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I'm a country girl at best, with roots that run deep in SC red clay.
I was raised in a small town called Liberty and though life has taken me many places, I always end up back in some of small tucked-away place among the rolling pastures of the foothills of South Carolina. I've spent my life witnessing both the pros and cons of Southern Pride, the stubbornness of people that keeps them anchored during hard times and limits them when opportunity comes knocking.
In 2001, at the age of 31 I received the diagnosis of IgA Nephropathy. It is a silent disease that causes the slow degeneration of kidney cells. I was told then that by the age of 50 I would need dialysis or a transplant. At 31 I felt as good as ever, 50 seemed a lifetime away. Unfortunately my kidneys didn't make it that long. I started Peritoneal Dialysis, a kind of dialysis you can do at home on your own, when I was 43. Life changed dramatically in some ways, but I feel as though I have remained much the same. That's not to say I haven't learned valuable lessons about myself and about suffering and loss. If anything teaches you to value your life, it's facing the end of it.
I spent most of my career working in healthcare of some sort. In college I ended up with an internship at a nursing home, and from there began my career with elders. For over 20 years I have worked either in long term care or hospice, and now I work part-time at a community senior center that is run by a local non-profit agency. The thing I love about working with seniors is the wisdom, tenacity and pure entertainment they share. A cast of colorful characters from across the years will forever embellish my memories, and that is a priceless gift.
I continue on dialysis now (as of July I will have made it to 6 years on Peritoneal Dialysis) and my family is anxious for me to have a transplant. The idea scares me a little, but I get used to it more every day. My two daughters, Hannah (28) and Sylia (25) are working together to help spur fundraising efforts because in the US, transplants aren't free. My son Charlie (12) is home with me and is learning the art of "eye rolling" as is appropriate for all 12 year-old boys with moms. I learn about things like Fortnite from him and I try to teach him about music while we drive to school. So far, he seems to appreciate the far-out music of Pink Floyd the most, although I did have to tell him that Pink Floyd is not a guy....(insert mom eye roll here)
Writing is my hobby and my therapy. I suck at proofreading my own writing and I tend to use too many commas. At least I can admit to those weaknesses. Some folks tell me I'm good at writing, but then, your friends wouldn't exactly have the heart to say otherwise, would they? I keep a blog, mostly for my own entertainment but a few people read it from time to time.
Not much more to say about me. I'm simple and I like to keep life the same.
I'm tired. Too tired to go out partying on Fridays and eating breakfast before going to bed on Saturday. I'm so over hungover Sundays. That's not me anymore. I'm a granny. I start dozing on the couch at 8:00 pm. watching CSI (my generation's version of "Murder She Wrote") covered in blankets with only a solitary lamp lighting the room. Everything's different though, when the grandchildren come to stay. Why do grandchildren not have bedtimes? Last night we stayed up and stayed up, and stayed up some more. They watched movies and ate and popcorn and snuggled with 12 year old Uncle Charlie. Then Uncle Charlie disappeared to his room and we watched more movies. We ate sweets and drank chocolate milk and took countless bathroom breaks. I'm telling you, it was almost as crazy as a night on the town. You know those nights when you end up at a friend's house, everyone asleep on the couches and chairs, people snoring on the floor? That was my night. One fell asleep lying spread eagle on her back, smack on top of me on the love-seat. I found Charlie rolled up like a burrito in a blanket on his bed, the XBox controller still gripped in his right hand. Yet another lay drooling half-on, half-off the sofa. I put one of the party animals in bed with me and finally crawled under the covers to sleep. She immediately turned herself sideways in the bed and put her feet in my stomach. This was the sleep-dance we did all night. Feet in my stomach, feet in my face, elbow to my nose. She snored like a passed out 22 year old who stayed out too late with the wrong crowd. At 6:30 this morning when I felt her sitting up in bed beside me, I became aware of the throbbing in my head. I looked up at her. She was smiling down at me, her hair all askance. "Hi Momo!" She said. "Hi Athena." I said back, in my brightest granny voice. "Let's go get waffles." We all hit up the Waffle House dressed like we pulled clothes out of the hamper without the lights on. The food was good, the kids were fun, but I couldn't wait to get back home and take a nap. Life doesn't give you a break once you're a granny. Don't be fooled. You're still going to be up all night on Saturdays, eating breakfast too early on Sundays and walking around like a zombie on Mondays. The party never ends, it just changes into something different. Instead of tequila shots, you'll be slamming chocolate milk until 3:00 a.m. and let me tell you, there is such a thing as a chocolate milk hangover. It's only cured by a super sweet breakfast and lots of water and that's only if you're NOT lactose intolerant. The best part though? You get to take those sugar-rushed maniacs back to their parents once the sleep-over is done! And let me tell you, you've never had a nap as sweet as the one you get after a night of the granny life.
We live in a small town. Technically it's not really a town, it's a community made up of two former towns, now mere ghosts of what they once were. Created in days-gone-by, a different era when manufacturing was the life and breath of a town, Slater-Marietta still sits, a strange sense of pride imbued in every empty storefront building or run down tire shop. Only the businesses that are essential to daily life remain. A small grocery, a gas station, Slater Drug store where you can still get a milk shake or a float any day of the week as long as you don't mind waiting awhile for Bea to make it. There is a dearth of jobs where once this place stood as a bustling part of the Southern economy. The old mill, which still operates but requires far less manpower than in the distant past, puts out the smell of burned carpet now and then, and atop the big hill above at Slater Hall, you can look down on its big flat roof. Beyond it lies Beachwood Farms and a stone's throw away, the elementary school. We see our share of the odd. One morning we met a big blue-headed peacock prancing up the middle of the road as if he owned it. He dragged his big long tail feathers behind him,and stopped to stare at us as I stopped my car to stare at him. A standoff of sorts, we looked one another up and down before we both decided to continue on our ways. We never learned how he got there or from whence he came. We never figured out if he got rescued or barbecued but he was never seen again. Tonight I attended my son's Christmas Chorus performance at Slater-Marietta Elementary School. The front row already filled up when I arrived, featured an array of colorful folks. A lady who sounded like a man played with her cell phone camera and talked to her husband about someone's "Butt a showin.'" One lady sat alone like me, but with a giant Santa hat on. She didn't move a muscle or speak to anyone. Soon after I seated myself various smells began to assault my senses. The lady beside me wore flowery perfume, someone in the row behind us seemed freshly doused in Polo, and smokers must have made up the majority of the audience. A guy behind us talked so loudly during the play we could barely hear the kids. He loudly announced when a kindergartener scratched her rear during a song. Just as I started to get used to the blending scents around me a young mother came rushing in and took the seat beside me. We exchanged pleasantries, then she pulled out her phone and got lost in it. Then I noticed another indistinguishable smell. Suddenly, she turned to me and said, "I smell like potatoes and onions." I looked at her and smiled. That was it---Potatoes and onions. "I don't smell anything." I lied. As the performance was gearing up the principal approached the stage. He stuck his head between the curtains and said something, then turned around and walked back red-faced through the crowd. To the mom beside me he said, "Y'all couldn't hear what I said could you?" "No," She answered. "We didn't hear a thing." She looked at me and said, "He must have said, 'Are y'all not fuckin' ready yet?'" "Uh, yeah...right." I mumbled back. When her little girl came out, a first grader, round cheeked and curly haired, the young mom beamed with pride. "That's my little girl right there, second from the right," she told me, expecting me to look and comment. "She's adorable." I said earnestly. "Thanks," said the little girl's mother. As I sat through each grade's performance, I noticed my eyes burning, nose running, stomach churning more and more. I imagined my embarrassment should I end up fleeing my seat for the ladies room, trying to hold in a mouth-full of vomit. Because you know that never works. You just can't hold vomit in like that. I mouth-breathed my way through the performance and got to see my kid trying to hide behind another kid while he sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and some songs about Santa. I'm ashamed to admit, these kinds of things bore the hell out of me. I wouldn't miss them for the world but none of us show up at Christmas concerts to see other people's kids. We show up to watch OUR kids hide behind other people's kids. At the end Principal asked for another round of applause. At any other school those kids might have gotten a standing ovation but at Slater-Marietta we aren't going to stand up to clap for a bunch of kids flubbing their way through "Jingle Bells" for two hours. We're tired and we want to go home. Afterwards, on the way to our car I overheard parents cursing at their kids. "Where's your damn jacket?" said the other. "Let's go," one dad said at regular dad volume. "I can't take anymore of this bullshit tonight. Git in the damn car and don't forget your damn coat this time." I think we all could share his sentiments.