It was my Daddy's birthday this week, it's been almost 3 years since he died.The stabbing heartache has eased, the pain has turned to longing —to see him, hear him. I'm so grateful for the memories, even the painful ones, they keep him with me.
I tried to talk about him on his birthday and a couple of days after, my throat wouldn't open and my eyes leaked.
But the memories were constant, consoling. My sweet sister who admittedly tells that she knows nothing about her childhood other than that she was born, quoted him word verbatim on the phone.
I was telling her that we finally have our flooring put in, "Daddy would be so proud. Do you remember that night we got the new TV and he said "If I can't pay cash for it, it's not coming in the house?" she asked.
"I sure do sistah, I sure do." I told her.
Yes, Don and I could have easily had the flooring and anything else we wanted "The American Way" and put it on a Lowes card or any number of credit offerings — but we decided when we moved into the country to live smaller, to prioritize our purchases and never buy anything unless it was paid for with cash.
You see, long before Dave Ramsey founded his debt free Financial Peace University, a common sense country man in Dorchester, SC did — my dad.
Daddy moved us underneath a 300-400 year old Angel Oak in the early 70's. We didn't have a phone but we had ways to communicate (just short of smoke signals.) If my granny down the dirt road needed us, she went out onto her porch and shot the pistol in the air. Don has that pistol today.
We didn't have a TV for a while either. And then — one afternnon a delivery truck stirred up the dust down our sandy dirt road. The sliding delivery truck door opened and a television so big I didn't think they would get it through the front door arrived.
A Curtis Mathis, top of the line colored television. And —we had 3 channels!! That night we sat around the oak cabinet encased TV and watched either Ponderosa, Gentle Ben or Little House on the Prairie, one or the other.
One of us with a caffeine buzz from the rare bottle of Coke in hand exclaimed "We must be rich!"
Daddy shot the pride down quick. "No, we sure aren't, if I can't pay cash for something after bills, it doesn't come into the house." It stuck as a memory, I wish the concept had stuck longer. But we are back there now, Don and I.
We love living simple, the American dream didn't have to be chased, we could have jogged to it easily.
So — as this coincidental (or not) world goes, a few days later my sister and I are together in an antique store that she couldn't (and maybe didn't) wait on me to peruse.
We are almost through the place and there is this basket with marble eggs in it. A dozen or so, various colors. I pick up one and tell the story to a friend that is with us. I've told it before but appreciate that they didn't remind me, repeating it is therapeutical.
I could have purchased several of the eggs or the whole basket, for that matter I could easily go onto Ebay or Amazon and get a whole slew of them, but — I only buy one for the memory it presents when I find them.
As I placed the egg in my stone fruit and egg basket at home I recalled it again, as Daddy told it.
"When I was a young-un, we collected eggs every morning and brought them in. The pickings were getting slim and my Daddy figured we had a snake problem. Well Mama had a basket on the kitchen table and it had these marble eggs in it, my Daddy looked at those eggs after he finished eating and took one out, later he went outside and put that marble egg in one of the hen's nest. Then one evening we came in from working the fields and there was this huge snake stretched across the dirt road, it just couldn't budge. Daddy got out of the truck, killed the snake and then slit it's swollen belly and got Granny's marble egg back. He took it inside, washed it off and put it back in that basket."
I was in North Carolina when Granny moved to the nursing home. I didn't get any of her marble eggs, don't know where they went, but I could very well have one of them in my bowl right now, I get them from thrift stores or yard sales or wherever they appear.
My eggs could very well end up in a resale store one day too, but the story hopefully will live on if I tell it, like my Daddy told me.
I think of him this morning — the historical eclipse, a day that makes the rhyme "Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon" seem logical. I think of the conversation we would have if he were here.
"Daddy, what are you going to do for the eclipse?" I'd ask.
"Well, it depends on what time it is. If it's nap time, I will be sleeping." And then he'd wink and wiggle his nose and tell me that he has built a contraption in his shed out of beer cans and scrap metal"
Don and I would laugh and tell him "No thank you, we bought some of those newfangled glasses that are going to protect us from going blind."
The sun rose this morning, bright and blazing on this day near Charleston, I'm about 30 minutes from where that hen house was, where Daddy was, where we were. We don't all get to choose where we are going to be on certain day's, like the object of Carly Simon's disaffection in her song lyrics, “You flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun." but — we can choose who we are going to be with.
Don and I will go outside on the tailgate of the truck, have a cocktail, in celebration of an earlier happy hour and watch the anomaly in the sky with our glasses.
Remembering the card board boxes we had in the early 70's and then I'll toast to the creator of our unnatural and natural wonder's and to Daddy. "What does it look like from your side Daddy?"