My first memories of him a vague, as a child’s memories often are, he was my father’s middle brother, and lived some distance from us. I was probably in my teens before I knew his real name, and I honestly can’t remember ever calling him by it, he was, and will ever be, my Unka Bo.
He was so like, yet unlike my father and other uncle, Ralph, soft spoken until the need arose, and believe me, putting up with me and my cousins, it arose often. His arrival at my grandparents house, accompanied by his children and Aunt Mary was always a great occasion. My cousins Dale and Alan and I would immediately size each other up, spare a few rounds to establish pecking order, then see how much we could get into. Off to the barn, or the trashpile, where ever we deemed out of sight, we went. It never ceased to amaze us, that he or daddy, or Uncle Ralph if he was down, would find us so quickly.
I learned to shoot from Uncle Bo, who took us boys to the trash pile, patiently set up bottles, and watched us miss, correcting us til we learned to aim. He took us fishing at the pond, baiting hooks and taking off fish, and never in the whole time, did I feel like he favored my cousins over me, I was “boy” or “Lonzo” just like the others. If at any time did my actions require a swat, or more, it was given.
I could write all day, and never even cover half of my memories of this man, because he was such a great part of my life, and such an influence on my life. He was loving, kind, stern, and most of all, forgiving.
Uncle Bo was fair as well, once Alan, Dale and I had gotten caught smoking in the hay barn, with cigarettes stolen from him or my daddy. He marched us to the house, and there on the front porch, unshucked his belt and wore three boys butts out.
“Now, sit right there till I tell you different” were his parting words as he went back to work.
An hour or so later, my father came in from plowing as saw us sitting on the porch.
“You boys get off that porch and go play”
Dale spoke first I think, and informed him we’d been forbidden to move off the porch under threat of another whipping. Further interrogation from daddy revealed our crime, and as he pulled his belt off, he told me to come to him. Double jeopardy never being an issue with my father, I was to receive another whipping.
As he prepared to whip me, Uncle Bo came up from the barn, ” VANCE, what you fixing to do?” he asked.
“I fixing to make sure this boy knows he ain’t supposed to be smoking, and especially in the barn” was daddy’s reply.
Uncle Bo called Dale off the porch, pushed him towards daddy and said, ” I done whupped ’em already, but if you got to, start with this ‘un and finish wit Alan”, “I whupped yours, so iffen you gonna whup him again, you got to do mine too !”
As I became an adult, my relationship with Uncle Bo really didn’t change, I didn’t get to see him as much, but when I did, he welcomed me like he would his own child. He loved me in spite of any stupid thing I’d done, and never, ever, did I part company with him, that I didn’t hear the same words.
“Boy, I love you”
After I’d joined the Army, my nickname changed to “General” a mocking reference that I’d chosen the wrong service, he being a Navy vet. But I knew he was proud of me, and like him, I am prone to assigning nicknames to my loved ones and friends. His greeting to me was usually in the form of a tease, “Come here you fat rascal” or ” General, hows the war ?” or, ” Lonzo, have you done anything today ?”
My last visit with him, a few months ago, we sat and talked, and it was such a wonderful time for me, because talking to him, was as close as I’d ever get to talking with my daddy.
I cried long and hard when I got the news he’d died, for to me, my daddy had died all over again.
How do you say goodbye to the man who by virtue of sharing the same pain, stood with his arm around you at the funeral home when you said goodbye to your son ? Who told you there was no shame in loving who you loved, no matter what anyone else thought, and who listened when you poured out your soul, and never once criticized or fussed at you ?
I’ll use his own words, as best I remember him saying them at my maternal grandfathers funeral.
” If my voice breaks, or my eyes water, I make no apology, for I loved him.”
My son hates my job, and I can’t help but understand, but the fact remains , my son hates my job.
To be honest, I think its more like, my son hates the consequences for him that my job brings forth. To him it must seem that its designed to cause him grief and annoyance.
You see, I’m a medic, and a paranoid father as well. And having lost one child and seeing what I’ve seen, there are several carry overs that cause him to sigh.
We don’t have a trampoline in my yard, nor, will he be seen riding his 4 wheeler with out a helmet on. Gun safety is preached on a daily basis, and seatbelts are a fact of life.
I’m sure he could teach a safe sex class, and recite the “Daddy Drug Lecture” in his sleep.
Leaving the house without a belt is automatic loss of some personal liberty for a while, and he knows first hand what is meant about “situational awareness” though he probably doesn’t describe it as scene safety.
I guess its a pain to be the son of a medic, but there it is.
He’s grown up a lot different that I did, not just due to the advancement of society or changes in attitudes, but more so from things I’ve experienced and seen. And from my view point, that’s not a bad thing.
In the early sixties kids were exposed to a lot different environment, most cars, especially the ones my family could afford, didn’t have things like seat belts, padded dashes, safety glass, and air bags ? Unheard of.
We rode standing up in the front seat beside daddy or mama, with a big steel dashboard on the truck, it was probably sometime after my middle brother’s birth, perhaps even later, that I ever saw my first child seat, and by today’s standards, it would have DFACS snatching a child away in nanoseconds.
I learned to drive the tractor by age 7, was harrowing and plowing fields by 8, picking corn at 10 with a picker and tractor 20 years my senior. I remember cutting firewood with a big Poulan chainsaw, deep in the woods all by myself at age 13. It was a different age. At 12, I was toting a 12 gauge shotgun and hunting by myself. My baby brother and I started deer hunting when he was 5, and by age 6, he was in his own stand with his own gun, and hunter safety ? Mostly a lecture by me to him not to shoot me when I came to get him, “remember Kyle, deer don’t use flashlights!”
Caleb lives in a much different world. A world influenced by things I’ve seen. A child with a C2 spinal fracture was the demise of our trampoline, gone as soon as I got home off shift. The helmet law was in effect long before that, but the penalty phase came into effect the day after a horrific 4 wheeler accident I worked. He looks both ways so many times before crossing a road that it looks like he’s rubbernecking at a NASCAR event.
Yep, my son hates my job, but maybe he’ll understand one day.
I wrote this several months ago, but I felt compelled to revive it. The point I was trying to get across, the emotions I was feeling have been driven home by recent events. My good friends, the Earp family from Brinson, are living with what I had envisioned.
Take a moment, thank a soldier, and most of all, lift a prayer for our military and their families.
PFC Ian Edge, US Army, I salute you.
A few months back , my wife, youngest son and I were in Columbus Ga., visiting my sister and her husband, and spent the day shopping and sight seeing around town. For those who don’t know, Columbus is also home of Ft. Benning, the Army’s Infantry Training Center, and soon to be the Armor Training Center as well.
All our young men who are training to become Infantry soldiers are brought to Ft. Benning, and learn the craft of being soldiers, and the art of warfare, before they are sent to the various post around the world to protect America’s interest. It is a grueling task they are set to, fighting the heat, loneliness, and physical exertion required to go from soft civilians to hard, ready to fight soldiers. Some take it a notch higher, and go on to become Airborne qualified, and even further to become Ranger qualified, and a very few are to become Special Forces, or Green Beret. These young men come from all walks of life, and volunteer to do this for what ever reasons known only to themselves.
These are the men who are going into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, or where ever else the Army and our government deems necessary to send them, and these same men are the ones we will see on the news, being killed, maimed, or worse. They know what they are facing, because believe me, they are not dumb, no far from it. These are some of the most intelligent young men ever to fight for our nation, and we all owe them a debt for their service.
During our day in Columbus, we encountered these young men constantly, at the Infantry Museum, at the mall, in the restaurants, everywhere we were. There was a graduation Saturday morning of a recent class of recruits, and their families were with them, proud mothers and fathers, young brides, kid brothers and sisters, grandparents, all happy to see their soldiers finish their training, yet dreading the soon to come separation, which was inevitable. I even remarked to my wife, that the soil of Ft Benning and Columbus had to be literally saturated with tears from so many years from families as they watched their young men go off to war.
And as I, an old fat veteran who was fortunate enough to have served in a period that allowed me safe passage, viewed these soldiers, these young men, my heart swelled with pride in them, but at the same time, as a father, a father who has lost a son, my heart was heavy with fear.
Because no matter how tough they are, no matter how brave they are, they are still some fathers little boy, some mothers baby.
And even though none of them are my son, my flesh and bone, they are still all of our sons, and I grieve for each one of them who will be lost or injured.
And as a father, I want to weep.
Even now, months later, it’s still on my mind bad, I keep thinking back to those boys in uniform I was rubbing elbows with up there in Columbus. I keep thinking about how some of those fellows are not going to come back to their loved ones, and some are going to come back damaged in some way. And that just cuts me to the quick. I have a son in the military, he is in the Navy, and to a large degree, that makes him a lot safer than those Infantrymen. And while I am glad he is safe, I almost feel guilty that I’m not facing the same risk that the parents of those other boys are.
And believe me, when I say boys, I mean no disrespect to them, but to an old buzzard like me, they are boys, same age as my son, give or take a few years. And when I look at my son, I still see him as he was 20 years ago, and when I looked at them, I saw the same. They are so young, and the thought of them being injured, maimed or killed, just rips at my soul.
I wanted to speak to each of them, and tell them how much I wanted them to be safe, how I wanted them not to have to go, but I couldn’t. They would have thought I’d lost my mind. They are just as I was twenty years ago, full of self assurance, knowing that it would be someone else who was injured or killed, not them. At that age you are sure that you are bullet proof, it can’t happen to you, it will be the other guy. But somebody has to be “the other guy”.
Perhaps its time I slowed down a bit and returned to my writing, I’ve neglected it for too long, and the haitus had been a strain.
I shan’t go into a rant on politics, my views on our current government, both at local and national level tend to lean far from others, and I am too thick headed to change my views, and wish not to offend anyone.
Religion is another subject I will steer clear of, except to say, I’ll allow you your views if you’ll extend me the same consideration.
Whats left , you ask ? Life, and its daily ups and downs.
In the past year or so, I’ve discovered that my sons are now men, and the children they were exist only in my memories and some old photographs. Daily they grow apart from me, needing me only for perhaps in Caleb’s case, money, or in Tristan’s case, mechanical advice and the occasional care package sent from home.
Jo and I are facing the inevidible fact that soon we will be empty nesters, and hopefully one day, grandparents. A few years ago, the thought of being a grandfather terrified me, as a glimpse of my mortality. Now, the thought of seeing a grandchild of my own warms my heart. Alas, Tristan, being a sailor, has shown no interest in marriage or settling down, and Caleb is as of yet, too young.
I find myself loosing interest in those things that used to excite me. No longer do I have the desire to go and do constantly, chosing rather to be at home and relaxing. I once loved to hunt, now to be honest, I only do it because Caleb loves it so, and where he is, I want to be.
Perhaps that comes from the fact that I no longer have the energy I used to, much thanks to adult diabeties, hypothyroidism, and, dare I say it, Age. Or could it be simply that it is nature saying, “Hey, slow down and enjoy what you’ve got left.”
Who knows, certainly not I.
We shall explore this in more detail later, provided I can remember. I’ve still got several stories to write, as well as a million six projects in the garage.
Daily in EMS, we rush out to some location that we’ve never been to before, often armed with only the house number and street name as our guide. Someone is in trouble, hurt, sick or perhaps dying, and we go as fast as we can, to get there and hopefully avert disaster. Our response time depends on many factors, some which are beyond our control, some we can have an influence on.
And to the people waiting on our arrival, minutes seem like eternities, and it seems like we will never get there. The most common comment we hear upon arrival is , “You sonabitches took long enough to get here, we been waiting damn near 30 minutes.”
Lets examine that if we may. The average time from your placing a call to the 911 center to 911 activating us is 1 minute, and we are rolling out the bay within 2 minutes, often sooner, at night, no more than 3. Depending on how far from the station you live, will determine our travel time. Those of you that live at the far ends of the county, ie Booster Club road, or at the Lake in Seminole, yep, it’s gonna take longer. Both those locations are over 20 miles from the station, and an ambulance can only go so fast. To further delay that, take into consideration, there are many many cars out there on the road, and the average driver is listening to his radio, talking on his cell phone and paying absolutely NO DAMN ATTENTION to his rear view mirror.
We come flying up behind them, lights flashing, siren screaming, air horn blowing, and they just keep right on driving in the fast lane, without a care. And when they finally notice us, 99 percent of them instinctively jam on the brakes instead of moving to the right. Wait? Did I say move to the right? YES !!!! Georgia law says you move to the right and yeild the right of way to us, heck, it also says KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS, but who the hell pays attention to that? NO ONE.
Our ambulances are not race cars, they are 1 ton trucks, carrying near maximum load in equipment, the don’t slow down fast, but they dang sure don’t accelerate like a Mustang GT, so once you’ve forced me to drop down to 45, it takes a few minutes to get back up to cruising speed. Thus you’ve added a minute or more to my response time after I’ve done this on average 4 to 6 times enroute.
We also have to slow down at intersections, because people love to run red lights, thats how we get so many wrecks to respond to, and if we get slammed in an intersection, we don’t get to you at all.
But say for the sake of argument, we get a clear road, good weather, and aren’t responding 25 miles out, and we bust up into your neighborhood looking for your house. Do you have your house numbers posted on your mail box or beside your driveway? And if you do, are the shrubs cleared back so they can be seen? Are they faded out ?, are they facing the right direction ? And are they bigger than 1 inch ? Usually not.
The house number is required by law to be posted, very seldom is this enforced, and they should be a minimum of 4 inches tall. Awful big you say? Try this, get in your car and drive down an unfamiliar road at 70 mph and see just how many house numbers you can pick out, it ain’t easy. Some people have the right size numbers, God bless them, but, the majority of you don’t.
What about GPS you ask, can’t you find me with your Garmin? Or TomTom or which ever you have? Well, perhaps, but for one they aren’t very reliable at a house to house level, and then they love to send you 10 to 15 miles out of the way just so they can put you on a major highway. Then there is the little problem of not all trucks are equipped with them.
So, we can spend up to 4 or 5 minutes or more looking for your house, begging dispatch for more details that could help us find you. We often see people looking out the window at us, or doing jumping jacks in the front yard, but that is misleading as well. Usually the ones staring at us from the windows are either the neighborhood Gossip seeing who is distressed, or the patients family who GOD FORBID should give us any indication that we’ve arrived at the right location. The athletic ones doing the jumping jacks are rarely the patients family, but rather just excited by the lights and noise.
Give us a friggin break here people, have someone outside if at all possible to wave us in, and if you aren’t the one we’re coming to, don’t flag us down to ask who we are looking for. Oh, and I almost forgot, if we roll up, and call out the window at you asking if you called an ambulance, don’t give us the Deer in the Headlights or Dumb cow look, just say No.
And if you are called back by 911, since you ignored the directions to stay on the line, ANSWER the GD phone, so we can get additonal information, like a description of your house. And if you painted it last year, don’t tell us what color it used to be, nor does telling 911 you see us help, cause we see a lot of people standing around. If I can’t see you, then it helps me or you exactly NONE.
We responded one time to a patient at the new high school, and as we rolled into the parking lot, which I might add is huge, a young man in a football uniform ran out to us waving us down, then turned and ran towards the field house. Thinking we were getting a break, we followed him, pulled to a stop and jumped out. As I grabbed the jump kit, my partner ran towards the building. A jackass in a red Jeep pulls up screaming at us, “you dumb sombitches, the GD kid is over there” as he pointed to another building about 100 feet away. Well excuse the Hell out of me, I don’t read frigging minds, and when well over a hundred people are standing around staring at me like a herd of cows, with blank expressions on their faces, I tend to gravitate towards the one waving at me. And, on a side note, if you’re reading this, and your that red faced bastard who was driving the Jeep, please come see me, I’ve got a few things to discuss with you.
All in all, taking in consideration what I’ve just outlined, when we arrive, remember this, we are just as interested in getting to the patient as fast as possible as you or the patient is for us to get there. So don’t bother to slow us down bitching at us. If you aren’t part of the solution, then damnit, don’t become part of the problem.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day, when we are to honor our fathers, or for some of us who are fathers, to be honored. It’s probably the day that more Goofy ties and socks are given as gifts than any other day in the year. A day where you take the old man out for lunch, and he usually ends up paying for it. Sort of a last minute holiday if you ask me, something made up to fill a vacancy in June. And perhaps to cause confusion with in certain communities… Ok, that wasn’t nice, but there it is.
But for those of us who had a father, knew our fathers, and loved our fathers, its a day to pay our respects and show our love and gratitude.
My father, Vance Duke, was my hero, at times my best friend, and at times someone who drove me to distraction. I loved him and he loved me, but we were so much alike in many ways that we often butted heads. He was a “my way, or no way” sort of man, and I’m not too far from that myself. What I saw as interference as a younger person, I now see as him trying to guide me because he loved me. I wish now that I’d listened a lot more, and argued a lot less, because while all his advice wasn’t dead on, the general ideas he was pushing were.
He grew up poor, worked hard all his life, and wanted for each of his children what he never had. We were by no means rich, but we never went hungry, though I know for a fact that he struggled at times to keep us afloat. I never once in my life doubted he loved me, but there were times when I doubted he approved of me. He was far from perfect, and his temper was a thing to fear. But his love was endless, and even in our darkest times, he never stopped loving me. Of all the things in my life I’ve doubted, his love was never one of them.
I’ve tried to take all the good attributes from his parenting and apply them to my own parenting, leaving the things I percieve as “bad” parenting behind.
Some of those things I will list out for you, my collection from my father. Some of them I learned by observation, some he told me outright.
Never let a day go by that you don’t tell your child you love them, in fact, tell them as often as possible. A child needs to know that no matter what, you are still their father, and that no matter what, you will always love them.
Never punish in anger, never let your temper control your disipline. The punishment should fit the offense, but don’t over punish. Once you’ve punished, then let it go. Unfortantly, my dad had problems with bringing up things later, like 20 or 30 years later. I once as a 6 year old flushed a toy down the toliet, and though in years later I completly redid the entire bathroom to include the plumbing all the way to the septic tank, I was still reminded , ” Dat toliet ain’t flushed right since you flushed dat damn toy down it .”
Take your children to church, don’t send them. Attend with them, show them that it is important to you.
Don’t give them everything they ask for.
Some things should be earned, something given for free has less value than something you’ve worked for.
Listen when they need to talk, offer advice when asked for, but respect their right to have a different opinion. This one comes later when they are grown. Pops had a bit of trouble with this one too.
Don’t play favorites, each child is your favorite, and pitting one against the other is a sure way to create life long animosity.
And perhaps one of my favorites, don’t be afraid to tell them you are sorry if you are wrong, admit when you’ve done them a wrong.
My father passed away five years ago, and I miss him greatly. If I could go back and undo all the hurt I cause him, and he cause me, I would, but alas.
I started this blog as a place to store my short stories, sort of a cyber filing cabinet, and it got out of hand. Seems like the fact that I could say what I wanted to, rant about what I wanted to, created a monster. Thus did it begin.
But the stories are still there, maybe one day they’ll be polished enough to attract the attention of someone, and I’ll find a deranged publisher. I have several more running around in my mind that I’d like to lay down in print, but haven’t had time lately to write.
I decided to start posting excerpts from some of the stories and see if anyone even pays attention to what I post, and is intriqued enough to go on and read them.
I’ll be keeping my eye on the site to see how many hits I get. If you are crazy enough to read them, then please, by all means, leave a comment good or bad.
An excerpt from South of Southlands
The boy picked up dry ears of corn while the grandfather used a large flat shovel to scoop up corn and dump into the basket. Little mice scurried away into the mountain of corn on the crib floor.
When the basket was full, the grandfather slid it to the door and stepped down, shoving hungry cows back, “git back dere Molly, here now, here now, come on.”
He strolled away from the crib with the basket, shaking corn out onto the ground as he walked, the boy stayed in his perch in the crib, peeking over the door and tossing the occasional ear at an offending cow who dared peek back. He worriedly watched the grandfather to make sure he would come back. The ever present fear of being left in the crib haunted him for once, thinking the boy was with him, the grandfather had gone back to the house only to return and find the boy sobbing inside.
The grandfather slowly made a large circle dispensing the corn, and returned to the crib, opening the door he slid the basket inside and picked up the child again. Situating the boy on his shoulder just so, he strode over to the hay barn and again placed the boy inside. This was one of the boy’s favorite parts of the day, putting out the hay. On the south side of the hay barn, a trough ran the full length of the building, and he was small enough to walk from end to end, dragging hay for the cows, which were still busy eating the corn. He always made sure he started at the end away from the door and worked his way back to keep from getting caught by an eager cow. He finished before they arrived, and then began to hunt in the hay stored inside for mice nest. Once he’d found a whole family of small mice, pink and hairless, in a nest built inside a can of rusty bolts someone had left there. He’d proudly shown his grandfather, who took the can and without ceremony, dumped all the mice onto the ground for the barn cats that roamed freely among the buildings. The boy had been upset for a while about that, but the grandfather had explained that the cats would care for the mice, and that explanation was enough for the boy. Years later, he found occasion to use the same excuse with his own children.
Last night was the celebration of my high school class’s 30th year out. After weeks of planning, worrying and a lot of hard work by all involved, we put the cap on it.
Man what a great time, food fun and fellowship, old friends reunited, it was just great. I want to thank several people in particular, that without their efforts and dedication it would not have happened. I can’t think of a better group of people than the committee who put this thing on. I’m not putting this in any order, because no one persons efforts and labors were more important than the others, every one of you are tops in my book.
Missy Ingram Belcher, who took charge of emails, details and acted as general manager. This lady worked her butt off getting in touch with people, and a fine damn job she did. If you didn’t get an invite, and many many reminders, it wasn’t for lack of trying. And a special thanks to her husband Woody, who sweated it out with me at the grill making sure that we had it all together in time.
Paul “Kid Mid” Midler, who’s crazy energy, and outrageous imagination planned and executed the entire entertainment, snatched pictures from who knows where, begged, pleaded and cajoled door prizes, equipment loans, and everything else he could. Then pulled it all together into one hell of a video, and one man DJ show. He even took time out to show us dance moves, make sure we all had music to get us in the mood, and took time to bring a hot fat man an ice cold beer when it was desperatly needed.
Pam Powell Burch, this lady knows how to organize and direct like a Command Sergeant Major, and does a fine job of it too. She was faithfully there at the meetings, interjecting humor and common sense when Paul and I went off into left field, and she threw herself into any task that needed doing. Even a gimp knee didn’t keep her down for more than a few days. She seemed to be everywhere at once last night, with a bright smile and a glint of steel in her eye. My hat is off to her. And to her husband Greg, a wonderful guy, with a great sense of humor, and not afraid of work. He worked as hard as any of the “classmates” on the committee, with no pay except our gratitude.
Hunter Calhoun, that quiet, steady fellow, who hides an evil sense of humor well. This is the man who kept it all cool, providing ice by the ton, the same man who could be counted on to stir the pot when it needed stirring, OR NOT… If you enjoyed a cool drink, or sat by a fan last night, thank Hunter. If you got a good laugh at my expense, thank Hunter… People like him are few and far between, and we need more of them. And most definitely his lovely wife Lisa, who worked just as hard or harder where ever she was needed and never a word of complaint. And this lady has some good dance moves to. Miz Lisa, Thank you .
Kelly Dean Higgins, who brought to the table her experience at organizing the last, and if I’m not mistaken, first reunion, and worked hard to steer us around past problems, and kept us motivated. Poor Kelly ended up in the hospital breifly just a week or so before the reunion, but was out and moving and shaking all night at the party. She laid out the treats everyone enjoyed, though she tormented me with all the M&M’s that I saw and couldn’t eat. And a extra special thanks to her husband Jim, who provided us with tents, water, soda and tables, but more importantly volunteered to sweat it out with me on the grill, stoking the fire, tossing chicken, and doing what ever needed doing.
Beth Mott Brock, our decorator, who took it upon herself to make sure all the tables were laid out with taste, and style. And she stayed busy all night making sure everything was as it should be, so that we could enjoy our reunion. A wonderful lady with a great sense of decorum and humor. And a big Thank You to her husband Marty for his help as well, though he must have been snacking early on, judging by the lenght of the blessing.
Brenda Burns Davis, who twisted Mike Harrells arm and got us cups, plates and utensils, gift cards for door prizes, and a place to meet and plan. Another of those people who work quietly behind the scenes to make it a success.
And I must give a great big Thank You to my wife Jo, who worked with us in planning this event, went to meetings when I couldn’t, and I dare say put a lot more work and effort into this thing than I did, she helped prepare food, served food, and cleaned up without being asked or complaining. Not to mention put up with me and kept me in line when it was needed. And even let me dance with half the women there without bending a frying pan over my head. I hope she’ll keep me around for another 29 years because without her, I’d be lost.
And a final thank you to all who came and shared in the fun, we owe a big thanks to the Simmons’ family for the use of the lodge, George for the boston butts, and everyone else who contributed.
Lets do this again next week ! Well, next year maybe, I gotta get some rest.
Some days in the trench make you want to scream, others make you want to laugh, but some days make you just sit back and say, “WTF ???” When you see or hear something so stupid, or absurd that you a simply amazed at the stupidity of people. Picture this, we respond to a call for someone with difficulty breathing, which sounds like a real emergency. Its a common call, what with the elderly population, asthmatics, and allergic reactions we see. And away we go, lights and sirens blazing, ducking through traffic, scattering drivers like a covey of quail in our rush to get to our patient. We arrive at the location given, radio in letting dispatch know we’re on scene, and behold ! Lying on the concrete porch of a run down house, surrounded by trash, liquor bottles and beer cans, we see our patient, Mildred. Anyone with a scanner, or even remotely familiar with EMS will know immediately who I am speaking of. She is perhaps one of our most infamous frequent fliers, and a major pain in the ass to EMS, Public Safety, as well as the Emergency Department staff. Abusive, drunk, disorderly and obnoxious, she calls us all the time, for one imagined illness or the other, often just wanting a ride uptown where she can get a cup of coffee from the hospital, then go “shopping” at the Goodwill store’s drop of point. She generally walks out of the ER long before we can complete our trip report, cursing and yelling, only stopping to bum a cigarette or ask for a dollar, before she goes and steals a few things from the pile at the Goodwill store. On this occasion, she was sleeping off a drunk on someone’s front porch, and they called 911 because she “sounded” like she was choking. My partner reached over and shook her awake, and she came alert swinging on him and cussing him. She jumped up and slapped him on the arm several times as she yelled, “MoFugga don’t be touching on me.” Then she proceeded to inform him, me, and our student, that she was going to kill us, that she was sick, and that “OBRAMA gwine get yo job cause ya’ll some racist MoFuggas!” After a few minutes of this, we informed her that she could either get in the ambulance and we’d take her to the hospital, or, should she choose, she could continue her abuse and we’d arrange a ride to the jail with the police. Mildred elected to take the ride to the hospital, and still cursing, climbed in the ambulance. Seeing my ire, my partner elected to ride with her, and I started to climb out of the back. “OBRAMA gwine get yo job too you fat cracker MoFugga.” “He goan give it to ME !” was her parting shot at me. I stopped and looked at her for a minute then told her, “What the Hell would you do with it? And if he did, who would come pick you up?” I didn’t bother to wait for the answer. And as usual, before we’d completed our trip report, she’d got her cup of coffee, bummed a smoke and was headed out the door.
After long last, I’ve added a bit more to the “South of Southlands” story entitled “The Barnyard”, and yes, I know it’s been a while coming. My writing seems to come in burst, rather than something I can draw on at will. And, even when I start on a story, have an idea or story line in my head, often I’m surprised at how it turns out. It is almost like reading a book written by someone else, because they always take a tangent I’d not prepared them to.
If you’ve not realized it by now, the principal character, from who’s point of view this story is told, is of course me. And the stories are based on my memories of my childhood, so they may have errors or misconceptions in them, but are as I remember.
Friends and family alike often accuse me of having a photographic or eidetic memory, however let me assure you this is entirely untrue. And to be truthful, I’m glad, because most people with that type memory are Autistic, most commonly having Asperger’s syndrome, nor do I have as one learned individual suggested, Hyperthymesia, which is a form of superior autobiographical memory, there being only 4 confirmed cases ever.
I do have a memory that allows me to recall certain things I’ve read, heard or seen, but I work on it all the time, and unfortantly, I seem to be able to recall the trivial or nonsensical things, yet unable to retain what I want to.
That being said, my memories of my Papa, my father’s father, are very clear, because he was my companion, mentor, babysitter, friend and hero for the first 5 years or so of my life. If I was awake, and he was around, we were together. He was such a major character in my early childhood, that I can with no effort at all, see his face, and hear his voice and remember so many things we did.
I never knew Papa as an adult, he died of cancer when I was 9 or 10. I’ve heard stories about him from my father and uncles, and some of them are not flattering to him when viewed from the eyes of an adult, but I am unable to merge those ideas with the man I knew. The man I knew was kind, tolerant, and loving, a man who had all day to spend answering the multitude of questions from a little boy, could always be counted on for comfort if trouble came, quick to avert the wrath of a irate grandmother or parent, and knew just when a little boy needed a watermelon or a coke.
That’s how I remember my Papa, that’s how I will always remember him. I wish every child could have a papa like mine.
Anyway, the story is up, hope you like it, if you read it, leave me a comment.