working in retail was one good way to be able to afford them. After all, the one fabulous perk of working retail is an employee discount. Of course, Freeman Hall never planned to spend years working in retail. His real ambition is to be a screenwriter. But he still has to pay the bills and he wants to look good doing it.

Hall goes to hell

So Freeman Hall heads over to the personnel office of a big department store he refers to as “The Big Fancy”. He is hoping for a job in housewares or maybe men’s clothing. He gets a job selling handbags. Not purses, mind you– Hall explains that the “p-word” is akin to the filthiest expletive at The Big Fancy– but handbags, very expensive designer handbags made by Kate Spade, Coach, and Marc Jacobs, among other big names. These are the kinds of bags that run hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And Freeman, who is the only male sales associate in handbags, gets a commission for every single one he sells.

But– in order to make his commissions, Freeman Hall must deliver excellent customer service to every one of the many different types of strange and difficult people retail stores attract. Hall has all sorts of irreverent names for these people, all of whom are women and regular shoppers at The Big Fancy. There’s the Nasty @$$ Thief, the Snot Monster, Picky B*tch, Discount Rat, and, of course, Shoposaurus Carnotaurus, just to name a few.

Hall must deal with some very distasteful and somewhat shockingly bizarre scenarios, as well as obnoxious co-workers. In one disturbing chapter, he writes about covering someone in the swimwear department while she went on her lunch break. While Freeman and another woman were in swimwear, they were visited by a skinny woman who had taken six swimsuits into a fitting room to try on. Later, the woman came out of the fitting room without her swimsuits. Freeman and his colleague were annoyed, thinking she’d left the suits in a pile on the floor. If only the pile she’d left had been that simple to clean up…

Hall also writes about about the store management’s many wacky ways to keep the associates sales pumping. For instance, Hall explains the eight flights of stairs he and his colleagues must climb and descend before and after every single shift. The eight flights of stairs were a feature at most of The Big Fancy stores in the United States because the store’s founder wanted sales associates to get their exercise. Sometimes management would decorate the stairwell or pipe obnoxious music in it to help the associates gain enthusiasm. They would also hold ridiculous pep rallies in an attempt to boost sales along with attitudes. Apparently, their efforts to boost spirits fell far short of their goals.

My thoughts

I’m of a mixed mind about this book. First off, having once worked retail, I had an inkling about Hall’s experiences, although his were much more bizarre than mine ever were. Some of Freeman Hall’s stories are hilarious and he does have a delightfully snarky way of expressing himself.

On the other hand, some of his descriptions of his customers and co-workers came across to me as very mean spirited. After awhile, that aspect of this book grated on my nerves. Now… don’t get me wrong… I have worked retail and been a waitress. I know how hard it can be to work in a service oriented job, particularly when it involves spending money on luxuries. People can be brutal to sales associates, treating them like slaves and talking to them as if they’re less than human. Oftentimes, managers and co-workers can be just as bad as the customers, making an already stressful work environment even worse.

But there must have been something else attractive about that job besides the employee discounts, because Hall stuck around for a number of years, collecting his anecdotes for this book. He never really explains what it was, besides paying his bills and buying designer clothes, that made him sell handbags for as long as he did. I guess, in a way, this book is sort of like the ultimate payback for the way Hall was treated as a retail slave. I guess I can’t really blame him for writing this book, which is sort of a retail version of Waiter Rant a book I recently read by Steve Dublanica.

I predict that a lot of people who have worked retail will relate to this book and laugh out loud reading it. I also predict some people will get tired of the endless carping jokes and wish for a little more humanity. After all, while a lot of us have worked in retail, almost all of us have shopped retail. As I read this book, I sort of cringed, wondering if I had ever inspired a retail worker to come up with a mean spirited nickname for me. I also wondered, in the wake of Hall’s often very snarky rants, why I should feel sorry for him, especially given the fact that so many Americans would love to have a job… any job.  And lots of people in retail would love to have a customer… any customer.

Overall

I did like this book, but I can’t say I loved it. Maybe I’m just getting too old to read stuff like this. I probably would have loved reading this when I was still in my 20s. Freeman Hall has a gift for storytelling and some of his descriptions are hilarious. I could practically hear him talking through his very colorful words and vivid depictions. But in the end, I think I was overcome by the constant crassness, which is why this book gets four stars instead of five. My mother would be so proud to finally see this day come.

And here is a link to Retail Hell Underground, a place where there are many hellish stories about life working in retail.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on items purchased through my site.

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musings

The c-word… or, the honeymoon is over.

I’m not gonna write about it today. I am saturated with news about the c-word, and I want to focus on something else. So I won’t mention it. Instead, I think I’ll write about something non-sensical that happened at the breakfast table this morning.

My husband, Bill, is a wonderful guy who loves to take care of me. When he’s home, he does the cooking, which is funny, because I am a pretty good cook myself. In fact, my cooking skills were one of the things he liked most about me when we were just dating. There was a time in my life when I was actually paid to cook. I even wrote a cookbook when I was in the Peace Corps.

Because Bill is working from home on account of the c-word, he made us breakfast. Today, it was hard boiled eggs, a piece of fruit (strawberries for him and a banana for me) and a piece of bread that he made himself. As I sipped coffee, I looked over at Bill, who was talking about current events. I tried to focus on his face, but I was distracted by a really long eyebrow hair that sprouted just over the brow line of his right eye. It was probably half an inch long, and sort of cocked to the side.

I said, “Baby, I highly recommend that you go upstairs and pluck that wild ass ‘horn’ growing from your brow.”

He gave me an embarrassed look, so I said, “I’m sorry, but every time I try to listen to you and make eye contact, I notice that long hair and it distracts me. Blame my dad. I never used to notice these things until he made me pluck his eyebrows for him.”

It’s true. When I was in high school, my dad often asked me to do that bit of personal grooming for him. He said his eyesight wasn’t good enough to rid himself of those “wild hairs”, which I know he could see when he wore his glasses, but maybe couldn’t see when he took them off. My dad, being a military man himself, was always concerned about his personal grooming standards, even if he wasn’t always very fashion forward. I do recall some very unfortunate clothing choices he made at times.

I remember being 17 years old, armed with tweezers, plucking mutant eyebrows from my dad’s face. I hated to do it, but you know how it is. He brought me into the world…

Anyway, ever since then, I notice things like long hairs growing from ears, noses, chins, and eyebrows. They drive me nuts.

After one or two more grimaces from Bill after I apologized for embarrassing him, he finally went upstairs and did the deed. I had told him that he really needed to get rid of that one hair, but I recommended that he get rid of a few more while he was at it. When he came back down, he was looking better. He gave me a mischievous grin and said, “I got rid of a really long white hair, too.”

That’s my boy. I had noticed the white hair, but in the interest of being less of a shrew, I didn’t say anything about it. I’m glad he took care of it, because I know my patience would have eventually worn out and I would have threatened to whack it myself.

Scenarios like these are kind of akin to talking to someone with a really big booger hanging out of their nose. It’s distracting and embarrassing, and you know that the person would be embarrassed to be seen with such a large “bear in the cave”. But I often hesitate to mention these things to others, since people have a tendency to shoot the messenger in these situations. Bill’s mother is smart about it. She always taught Bill to accept a tissue or a breath mint whenever anyone offers. Maybe it’s their way of telling him something. But what do you do when you’re in a situation where there are no mints or tissues?

Think about it. Would you rather someone tell you your fly is down, you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe, lipstick on your teeth, or you have a big snot in your nose? Or would you prefer to be oblivious, walking around like that for the rest of the day… or at least until you visit a restroom? Personally, I’d want to know, even if it’s very embarrassing. If I know, then at least I can do something, right? But one hopes that the bearer of bad news will be kind, considerate, and polite about it. I always try to be… even though I know it’s not news anyone wants to hear, including me. I do have empathy.

I’m very lucky that my husband is such a good hearted, reasonable, and kind man. And although the c-word is severely cramping our style and has already caused us loss and heartbreak, there’s a silver lining in every situation. It’s a blessing to get to spend so much time with Bill. Were it not for the c-word, he would probably be TDY and I’d be sitting here alone again… naturally. We’re also very lucky because while we’re husband and wife, and we are attracted to each other, we’re also best friends. I can say and do almost anything– short of going on a murderous rampage– and he’ll understand and support me. And the same goes for him– I will love and support him through almost any travail, short of one in which he purposely hurts others. Having known Bill for as long as I have, I don’t think that will ever happen in our lifetimes.

I realize how lucky I am to enjoy such a love, especially since I’ve never thought of myself as being the type of person to attract someone so perfect for me. It’s not like anyone wanted to date me when I was single.

So… although the c-word has changed so much about life —and despite what Trump says, it will change life for some time to come— I realize things could be much, much worse than they are. And I’m glad that if I have to stay cooped up, I can do it with a man like Bill.

On another note–

Last night, I was reminiscing about high school with a friend. She and I met when we were eight years old, way back in 1980. We were in the same third grade class, and eventually went on to graduate from the same high school ten years later.

As we were lamenting about how stupid and selfish Trump is, I told her about how I remember talking about Trump in Spanish class. A well-known and popular classmate of ours named Sally complained about how much money Trump had made in 1988.

Another well-known and popular classmate quipped in a matter-of-fact tone, “Sally’s a socialist!”

Even back then– or maybe especially back then– our hometown was deep red with conservatism. I recall that after the Trump quip, we started talking about how Geraldo Rivera got his nose broken on his talk show. He’d invited a bunch of skinheads on to talk about why they were so racist. One of them called a black guest an “Uncle Tom”, and that started a brawl, which of course was filmed and aired. Geraldo was shown holding his busted nose at the end of the program.

The same guy who said, “Sally’s a socialist!” said of Geraldo, “Someone is going to get him!” Wow… what I wouldn’t give to go back to a time when the tackiest, most obnoxious, and outrageous things were said on Geraldo’s show.

Such innocence we had in 1988!

Anyway… no more talk of the c-word. It’s caused us loss and pain and I get depressed when I think about what life is going to look like for the foreseeable future. But… at least if I have to stay inside, I can do it with the sweetest and most wonderful man I’ve ever known.

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Ex

Piss and vinegar…

Ever heard that expression? It goes something like this. “Wow, that bitch is full of piss and vinegar today!”

Lately, that’s kind of been me. I’ve been very cranky lately. I have less patience than I used to have, and I get irritated by small things. I have always been easily perturbed by certain stuff, but lately it’s been more of an acute problem. I suspect it has to do with aging and hormones. Or maybe I’m just unusually bitchy lately.

I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me it seems crazy that I’m as old as I am. It seems like I wanted to be older forever. As a child, I couldn’t wait to be sixteen. Then I couldn’t wait to be eighteen. Then, it was twenty-one that was the magic age. I didn’t mind the years that came after twenty-one. I wasn’t even upset when I turned 30 or 40… And now I’m edging closer to my “late forties”, and it feels like I’m on the edge of a mid-life crisis, even though I’m probably already past mid-life. I’ll never be a mother or a grandmother, and I always thought I would. I probably won’t ever be a “career woman”, either, though I always thought I would. Now I’m looking forward to the hormonal storm that I know is just around the corner… I haven’t experienced any hot flashes yet, but I know they’re coming. I watched my mom and sisters have them, and now some of my friends are experiencing them. Some of them are younger than I am.

Things certainly haven’t turned out the way I thought they would. Having Bill’s mom around for the last week is a reminder of how much craziness we have both endured, mainly owing to Bill’s ex wife. I don’t feel the need to write about her so much anymore, mainly because one of Bill’s daughters reconnected and I’ve learned that it wasn’t all my imagination. Ex really is as batshit nuts as she’s seemed all these years… and my complaints about her weren’t unfounded. Moreover, as much as I despise her for the awful, incredibly damaging things she’s said and done, she now seems like a truly pathetic and sick person. I almost pity her now. I certainly don’t fear her. So, since I’m full of piss and vinegar today, here’s a story about Ex. It might be a repeat, but if it is, chalk it up to my aging memory.

My mother-in-law, Parker, told me a tale about something Ex did when she and Bill were still married. At the time, their children were very young, and Ex, apparently feeling spiteful and nasty, took Parker aside and said, “You know, Bill and I don’t think you’re a suitable grandmother for the children.”

As Parker’s face probably registered shock and horror, she continued, “You wear short skirts and high heels, and you dye your hair… and you don’t wear a shawl or sit on the porch in a rocking chair. You’re just not an appropriate grandmother figure for the kids.”

The funny thing is, I don’t think Ex had a grandmother that fit this description, either. In fact, from what I’ve heard, Ex’s grandmother and her mother behaved much like Ex always has, only worse… and since Ex was adopted, this behavior was almost certainly learned, and not caused by organic mental illness. She learned to use her children as weapons to keep other people doing her bidding. And as the children have become adults, she uses her younger children to keep the older ones “in line”. She also has a habit of co-opting the innocent into her accusations. Bill would never ever say that his mom isn’t an “appropriate grandmother figure” to his daughters. He loves his mother dearly, which is probably why Ex hates her so much. MIL, like me, has Bill’s best interests at heart and, because of that, he listens to what she says, which helps him resist Ex’s craziness.

I had heard this story several times before and it’s always outraged me, but this time, Parker put a hilarious spin on it. I told her about how, back in Virginia, on the one occasion I met Bill’s daughters in person in June 2003, Bill said he was going to call his mom in Texas. Younger daughter, then about nine years old, said “You mean, GrandmaMAH?”

I remember thinking that was kind of a pretentious moniker for Parker, although since I’d only known her for about a year, I wasn’t sure what the reasoning behind that was. And the truth was, back then, she had seemed kind of flashy and sexy to me. In those days, she was a competitive ballroom dancer. I figured maybe she was just kind of eccentric and never really questioned it until just a couple of days ago.

Anyway, Bill called his mom. Younger daughter was the only one of the three– we also had Bill’s then teenaged former stepson visiting– who would speak to Parker on the phone. Sixteen years later, I told Parker about how younger daughter had referred to her as “GrandmaMAH,” and Parker laughed heartily and said she was surprised that younger daughter had remembered that name. Then, she told me what had prompted it.

After Ex had told Parker how “inappropriate” she was as a grandmother to the children, Ex then asked Parker what she wanted her kids to call her. I’m actually surprised that Ex bothered to ask, since she usually just does whatever she wants without regard for anyone else’s input. Parker was so pissed off and offended by Ex’s declaration of how she wasn’t a suitable role model or grandmother for the kids, that she snapped “Just tell them to call me GrandmaMAH!”

And, in a rare show of compliance, Ex did just that. Six years later, younger daughter was still calling Bill’s mom “GrandmaMAH!” Of course, it didn’t really matter, since Ex cut MIL off from the kids and, for many years, they basically considered Bill’s stepmom their grandmother. They call her Meemee, and Bill’s dad is Pawpaw.

After talking with Bill’s stepmother, we learned that Ex had pretty much done the same thing to her. She’d imply that Bill’s mom was a “better grandmother”. Since SMIL and MIL have never gotten along and don’t speak to each other, this triangulation effort brought about by Ex was highly effective in further alienating them from each other and hugely successful in keeping SMIL “competing” with MIL to “win” the role of the Ex approved “grandma”.

SMIL needn’t have bothered, though, because Ex has always hated Bill’s mom and did her best to ruin their mother-son relationship. In fact, though Bill’s mom tried hard not to interfere in Bill’s relationship with Ex, MIL finally told him he should get a divorce. Why? Because months before the divorce, Ex had set it up so that Bill and his mother would spend Christmas together, then she called Parker before Bill got to her house and told her she shouldn’t let Bill stay with her over the Christmas holidays, after all. She said he was an abusive pervert who hates women and that he would probably try to kill her.

Ex said similar things to Bill’s stepmom, who actually believed her for a time, and she no doubt also told her friends, church members, and most importantly, the children, these egregious lies. When Ex did finally drop the divorce bomb on Bill, and much to her surprise, he readily accepted, she blamed MIL! She said Bill was only agreeing to the divorce because his mom had told him to! Sure, Ex… it had nothing to do with your setting up a Christmas visit between Bill and his mom, and then telling Bill’s mother ahead of the visit that he was an abusive pervert who wanted to murder her! You know what? I suspect that Ex’s comment to MIL was actually projection, but that’s just me…

For years, I have been full of piss and vinegar about Ex to the point of obsession. But now, since there’s been more talking and the truth is coming out, I have less… at least when it comes to Ex. Now, I just think she’s a ridiculous fool and I feel sorry for everyone who is forced to be in her sphere. She’s truly a sick woman.

Parker is no longer known as “GrandmaMAH”. Since younger daughter is back in contact with Bill and his mom, she asked Parker how she’d prefer to be addressed. Parker told her to call her whatever made her comfortable. She says younger daughter finally settled on “Nana”. They have had a few Skype chats and traded emails. Younger daughter is now getting to know her long lost grandmother and her father after way too many lost years.

Parker and I shared a good laugh about that story. I admire her for having a little piss and vinegar inside, too… a little spunk. Sometimes, people need a spritz of it when they step over the line.

Lately, I fear I’m full of more piss and vinegar than usual, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I’m getting older, which means I have less time for stupidity and bullshit. When people give me a hard time, I’m inclined to give it right back to them. Why not? I don’t usually go looking for it. They almost always come to me. And if it means people think I’m a sour old bitch, so be it. As long as I’ve got Bill and a steady influx of canine company, I’m doing alright. I don’t like to be bitter and nasty, but being nice doesn’t always yield good results. And sometimes tossing off a little nasty spunk yields hilarious results… like telling your narcissistic ex daughter-in-law that the children need to call their grandmother “GrandmaMAH”!

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family

The $61 steak…

Last night, while we were enjoying wine with our neighbors, Bill reminded me of a funny experience we had with my Uncle Brownlee. The year was 2010 and we were living in Georgia, not too far from the Atlanta area. On Bill’s birthday, in July, we visited Craft Atlanta, which has now closed. Craft is a chain of expensive restaurants started by the great chef, Tom Colicchio. They are usually in major cities. I’ve only been to the defunct location in Atlanta and its more casual sister, Craftbar, which is also closed.

In 2010, we were still fairly broke. We had just moved back to the United States from Germany, and Bill was still paying child support for his youngest daughter. A visit to a restaurant like Craft was a real treat. We usually only went to nice restaurants for my birthday, but that year, I told Bill I wanted us to go out on his birthday for a change. So we did, and he chose Craft Atlanta for our celebration.

I’m glad we had the chance to try this restaurant before it closed!

I remember I had duck for dinner, and it came with family style sides of creamy mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted asparagus. Bill hesitated when he saw what he really wanted… a delectable rib eye steak that had been dry aged for 28 days. The price was $61, which was more than he’d ever spent on any entree at a restaurant.

Although the price gave him pause, I encouraged him to order it anyway. He did, and I noticed our waiter looked very happy. I’m sure it mostly had to do with his getting a bigger tip, but I also had a feeling he knew that steak would put a huge smile on Bill’s face. Sure enough, it did. It was probably the most delicious steak either of us had ever had. And, better yet, we had plenty of leftovers!

I just did a search to see if I posted about that meal on Facebook. I found this thread, which is not as exciting as it could have been.

I know I also took some pictures, including the one featured at the top of the posts. These were the days before I wrote restaurant reviews, except for the odd one on Epinions.com, which did not allow pictures.

Anyway, in November of that year, we went to Virginia for Thanksgiving. We were talking about Bill’s special birthday meal with some of my cousins. Uncle Brownlee happened to be sitting in the kitchen, passively listening to me describe Bill’s dinner while he held up the newspaper to read. When I mentioned how much the steak was, he dropped the paper and gave me the funniest, most profound WTF look ever… His mouth dropped open. His brow furrowed and eyes narrowed. It was almost like I said the f-word in front of my Granny or something. He was shocked. I wish I’d taken a picture of his face at that moment. It was classic. Brownlee is a very “salt of the Earth” type of guy. He’d never spend that much on a steak, no matter how good it is.

Bill tried to explain why the steak was so expensive, but Brownlee wouldn’t hear it and thought it was ludicrous that we’d spend so much on a piece of dry aged meat. He’s always been practical and frugal with money. He’d probably rather spend his money on a Hammond organ or building supplies for his next project. I used to love watching him work on his construction projects. I remember he’d find cast off supplies like old doors, cables, or odd pieces of wood and he’d turn them into something beautiful and functional, as if by magic. He also taught himself to play the organ by ear and was good enough to play in bands for years. I used to sing with him accompanying me at the Natural Bridge Hotel. His old friend, Donnie, who played saxophone and sang, would join us. Donnie died on Christmas a few years ago. I was really sad to hear about his death, too… also very sudden.

I haven’t heard any more news since yesterday. I talked to my mom last night and filled her in on what I knew about this situation. She doesn’t use computers and refuses to have anything to do with the Internet, so she wasn’t aware that Brownlee had had a setback. She did say that when Brownlee saw my dad in his final days, he’d made it very clear that he didn’t want his life to end that way and was not interested in life supportive measures that wouldn’t lead to recovery. I really can’t blame him. It’s highly unlikely that Brownlee could still keep doing all that he’s ever loved doing, even if they did everything they could to keep him going. I suspect that being an invalid would be more than Brownlee could bear.

It was heartbreaking for me to see my dad like that, tethered to many machines and hearing alarms blare with even the tiniest movement. All of that intervention was ultimately for naught, and cost a mint. Dad had managed to survive health crises before. He’d even had a feeding tube for awhile and although the doctors bluntly told my mom he’d never improve, he did improve for awhile. At least physically.

But when my dad had his gallbladder operation and couldn’t recover from the anesthesia, it was clear that his body had finally had enough. My mom asked the medical staff to disconnect everything and let my dad go. He didn’t want to go. He made it plain that he didn’t want to die by trying his hardest to keep breathing. Mom had to tell him to let go, which he finally did. He passed away peacefully, with an amazed smile on his face.

I love this house. Brownlee has done a wonderful job making it what it is. He did most of the masonry and built the railings on the steps. That big tree in the front yard was planted when my Aunt Jeanne died in 1995.

I think it’s going to be very hard for my family when we lose Brownlee. He lives in the family homestead– the house my father grew up in and the cornerstone of my memories of my whole family. I don’t know if his wife will be willing or able to maintain it. Her son– my cousin– is a professional musician in Nashville. Her daughter lives in Roanoke and has her own career. My aunt has her own health issues to worry about. But it really is a stunning, magical place. I love visiting there. It’s been too long since my last visit.

The other side of the property. There are two creeks that intersect. Up the hill is the barn, where we have parties.
A rare snowy day in November.
The road that runs in front of the house is named after my grandfather.
Wish I could move in there myself. I love the sound of the creek when I’m going to sleep. It’s hard to believe that my grandparents rented part of that house for a time. I think someone from our family has been there since 1935.

Anyway… I meant for this to be more of a lighthearted post than it’s turned out to be. I guess I really miss home. I continue to pray for peace and comfort for my loved ones.

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