Grandpa's Pot of Gravy
Grandpa was not a kitchen guy. He was not in there cooking. He was not in there making sandwiches. He was just not that type of person.
My uncle Billy got the flu that was going around. He laid in his bed, sick as could be except for going to the bathroom. Dr. Phipps came out and examined him.
(Dr. Phipps had me convinced that he delivered Jesus because he was so old.)
"It's the flu, for sure, like half the people I am seeing." He sighed, washing his hands in the very bathroom sink that I washed in.
Grandma handed him a towel and waited for the news of what to do.
"Food and drink if he is hungry. Don't force it. If he gets an appetite, keep it light."
Dr. Phipps asked to see all of us while he was already there to avoid traveling the highway after dark. Grandma got him set up in her bedroom.
When it was my turn, I brought my doll with me, because she might be sick, too. We were both told that we had the flu. My poor ragdoll, Neva. I was told that she needed bedrest and I had to make sure that she was in bed by setting a good example. I protested, saying how fine I felt, but Dr. Phipps made me a promise. If I got hot and steamy baths when asked to, ate and drank what was asked of me, the next time he saw me, if I got well, we would draw a picture together. I could barely contain my excitement. I took off my day clothes and set me and Neva down with night clothes. Vicks was rubbed on my chest, and Neva got the Vicks on a cloth.
The next few days were misery and sleep. My poor grandparents with all of their children, and then my coming along, making them grandparents when they were still raising children. Poor them!
I woke up one morning to the smell of warm biscuits and gravy. Coffee was made. It smelled good. I fell back asleep to the smell, so comforting and wonderful. I pulled the heavy quilt back over me and my baby doll and drifted right off.
I woke up to my shoulder being shaken gently. "Wanna plate of biscuits?" Grandpa asked, holding them under my nose and waving them gently around.
"No. I wanna sleep." I said, not wanting food.
"Baby, Doc says you gotta eat something. You little lips are chapped. Your little eyes are sunk. Please eat a little for Grandpa. I even made the gravy you like."
Even Grandpa's gravy? Was I crazy? He made the best brown gravy for biscuits known to man.
I nodded my head and he broke off a piece of biscuit and put it in my mouth.
A glass of juice was brought to him, and in the hallway, I heard someone say "He got her to eat a little!" Apparently, I had been refusing food.
It took a while, but he got all of those 4 biscuits into me. Never pushing, never yelling, just gently loving me to eat. I drank the juice and he carried me to the bathroom and back, keeping my feet from touching the floor.
Every meal after that, Grandpa would bring in a food tray for he and I. He would take a bite, then offer me a bite until it was gone, then carry me to the bathroom. It was a lot of work, I am sure, but he never complained.
When Dr. Phipps came to see all of us a few days later, I was still in bed, too tired to do anything and still miserable.
Dr. Phipps told me that I had to eat, and I had to get better. He said that tomorrow, I was to eat at the table, and go outside and sit on the porch in the swing for a while.
The following day, I did as was asked, and fell asleep outside on the swing. Grandpa called Dr. Phipps and explained that I was not getting any better, in fact, everyone else was better, and now I seemed to be worse. Dr. Phipps told Grandpa that I better be taken to the hospital in case it was something serious.
We got to the hospital and I was put in a wheelchair. I fell asleep in the wheelchair. I was placed on a stretcher when the doctor examined me.
"Strep and Mono" is what came back from the tests. I was put in the hospital for a few days, and Dr. Phipps came to see me.
I don't remember this, but my Aunt said that I flew into hysterics when he entered the room, because I had not gotten well, so we could not draw a picture together.
"I tried, Dr. Phipps, I tried!" Is what I have been told I said over and over again.
By the time I was discharged, I had over 20 drawings by me and that country doctor, now gone on to his reward in heaven.
When the doctors came in to my room to talk to me and my family, they asked me if I knew what made me better, getting ready to tell me about the antibiotics that I still would take at home. I beamed a huge smile and said "Grandpa's Pot of Gravy!"
No Chores for Me- Water Pails and Yard Chickens
My grandparents had 2 horses. Buckshot was the male and Candy Kisses was the female. I have no idea what they did to get the horses, because they sure were not rich.
Every day, one of the girls would haul water and oats down to the barn, and the boys would let the horses out and muck the stalls. They would pet and fawn over the horses while we little ones mainly watched from a milk crate.
One day, my Aunt Linda- who was notoriously lazy- was hauling the oats and water. She turned to me and said that I had to help, or else.
I dug my heels in right then. Grandpa said that "littles" didn't do chores outside, unless he or Grandma said to, because there was too much that could happen. Just "littles" chores. We were not allowed to even touch those horses without a grown-up around, let alone get close to the feed.
"No, Ma'am, Aunt Linda. I am not going to do it."
She turned to me and her face grew red. "Oh, you will. I am your elder. I am 16 years old and you will mind me or I will switch you real good." She yelled, motioning for me to pick up the water pail.
"No!" I yelled back, running to the rabbit hutches where grandpa was cleaning them out.
She ran after me, but fear gives your feet speed. I reached grandpa, crying and huffing and puffing. He knew something was up.
Aunt Linda was soon there, too. He asked what happened and she forced out a tale that was a whopper of a lie. He looked at me. "What happened, Sis?" I told him exactly what happened.
"Littles don't do chores. She is not even 5 yet. She can't haul them buckets. You'll pull her spine out of her skin with the strain."
Linda protested, and Grandpa got red faced himself. "You don't ride a horse till they are grown, you don't breed a cow till they are grown, and you don't yoke a baby to an adult's chores. Feed and water the horses, Linda!" He then called Uncle Billy to make sure that the horses were fed, watered and mucked out. I got to stay behind and scoop ladles of water for the rabbit bottles.
Grandpa looked at my little tear stained face. "We all pull our own weight here. Someday, you will be doing big girl chores, too. Right now, you just need to be my little girl. You don't go any further from the house than the yard chickens, unless me or Grandma or Mama or Daddy says it is okay."
"Can't I watch them water the horses, Grandpa?" I asked, hoping he would say yes.
"No. Them girls won't watch to make sure you are out of the way, and the boys don't care if you get kicked in the head. Only where the yard chickens go. No farther."
I nodded. It was through that instruction that I learned how to make chickens follow you all the way to the tire swing.....but didn't get in trouble because the yard birds were there with me!
Share your stories below, don't forget to share!
Fast For Fathers!
Father's Day is here, and I have 5 fast questions so that you can ask the fathers in your life!
1. How did you find out that you were going to be a father?
2. What has been the best part of being a father?
3. What is something you never expected about being a dad?
4. What is a bond or shared interest that you have with your children?
5. What would the perfect Father's Day be for you?
That's All folks!
Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers out there. Especially to my father! My father is an awesome dad. He adopted me when he did not have to. His family was grown and complete, and then I came along and he and my mother adopted me. I could not have asked for better parents. My father and I did not always get along. I was stubborn and he was not wanting to put up with my stubborness.
Just as heat tempers metal and makes it stronger, time tempered us and made our relationship stronger.
When my grandmother was alive, my father was a flawless son in law to her, even having her move in with her and my mother to make sure that she was safe and cared for. When my grandmother's health was failing, he would sometimes go alone to the nursing home where she resided so that she had a visitor every day.
My father is also a gourmet chef level cook. When a family member or guest comes into my parent's home, he will make sure that they are comfortable, well fed and welcome. He knows that I adore his deviled eggs. Most times when I come to visit, my dad will make sure that they are on the table. The same for my sister and her love of my dad's macaroni and cheese that he makes from scratch.
When my mother was injured, it was my dad who provided the care for her that was exemplary. She is a retired physician, so for her to say that it was good is saying something.
When my sister and I lost our biological mother, my mom and my dad stepped forward and accepted her as another daughter, and her children know them as their grandparents. They are great as grandparents because they love their granddaughters.
A conversation that I was not present for is one that has warmed my heart everytime that I think about it. My sister and my Dad were talking about me, and my sister said that Dad told her "All I care about is that Dixie is happy. That is what I want for all of you. For you all to be happy." What kind and touching words from a man that is not into huge displays of emotion. Yet, he will hold my mother's hand in the car, and they say "I love you" to one another a lot.
When I got married, my parents became grandparents to my stepdaughter and stepson. My stepson insists on calling them when he does well on a paper, or when he gets his report cards in. He loves to talk to both of them because they actively listen. My stepson feels a special bond because they both wear glasses, and they both like to do things together, like feed the donkeys.
This photo was taken when I was visiting at Thanksgiving, and I took one with each of my parents. Every time I look at this photo, I smile, because that is my dad and me. Even though we are not related, we both have green eyes. We both love to read. We both love poking around on the computer, we both love the hidden object games, and a lot of other things. I am blessed indeed to have him in my life. I love you, Dad.
I am still working out all of the details for the trading card instructions that I will be posting.
I have been creating questions that will fit well on a trading card, and that has forced me to get really creative. This has been really beneficial for me, and I think that you will like it to.
Here are some questions that have really given me some detailed answers. Let me know how they work out for you.
1. What should you be famous for?
2. What is your superpower?
3. Family know you for your.....
4. Favorite Car
5. Favorite Pet
6. Favorite Color
7. Best Friend
8. No one knows that I.....
9. My vice is....
These questions will really flesh out your family members in your trading cards. The question that gets conversations going is the first one, so I would probably save that one for last, when the person that you are interviewing is warmed up.
Mother's Day is right around the corner, so get your questions ready for all of the mothers in your life!
She cut the salad into big huge, coarse pieces. Bowls were stacked high with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions. As she filled a bowl, one of her daughters would come and empty the bowl into the food processor, turning the pieces into bite sizes. One by one the vegetables were assembled into salads. All this was done from Sunday night to Thursday night. In the morning, they would rise before dawn, load the food truck with everything that they had prepared and make their rounds.
On the evenings, her husband would cook all of the meats that would be made into sandwiches, tacos and more. As they made their rounds from construction site to construction site, Mary and Charlie would track each item by seeing what was left at the end of the day. They learned what sold and what did not sell. Each site had their favorites.
Mary longed for the days of her childhood, growing up in rural Louisiana with her family. She remembered playing barefoot in the mud in September, when summer was dying and fall was pretending to be there. Charlie had charmed her when he was working on the highway. Everyday, he would make sure to come into her family gas station when she was there, ordering a sandwich and getting a cold drink. He would sit at the only table, one that seated 2. All the while he was eating, Charlie would toss questions at her.
One day, Mary looked at him. None of the other workers were there with him. They sat in the shade of the tree, eating from their lunch pails. Drinking from their big Stanley Thermos. Laughing and playing with the dog that sat in one of the foreman's trucks all day long except for breaks.
"Why don't you sit with your friends and have lunch with them?" She asked, bringing him the sandwich he ordered.
"They have lunches made by their wives and girlfriends. I don't have one of those."
Mary laughed. Her grey eyes danced in the sunlight.
"You should get one. My dad is buying this store from your lunches."
They both laughed.
On Friday, he showed up after work. A first. He asked to speak to her father. Her father, a man named Dalton came from behind the counter, wiping his huge hands on his apron.
"Need a couple of sandwiches for the weekend? Come by each day and we will make them fresh so that you don't have a soggy one."
Mary swept the floor while they talked. Went and got the mop. Mopped the floor. She didn't notice what they were talking about, only noticed that they were having a good time, which was nice.
"Mary!" Her father called out, loudly.
"Yes, sir?" She answered as she came around the corner.
"This fella wants to take you out tonight or tomorrow, your choice. I told him that we are Catholic, so Saturday is out unless he wants to go with us to Saturday service first."
"You asking me out?" Mary asked, looking him right in the face.
"I am." Thought that I should ask your father, first. Respect to him, of course."
Mary smiled. No one had ever asked her out before. No one had ever asked her father for permission.
She looked at him. "Saturday we go to Anticipatory Mass. Wanna go?"
"I am Catholic, too." Charlie said, smiling at her.
Mary nodded. "Ok. Super. Will you meet us at church or come to our house?" She asked, looking at her father instead of Charlie.
"He will meet us at church and y'all will go to dinner afterwards. Be home by 9:30. You know we do a lot of prep work for Sunday on Saturday night."
Her mother braided her hair the night before and Mary slept on the braids so that she would have waves for her date. Her sister, Corrie helped by loaning her a plain white shirt to wear, Jim, her brother polished her shoes.
They went to a small diner after church where they split a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. He walked her to the door, where her father invited him in. Charlie stayed and helped cut up food and prep for the needs of people who would come into their store to purchase food for Sunday dinners. For the truckers that would need their coffee to go. For the train conductor who, every Sunday would buy 3 packs of gum and a piece of fruit with the Sunday paper.
He listened. He laughed at her fathers' jokes. He was helpful.
7 weeks later, he proposed. They were married the next month. "Why wait?" Her father asked, squeezing Mary close to him. "I want grandchildren. Your mother has a whole closet of baby things she has been making for years." Everyone laughed.
The wedding was small. Friends and family. Her wedding cake was tiny mini cakes because of rationing from the war.
In less than a year, a baby came. Over the years, 5 girls would come into their lives. Mary would tell Charlie that she was sorry that she did not have a boy for him. Charlie would laugh. "I have all brothers. I have enough men in construction. Why do I want another boy when I have a beautiful family?"
Years later, life would change. When the construction project started to move farther and farther away from her family, Mary and her husband had a decision to make. They decided to convert a camper into a food truck. It would mean that they could be productive and spend time together.
At first, it was hard. As they learned the ropes, it became easier. They lived happily ever after.
This is the story that I was told by Mary's granddaughter about her grandparents who, in their 90s are happily retired and in good health. I begged her to get the story on tape and transcribe it, because the best teller of the story is the one that lived it. She did exactly that and I was sent a copy. I stripped the personal details for this article, but I am sure that you can see and feel the vividness in the story. You can look up the locations. You can add stories to each of the people, the parents, the children, the grandchildren and so forth.
This is adding depth and richness of color to your family tree. Find your family members and ask them the story of how they met! Happy Valentine's Day!
I was beginning to doubt whether or not I would ever be able to write this article!
As all of you know, I have no idea of who my biological father is. This caused me a lot of angst when I was a teenager. I so badly wanted that "Dad" moment that you see on television. The one where the daughter knows that she and her father have a special bond.
Growing up, I assumed that my mother's husband was my father. I had no reason to believe otherwise. I called him "Daddy" and he loved me very much and still does, I am sure. Bring in an ugly divorce and all of the sudden, I knew that "Daddy" was no biological relation to me. I was gutted to the core.
Less than 8 years later, I would be adopted by my Aunt and Uncle. I would now call them "Mom and Dad". I loved them very much then, and I still do now. I honor and respect them very much, too.
As I grow older, it is weird when I am asked for medical information. I have to leave part of my information blank. I simply don't know the answers because I don't know who my father is.
I find it interesting that through the years, I have been discouraged from searching by people. I have been told "What if you are intruding upon his life?" or "What if he has a wife or children?" and similar.
My answer has changed over the years, from quietly backing down my search back then to explaining that I never agreed to be someone's shameful secret. Why should I be a secret, anyway?
After I got my test done from Family Tree DNA, I wanted to know who my father was, RIGHT THEN!
Of course, life doesn't work that way.
I diligently uploaded my DNA to all of the relevant sites. GEDmatch is the massive one that everyone will tell you about. I uploaded to there, and I encouraged all of my family that had been tested to do the same. I joined groups on Facebook and elsewhere that are for people trying to connect with their bio family.
I am referred to as an NPE, which stands for Non-Parental Event or Not Parent Expected. I prefer the easier term of "bastard" because my parents were not married at the time of my conception, or anytime before or after. I truly understand that term, but we live in a gentler time, so NPE it is.
Being a part of these boards is being a part of a community. Adoptees searching for birth parents and birth family, birth family looking for adoptee, people like myself looking for their bio father and similar.
Occasionally, people will post with their reunion story, and they will sometimes post photos of them and one or both parents. It is very heartening to see, and it breeds hope in the soul.
At first, I would scroll through. I did not participate, I only read. I was too scared about all of the what if that was out there. I tried to tell myself that I was too busy or that I was wasting my time, and a bunch of other reasons that were not really valid.
When it boiled down to it, I was scared. I was scared of the possibility of rejection. Of the chance that my birth father did not want to have anything to do with me. Plus many more thoughts that became huge fears that only increased in size during the time that they were allowed to dwell unabated in my head.
I read a post that changed all of that. A woman posted looking for her father. She was in anguish because she wanted to know this man before her grandchild was born. The responses were heartfelt and genuine. People encouraged her to proceed with her search. They told her to be brave. Heart emoji's flew everywhere. She asked the question that had been lying in my heart. "What if he doesn't want anything to do with me?"
The answers back were a balm for me. "Then you know." A woman said. "Give him time. Wait for him to make the decision. Right now, he doesn't even know that there is a decision to make."
Those were the words that firmed my resolve. My biological father, if he was alive, did not know. How could he decide yes or no about knowing me if he did not even know I existed?
I crafted the post over several days. It was really hard for me to try and explain what I now call "My conception story" because I really did not have a lot of details. The ones that I had were not really specific. But they were details. If a person who was born into a traditional family was able to hand out their conception story on an engraved card, I felt like mine was on a dirty bar napkin. But it was all I had.
I added a few photos of me, and a few photos of my mother. Within a few hours, I had people asking to help me. Asking where my DNA results were posted to. Making connections and letting me know what those connections meant. I was really happy, and excited.
This month, I got my very own "search angel". A search angel is a person that helps you with your search and points you in the right direction, asks your contacts questions, and does what is needed to narrow your search down.
My search angel has been amazing. She has asked me questions and helped me on my search. By using my DNA information and my contacts through my DNA test, she has been able to create a family tree with me in it. She sent me an image and said "I think that this man is your father." I stared at that photo. I could see me in him, but for some reason, I didn't want to see the link when she told me that this man was deceased. It was like being gut punched. Shortly afterwards, a photo was sent to me that, if it turns out that he is my father, she is my half sibling.
We will know soon enough, but I am possibly on the path to knowing the other half of me.
I always advocate either creating a paper trail for future generations of genealogy or following a paper trail when trying to find someone who is deceased.
A friend of mine is going through a close family member being placed in a hospice center. When I worked for a church years ago, we had a list of things that a person who is the caregiver should do ahead of time in order to have as smooth a transition for themselves and their family member as possible. I am going to include it here as I feel it would provide a lot of places to look for hints and clues about their ancestors. Enjoy and good luck in your search.
Hospice Care Checklist for Family Members for End of Life Care and Aftercare.
The most loving act that a person will do for another person is the planning and execution of funeral and aftercare arrangements. No longer is the person there to give approval. It is strictly an act of love, obligation and respect that allows a survivor to complete the plans of the funeral.
Pre-planning for Funeral and Burial
24-72 Hours After Death
One Week After Death
Months After Death
Book Review: The Other Mother: A Woman's Love for the Child She Gave Up for Adoption by Carol Schaefer
I am a member of all 3 parts of the official adoption triangle, and involved in other parts as well.
The adoption triangle is Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents and Adoptive Child. I am also a sister to a sibling that was placed for adoption. So if there is an adoption angle, I might have a little bit of insight about it.
Because of these issues, I follow books dealing with adoption. Birth parent stories always grab my heart. A while ago, I was gifted with The Other Mother by a friend of mine who is also a member of the adoption triad. I read the book over 2 afternoons in Paris, sitting on my small balcony of my tiny apartment.
I placed my child for adoption in the mid 80's, around the time that the author, Carol Schaefer was beginning her search for the child that she placed at birth.
Although there were a lot of things that had changed, many things remained the same. The marginalized feeling that she speaks about; the looks, the feelings of holding a secret, of the world continuing on as normal while this life changing event is happening to you are all things that must be a universal sentiment of the unwed mother who is placing her child up for adoption.
Although my conception story was different, I did not have a loving relationship with the person that got me pregnant, I did have the same relations with my family when I was pregnant. My aunt and uncle made sure that I was away when my grandfather decided to come into town unannounced.
Carol's book brought a lot of healing for me. I read it during a time where people did not as freely an openly discuss or admit that they were a birthmother. To be acknowledged as a person of value, not just as an unwed mother created a lot of healing in my heart. I sent a copy to my birth child's adoptive mother, and she sent it back, unread with a note that read "I cannot read this. It is not my side of the story." I thought that it would bond us, but she was not ready for that in her life at that moment. Years later, she would confess to me that she didn't read it because she was scared.
If you are a part of the adoption triangle, I highly recommend this book. The story of her strong feelings for her unborn baby, her struggle to search and her reunion story are compelling and touching. For birth parents, there is a lot of healing in those pages. For adoptive parents, there is a lot of explanations of circumstances and understanding. For birth children, here is the emotional map to what your birth mother may have been going through before you were born.
I have kept a copy of this book on my shelf at all times, and I have purchased copies as gifts for friends that were adopting or foster to adopting children in order to help them know what the struggle was in many of our hearts.
I hope that you will get a copy of this book, it is well written and very compassionate.
No matter where you are in the adoption triangle, if you are searching for your family, while you are waiting on things is the perfect time to make a kit in the event that you are united.
This can also turn into a valuable resource for you in the event that you get in contact with your person/family that you are looking for.
I will tell you that when I was posting everywhere, looking for my birth relative that was placed for adoption, I knew the facts by heart. When she contacted me via AOL instant messenger, I could not even remember her birthday, a date that I knew for over a decade.
I can remember fumbling over the keyboard, trying to express how I felt, but my fingers would not even strike the correct keys!
Here is what I would do now.
Create Pages. Make a separate page for each of the following topics:
Their basic facts that you know for sure. These would be confirmed facts.
Facts that you cannot confirm. (In non identifying information, I was told that my family member was raised by people of specific professions. One was true and one was not.)
Photos that you have labeled and their relationship to you as well as the relationship to the person that you are looking for.
Basic medical information. Only list confirmed things, not assumptions.
Contact information. Your contact information that you are willing to share. I advise extreme caution about giving your home address until you know one another better. Although you may be family, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Have a hard copy (printed off) of all of this information as well as a digital copy. Most likely, you will be exchanging information online at first, so if you have a folder with everything in it, you won't have to do a frantic search like I did at 3 in the morning.
I also recommend taking the time to make copies of every single photo you have of family members when you make a family tree for your reunion. It is easier to comprehend facts when you can put a name with a face.
My adopted relative told me that of all of the things that we gave to her, the most valuable was the photos and the family tree. It was really confusing for them to try and learn all about us.
Write a brief bio of the family members that are in your family.
If you are the adoptee, simple facts about your adoptive family are great, but your birth family will really want to see photos of you growing up as well as know about you. You can make it sort of generic at first, but let them know how your life has turned out. Your birth family, especially your birth parents want to know that they made the right decision for you. For birth family, include photos of birth parents at early ages to present. If the birth parent/s are deceased, let them know the cause of death as well as if the parent was cremated or buried. Also note the location of burial if that applies.
If you are the birth parent, write a bio about yourself. Where you were born/raised, what you do/did for a living, how many other children you have, the relationship with the other bio parent, religion and medical history. This may be uncomfortable for you to do, but please realize that most adoptees want to know their history. When I shared with my family member about our shared parent, I will tell you right now that there was no judgement on their part. They only wanted to know more about the birth parent that they would never know personally.
Create a contact information page for yourself to add to your file that is current and correct. Decide now if you want your social media to be a part of that page.
Good Luck With Your Search and NEVER GIVE UP!
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com