Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
When asked if it was OK to ring up the other lady first, the woman behind me said, "NO! (sarcastically). Of course she can go first!" Kind of like, "Du-uh! Who would be so rude to not let her go first."
So, we all had a chuckle and the cashier said, "Can you imagine if people actually said no to requests like that? I'd like to be there to see their face."
To which, the woman with only a few items replied, "It can happen. I just moved here from Maryland and it happened there all the time."
Then I asked her, "Do you find people are friendlier in Indiana?"
By then I had my stuff ready to go and said the customary, "Y'all have a good day!", and I left the store.
I thought it was an interesting conversation about the nature of the people in this great state. There are always stinkers everywhere. There are also nice people everywhere. But, generally speaking, people in Indiana are warm, helpful, kind, courteous and just plain ol' pleasant. It almost reminds me of living in an old movie - in a time that has slipped on by for much of the country. A time when people were grounded with character, integrity, morals and a good work ethic. Maybe it's because there is so much farming that goes on here, keeping people connected to the earth or some yada, yada like that. I don't really know what it is. I just know I love it!
I remember when we first moved back here from spending 9 years in Florida. We were amazed at how friendly people were. All those years in the Sunshine State had wiped it from our memories. Even the cashier at the drive-through at McDonald's was chipper. In FL, it could be a completely frustrating experience to just try to get some fast food - because 9 times out of 10, the person taking our order was too lazy or put out with working to even enunciate when they spoke to us. We were never sure if they got our order right or not. (Usually, not.) Then you had to deal with the deep sighs and eye rolling. That's always a pleasant experience. Not! Coming home to Indiana was like a breath of fresh air after being trapped in a sewer. No offense, if you live in Florida. Maybe the whole state isn't that way. Or, maybe you just don't know anything different. :0) Or maybe you're one of those eye rolling, deep sighing, non-enunciating cashiers. Oh, dear! I hope not. Or maybe you like it when people are rude to you. Whatever...different strokes for different folks, I guess! It just wasn't my cup of tea. Anyway...
I said all that to say this: If home is where your heart is, then my heart is right here in the heartland. This is a great place to live. But, I'd still take the mountains, too! :0)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
It was Richie's friend, Brent. Brent had lived just down the street for their whole lives. He was a pretty common fixture at their house. But, Brent had a friend with him today. A friend I had never met before. None of us had. That didn't change the fact that I knew who he was the second he walked through the door. We all did. I swear, it was like a younger version of my Uncle Terry had just entered the room. So, this was my brother.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Dad invited him to come over to our house and meet Mom, Amanda and myself. It was amazing to finally get to meet him. It was like Richie had said, he was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. What was really amazing to me was all of the things we had in common. There were so many things that I would have assumed would be a common thread due to the fact that you were raised together. But, I found that the family gene pool determines a lot more than I had previously thought.
He quickly became a common fixture at our house. Him and I truly bonded in the months following our meeting.We were together all the time for a short season. But, life is full of twists and turns. He had made a trip back out to Texas for his best friend's wedding. While he was there, he met some pretty, little red head who caught his eye and captured his heart. When he got back to Michigan, he immediately began making plans to move back to Texas. He had full intention of marrying this feisty little debutante. And, so he did. Round about the same time, I was making plans to move to Ohio and spread my fledgling wings. I've lived in 2 other states since those days, but haven't called Michigan home since I was 19.
Given our geographical locations and other circumstances that life throws at you, we haven't seen each other since those bonding days shortly after we met some 16 years ago. He now has 3 children of his own and we've never met each other's families. He occasionally visits the family back in Michigan. I was usually in Florida when this happened and couldn't get up there. They fly out to Texas and see him. I'm glad that he's still close with the rest of them. Him and Amanda became very tight through the years. I'm looking forward to the day when we'll be able to connect again and our own families will be able to meet. Until then, there's always e-mail...
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
So, why did our parents wait so long to tell us about him? Do you remember the girl that I saw at the mall and invited to the Sweetheart Banquet? Do you remember my mom about spewing Pepsi out her nose? That girl's new beau was my brother, Jim.
Jim had older brothers and sisters who had moved back to Michigan. He had recently moved back himself and was staying with one of them - on my mom's mail route. My parents knew that he was recently back. But, they really knew nothing about him. They didn't want to risk our first encounter being a complete surprise to me at the Sweetheart Banquet.
I don't think that Jim and that girl dated more than a couple of times. And I'm not sure if I ever even saw much of her again after that mall encounter. But, her brief appearance into our lives set the wheels in motion for us to become a family at last. My parents found out somehow that he was working at Cones-N-Cues, the local pool hall, where we sometimes hung out. So, my dad gathered up his courage, and his life-long best friend, and headed up there to introduce himself to my brother.
We told the family about it all. Of course, my aunts and uncles knew about me having a brother, but, it was a shocker to my cousins. Especially Richie. See, Richie hung out at the pool hall quite a bit and was friends with lots of the guys that worked there. When he found out that Jim worked there, he said he probably knew him and wanted to know who he was. I remember Richie literally falling off of the couch onto the floor when he found out. My brother, Jim, was Richie's friend, "Tex". Then it all started coming together for Richie. He started thinking about how "Tex's" mannerisms and expressions were so much like my dad's. He said that "Tex" was one of the nicest guys he had ever met and that there couldn't be a mean bone in his body. "Tex" had been to Richie's house. He was actually the ONLY friend of Richie's that I had never met and had never been to our house. Go figure.
So, Dad had met with Jim a couple of times and started to get to know one another. We started finding out more about our brother. My mom said that he even looked just like my Uncle Terry. I found that to be true soon enough...
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This is a picture of us six grand kids and Richie's fiance, Lisa, around the time of this story. I'm in the top of the tree with a burgundy sweatshirt and big hair. My sister, Amanda, is standing on the ground in a white sweatshirt. And Richie is kneeling with Lisa on his lap. Jimmie is in the tree by me. Boo Boo, or Boo, as we call him and Jamie are in the middle.
Richie and I were super tight growing up, although he was horribly mean to me. My granny used to say, "Pammy would follow Richie to the ends of the earth, and he'd be there waiting to push her off." But, that's a story that will need to wait for another blog post. Regardless of this fact, we shared the same circle of friends, for the most part. I knew most all of his friends, except one.
Hang on. I'm setting the stage, here.
Every year around Valentine's Day our church would put on a Sweetheart Banquet. It was a big deal where you got to get all dolled up with a fancy schmancy dress, or suit/tux if you were a guy, and see just how big you could get your hair. This was the early 90's after all, and big hair was everything. Really. So, anyway... one night me, my mom and my sister were at the mall having dinner at the food court and I ran into a girl that had been coming to church, but that I hadn't seen in a while. In the course of our conversation I mentioned to her that we were going to be having a Sweetheart Banquet and that she should come.
She said, "Oh, yeah. That sounds like fun. And I have a new boyfriend, so, I could bring him."
"Yeah, great. What's his name?"
"Jim. Jim _______."
At this point, unbeknownst to me, my mom about choked and spewed her Pepsi out her nose. Evidently, she said something that had unnerved my mom.
Fast forward a week or so. It's Friday night. February. Snowy. My senior year of high school. I'm getting ready to go out with a couple of my girlfriends from school, Beaner and Yellie. I'm just about ready to leave and my mom gives me this real serious statement, "Why don't you come sit down? I have something I need to tell you." That's always a red flag when you're ready to walk out the door for a fun filled evening with your gal pals. Then she starts in with this whole weighty scenario...
"Years ago, back before your dad and I were together, he had a relationship with a woman." I must inject here, this is where my head started spinning. My palms started sweating. And a whirlwind of thoughts started bombarding my cranium to the point I didn't know whether to puke, pass out, laugh or cry like a baby with a diaper full of dukey. This was 1992. AIDS was fairly new on the scene and being thrown into the forefront of not only the media, but the public school system, as well. So the first thing that went through my head was this: "Oh my God! She had AIDS. Now my dad has AIDS. He gave it to my mom. She probably transmitted it to me and Amanda. Oh, my God! We all have AIDS and are going to die!"
While I'm listening to the foreboding forecast rattling my skull cap, I try earnestly to hear what my mom is saying at the same time. That was quite a chore, considering I felt as if I had a twister raging through my innards. I did manage to hear her say something along the lines that she had gotten pregnant and I had a brother.
Thank God! Whew! It's just a brother! We don't all have AIDS and are going to die! I'll get to live to marry and raise a family! Hallelujah, praise the Lord! I have a brother! Talk about feeling like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders! I was feeling some major relief. Heck, I was feeling down-right giddy! So, I went outside and found my dad, who was shoveling snow like a mad man, trying to calm his nerves and let him know I was cool with having a brother and all.
Then all the questions came. I wanted to know details. I was curious why they decided to tell me and my sister now, after all this time.
To be continued...