"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Love, Kindness, Courage and Strength

Happy News - the last signature has been obtained. We're going home.

Husband called to give me the good news at about 11:00 this morning. I told him I would pack up and be waiting in the driveway when he got home so we could head out.

He put the brakes on that.

After he hung up, he planned to take the paperwork to human resources so they can begin working their magic. Our hope is that we will be able to switch his duty station at the beginning of the year but make the physical move - for the most part - before Christmas.

I am somewhat of a daze. I'd been thinking I had court, today, but it is tomorrow. I haven't got much done, other than a few phone calls and some progress on the Sylvia's Civil War Blocks. Here is one, in progress:

Here they are, to date:

One thing I am going to have when we get back home is a larger design wall.

This one turned out nice.

I like this one, too.

Pearl has been completely underfoot, all day. She started even before I heard the good news so I don't think she is just feeding off my excitement. Right now, she is screeching out the window at the neighbor's puppies because their mom is nice enough to throw a ball for them while I am tapping away at this laptop, completely self absorbed.

She really wants to get out in the chillier weather and kick up her heels.

Here she is at a relatively quiet moment:

That lasted about two minutes.

Evelyn knows how to relax:

Until I got the exciting news from my Husband, I was going to write about my Great Grandmother, Nana. If she were alive, she would be 111. We think. She didn't know if she was born in 1898 or 1899. Isn't that odd to not know the year of your birth?

We had four generations in my home when I was growing up and that was wonderful because she would tell us stories of when she was a girl - a completely different era. Nana was a seamstress by trade and it seems so peculiar that it never occured to me to pick up a needle until she had been gone more than fifteen years. She was a gentle, loving woman. Animals and children loved her on sight. She simply oozed kindness. She weighed more than three hundred pounds most of her adult life and was married three times, I believe. Notwithstanding her bulk, the woman had gorgeous legs. Shapely and not a varicose vein showing. Not any cellulite, either. Maybe carrying that much weight kept them toned - I don't know how these things work.

Nana tried a number of religions during her life but settled on the Morman faith for the last two decades. She was fairly out of her mind the last ten years so I don't know if she would have stayed with the faith before dementia took the decision from her. She wouldn't drink coffee after she converted and we all thought that was very perverse. I mean, seriously, who can give up coffee? Had she taken the veil, it wouldn't have been any more cause for astonishment in our family.

Like most children, the family tales I heard growing up were fairly sanitized. It was not until my mother was dying of cancer (and a little loopy from the medication) that I heard the back story of how Nana's first marriage broke up. Seems she'd been married for many years to a good old boy who probably wasn't worth shooting. According to my mother (who heard it from HER Mother), Nana was downtown, one day, doing her shopping at the little drug store. I can just picture her in the mid twenties, wearing a modest dress (I don't actually know what she was wearing - she was always wearing moo moos and housedresses in my lifetime), walking on the boardwalk in front of a general store - perhaps with a basket to carry things in. My grandmother (born when Nana was fifteen) was ten or eleven at the time but she wasn't actually with Nana, that day. But she was there for the aftermath.

Anyway, so goes the story, Nana heard a big commotion down the street and people began to gather and whisper, then shout, then look at her, then move away. She didn't know what was happening but she saw a mob of men coming down the dirt road and there was quite a bit of consternation. About that time, she heard someone whisper that someone was being tarred and feathered and run out of town because he was a white man carrying on with a black mistress. These were during the Jim Crow days in South Texas.

She was just as shocked as any good white woman would be and began peering down the street to catch sight of this wicked man.

Turns out, as they shoved him past her, she recognized him.

It was her husband.

First she knew of any of it.

When I think of my Great Grandmother, I remember how she smelled like baby powder, and how warm and soft and kind she was. I don't think of her experiencing shock and heartache. I don't think of her experiencing the humiliation of public exposure to the flaws in her marriage or whatever else she must have experienced as a vulnerable young woman in those days. I never really thought about her as a person, to be honest. To me, she was just a source of love, comfort and safety. Not a bad legacy for your great granddaughter, come to think of it.

But I will tell you all about her, another day.

Take a look at that sassy creature!!

Okay, while I'm on the subject of Nana, yes they got a divorce. And guess what? After a few years, they reconciled.

Shockingly (and I am being sarcastic), not long after that, he ran off with some other woman, but I don't know if she was black or white. Actually, for all I know, it was the same woman as the first time. So the story goes, he'd been keeping company with his mistress for many years before he got caught. So there went marriage number two.

I've wondered if they had children. I've wondered if they loved each other but the times just didn't let them be together. I don't suppose I'll ever know. But for the medication mom was on, none of us would have known about any of this!

Nana was a single mom through much of the Great Depression (until she married a military man and no longer had to worry where her next meal was going to come from - and that would be marriage number three). During those lean years, she worked as a maid and a seamstress. She didn't have family to help out, to speak of. In fact, all the while that she was struggling to keep body and soul together, she also took in other children from relatives who couldn't manage during those tough times. What an amazing woman. And not a bitter bone in her body, near as I could ever tell. Or anyone ever suggested.

I'm counting my blessings. We are going through relatively tough times, as a nation, but when I think about what Nana had to deal with, it makes my blood run cold. I'm living on easy street, even compared to many, today. The older I get, the more amazed I am at Nana. And her whole generation.

That last picture of Pearl reflects how I feel after talking to my husband!

Thanks for all the good wishes everyone has expressed concerning our hopes to be able to go back home. And here's to Nana and all the other Nanas tucked away here and there in your families.


Infinity Quilter said...

YAHOO!!! That's wonderful news! I'm so happy for all of you. Have you told the rest of your family yet?!?!?

Paula said...

YIPPEE SKIPPEE!! That's great news. I know you can't wait to get home.


Penny said...

I told my kids and some friends and husband is letting his family know even as I type. We are so excited!

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC News! Soooooo happy for you!

Also, here's to your Nana -- what a woman.


Elaine said...

Come on back to Okla. Hope to meet up with you someday, maybe at the OKC Quilt Show. I'm not an original Okie, but I've lived here longer than any place else in my life, so I now call Tulsa home.

Phyllis said...

Hey Penny,

This post hits a special chord with me. My grandmother (Nannie) had quite a life, also married three times. What stories I know about her but didn't hear until about 15 years ago. I think about what the previous generations struggled with and it makes my situation seem quite easy.

Congratulations on your good news!!

Phyllis said...

Oh - and love, love, love Pearl and Evelyn!!

Anonymous said...

I am so tickled for you and the family!

I have been homesick a few times in my past and the only cure was to move back HOME (New England)

Three cheers to Nana!


Patsy said...

Congratulations on the wonderful news! Hope you are back in OK by Christmas! I moved one year right before Christmas. That was the best present in the world for us, and I know it will be for you all. I was born in OKC, but have lived in TX most of my life.

Shogun said...

Congratulations on getting that last signature!!!
I will read the stories here when I have more time, always like your stories.

BilboWaggins said...

Fantastic news about going home, so pleased for you.

re: the dog shelter, these places upset me even more than they do you - I could not even visit like you did, be so proud of yourself that you went and tried. I too am deeply saddened that so many of the dogs are put to sleep but sometimes, just sometimes, this might be a kinder end for them than some of the cr*p they have to endure from this so-called "superior" race.