Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me

You know my life kinda resembles a bad Hee Haw skit.

If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

Over the past six months, my daughter nearly died.  I lost my job and am too old to become a brain surgeon or a rock star  (which were my other two career choices.)  The hubby received his lay-off notice from the factory where he’d worked for 20 years.  Of course, the “change in his employment status” wasn’t unexpected.  We had prepared financially and were just waiting for the other shoe to drop.   We did not, however, expect the shoe to knock up upside the head the same week Diva’s thoracic surgeon mailed out his bill.

Our family also lost two relatives this year,  which introduced a new set of issues that I wasn’t prepared to face.  Suddenly, the hubby and I were discussing merging households with my mother-in-law, who is over 60 and lives alone in the deep backwoods of Tennessee without reliable transportation.  (I mean so far back in the woods, you have to pack snacks for the drive over)  Since the hubby figured 2 Southern women + 1 Kitchen = a  bad idea, we talked about building a garage apartment.  Oh.  Yeah.  There’s that whole we’re po’ folk now thing.   So, we talked about selling the house and moving closer to his mother, at which time he pointed out my parents, who reside here,  aren’t spring chickens either.  And that observation made me mad – irrationally, uncomfortably, cheek-aflame, if-looks-could-kill, nuclear-type mad.  I really wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and sing na-na-na-na-I-can’t-hear-you.  I mean, c’mon, as long as I can still outrun my nine-year-old,  have all of my original joints, can rock 5 inch heels, drink younger folks under the table  AND do not need industrial-strength Lycra to hold in, up or down any body parts: then I am too young for my parents to be old.   These issues are something adult children of a certain age must think about:  not me.  I’m not at that age.  Seriously.  I’m not.   My parents are fine.  Fine, I tell you.  Now, discussion closed.   I mean it.  Na-na-na-na.  I-can’t-hear-you.

While these issues are still lingering around unresolved  (because I’ve yet to take my fingers out of my ears) the dog got sick.  Daddy’s blood pressure got stuck somewhere between elevated and “Holy Shit!”  and my son declared me a horrible mom, which means I’m just a hop, skip and jump away from “ruining his life” on a regular basis.  Coming from the kid, who once claimed I could outsing Aretha, outcook Granny and outglam a supermodel… well, it stings a little.  Not to mention, he was far more amicable back he was delusional and tone deaf.

Add to this, the perfectly-imperfect non-judgmental mommy friend, with whom I would normally discuss my I’m a bad parent fears, packed-up her family and returned to her home state of Alabama.  The humidity there was easier to handle than the hypocrisy here, I guess. The sad truth is she left in the nick of time because people here are losing their ever lovin’ minds.

Folks are short-tempered and hot-collared.  I fully expect the little ladies at church to start resolving those “what hymns shall the choir sing next Sunday” disputes by stabbing one another with hatpins. And I’m no sociologist, but I’m guessing all of this might have something to do with the fact that the only people still getting a paycheck here are the the politicians, the repo guys, the bail bondsmen and maybe the Ku Klux Klan recruiters.

Yeah, the KKK.  In Hawkins County.  It was a fairly predictable thing, don’t you think?  After all,  it’s one thing for white folks to stop holding black folks down:  it’s quite another when they realize black folks no longer require their help in getting a leg up.  I mean – a black president?  Woo.  That’s  some scary shit right there, particularly those who have nothing against “the blacks” shucks some of their friends are “blacks”, and they aren’t racist at all… because if they were the people at church would talk bad about them.  Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, these folks decided to hell with social mores and said what they really thought.  When they did, they were pleasantly surprised to discover the preacher, three deacons and the guy four houses up held similar views.

As a result, I’ve overheard insulting comments made by community leaders, school staff members, the neighbors, and my family.  Earlier this year,  the Klan held a rally close to where I grew up and where Mama and Daddy live now.  It was hosted on the property of  a Hawkins County school system employee and there were quite a few  rumors circulating afterward about who was in attendance.  (I have not been able to verify these rumors.  Turns out there aren’t many  “reliable sources” attending those events.  By reliable I mean one who does not drink beer for breakfast and/or didn’t out his brother-in-law/wife’s ex-boyfriend’s as a Klan member because the summabitch borrowed his lawnmower/wife last year and has yet to return it/her in the same condition it/she was in when he took it.   After talking with these people,  I’m still not quite sure if the wife came back pregnant or the Murray 0-turn mower was out of gas.)

Either way,  (and in spite of  the burden of proof  because you don’t need  proof for purposes of  repudiating individuals  in the South: the truthful-like statement of their mother’s cousin’s hairdresser will do just fine)  I am becoming mistrustful and somewhat suspicious of … well, anyone I haven’t seen naked.   Some of those I’m not entirely sure about either.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining here.  About anything.  I’m not.  I’m a southerner: we don’t complain.  We summarize our tribulations.   Then, we assure ourselves that things could be worse and we keep plodding on.  Of course, I’m a woman.  So, I’m expected to plod three times faster and shoulder twice the burden while wearing high heels and deep-frying something beer-battered and all without messing up my hairdo.

I’m actually handling most of these challenges –  the job loss, illness, grief, goodbyes, new phases, new neighbors, financial inability to buy myself pretty new shoes whenever I want them – quite well.  There is an upside to facing so much turmoil in a short period of time  – at least you aren’t shocked by much of anything anymore.  For instance, when the kid’s got a tennis ball stuck in the toilet, I didn’t yell.  It seemed like small stuff to me.   Likewise, when the TV blew up…  eh, hell, I kind of expected it.  I did, however, mope for a few days when the the new television required a rearrangement of the living room furniture.  Hey, at this point, there are very few things in life that I can count on to remain constant: the position of the couch was one of them.  I figure if I’m going to have a middle-age meltdown wherein I try to wrap my head around the fact that I cannot be a rock star, probably won’t marry Steve Perry or Rick Springfield – for all I know one or both of them might be dead –  I haven’t set the world on fire – shit, I haven’t t even made it smoke a little – AND I might have to take care of parents and two kids, who don’t like me as much as they did when they were two  – and this is my life because it’s too late for do overs – I wanted to do this in my usual sittin’ spot by the window.

Ah, but I can’t.  That’s that.  I’ll adjust…

And as long no one moves the refrigerator or shuffles the beer around,  I think I’ll be fine.


11 thoughts on “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me

  1. Hey,

    Wow! You and yours have had a lot of troubles. That klan thing bugs me. Does your family own any guns? I hope so. I thought the South had moved on from all that nonsense and foolishness. You know, the rural north is really racist too.

    I hope things turn around.


  2. Brent,
    It’s a matter of perception. We joke about our series of unfortunate events, but Diva did make a complete and miraculous recovery. We do operate our own business. In many ways, we’re extremely fortunate.

    The Klan thing bothers me too. Yes, I do have guns (among other things) that would enable me to play hostess for visiting KKK members – but the racist sentiment in the area is nothing new. It was just considered uncivilized to express and was therefore harbored silently.

    This has changed. The views are expressed freely now and people are finding some acceptance and validation of those views. And I think these opinions and feelings, no matter how offensive. confused or misinformed they may be, needed to be expressed openly and honestly. You know, if you can’t acknowledge the existence of racism, you can’t examine why it continues to exist or how certain views are perpetuated and why. You cannot accurately gauge progress or have meaningful discussion about the issue of race at all.
    Now, we can. In my opinion, this needed to happen in order for us to move forward.

  3. Great article. My family received death threats from the Klan a couple years ago. Reported it to the law and their only response was “There’s no Klan here.”

  4. Pingback: Newscoma » Blog Archive » Plodding In High Heels

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  6. Sorry about your “woes”.

    Happened to be in town when the Klan rally was taking place–saw some of “Rogersville’s finest” at the Walmart right afterwards…Complete with bald heads and confederate flag tats. lol! I ain’t scared and I won’t call the law either. There is a reason for gun laws in small towns.

    Don’t start none and there won’t be none [trouble that is]…This is not 1955.

    It is hot, resources are scarce, and there aren’t any “outsiders” for them to focus there attention–no wars that they can fight, or frontiers that they can take over, or sports that they can win. That makes people nervous and meaner than normal. It is sad, because we’d get father if we all got along.

    Glad Diva is doing better.

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  8. For the entire third paragraph from the end, can I just figuratively collapse in a heap at your feet and sob, “Thank you…THANK you! You understand” ?
    Okay, I guess it would be a little awkward.
    By the way… Steve Perry and Rick Springfield? Both alive.

  9. i am so sorry all this happened to you at once. Some days i think i am at my own personal limit but something else comes along and i find the strength to absorb that, too. These simply are seasons of life and do not last forever although our very contemporary frame of reference causes us to feel they will.

    Manda and Jess have heart struggles facing their dad’s mortality, and i think all of your generation will have to deal with that as parents simply do not look nor act as they did when i was your age. Used to, parents looked and acted old. Now, they’re cute and perky and have some of the same friends their children have. i am seven years from seventy. i can hardly believe it.

    i thank God i was not taught prejudice although i so strongly dislike those who feel pigmentation has any significance that that must be some form of prejudice in itself. No one i love makes racial comments and it breaks my heart to hear them. In its essence, it is a criticism of God’s handiwork.

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