Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Can You Believe This?

If this just doesn't beat all! Do you remember how I was pulled out of line at the Charleston, South Carolina airport for having two bottles of Sticky Fingers Barbecue Sauce in my carry-on luggage? Getting those two bottles home cost me $15 in luggage fees - a steep price for bottles that cost slightly more than $3.00 each at the grocery. Well, over the weekend I was tooling through my local grocery right here in Newburgh and what do I see in a display case at the end of an aisle? Yep! Sticky Fingers Barbecue Sauce! Two bottles for $6.00! Can you believe it? No luggage fees and less expensive! Some days it just doesn't pay to try to pull a fast one on airport guards.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Memories

My mother, Lavern Croft Joyce, at the tombstone of her parents, Herman Reeves Croft (1896 - 1970) and Nettie C. Vaughn (1897 - 1958) in Salem Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky Memorial Day 1959.

One of the greatest things we can do for our children is to teach them how they fit into this world – the place created just for them by their ancestors. When I was growing up, parents and children cleaned and decorated family graves together on Memorial Day. With every pulled weed or flower placed on a grave, a memory of each relative was invoked – a nickname, a special trait, the color of their hair and how they fit into the family. I learned about Great Aunt Eddie Vaughn Pittillo and how much I resemble her in appearance. I learned who made the concrete border for little Edith’s grave. I learned that the red hair running through the Joyce family comes from Great Grandmother Mary Ann Smith and that she smoked a pipe and used Star brand tobacco. I also learned that her father, Hugh Wolstenholme, "washed his hands in the clouds" when he crossed the mountains. Those stories should not be forgotten.

By noon we were ready for a break of sandwiches and ice cold drinks, welcome treats as it was sure to be hot and sunny on Memorial Day in southern Illinois and western Kentucky. And then it was back to work and we continued until the grass was trimmed, weeds were all pulled and each grave had a bouquet of flowers stuck in a Mason jar or coffee can. There was a sense of satisfaction when we packed up and headed for home.

I worry that when I am gone, my children will no longer visit the little country cemeteries and, oh, how I hope they don’t forget the stories of their ancestors.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Powerful Words

Words are powerful. They carry a punch that can make a point or tell a story, but they can also sting and hurt, even when unintended.

We have all said things we later regret and sometimes an apology is not sufficient to alleviate the angst our words cause. What may begin as a fun conversation can quickly deteriorate with a few ill-chosen words. In cases such as this, what do you do? Move on and forget the friendship? Apologize, knowing it isn’t enough, but hope for the best? Mark it up as a lesson learned?

I’ve been playing with words all my life and I still get into trouble for not expressing myself the way I want. What is intended to be witty or funny, ends up sounding disrespectful or arrogant.

"I'm sorry" doesn't seem to be enough. If only words came with an eraser that could eliminate those that hurt even after they have been spoken or written.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Very Special Visit

I recently had one of those soul-satisfying experiences that you know will never be repeated, no matter how long you live.

You have heard me talk about my cousin/sister several times so you know that we are closer than fleas on a dog. This visit, though, showed just how many things we share – from memories to favorite foods.

This trip was scheduled for a time when we, just the two of us, could do what we wished with no deadlines. We did other things, too, including contributing toward the stimulation of the economy at a nearby casino and we saw a performance of Riverdance, traditional Irish quick step dancing.

The best part, though, was the day spent in the town of our birth, the little town built on hills that overlook the Ohio River. We visited the place where my family lived in an apartment from the time my parents sold our house until school was out at the end of fifth grade and we moved to another state. We visited Big Creek, where we used to swim in the cool, dark water and where baptisms are still held. We put flowers on the graves of our grandparents in the Joyce Cemetery ‘way out in the country and tried to visit old Pleasant Hill Cemetery down the road, but knee-high weeds and the threat of snakes kept us from getting a close-up view of our great-grandfather Joyce’s tombstone. We meant to visit Central Cemetery, where our great-grandparents, Reddick and Mary Ann Smith, are buried, but, both of us being directionally challenged, we got lost. We will save Reddick and Mary Ann for another day.

Then it was back downtown to see the changes wrought by time and the economy. The movie theatre and Tiny Pritchett’s restaurant are both gone. My father’s little jewelry shop is still there, but boarded up. The old post office building is something else now. Goetzman’s Department store building is still there, but has a different use. One thing that has not changed is the line of rail tracks running down Main Street, leading toward the river. They were used to carry fluorspar to be loaded on barges for shipment – a constant reminder of when this was a thriving mining town.

We crammed in a lot of activities during our three day visit, but the best part was the laughing, a bit of crying, and reminiscing we did. My cousin/sister and I have a special bond, you see. Her mother and my father were sister and brother and her mother and my mother were best friends. From our earliest days, we spent as much time in the other one’s house as in our own.

In addition to being relatives and close friends, we share other things – like the same mottled skin that runs through the Joyce – or maybe it is the Smith – family. Both of us have a fondness for Ritz crackers and cheese. I took my favorite Win Schuler’s cheese spread on the visit and, without any prompting; she pulled out the box of Ritz. Sisters just know what goes together, you see.

I would not take $1,000,000 for this visit. I have not laughed as much or as long as when we, both talking at once, recalled when she and my brother climbed the cherry tree and I tattled on them after eating the cherries or how, long after dark, we fearlessly roamed the neighborhood playing hide and seek or how Trick or Treating was not confined to just the night of Halloween.

We shared a lot of the past, each event triggering the memory of another. The memories of this visit will keep me warm for a long, long time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Talking Today

Sometimes you feel like talking; sometimes you don't. Today I don't. We will return to our regular programming soon.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day To My Daughter

Caroline and McKayla Bohanna, Easter 2006, Charleston, SC

Once a year we pause to thank our mothers for all they have done for us. My mother passed away almost three years ago and I still miss her. One of the things I miss the most is her validation of my role as a mother. She was quick to praise and hesitant to criticize and she was so proud of her grandchildren.

This year, however, I want to pay tribute to another mother, who is also very special. She is a young, busy mother who has little time for herself, but always has time to spend with her daughter. This very special mother is my daughter, my first born child, the one who captured my heart as an infant with her wide awake blue eyes and crooked smile. It was amazing watching her grow from toddler to teenager - this book-devouring, basketball-dribbling sprite of a child. Life with her was never dull.

We always knew she was special as she never wanted to do anything with her life but work with mentally challenged children. This field requires great care and compassion - qualities she has in abundance. She has been a teacher for many years now and still has the same concern for her students.

But most importantly, she is a mother now and it seems she has inherited the loving characteristics of her grandmother. So, on this Mother’s Day, I want to honor not only my mother, A. Lavern Croft Joyce Workman, but also my daughter, McKayla Ann Jerome Bohanna, - both very special people.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What a Trip!

Sometimes life is just too funny to be believed. Last week I flew to Charleston, South Carolina to visit my favorite daughter and her family. Flying has changed a lot since 9-11. I know the new rules and regulations are to keep us safe, but sometimes I just wonder ...

Before going through the scanner at the airport, you place all of your carry on items in tubs, including your shoes, and then show your photo I.D. to some kind of airport employee. Fine, no problem. Then you walk 2 feet and show the same I.D. to another employee. I could not resist asking him if it was possible to switch identities in that short distance. Poor young man, he stuttered, rolled his eyes and said, "Aw, just forget it. Go on." It isn't often you can stump a man in a uniform!

Coming home was another story. I created a little excitement for the other passengers. You know that you can take liquids of 3 ounces or less in carry-on bags. I learned that does not include two bottles of your favorite Sticky Fingers barbecue sauce carefully tucked in the side of your luggage. Speaking gently and in that soft southern manner, a nice young man let me know I was in trouble. I could give up the sauce or check the bag, which carries a $15 price tag. Furthermore, he would have to escort me away from the scanner and the other passengers and watch while I walked back to the ticket counter. Well, I would just have to pay the fee 'cause no way was he getting my barbecue sauce and for free, no less! No siree, Bob! Sometimes you just do what you have to do.