Bobby and I were packing to go to Grannies 80th birthday party. Bobby had never been on an airplane and had only been outside of New Mexico on our RV trips. Needless to say he was extremely excited. We were leaving early the next morning so that we would have a day to rest before the party on Sunday. Grannies birthday wasn't until Monday but in order to get as many Fringe's and Thomas's to attend the surprise party Mother planned it for Sunday. Granny wasn't even aware that we were flying in for the party. This was the biggest secret I had ever kept from Granny. We talked all the time on the phone and we told each other everything. Granny never judged but she always had her opinion. I remember Granny saying to me "you should have charged him fifty darrlin"---"you can't buy nothin with twenty these days". And then the laughter. This was Grannies reply when I told her I had been a prostitute for one night only. Granny was a gift.
Bobby was like a kid in a candy store. But of course traveling was a lot more fun in 1995. We boarded the plane and waited for take off. After traveling so much over the years it was fabulous being with someone who never had. Feeling the power of the jet engines building up speed on the runway. Suddenly the plane takes flight and heads towards the clouds. I could feel the joy and excitement coming thru Bobby's body and his feelings entered me and once again this was my first time. Bobby brought the joy back. A gift of a lost memory.
We landed in Baltimore. Picked up the rental-a convertible and headed to Delaware. Bobby drove. I can't remember how many times Bobby said "I can't believe how green and beautiful everything is" and "I've never seen so much corn growing in my life. I do remember this being another gift that Bobby had just given me.
We arrived at Mothers around dusk and as always Mother had plenty of everything. Plenty of food for us, plenty of drinks for us, and most important plenty of love for us. This was Mothers gift. A gift of love. And she loved to give it. Both Mother & Granny had vacationed in Albuquerque the summer before and both had fallen in love with Bobby. And being the wise woman that they were they loved what Bobby could give them. Not just his love, they knew they had that. Beauty treatments. Hair & Make-Up. A Gift.
As soon as we had enjoyed a few drinks and a wonderful meal she was ready. Mother wanted a new cut & color for the party. And once again Bobby was giving another gift. A gift of beauty.
Saturday was a very long day. I so wanted to go visit Granny but Mother had already planned out everything. Mother had told Granny that she was lunching with friends and then going to a Bridge Party that evening. Around noon Mother called Granny just to remind her not to bother driving into town and told her that she would stop by on her way to Bridge. Mother dressed as if going out and drove over to Grannies around three.
Bobby and I spent the time walking thru Mothers grove and picking the fruits from the trees. Then into the forest to look at the log cabin Jerry and I had built when we were so very young. We walked down by the river where the lights had gone underground that hot summer night so many years ago. As we walked thru Mothers garden Bobby was amazed at all the beautiful vegetables with colors of greens and yellows and reds. He called them a gift from the earth.
Mother arrived home just in time for drinks served on the screened porch. She said Granny didn't have a clue about the party or that we had flown in for it. I couldn't wait until the next day.
It arrived. As did many Fringe's and Thomas's. After the first few introductions I told Bobby to just mix and mingle and get to know the family. I still had some last minute party preparations. I was giving Grannies Birthday Cake the time it needed to cool. Instead of putting 80 candles I decided to write "HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE EIGHTY SURPRISE" It was fabulous.
Granny was always early and we all knew that as soon as she drove up to the top of the hill she would see all the cars. Just as soon as Grannies car made it to the top we all came running out of the barn, the house, the grove, the forest, the garden. And yelled SURPRISE!!!! Granny got out of her car, dressed in her Sunday best and yelled back "aaaaaaahhhhhh HORSESHIT" and the Granny Kisses began.
After the kisses, Granny, Bobby & I were sitting on the screened in porch enjoying a Mint Julep when Granny said "who'd your Mother think she was a foolin'?" -- "her hair ain't looked that good since last summer when Bobby did it up for er"--"now get what ever ya need Bobby and get to work on mine". Another gift. Another memory. Katie Eighty.
Jerry and I built a fort. In back of Mothers huge garden. We gathered logs from the forest and dug deep holes in the earth to place them in. Pop-Pop told us that they would never stay in place unless we cemented them in. And so we did. Granny & Pop-Pop drove over to the big brick house on the hill in the pick-up truck. In the back of the truck was Pop-Pops wheel barrel a few bags of powered cement and Horseshit. Lollipop was always so happy to see her son and she was always the first to the truck. Jerry and I would run just as fast as we could but neither of us were any match for Lollipop. Before Pop-Pop had even stopped the truck Horseshit would jump out of the back and off they would go. Out into the forest following a scent. As soon as Pop-Pop had stopped Granny would get out open her arms and say "come ere darlins" Granny kisses. Nothin better than Granny kisses except for maybe puppy breathe. Jerry helped Pop-Pop get the cement and the wheel barrel out of the back of the truck while I helped Granny carry the basket of vegetables and fruits inside to Mother. Granny always brought Mother fruits & vegetables. I always thought this was odd because Mother had both in her own garden and her own grove. I now know that with 7 mouths of her own to feed plus all of the company that it took A LOT of fruit and vegetables. Also Mother loved to jar up as much as possible for the long cold winter. Granny always helped Mother with the jarring. In fact Granny helped Mother with everything. At the time I remember thinking it was odd that Mother never helped Granny. I would spend most of my summers at Granny and Pop-Pops and Mother would often drive over but never to help. We'd all sit in the porch and Granny would serve Mother a nice cold glass of fresh sweet ice tea along with the rest of us. Mother would talk and talk about what was going on in her life & smoke her cigarettes. It was nice to see Granny just sitting -listening to Mother talk and enjoying her break. Granny would work from the time she got up until after the supper dishes were done. That is unless Mother stopped by for a visit. It took me years to figure out that this was how Mother helped Granny. Just by visiting. What better gift could Mother have given Granny than the gift of relaxation. Mother was smart. But then she was Grannies daughter.
One of these days I must tell the story about the day that Jerry & I burned the house down.
Today is the day of my birth. Another one followed me 58 minutes later. He would die in many less years than 58. And so on this day of our birth I am remembering Jerry my twin. Jerry had a heart of gold and more friends than I could ever imagine. He also had two wonderful sons-- he loved to sing --and he had a problem. DRUGS. The night that he died I knew. I could feel the loss. I was living in Saint Petersburg, Fl and Jerry died in Milford, De. I woke up out of a deep sleep and screamed to Will that Jerry was dead. I waited for the call which came early the next morning. I had already booked my flight and packed my bags.
The day of Jerry's Funeral I drove with my first cousin Bethany from Fathers side of the family. I knew there would be so many people attending that would recognize me and I knew that I would not. Recognize them. Bethany had never left our home town and was still living in the past. I guess she was living in her present but she was definitely living in my past. I told Bethany to be my memory and whisper softly the names of those approaching. Bethany did great.
This was my third family funeral in less than a year and this one was the hardest. First Mother in September than Granny in October and now Jerry in April. So many friends, family, and strangers to me, attended the service. Jerry had been cremated and at the end of the service the four of us that were left scattered Jerry's ashes in the Broadkill River. Right in front of the big brick house on the hill in the river that Uncle Lekah had dredged so many years ago. I thought of those colorful lights on that hot summer night. I remembered the log cabin we had built in the forest & how much we loved sledding down the big hill when the first snow came. I looked up at the house and could see our bedroom windows and remembered all those shared hot summer and cold winter nights. As I watched Jerry's ashes floating down The Broadkill River I knew that he would like this. This hill, this house, this river. This is where Jerry belonged. I smiled thru my tears. And so on this day of my birth I celebrate Jerry's life. He was my twin, my protector, my brother, my friend.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JERRY. Thank you for sharing my birth.
I loved playing with Grannies dolls. Granny loved to make them. Granny was always making something. Quilts, dolls, clothing, breakfast, dinner & supper. Grannies cellar was full of jarred fruits, vegetables, & spaghetti sauce. All from the summer garden. Granny would drive up to the big brick house on the hill and help Mother. Jar up her harvest. Mothers garden wasn't near the size of Grannies but Mother didn't sell to the beach vacationers. However Mother did have five children to feed. Many nights Mother fed a lot more than five. All of us would invite our friends over for dinner. There were never to many mouths for Mother. This was Mothers joy. Cooking and feeding. Both Granny and Mother were great in the kitchen. Granny must have been a good teacher because Mothers food tasted better. Except for Hotcakes. No one made Hotcakes like Granny. Served with melted butter and King syrup. Sundays after church we would all meet up at Grannies for Brunch. The Fringe's and The Thomas's.
Always the same and always delicious. Hotcakes, toast, fried eggs, fried potatoes, bacon, ham & scrapple. Jams & Jellies brought up from the cellar. Granny always let me remove the paraffin from the top. I usually made a mess and Granny would always say "that's ok darlin Granny will clean it up".
When I got into high school Granny couldn't clean up my messes. But my twin could. By the time we reached high school Jerry was four inches taller and had an athletes body. I was a skinny runt. I never liked attending sporting events. They always took me back to that time when Father had forced me to play Little League Baseball. I was always placed in the center outfield I guess because not many little leaguers could hit the ball that far. One day one of them did. I still remember the roar of the crowd and that ball so far up in the air coming right at me. I lifted my glove up into the air and hoped that the ball would land in it. It didn't. That ball landed right in the middle of my forehead and knocked me to the ground. Flat on my back. And lying there I could still here the roar of the crowd. Laughter. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. And the last time Father forced me to play Little League. I think mainly because Father didn't want to be embarrassed again. Jerry on the other hand always made Father proud. Jerry went on to be the star baseball, football, and basketball player for our school. That's when I starting attending sporting events again. Everyone knew that if they made fun of me or called me any names that they would then have to deal with Jerry. And no one wanted to deal with Jerry. Ever. It was really fabulous having a twin. I was lucky. So there I was sitting in the bleachers watching a basketball game with my best friend Madonna. Tenth grade fifteen years old and loving this game. Not really the game but the guys playing. Without even thinking I said out loud "look at how much hair that guy has under his arms". Madonna burst into laughter and so did I. This time I wasn't embarrassed at all. And not one of the guys in hearing distance said a word. Why? Because none of them wanted to deal with Jerry.