Sunday, August 1, 2010

You added some things to it

Getting together with family during the holidays is always fun for me.  Sometimes we just like getting together because something is in season.  For example, if the month has an "R" in its name, it is a good month for oysters.  Football season is good time for a BBQ.  When the first nip is in the air, it is a good time to make a pot of chili.  During these "get togethers" somebody always starts reminiscing about the good 'ol days.

Whether it is how far they had to walk to school, uphill both ways in the snow, or how many days of there summer vacation were spent on the porch shelling peas.  The stories seem to get more dramatic every time they are told.  My favorites are the ones the elders describe happening 50 years ago.  They may go on for several minutes telling of these events of the yester year as if it happened last week.  They brag on how their minds are sharp as a steel trap but how some of them can remember the exact events of a day 50 or 60 years ago makes me suspicious.  Especially suspicious when they cannot remember where they went for dinner last Tuesday.

My great aunt Peg had just finished one of these golden anniversary stories that some how sparked a more recent memory.  "What was going on the day the MG was driven around the yard?"  Trying to remain discrete I asked if she meant the actual MG incident or the result of the MG incident?

Let me digress for a second.  A few months ago, I was working on writing down different stories.  I had written down the events from about 15 years ago.  To make sure I was on the right track I called Aunt Peg and asked her if she would proof it.  She agreed.  I printed a copy and delivered it her with instructions to proof read for grammar and accuracy.  I asked her to be a strict editor and critic.  She called me about 30 minutes after I dropped it off.  "Your grammar needs some help.  You misspelled some words.  You left some words out.  But most of all you added some things to it.  That is not the way I remember it.  But it still makes me laugh thinking about that day."   I thanked for her for being honest with me and told her I would look back over it.  But I had to tell her I did not add much.  I was there, I saw what happened.  We chuckled about it again.

Back to present.  Hopefully I have corrected the misspelled words and added in the missing words.  As far as grammatical errors...well let me know if you find any.  Here is my version of the events of that day once again stirring up debate with my Aunt Peg at the last get together:

I want to take a few moments to tell about a few of my memories living with my Aunt Peg.  Peg took me in to provide me room and board while I attended college.  She was not only taking care of me, but she was the primary care giver to her mother Verna, my great grandmother.  Peg worked nights as nurse so it gave them both great comfort knowing Vern was not alone in the house all night.  

Verna, Vern, Nanna, Momma Roberts, or “Greatnanna” as I called her, had a wonderful sense of humor.  She loved to laugh.  She had great stories of growing up.  She would tell me stories of her childhood in Mississippi and all the things developed in her lifetime.  She told me about the first time she saw a car, a telephone, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, ice maker, just to name a few.  Things I had never been without, she had seen them introduced.  Her sister in law and best friend, Celia Faye, would come to visit about twice a year.  The both of them would sit, talk, and laugh about those days into the wee hours of the morning. I could sit and listen to them for hours.  

The years I lived with Peg, Greatnanna was in her eighties.  She was nearly blind and deaf; both of which she took in stride.  She spent most of her time listening to books on tape.  If she was not listening to books on tape or taking a nap she was praying.  She often wanted to know “how (my) schooling was coming along”.  She often told me she had prayed for me every day but especially during my exams.  Lord knows I needed it.

One of my favorite memories while staying with Peg and Vern was during one particular weekend Peg had bought her granddaughters a swing set.  Her oldest granddaughters might have been about 6 and her youngest about 3.  Their father, Benny, and I were told we would be putting the swing set in Peg's backyard on Saturday.  From what I remember Benny had been called in to work for a few hours that Saturday morning.  So to guarantee our labor, Peg promised us a good lunch before we started.   Benny shows up in his MG.  As he called it, it was his “just to tinker around with” car.  

He arrived and called his wife Dara to head that way with the girls.  About the time he and I finished lunch Dara and the girls arrived.   Benny had parked the MG at the end of the driveway near the backyard.  For some reason, I cannot remember why, we needed it moved from the driveway so we could work on the swing set.  The box the swing set came in was already in the backyard.  So there was no reason I can remember why we needed the MG moved.

Why is it the car that in the driveway first is always the one needing to get out first?  Over the years we had just driven around the house into the front yard and out the driveway.  Apparently Peg did not approved of tire tracks it left in her yard.  She had been on us about stopping this practice.  Our argument was it saved time and saved a bunch of people having to shuffle cars in and out of the narrow driveway.  Dara, who was exempt from any such rules, suddenly announced that she would like to move the MG.   We were not shocked at her desire to go rouge on the rules, we were stunned she wanted to move the MG.  She did not know how to drive a vehicle with manual transmission. 

Peg said, “Well if Dara is going to drive the MG, she can circle around through the backyard.  She needs the practice driving a stick shift.”  Benny reminded Peg that Dara is not very good driving a stick shift.  Both Peg and Dara tell Benny how can you learn if you do not practice.  Giving me a look of "I am not going to win this battle today", Benny tossed Dara the keys.  Vern made her way out onto the carport announcing she was going to supervise the swing set project.  She wanted to make sure the job was done properly for her great-grand children.  So the whole family was under the carport watching.

Dara gets in the MG and asks Benny for instructions.  “Now what was it again, give it gas and ease off the clutch?”  “You want me to move it?  It will not take me near as long.” Benny asked as Dara cranks the MG.  “I can do it” Dara said.  As Peg, the girls and I are standing clear under the carport with Vern sitting close to the back door, the anticipation grew. 

Benny is standing near the MG prepared to give further instruction.  The engine roared to about 4,000 RPM’s.  (Normally when a gas pedal is pressed and released it makes a  “vroom, vroom” sound.  When a gas pedal is pressed and held down nearly to the floorboard the sound is much higher pitched and intense like it is in pain, “WHIIIIIIIINE”) The MG is screaming from Dara’s revving WHIIIIIIIIIII.  Benny screams, “Not so much gas!”  I was tensed up hoping she did not pop the clutch.  She eased off on the gas pedal and the engine slows back to an idle.  Dara asked “Was that about right?”  
 “Are you sure you don’t me to move the MG?” Benny said.  “No I can do it!” Dara replied.  The engine revved up again WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiinnnn… SPIT SPUTTER…the engine died.  “I eased off the clutch.” Dara said as she looked at Benny as if it was his fault.  “But honey you have to keep the gas pedal down as you release the clutch.  You let off the gas to release the clutch.”  “OK but that is hard to do.  Let me try again.”  Dara cranks the MG and rev’s it up again.  The engine screams WHIINNNN…SPIT…SPIT…WHIIIIIIIIIInn…SPUTTER.  The MG moves about 2 feet forward before the engine dies.  “OH I did it!” Dara screams excitedly.

Benny is shaking his head.  Peg is starting to get tickled.  The girls are laughing.  Vern is being the steadfast mother of encouragement, “Dara you are doing fine, keep trying honey.”  Dara cranked the MG again.  WHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIn---SPIT...WHIIIIIIIII—SPUTTER—SPUTTER---WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII…SPIT SPUTTTER…WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIInnnn…SPUTTER SPUTTER….WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInnn engine died.  She had move about 10 feet.  She cranked it again.  Benny made a comment about how glad he was he had just replaced the starter.   WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInn..SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInnn SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT engine dies.

Peg is really laughing now.  Vern is laughing.  Dara is laughing.  The kids are laughing. Benny and I are shaking our heads.  She made it about half way around the yard at this point before it died.  She cranks it again.   WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInn SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT unnnn BOG SPIT SPUT SPIT WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIn unnnnn.  While she is moving ever so slowly in continuous motion for the first time, I look over at Peg to say “I think she finally has it.”  Peg is holding her belly laughing hard with one leg pulled up.  This makes me smile.  Then I start to laugh a little.  The whole time there is still all the noise from the MG.   WHIIIIIIINN unnnnnnn…WHIIIIIIIINNN…unnnnnn! Then as I am watching Peg she spins her south side towards me and straightens up to get a breath.   That’s when I see it.  Peg a mature woman, mother, grandmother, registered nurse, landlord and caregiver has peed herself from laughing.  Well now…that’s funny.

I get Benny’s attention and point to Peg, “She’s peed herself!” I announce to him.  Benny’s head snapped around faster than had he been in the passenger seat when Dara popped the clutch to take a look at his mother-in-law.  He fell directly to the ground lying on his back, knees up, holding his stomach.

Vern, again her sight was not the best, but apparently seeing Benny disappear starts tugging on my shirt and asked me what is going on.  “Great…Greatnanna…Ben…Benny….is…laughing.”  I can barely get it out for laughing myself.  “Is he laughing at Dara?  Why in the world is he on the ground?” she asked.   “No not Dara, Greatnanna…Peg.” I stuttered out.  “Peg!  Why Peg?” she asked.  “Peg has peed her pants laughing at Dara’s driving!” I managed to get the news out in one breath.  “Well you don’t say.” Vern replies with a chuckle.  Vern gets up out of her chair and shuffles over to Peg to get a closer look.  Mind you, while all this is going on, Dara is still in the MG.  So there is still the WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIn…SPIT…SPIT SPUTTER BOG…..WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIn.  Vern gets close enough to Peg to see her wet pants.  Vern turns her head toward me and starts laughing.  Next thing I see, I swear on a stack of Bibles, is Vern starts holding her stomach and raises her leg.  Peg sees Vern pants points and screams out “Like mother like daughter!” 

As Dara finally passes the corner of the house with her neck stretched high making sure she is not going hit the house, she is smiling like a mule eating briar's.   When she makes it around the house the noise dies down to a hum.  The scene in the backyard is left with two grown women still laughing, walking around funny from their wet pants, and two grown men on their backs with their legs pulled up, arms across their chest heaving trying to catch their breath. 

When Dara comes around from the front yards she thinks we are all laughing at her driving.  She says curtly “It was not that funny”.  I wipe my eyes and roll up on my side a bit to explain.  But before I could say anything to Dara her six year old daughter pulls on her shorts and points at Peg.  “Peg and Nanna pottied in their pants momma.”   Dara looked over at her laughing mother and grandmother in their wet britches, started laughing, grabbed her stomach and raised a leg…

Peg's version of the same story:
Bless her heart, Dara was having trouble driving the MG around the house that day.  She was starting and stopping so many times.  I remember we all got real tickled.  That's all I remember about that. 


EmptyNester said...

Ah, the art of selective memories--it's development begins with age and we always come out looking good. Funny story, LOVE Peg's version!

Clipped Wings said...

So funny and so enjoyable to read. Poor Peg...too much editing makes it a totally different read.

Kipp said...

EmptyNester - funny progression really...the way it happened, the way each of us remember it, to eventually none of remembering it ever happened. :)

Kara Muller said...

A wonderful story told brillantly! I'm glad I stumbled in here.

Kipp said...

Kara - talk like that will get you an invitation to come back as often as you like! :)