"It'll Be Aw'right Honey"
Sometimes we see what we ain’t seeing. Now that makes perfect sense if you can see what I am saying. See what I mean? One thing that is easy to see is that when something needs tending to my sisters and I are quick to jump in and help one another out. What ain’t easy to see, sometimes, is what is being helped.
Daddy, also known as Paw Paw, depending on who read what and when, and where while I was writing about him, was spending a few days in the hospital for some tests. It was one of those trips that didn’t require any of us to “sit up” with him all night, but the three sisters and I had been there a few hours and visiting hours were about over. Any one of us has ever been bad to miss an opportunity to gather up and go out to eat at some restaurant, so we decided that a local Denny’s type place would fit our needs. It really didn’t matter much because we didn’t have much to choose from in the small town.
It was kind of late spring, maybe getting close to summer and the temperature was mild that night. I remember all this because this is the weather where my standard fashion attire is a jungle shirt and cargo shorts. I don’t like being bound up in warm weather. It had slacked off raining a little bit but it had been raining for days. The stormy part of spring had passed and these were what we called early summer “shauers”. The water could soak in the ground before it ran off to the ditches and low places. St. Augustine grass especially loves lots of water. It makes their “shoots” run wild and spread along the top of loose sandy East Texas dirt. The grass was happy because the ground was saturated.
My sisters are loud, particularly Momma Lou. Well her name is Brenda Lou so you can see the connection. She and the other two were standing in the lobby and had been waiting for the rain to let up. I think it was Mary Ann, who said,
“Carolyn Mae, why don’t me and you ride together down to The Star grill and Glenn Bert can bring Brenda Lou with him.”
I didn’t want to bother all the sick folks with any other commotion and I was ready to get out of there so no one would have any further suggestions. Mary Ann and Carolyn Mae took off and I stuck my head back in Paw Paw’s room for a last check to make sure he was doing all right. In that couple of minutes the dad gum rain started back up and Brenda Lou was hollering about “let’s go.” She is loud a plenty and she loves to laugh. I have never seen anyone who got any more enjoyment out of a loud laugh than Momma Lou.
“Come on, get your ass in gear. I don’t want to get drowned.” She was holding the lobby door open while standing out in the covered breeze way.
“Aw’right, you stay here under the awning and I will go get the car. I will run down there so I won’t get wet.”
“You take all night, but you’re gonna get your ass wet.”
“No, I ain’t. I’m fixin’ to be quick about it.”
The sidewalk ran next to the driveway down to the asphalt parking lot. It was forty or fifty yards from the covered awning to the edge of the parking lot and the car was only one row past that so this was going to be a snap. It was going downhill at a pretty steep decline and this was going to work in my favor. Sometimes, here in East Texas, in the blink of a eye a down pour will just fall out of the sky. This was one of those times. Almost instantly, the side walk was a small river about two inches deep but there was a patch of St. Augustine grass between the sidewalk and the brick wall of the hospital.
“You’re gonna get drenched,” laughed Momma Lou. She was already wound up and excited to see me have to run through that river of rain water. There ain’t nothing she likes better than to see me have to wiggle out of a tight spot.
“Hell no, I ain’t even gonna get my feet wet. I am gonna stay on the grass.” I took off hell bent for which a way. Once upon a time I ran track and could keep a pretty strong stride. This was going to be a breeze.
Spitter spatter, spitter spatter
“Ohhhh Sheeeeeee- eeeiiiittt!” About the fifth step, I hit a soggy spot. It was ok with me that my tennis shoe went out of sight down into the mud but it didn’t hang tight. I gave it the gas with that foot before it had time to sink further into the Texas mud. Equal and opposite reaction, I know, but what happens if there is no friction. My leg shot backward and my body kept its journey forward. Off balance I took another step and my legs finally got back under my ass but they forgot to stop their and suddenly they were out front. No don’t fall backwards on your butt! My mind was screaming silent coaching tips to my torso.
“EEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHaaaaaaaEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHaaaaaaa!” Momma Lou lit up the rainy dark sky. She was going to get a show. She sounded like a siren.
Slow down feet. Let my lard ass catch up and balance out. I ant’t falling flat of my back. Ahh , here we go, straight upright again.
“WoooooHHHOOOOOO Haaaaaaaaa.” Momma Lou was about to lose her breath. “HHHHEEEEE,,,ArrrkkkArrrrkkHHarrrkkkkk, Cough Cough,,, EEEEEEEAAAAAAAaaaaa!”
Come on feet, extra push here.
Right foot, extra thrust, this was going to work. Leg muscles gliding like a well oiled machine, it started on its backward journey. See, I told you this would work. My right leg now fully extended rearward; my left one hesitated. My body’s algebraic formula was somehow out of equilibrium. My upper body was still headed way to forward. It was inevitable, I was headed earthward; the question was, how am I going to be graceful about this?
I suppose every kid has had or wanted one of those lawn water “slicky slides”. I never had one of those but it always seemed like it would be fun. Now was the time to try out my technique. I was already headed forward and it was simply a case of assuming the Super Man stance with hands extended forward and jump. The ground was soft and the mud was “slicky” and downhill. My forward speed caused the splash to be minimal but the hyrofication and saturation of the St. Augustine grass covered soil permitted the maximum speed of my forward progress. Water and mud was spraying to each side looking like that antique Chris Craft speed boat cutting thought the waves at Lake Forest Park Lake. Two different times I had to wipe the mud from my glasses because I knew there was a concrete parking bumper at the end of my runway and I wanted to see what might happen. The hedge bushes were flying by like a picket fence. I once thought that I would reach out and grab one for braking purposes but I had to wipe my glasses again.
Whhoooooohhhoooooooo HHHHaaaaaHHHeeeeeee Hhhheeeeeeeeeee,,,, Shhhheeeeeeiiiiuuuuuttt. Momma Lou was coming unlatched. What the ffffffuuuuhhhhhhhheeeeeeee Heeeeeee… OOOhhhhh myyyyyy Loooooorrrrrddddyyyy.
I ain’t never going to live this down. Where the hell is that parking bumper? Oh, there it is. Spit, spit, spit. Damn mud. I should be slowing down by now. Picket fence Picket fence. I am headed right toward that parking bumper. Dig in with your left toe. I was talking to myself now, but I did just that; works just like a boat rudder, I was veering to the left.
“Goooooo Glenn Bert, you silly shit.”, OOOhhhhhhhh hhhehh Heeeeeee.
I stopped. The black asphalt and concrete parking bumper gave my hands a firm foundation in order to stand myself up right. I slowly cleaned my glasses with my finger one more time as I turned and looked back up the hill to where Momma Lou was standing. She was leaning over with her arms and face resting on a brick wall that bordered the covered area. I could hear here spewing and huffing from all the way where I stood. She looked up just in time for me to flash the international hand sign for “I ain’t happy” and after catching a quick breath, put her head back down on her arms and continued with her wailing. I turned and headed for the car.
“It’s aw’right Honey. It aint as bad as it seems right now.” Momma Lou had gained a supporter. An elderly gentleman walked outside from the lobby and came across a scene of wailing and carrying on like he had never seen or heard tell of. He was surely anguished by the misfortune that had fallen upon Momma Lou. It wasn’t Momma Lou’s misfortune that had come crashing down, but she was having a hell’uv a time trying to get the nice man to understand just what the predicament was.
Wheezing, “Ohhh my Gauwddddd, Ohh me. I can’t breathe. Lorrddyyy help me breath.”
“Oh Honey, just try to relax, I promise it will turn out better than you think.”
“Nooo Nooo,” with a limp wrist wave of her arm and partially extended pointing finger she tried in vain to give the nice gentleman an idea of the calamity.
“Oh yes, tomorrow the sun will bring a brighter and better day.” With hands clasped and a most solemn look, he stood as a picture book perfect statue of concern and caring.
Through streaming tears a quizzical response, “ what the h…” Heeeyyyyyyaaaahhh shheeeeaaaattt… pointing was being wasted.
“Oh myyyy you poor thing.”
In all honesty I have never seen more concern on the face of an individual. I think he would have been taken from us himself if I had not pulled up into the covered area of the drive way at that very moment.
“Get your butt in the car.” I pushed open the passenger car door and Momma Lou fell into the front seat, heaving and gasping for air.
“Ohhhh Myyyy,, hehehehe, wadden gonna get wet. AAAahhhhmmmeee.”
A look of confusion overtook the sympathetic and caring stranger.
“Shut the door, and don’t you go telling Mary and Carolyn about this, act like nothing ever happened.”
I shouldn’t have said that. As I “peeled” away into the night, the windows of that 1983 Chevrolet Caprice rattled for fifteen solid minutes and she ain’t let me forget this episode ‘till yet.