A Place To Light

The annual Christmas journey was completed in record time on Sunday.  A combination of good weather, no traffic tie-ups, and drafting behind some Floridians.

The shopping is completed.  All gifts were wrapped by yours truly.  Groceries purchases finished today in preparation for the Christmas feast.

Now, the food preparation starts in earnest.  The mantle of official turkey carver has been passed down to me.  In the interest of public safety the cooking will be done by others. I’ll be ready on Christmas Day.

 

From the Land of Green Lawns

After an overnight visit from Jack Frost, all was well in the land of green lawns.  No one knew there was a fire smoldering somewhere below.  I must go now and seek shelter.

It’s a good thing my wife is the planner that I’ll never be.  I’m a “grab some stuff and go” kind of guy.

This could be construed as sexist, so up-front, this is not an admission of guilt on anyone’s part.  Some people seem to insist on always having the last word.  You didn’t hear it from me.

Tomorrow is the annual Christmas pilgrimage to visit with friends and family.  I will be riding off into the sunrise.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all!

There were seven deer, eleven discarded beer cans, observed on my morning walk.  My contribution to anyone writing a warped version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

EVERY PARLOR NEEDS AN UNCLE BUBBA

victorian 3

When Aunt Gertrude and Uncle Bubba came to visit, the women went to the kitchen and talked about families, childbirth, and homemaking.  Uncle Bubba went to the parlor with Dad.  My sister, Grace and I, wandered between both settings.

Our parlor was Uncle Bubba’s debate forum.  There, surrounded by lace curtains, furnishings frozen in time from the Victorian era, Uncle Bubba held forth–starting with an inquiry as to the availability of home-baked delicacies.

Uncle Bubba was a big, guffawing, hulk of a man.  Aunt Gertrude was a prim and proper wisp of a woman–quiet and reserved.  Her salt-and-pepper hair was usually fixed in a bun.  Unlike her husband, Aunt Gertrude always saw the good in everything.

“It was on Merv Griffin yesterday–people depressed at Christmas, after Christmas, during winter, spring, and every other time of year.  Christmas blues, Post-Holiday blues, the “Boo-Hoo” blues, the “You and Me” blues–who believes that crap?  It’s just another excuse for people to not work and get on the public dole,” Uncle Bubba said.

“What’s everybody looking at me for?  Pardon me for being slow on the uptake. I get it, now.  If it was any of your dad gum business–which it ain’t; I injured my back at the meat-packing plant.  That’s why I can’t work anymore.”

“Nobody’s singling you out,” Dad said defensively.  “Uncle Bubba, who’s Merv Griffin?” Grace asked.  Dad’s stern expression said, “keep quiet.” But Grace went on, anyway.  “Depression is a serious mental illness.  Sometimes people fall into dark holes and can’t climb out without help.”  Grace was like mom–spoke what was on her mind.

“Drug companies are always looking for ways to make more money–that’s all I was saying.  Pretty soon, everybody’s going to be on feel-good pills.  Well, whatever–it was on one of them talk shows.  I don’t even try to keep up.  They’re all the same.  I mean, what other job is there–where you get paid for talking, and don’t have to know anything?”

Dinner guests meant kid shenanigans at the table.  Grace would stick a spoon on her nose; then I’d eat peas with my knife, until Mom or Dad gave us the “stink eye.”  We knew when and where, to not cross the line.  Then, Uncle Bubba concealed amusement with fake coughing attacks, excused himself from the table.

Uncle Bubba’s passion and rage was everywhere.  His lack of discernible skills, made drudgery last as long as possible.  It didn’t stop him from offering opinions on just about everything.  At least, it seemed that way to me, back then.

“Cream rises to the top.  Dregs sink to the bottom.  It’s that simple.”  Was I cream or dregs?  I always thought Uncle Bubba was talking about me.  Especially on the day, my foot slipped off the clutch of his old GMC pickup.  I hit a pothole so hard, the old truck bounced–Uncle Bubba’s head banged into the roof.  “Damn it, Son–you gotta’ be more careful,” was all he had to say.

He was my father’s brother.  They couldn’t have been more different.  My father was quiet and reserved.  Uncle Bubba was seldom, if ever, quiet.  My father was of average height and weight with a full shock of hair.  Uncle Bubba was portly, and bald as a billiard ball.  Could there have been a mix-up at the hospital when he was born?

I loathed working for him.  He was obstinate, stubborn, opinionated–couldn’t (or wouldn’t) communicate.  The only emotions expressed were frustration and rage.  I could never live up to his expectations.  It seemed, as if there were always better ways to do everything.  However, Aunt Gertrude was nice.  How had she ended up with him?

Sometimes the silence between dramatic pauses was too much to bear.  Then, I’d talk about anything and everything, just to break the silence.  Uncle Bubba never said anything about me being a “motor mouth.”  On those days, maybe he just didn’t feel like talking?

“You look like a polecat–with that white stripe in your hair.”  Uncle Bubba said, once, on Halloween.  I don’t think he ever knew or cared–that I was supposed to be Eddie Munster.

“Son, do you know Jesus?”  Uncle Bubba asked one day, right out of the blue.  “Yes, I learned about Jesus in Mrs. Hampton’s Sunday school class,” I answered.  I’d never known Uncle Bubba to be a religious man.  He threw around a few “damns” and “hells,” but never took the Lord’s name in vain.

“I want you to promise me that you’ll ask Jesus to forgive your sins.”  I’d never seen him so sincere–so, I promised that I would.  Was it because he never had a son?  He never said those exact words, but I think it was true.

George Henry Walsh was Uncle Bubba’s real name.  He was Grandma Mary’s son by another man.  The man’s name was never mentioned.  People in those days didn’t talk about such things.  Grandpa Joe raised him as if he were his own flesh and blood.

Uncle Bubba passed away on a gray November day in 1999.  There it was–inscribed in polished granite, plain as day: “George Henry ‘Bubba’ Walsh, Beloved Adopted Son of Joseph M. & Mary R. Walsh.”

HOLDING IT TOGETHER

ambulance

Yesterday, December 20th, was one of the worst in my married life.  Our plans to spend Christmas with family and friends took a nasty turn.  At the first rest stop, my wife slipped and fell on slick tile, severely fractured her right arm.  Our two canine companions travel with us and I thought it strange, when someone ran out from the building, waved to get my attention.  It was so early, my mind was still in a fog–like the gloomy weather.

A rapid trip to the nearest ER in a small town, examination by first an internist, then a staff doctor, confirmed severity of the injury.  I still find it hard to believe the county had only one ambulance.  Fortunately, we were only 100 miles from home, and our regional hospital, with an orthopedic doctor on staff. My bride made an ambulance trip back, me following close behind.

I dropped off our mutts at the house and went to the hospital.  My wife made it through successful surgery and stayed overnight.  I can’t say she rested comfortably.  According to the doctor travelling plans are doubtful at this point.  I know, it will break my wife’s heart–if she can’t be with family for Christmas.  Her health and recovery have to take priority.

If my blogging efforts are a bit sporadic in the next few days, I hope everyone will understand.  I’ve been pushed into the leading role.  My wife is always giving of herself to others.  It’s time for me to step up to the plate.