Look what I found today! It’s a dvd about Ricky Steamboat. You wanna watch it? Oh. Well, a dvd is …well, it’s like a tv show or a movie and you put it in this little machine that you hook to your tv and you can watch it whenever you want to. Yeah, it’s pretty neat. I bet you’d be amazed by radar detectors, too.
I spent a lot of time thinking about you today after I saw this. I was remembering how we used to play Johnny Weaver and Ric Flair, wrestling on the floor in the living room. We watched a lot of wrestling, didn’t we? And Bonanza. And the news. I hated the news. That darn David Brinkley, he used to make me so mad. When he was on, you made me be quiet so you could hear what he had to say. I hope you aren’t disappointed to find out that I still don’t watch the news. I mean, I used to, but then I had the children, and news, it isn’t black and white still photographs anymore. They show video, action pictures, and they are in color and you can actually see the blood on people and hear them screaming, and I quit watching the news when The Clone’s dad was deployed during the Gulf War, the first one, you know, because I didn’t want her to see that and ask questions, even though he was only in Germany and not in the desert. I never started back after that.
Hey, do you remember that match we went to see at the high school? I can’t remember the name, Bladen County, I think? It took for-ev-er to get there, and I was so excited. MMH had told me wrestling wasn’t real, and he’d never stop there when he was flipping the channels, and I almost believed him, until that match. When I saw the welts come up on that one man’s back after he got slung into the ropes, then I believed. Here’s what you wouldn’t believe: Wrestling is crazy now! They all wear fancy costumes and have “personalities” and they spend more time talking and threatening than they do in the ring. I’m pretty sure that now it’s mostly all fake. It’s certainly a lot of hype and big money.
And then after I remembered all that, I remembered how you used to sit with your feet up in the recliner. Always with you shoes and socks off, placed neatly under the end table beside you. And I would tickle your feet while you slept, and you would jerk them up and sleep on. I was a mean little kid, sometimes, huh? And then I remembered how when I slept in the middle of you and Grandmother, first hot and then cold, how you taught me to keep one foot in the covers and one out, and it would be just right, and it was, and I still do that today.
And I remembered how I used to put my fingers near your mouth and you would close it tight and then all of a sudden you would say “snookums” and pretend to bite my fingers. Your whiskers were so white and scratchy. I never saw you with more than a day’s beard, and you always used British Sterling, the bottles of it lined up on the bathroom shelf.
And your clothes. Grey pants, grey shirt, black belt, baseball cap. I wonder now if that’s why I find looking at that other man in a cap so comforting. Maybe he reminds me of you. I never saw you in anything else unless it was Sunday. Well, except that one time when GirlCousin and I were still laughing and giggling at 2am and you stomped through the house to the bathroom, after you’d been telling us to hush for a couple of hours. That time you were wearing a tank tee and a pair of boxers. Needless to say, we giggled for quite awhile after that, muffling the noise in the covers and pillows. Preteen girls are so easily amused. But it was the only time I ever heard you speak to me in a raised voice.
And I remembered how you sneezed so loud. Her-Ush-OOOOOO! I swear, I think GirlCousin could probably hear you at her house, a tenth of a mile away. In fact, they mighta heard you at Hill’s. Remember Hill’s? You used to wait on the bench at the front of the store while Grandmother and I did the shopping.
I remembered riding to Clarkton, week after week, with my head in Grandmother’s lap and my feet in yours. And you letting me drive the truck, sitting on your lap on the dirt road on the way home from Whiteville, when I couldn’t have been more than 8.
And I remembered the last visual image I have of you, lying on the bed, so riddled with cancer, with my three week old baby in your arms. And during that visit, while I was sitting with you, Grandmother calling to me from the kitchen, and me answering her, and you telling me not to yell at my Grandmother in that soft gentle voice of yours and me crying because you thought I had done such a thing, and it worried you and I didn’t want you to worry. And then you died a few weeks later on my first Mother’s Day. I dreaded Mother’s Day for 20 years. Last year, Mama taught me to think of your death as the date, and the not the day. And this year, That One and I took all the kids camping. It was fun, Mother’s Day was fun for the first time.
I am so glad I saw that movie thing today, the dvd. It was like spending the day with you again. I miss you so.