Ladies and Gentlemen–The Rolling Stones. Part I, Venue Review

Part I of our epic road trip to see The Rolling Stones in Concert

Stones picture

Ladies and gentlemen…The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Fourth of July. An epic road trip. What could be more right?

Apparently football stadium shows with actual seats are a lot more right. This spectacular concept was good in theory. I had tickets to park in the infield, a great tailgate venue if there ever was one. And we couldn’t get there until after the opening act Rascal Flatts had started their set because of horrible traffic.

But before I begin lambasting the venue and production, I want to say some positive things about the city of Indianapolis! It was easy to navigate. The downtown was beautiful with streets and sidewalks that were wide and super-clean. The people were very nice, from fast-food waitresses to Dollar store employees to the staff at upscale restaurants. We would gladly go back and southern monster cities like Atlanta and Charlotte could learn something from this sleeper city in the Midwest.

Greasy and Nolan in Indy

My very own glimmer twins take in downtown Indianapolis

I’ll also add that driving through the tunnel into the Brickyard was an incredible thrill, even though I am not a race fan.

 

Approach

A short YouTube video produced by Indianapolis Motor Speedway gave instructions of how to get to the venue. It was woefully inadequate. It told of what street to approach from but not which direction and did not tell premier ticket-holders which gates were in use. Likewise the paper parking admission ticket did not tell which gates to use or which direction to approach. Fail, fail, fail.

If I learned anything it was to do a mock approach the day before and figure that (expletive) out.

Rolling Stones silver ticket section

Nolan, in Silver seating section.

 

Comfort

The big lie was our actual paper admission tickets. They boasted a section, row and seat number. They promised a vista of the enormous stage. In reality there were zero seats. I found this out the afternoon beforehand on the video from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on how to safely get there and enjoy the show as well as what you could or could not bring in.

It was presented like an incidental announcement—they advised then that it was festival seating. Bring blankets and cushions. No chairs would be allowed.

Blankets and cushions? No chairs?  Insert the world’s most common profane acronym here. We found a Dollar Store in Avon and bought three $7 cushions and a cheap fleece throw, all in suitably bright-almost-psychedelic patterns. It didn’t matter; we couldn’t sit comfortably there. The stage was at the bottom on a little hill. Sitting on the hill was more torture than standing. I won’t even go there about the chiggers.

I saw a medical tent. And remembered Altamont. And wryly wondered how many heart attack, strokes and fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up were taken into it.

 

Visibility

You needn’t have worried that I would throw my panties on the stage.

I never saw the actual stage or the actual Stones.  Just their images on the big screen. By carefully standing on tiptoes and peering between giants standing in front of me I could see the top ¾ of the huge screens above the stage. I saw images of Mick dancing around on stage. I even saw an image of –Keith, yes, Keith—running twice.

I like having the drunk and stoned dancing around me, a whiff of ganga, a splash of spilled beer and a passed out person or two. It adds to the whole experience.

But let’s face it—The Stones are old and so are we, their audience. I saw a lot of white-haired women like myself, cripples and really fat people hobbling along. It was a long but far from unbearable walk to the seating area, a hunt for a place to throw a blanket and a very long stand. Along the way some people took advantage of bicycle-rickshaws and some bumped along in their motorized wheelchairs.

Would Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie endure that cheerfully? I doubt it.

The Rolling Stones

Ronnie, Mick and Keith during the Indianapolis concert July 2015

Security

My sense of security was also let down. What do tens of thousands of people, the proximity of an airport’s flight path, alcohol and drugs, thousands of fireworks, the most patriotic national holiday and a heightened terror alert have in common?

A recipe for unparalleled disaster is what it is.

I may be a tiny bit more situationally aware than most people. Maybe it’s that I read too many Jack Reacher novels. I do like to have an escape route planned ahead. And I fully exercised it the night before when some jackass pulled the fire alarm in the hotel. I knew where the stairs were. Down and out in the middle of the (expletive) night!

Beforehand at the hotel, I mused aloud, wondering if The Stones had played a US speedway since Altamont.  Knowing that my own glimmer twins were naïve to the story I read it to them from the internet. All of it—poor planning, poor setup, drunk Hell’s Angels, fights/knives/gunshots, death. The alleged botched Long Island hit on Mick Jagger.

And I ended my soliloquy with the hope that I wanted to be carefully searched going in, because if I was, every potential terrorist or testosterone-fueled would-be killer du jour also would be carefully searched.

We weren’t. Going into the tunnel under the famed Brickyard a woman barely glanced at our tickets. Instead of scanning them she scribbled on them with a red magic marker. And we were in.

Tickets for the Rolling Stones Indianapolis concert 2015

Our infamous paper tickets, with red scribbles

Parking was a breeze. Well-handled and well directed. Once in the venue a security checkpoint was a joke. The search of my cavernous beach bag was cursory. And the pat-down? She barely brushed my pants.

Going through the bag beforehand I had removed my Thermacell mosquito repellent device because it has an internal ignition system and runs on butane cartridges. They wouldn’t have known that. A pile of confiscated items there at the checkpoint attested to the fact that they didn’t want you bringing in your own water and candy. My granola bars were not detected during the search. And once again, our tickets were never scanned.

Driving into the infield we stopped at a bathroom building to use the facility. Right near there we saw row upon row of fireworks sitting wired and ready to be detonated. Out there in the open, apparently unguarded. What if some nut with a match had run through there?

During the show I was able to relax and forget that someone could crash a plane into the crowd or point the fireworks into this knot of mellow old humanity and fire away. Was the security just carefully hidden? Were there armed moles scattered throughout?

Let’s just say that I was a bit on edge until the biggest fireworks display in the USA started shooting up into the sky instead of into the crowd. 10,530 charges. It was a suitably big bang. It could have made a much bigger bang.

This was the premier rock concert event held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Here’s hoping there are improvements before the next one(s).

The Show and General Musings

Must wait for the next blog.

In this one I’ll just say: They are old. We are old. Everything is so much sweeter with age. They are just as good as when I saw them (twice) in 1989. Raunch and roll at its pinnacle. Two hours of starting me up, making a grown man cry, a gasgasgas. I got a lot of satisfaction.

I’m alive and richer for it to tell the tale, though, and now must go soak my ancient feet.

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Weeping for South Carolina…

hands11We have much to learn, my friend. So much to learn.

Yesterday I was crushed when I woke up to the news of the senseless slaughter of a family of faith attending a Bible study and prayer service in Emanuel AME Church in my beloved state of South Carolina. Shot down in cold blood by an evil killer who came into their midst during worship, they laid down their lives in a place that should be holy.

I’ve been reeling with grief. Tears, then prayer, then more tears and more prayer. These people are my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is my state. My religion. This is deeply personal to me.

As a South Carolinian, a Christian and especially as the mother of a 20 year old male who loves guns, I am numb.

Yes, my son loves guns. Taking his example from me—the hunter, and my father before me, a hunter and a military rifleman—he picked up shooting at an early age. He is fluent in shotgun and handgun and archery. Sporting clays dominated his middle school and high school extracurriculars. At the final tournament of his high school shooting career, he broke 98 out of 100 tiny flying clay targets to own the highest score in his division and claim a Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund Scholarship.

This killer lived in the Greater Columbia metro area. My son attends the university there, where this murderer scoped out the mall. My son frequents that mall, and I am no stranger to it. He was apprehended in Shelby, North Carolina. Shelby is less than two hours from here and one of my cousins lives there.

Like I said, this is personal to me.

So I have to ask myself, what goes so very wrong in a person to make him go into a movie theater, an elementary school, a mall, a college campus, a highway overpass or a church and begin mowing down random strangers?

You can say what you want about nature vs. nurture. I know nothing of this young man’s upbringing, so anything I say about his family life is only conjecture. But as a person who knows something of genetics and a tidbit or two about culture and families and mental disturbances, I am going out on a limb and say: Acts like this take “a perfect storm” of things gone horribly awry to produce such a killer.

I think it is a yank on the handle of a slot machine with the slots lining up: Demon. Demon. Demon. A rare combination of mental illness and/or drugs and/or deficient moral upbringing and/or heritable mental illness and/or acquired mental illness and/or learned behavior/learned hatred and/or the effect of relatively harmless recreational drugs on the developing brain.

Did you notice I said mental illness a lot?

Note to parents: if your child is a testosterone-fueled post-adolescent who is severely introverted, cannot make eye contact, stays in his room all day playing violent video games, doesn’t have any friends or interact with others, has a weird haircut and vacant soulless stare and may have a substance abuse problem, please, PLEASE don’t give him a gun. Ever.

This is becoming a really recognizable asocial personality type. I am not a psychologist.

How blind do you have to be to miss this?

At any rate, I have to look at my son to reassure myself. Though at times he does everything in his power to provoke me, he is socially involved, does well in school, makes eye contact and interacts well with people of different ages, classes and social backgrounds. He attends church regularly and is engaged in what goes on in the community, thanks be to God. I can take credit for none of this normalcy. It is goodness intrinsic in him.

 *  *  *

I cannot address this tragedy without addressing the elephant in the room, though I wish it was not a factor. Race.

It is my belief that even without his obvious racism and hatred, this young man was so abnormal that he would have found some excuse to kill someone someway somehow for something. Disturbed individual that he was, he was bound to kill a lot of somebodies. But it sticks in my craw that he chose to make it about black and white. Because that seems to be a very real problem in the USA.

I feel that I grew up during an exciting time in race relations. It was right after the peak of the civil rights movement. Our cultures were coming together and liking it, in part thanks to newly opened minds, music and fashion and sports. We looked at them and said to ourselves, I really like what she’s wearing or it’s got a great beat and I love that song! We worked together on our sports teams, the student council, the yearbook and the newspaper staff. I thought we had seen the last of racism in 1977. That’s almost 40 years ago.  I was woefully wrong.

What the heck happened? Why does racism still rear its incredibly ugly head? And what can we do to stop it?

*  *  *

As I said, this mass shooting is personal to me. Immensely personal. So I am making a conscious effort to look beyond the soulless dead eyes of this boy killer du jour and into the sparkling warm eyes and lives of these beautiful victims. I am making an effort to memorize the faces and the names of each of these people and memorialize them in my heart. To learn a tidbit or two about each of them. To remember them and their loved ones—individually—in my prayers.

Here, again, are their names. They are important people. Remember them always:

Reverend Clementa Pinckney, 41
Reverend Sharonda Singleton, 45
Myra Thompson, 49
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Ethel Lee Lance, 70
Cynthia Heard, 54
Reverend Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74
Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
Susie Jackson, 87

These fine South Carolinians gave their all in service to their church and they gave it to their Lord and Savior. They are martyrs. Some say they are now saints. In my very mortal voice, I agree.

As a Christian, I have to think to myself: What would Jesus do?

Hmmm.

A few months ago, I learned of a hush-hush initiative to put concealed weapons into some area churches. I was shocked and disillusioned to learn of it. This is what it has come to? Armed men in places of peace, tranquility and reverence? Perhaps these people had foresight. They knew it was coming. In denial, you knew it was, too.

Yes, they are there wearing earbuds and are carrying concealed weapons. They are in constant communications with each other, kind of like the Secret Service of the Lord. WWJD? In these days and times, he might be packing heat.

*  *  *

Grace. It is an ill-defined Christian concept referring to God’s granting a lenience to those who unequivocally do not deserve it. I am right with the concept of grace. Too many times it has been extended to me when I had done nothing to merit it.

Today I witnessed  Christian grace granted by better Christians than me who have just had their hearts cut out and desecrated. Last night I tried to pray for the sonovabitch who did this horrendous act. Try as I might, I could not extend him my grace and forgive him in private prayers.  I tried to pray for his poor, confused family and I could not find it in me to do so. I am mortal. Through my tears, I could not do it.

Yet I see during his arraignment, lo and behold, victims’ families are praying for him and asking our God for forgiveness on his behalf.

I am learning something. In this simple act of Christian forgiveness and grace, God is working in our evil, evil world.

 

Drawing by a girl named Madeline memorializes those slain at Mother Emanuel Church

Drawing by a girl named Madeline, aged 7,  memorializes those slain at Mother Emanuel Church

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Editing the Bucket List

Nolan at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, 2011

I worked on my bucket list a little bit this morning.  Its changes over the past six or so years reflect little accomplishment and a lot of mellowing out.  The thing about a list, you see, is that it is ever changing.

  • See my son graduate; live long enough to be a grandmother
  • Go trekking in the Himalayas Mongolia!!!!  Sleep in a yurt, ride those little horses and drink fermented mare’s milk
  • Remember my father every single day of my life and appreciate my mother every single day.
  • Ride a horse across some Godforsaken Western landscape…alone Teach my son to ride a horse; he can fish, shoot, hunt and play guitar.  Learning to ride is the only essential life-skill I think he should have that he has yet to master.
  • Raft the Snake River in Idaho Finish rafting the rest of the Chattooga after almost drowning there last year.
  • Fly over Alaska in a tiny little plane and then set it down somewhere to hunt moose  I’d settle for killing a really big whitetail
  • See a black bear in the wild  (in South Carolina)
  • Bungee jump—Well I did a bungee tower, not quite as high as a bungee jump, but close
  • Take my son and husband to the Outer Banks.
  • Read all the classic (again) from Beowulf to Jayne Eyre to Silas Marner to The Sun Also Rises to The World According to Garp
  • Run a marathon Not so important anymore.  I do want to do more triathlons, maybe up to Olympic Distance.
  • See Hamlet in an off-off Broadway play or college theater group; See Godspell again
  • Learn to scuba dive What was I thinking!?!
  • Go to a cooking school
  • Catch a rattlesnake Accomplished May 2009.  Pin and pick up a venomous snake with my hands Accomplished May 2010.  Catch an alligator (again)
  • Visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras; have coffee and beignets at the Café du Monde
  • Hang my clothes on a clothesline again, on  a regular basis.
  • Work a humanitarian mission, mission trip or field research project in a Third World nation
  • Deliver a calf again
  • Go to a tent revival and really get in the Spirit
  • Go to the Super Bowl!
  • Nude beach?  No, private beach, nude
  • Remember hearing my grandmother giggle
  • Have a really great garden again ; freeze and can things for winter
  • Finally see an Ivory-billed woodpecker  Should I can this?  I’ve made two attempts already that did not go well!!??
  • Take my son to Disney World Accomplished April 2011
  • Go to an Irish Pub and close the thing down, singing too loud
  • Learn to do basic carpentry, and minor to moderate home repair—or learn to sew, which is basically carpentry with cloth
  • Attend La Tomitina, that tomato-throwing festival in Spain
  • Run the Peachtree Road Race again  Set to do this a week from tomorrow.  Pray that I finish!
  • Walk through a street market in a Third World Country and not worry about what (or who) I am eating
  • See a Jimmy Buffett concert again with friends and family
  • Go to the Kentucky Derby  wear an outrageous hat and drink mint juleps
  • Finally get one of my book manuscripts published; I have  five languishing in drawers
  • Spend a month in Mexico, immersion-learning the language
  • Tour Switzerland with my mother (her ancestors came from there) Not looking too likely; her health is not great
  • Take my family on a tour of the American West—Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone.   I hear the Grand Canyon is nice.
  • A day at work where EVERYTHING goes right
  • Watch or re-watch all the movies that won Best Picture at the Academy Awards; Well, maybe not all of them; gotta figure some are boring.
  • And my ultimate:  hitch-hike, take a train, walk, ride a horse, sail, etc, etc, from here to Tierra del Fuego Paddle my kayak across the Okefenokee Swamp and ride my bicycle back (accomplishing my first “Century” on the bike and so much more!)

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Revisiting the List

Yesterday I was flummoxed by a simple question from a friend, “What’s on your bucket list?”

As a strange coincidence, I had  run across a hard copy of my list only two days before.  I glanced at it and realized with amusement that I had accomplished a couple of the things on the list.  I can check those babies off now.

But when the question was put to me, I drew a complete and total blank.  What exactly was on my list?  I couldn’t remember a blasted thing!  I struggled to remember, uh, maybe run a marathon, and, uh, maybe, uh raft the Chattooga?  And maybe bungee jumping was on it, but never skydiving?  I couldn’t even remember the things I had noted that I could check off.

Midlife is a strange time.

You are struggling to stay young and you know you are losing the battle day by day.  Your priorities change, and you wish you weren’t mellowing out quite so much.  It was plumb unsettling to know that I couldn’t even remember the things that seemed important to me only five or so years ago.   And it should be eye-opening to re-do the list and even comment on the previous list.

Here, for posterity’s sake, is my list from 2005 or ’06.   It is reprinted from Tidbits, The Best Little Paper Ever:

At Huntington Beach State Park a few weeks ago, I added another bird to my life list.  Birders, you see, keep a list of all the birds they’ve seen and identified in their lives.  They are meticulous about keeping this life list, and the Peterson Field Guide series conveniently provides a checklist in the field guide.  Though I always thought I’d eventually see a male painted bunting, it was anticlimactic when I unexpectedly encountered two of the most colorful birds on the continent visiting a feeder there at the state park.

This much anticipated sighting reminded me of another list I made, one made several years ago when I had an unexpected scare from a medical test.  Fearful that my test results would be bad, I made a list of all the things I wish I could do before I die.

Some of these things are poignant, almost sad.  Some are way out of reach.  Some are doable.  And some are mundane.

Here’s just part of my list:

  • See my son graduate
  • Go trekking in the Himalayas
  • Remember my father every single day of my life and appreciate my mother every single day.
  • Ride a horse across some Godforsaken Western landscape…alone
  • Raft the Snake River in Idaho
  • Fly over Alaska in a tiny little plane and then set it down somewhere to hunt moose
  • See a black bear in the wild
  • Read all the classic (again) from Beowulf to Jayne Eyre to Silas Marner to The Sun Also Rises to The World According to Garp
  • Run a marathon
  • See Hamlet in an off-off Broadway play or college theater group
  • Learn to scuba dive
  • Go to a cooking school
  • Visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras; have coffee and beignets at the Café du Monde
  • Work a humanitarian mission, mission trip or field research project in a Third World nation
  • Go to the Super Bowl!
  • Remember hearing my grandmother giggle
  • Finally see an Ivory-billed woodpecker
  • Take my son to Disney World
  • Go to an Irish Pub and close the thing down, singing too loud
  • Attend La Tomitina, that tomato-throwing festival in Spain
  • Run the Peachtree Road Race again
  • Walk through a street market in a Third World Country and not worry about what (or who) I am eating
  • Go to the Kentucky Derby
  • Spend a month in Mexico, immersion-learning the language
  • Tour Switzerland with my mother (her ancestors came from there)
  • Take my family on a tour of the American West
  • A day at work where EVERYTHING goes right
  • Watch or re-watch all the movies that won Best Picture at the Academy Awards
  • And my ultimate:  hitch-hike, take a train, walk, ride a horse, sail, etc, etc, from here to Tierra del Fuego

I’m proud to report that recently I checked off another of my life’s “to do list,” I swam-biked-ran my way to finish the Greenville Triathlon.

Do you have a life list?

Some things are for dreaming; some things are for doing.  But one thing’s for sure, life is as much of an adventure as you choose to make it.


“Learn to scuba dive?”  What the heck was I thinking? I don’t recall ever pondering it.  Snorkeling was fun, but scuba? Whassup with that?  And why wasn’t bungee jumping on the list?  And now we can trash can the trip from here to Tierra del Fuego.  What I want to do now is kayak solo across the Okefenokee Swamp and cycle back.  And the ivory-billed woodpecker, hmm, after one failed attempt at seeking them in Arkansas and one poor attempt in Florida, that one might have to go bye-bye, too.

We accomplished Disney two months ago and God willing, the Peachtree will be in the can on July 4, only two weeks away.

Looks like I need to re-do the list.  Stay tuned for an update.

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Rush Hour…and then some. Atlanta adventure.

Consider that you are dropped into one of the busiest cities in the USA at rush hour on a Friday night.

You are suddenly teleported into an unfamiliar vehicle in an unfamiliar city…and expected to follow an ambulance carrying your spouse to a hospital you’ve never even heard of.  Whoops.  With an anxious teenager riding shotgun.

That happened to me last weekend. 

Barreling down I-85 just across the state line into Georgia, my husband suddenly slammed on brakes and jerked the wheel to the side, landing us about where an on-ramp entered the interstate.  Nonplussed, I simply figured there was a blue light flashing behind us.

Wrong.

Mr. B had suddenly become very dizzy and lost most of his vision.  “You’re going to have to drive,” he said.

I schlepped us down to the next exit where I pulled over and checked his blood sugar.  170.  Certainly not contributing to his dizziness.  My son got out and helped him try to walk it off.   It didn’t work.  A recently diagnosed early diabetic on blood pressure medicine, Mr. B had left his blood pressure cuff at home. 

We decided to motor on, with me at the helm of his F-150 pickup truck, dizzied myself by the array of controls.  I had driven this truck exactly twice on very rural South Carolina roads.  I didn’t even know were the door locks and window locks and seat adjustment buttons were, much less how to work the navigation system and cruise control, yet I was in command of this beast of a truck at 75 to 80 mph for the next hour and a half. 

Some of it was bumper to bumper stop-and-go traffic, some was easy cruising.  And some was rush hour in Atlanta.  All the while checking every few minutes to see if my Mr. B was still breathing.  His eyes were closed and he was uncharacteristically silent, responsive but barely.  I tried to stay calm for the lad beside me.

There are a few cliches about Atlanta.  One is the old joke that when you die, you have to be routed through Hartsfield on the way to the pearly gates.   The other is that if your middle finger is disabled, you can’t drive in Atlanta.  Both are pretty close to true. 

With the help–or hindrance–of the navigation system, I muddled my way to the Omni at the CNN Center  in downtown. 

I consider myself a pretty sophisticated person.  I’ve been a good many places by plane, train and automobile.  Driven in most of them and am competent at checking in and out of hotels, motels, country inns and B&B’s.  Ditto for campgrounds and, yes, even yurt villages.   But this downtown hotel confounded me.  Parking valets and bellmen descended on us like ants at a picnic.  I had no time to decide which bags we would take in and which we would leave in the truck.

We had coolers of drinks and snacks, a shotgun and a case of shells, two laptops, grocery bags of sugarless snacks and our raggedy assortment of what might loosely be called luggage.  I felt like we were the hillbillies arriving in Beverly Hills. 

Somehow we managed to get Mr. B up to our room and receive our luggage from the bellman.  Whereupon he tried to walk and fell down and said, “I hate to say it, but you’re going to have to take me somewhere.”

Yep.

I tried to call the concierge desk and the damn phone didn’t work.  “Excuse me,” I said, coolly, like I did this every day, “I’ll just go down there and talk to someone.”

Things came unhinged from there.  Our concierge said protocol dictated that she would have to call security and 9-1-1.  Then she quickly, diplomatically and calmly accompanied me to room 415.  We got there before security and my husband was still out flat on the bed, eyes closed, poorly responsive. 

While we waited for the paramedics, the phone maintenance guy drifted in and in broken English explained that he would have to come back later and reprogram the phone.  We paced and waited…and waited…and waited for the EMS to arrive, with me fretting, thinking, I’m glad he’s not having a heart attack.  Truth be told, I didn’t know what was happening to him.  Recently he has lost weight because of the diabetes, and this has helped his blood pressure, but I feared a stroke.  And time is critical with those.

The paramedics arrived after twenty minutes.  Given the traffic, I could understand that, but it did little to instill confidence in having him get the help he needed.

They assessed him and advised that they transport him to a hospital.  I was given two choices, and considering what I’d heard about one of them, hoped that I’d chosen wisely.  Things moved very quickly from there.  While one EMT set an IV, the other tried to give me directions to the hospital.  Uh, slower, I’m trying to type this into my cell phone.  The next thing I knew, he had an oxygen nose piece on and was strapped to a gurney and being loaded into an ambulance.

An ambulance that I was going to have to follow through downtown Atlanta at 5:30 pm on a Friday…in a truck that I was just learning to drive. 

We made it.  I ran a couple of yellow lights, got separated from the ambulance once but never lost sight of it.  I even managed to thread the big 4WD pickup into a parking garage at the hospital with just a few inches to spare and my son coming unglued, yelling “Don’t scratch his truck!  You’re gonna scratch his truck!”

Less than an hour and a half later, he was treated and released, the diagnosis being vertigo.  Relieved, I navigated to a Walgreen’s with excellent directions from the nurse and got his prescription filled.  We made it back to the Omni and somehow led him to the room.

He stayed in the room for two days, wobbly and nearly blind, before beginning to toddle out a bit.  A little over a week later, he is gradually feeling more and more normal.

Gimme a truck, any truck, and I guarantee that I can drive it anywhere under battlefield conditions.

And the irony?  His physician was in the same place as we were..at the same time as we were running around like chickens with heads cut off…and we didn’t know it.

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Hearing Bea Laugh

We lost a family treasure this week. 

Aunt Bea passed away peacefully at the home of her daughter and son-in on Monday.   She was ninety-six years old. 

Bea had many names.  Her given name was Lydia.  She was called Lottie Bell by many, which was  shortened to Bea.  Unable to pronounce her name, her first grand-daughter began to call her Mudgie.  It stuck.  All three of her grandchildren called her Mudgie. 

I have a theory that the number of nicknames one has seems to be directly proportionate to how much one is loved. 

Bea was a feature of my childhood.  She lived with her mother–my Granny Cooper–on the mill hill in Enoree.  They had their own home, a four room mill house near the Enoree School.  But they could likely as not be found at Nanny and Papa’s old big house–one of the biggest houses on the mill hill.   Papa was entitled to the big house because he was the night superintendent at the mill.

But there were curious things about Bea. 

Mind you, I am looking at things through the eyes of a very naive little girl growing up in the Sixties.  Nothing bad had ever happened or ever would. 

Aunt Bea had no husband.  I suppose at various times my innocent mind partitioned her off as a widow or even a spinster, never mind how she came to have a daughter and grandchildren.   So it was a shocker to find out that Bea had been married and divorced.  Nobody we knew of in Enoree except scandalous Aunt Jennny had been divorced.  People whispered about folks who got divorces.  It just wasn’t done.  There certainly was plenty to whisper about Jenny, but Bea was just Bea.  No whispering required.

A second curious thing about Bea was that she didn’t drive.  She walked to work, walked to Nanny and Papa’s.  Wherever else she needed to go, there were always relatives and friends to take her.  A good many women in the Sixties did not drive.  Nanny didn’t, but I remember Papa Claude teaching her…or trying to, and she eventually got a driver’s license.  I don’t know if Bea ever did.  

Bea and Papa Claude shared a special friendship, even after Nanny died.  Bea was his sister by marriage but also by the heart.  Papa liked puzzles and trickery of all kinds, but he was a master of practical jokes.  One time he got a mail-order motion activated recording that he hid under the toilet for Bea.  it said something like, “I SSSEEEEEE  YOUUUUUUUUUU,”  in a man’s deep voice.  My little old Papa giggled for days about that.

If Papa Claude giggled, Bea laughed.  Not a loud, crazy laugh, not a dainty little laugh.  A just right laugh.  She laughed a lot.   Shortly after mama got the call about her death, in the quiet of her home with her mind turned to a simple task, mama heard Bea’s laughter. 

Bea stayed healthy and vibrant well into her senior years.  I reckon all of that walking all over the mill hill kept her slender and strong.  She worked long days in the cotton mill into her seventies. 

Keep on laughing Bea/Lottie Belle/Mudgie.  We’ll see you again someday over yonder.

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