His hands were rough and worn. He often sat with pocket knife in hand doggedly attempting to remove the paint from beneath his nails. His hazel eyes were warm and loving when they turned in my direction. His belly was big, his legs sticklike beneath. His shoulders were broad and always available when life’s little hurts brought me to tears. His bald head was a source of mirth.
Often he would grab my hand and we would engage in a kitchen butt-kicking contest, reducing me to helpless giggles.
He would quietly leave the house when things got too hot in the kitchen, when Mom’s temper flared a bit higher than normal or simply because a neighbor needed a hand
We had a huge vegetable garden and he worked tirelessly. Then we would can and freeze the harvest, seek out berries and fruit from others an, make jelly.
Life was good.
We had a party line on our telephone. It was a rotary dial. There was no air-conditioning, only a big fan on one of the windows that drew air in. There was a trick to it. More air pulled through slightly opened windows, so we closed all the windows except for a few critically placed ones. Sometimes the humidity would make the sheets feel damp in those hot Southern summer nights. The frogs and cicadas, those things we called katy-dids, serenaded us with their lovely music.
There were scary things. The cat cruising across my face in the middle of the night scared the dickens out of me. The snake the cat brought in. Seems the cats were always up to something. There was the lady down the road that spoke in tongues and freaked my little 9 year old ass completely out. There was a fire. Matches were sun lit in a bathroom window. I put it out with a bucket of water. There was another fire in the yard. It spread and the volunteer fire department had to be called. My great-grandmother and I were beating the fire with a wet mop, the tool at hand.
There were occasional disagreements. There was always the friction between my brother and I. He hated me from birth. He was eight years older. I couldn’t fix it. I finally understood that it wasn’t my problem to fix. It took years. One day an epiphany. Amazing. I was well into my forties.
There were calves and pigs and rabbits and dogs and cats. There was a horse.
I watched soaps in the summer on a black and white TV with Grandma Sumler. I watched her comb her hair out and put it back in a bun and clean her comb, winding the stray hair into a little circle before discarding it. What an odd habit it was.
I learned to cook. I did dishes, although I complained and tried to escape to the bathroom as often as possible. I promised to stop complaining when Daddy bought a dishwasher.
That promise was rather short-lived.
We spent time with grandparents. Family was important and holidays were gatherings of aunts and uncles and cousins.
And it all subsided.
I miss it occasionally. I miss the sense of timelessness I had as a child. It seems the more tools and time-saving devices we invent, the less time we have.
It’s hard to focus with so many new toys to experience!
Waxing nostalgic? Fond memories? Both?