Old Joe – The Storyteller – Chapter One

Old Joe lived down the street from my grandparents.  He was always sitting in his rocking chair on his front porch.  His house was right at the crest of a steep hill.  I had never talked to him but he would always nod and wave when he saw me.

I was only six years old and I loved to ride my bicycle down that hill.  I was full of life and had a natural curiosity.  The one thing I wanted more than anything was to have wings.  I would stand at the top of the hill, wave to old Joe and get ready for the ride of my life.

I felt like a bird as my bicycle and I went flying down that hill.  The wind would hit my face like a thousand tiny needles.  How I used to wish that I could soar up to the sky and dance on the clouds.

One summer day, I decided to just walk right up to old Joe and talk to him.  My grandpa had once said “you’ve never met a stranger, have you?”

I didn’t have a mama and daddy anymore.  My grandparents said they had “gone away.”  I really didn’t remember them so I wasn’t ever sad.

I told old Joe that my name was Abby but that my grandparents called me “little bit.”   He said “it’s nice to meet you, Miss Abby.”  It made me feel so grown up when he called me that.  He said “peoples just call me old Joe.”  I asked him if he had any children.  When he said “no” I asked him why.  He said “I guess the Heavenly Father didn’t see fit to give me any.”

Old Joe quickly became my best friend.  After my flight down the hill, he would bring out glasses of lemonade and we would sit in his rocking chairs, talking and taking sips of that cool delight.  I would tell him all the knock-knock jokes I knew and he would just laugh and laugh.  Sometimes I stayed until it got almost plumb nighttime.

My grandma had a huge cow bell that she would ring when it was time for me to come home.  As soon as I heard it, I would tell old Joe “got to go home now.”  He would smile and say “alright, see ya tomorrow.”

Old Joe told me lots of stories.

One day he told me about the first time he ever saw an automóbile.  He said “I was sittin’ right here and I looked up and said to myself “lawdy mercy.  Yonder comes an automóbile.”

I had never seen an automobile either so I wanted to hear all about it.

He said “I was waitin’ for it to get closer so I could get a really good look at it.”  He said “I sat here and waited and waited for it to come to the top of the hill but it never did so I got to thinkin’ and reckoned that maybe it had stopped on the way.  Directly, I got up and looked down the hill but it wasn’t there.”  Old Joe said he never did figure out what happened to that automóbile and reckoned that it was just “one of those things.”

Old Joe had a donkey he called “Myrtle.”  He said “she’s an ornery old cuss but she’s the only company I got besides Squeak.  Squeak was a squirrel that lived in an old oak tree beside the house.  Old Joe would give him a few peanuts every afternoon and Squeak was so used to him that he would come up to him and take the peanuts right out of his hand.

One day, I drew old Joe a picture of Myrtle and Squeak.  At the top, I wrote “to my best friend, old Joe.”  Old Joe said “thank you Miss Abby.  This is beautiful.”  When he asked me what the writin’ said, I asked, “can’t you read it?”  He said “no.  I ain’t never learned how to read.”

I told him I could teach him but he said “no, I reckinspect I’m too old now.”

I asked old Joe how come he never learned to read.  He said “well, I was my mama and daddys’ only young’un and I had to help run the farm so there wasn’t never any time for schoolin’.”

Old Joe walked with a limp and had a walking stick he had carved out of a tree limb.  He told me that when he was just a little boy, a stray dog had bitten him.  He said “that darned mutt took almost half my leg off and to this day, it still pains me a right smart.”

I asked him what happened to the dog.  He said “we ate him for dinner that night.”

There was a twinkle in his eye and he started laughing when he saw the expression on my face.  I said “old Joe.  You are tricking me!”

One day I asked old Joe if he had any friends.  He said “why, you’re my friend.”  I giggled and said “but do you have any other friends.”  He said “no.  They’ve all gone away.”

I said “my mama and daddy have gone away, too.  Do you reckon they’ve all gone to the same place?”  Old Joe said “you know what, Miss Abby, I just bet they have.”

To be continued……………………..

Words, Thoughts And Letters

I was reading a post today by crystalempath.  The gist of the post was to let people know that you care about them now…because time is fleeting.

I commented that it sort of reflected my view of life…and death.  I always told Loser and my children that I wanted my flowers and kind words while I was still alive.  You can’t hear and see and smell after you’re dead and I despise the hypocrisy of denying those things in life but showing them in abundance after death.

I dare say that if I died and my children knew, they would be the very ones standing by my grave, the epitome of hypocrites, crying crocodile tears and throwing flowers on my casket.
They don’t cry for me now.  They criticize me and confirm to each other their belief that I am insane.

My question is….how are you supposed to tell people things that you’ve never heard yourself?  How do you say or write phrases that literally make you cringe?

One of crystalempaths ideas was to write a letter and just put it aside to revisit later with the idea that feelings may change or something might need to be added.
Another was to write it and then burn it.

A previous counselor suggested that I do that.  I didn’t want to but I did.  I had the ceremonial burning and let the wind carry away the ashes.  All that did was leave ashes in my yard.

The next step was to write letters and tear them up, which I did.  When asked how I felt afterward, I said “it was just like tearing up pieces of junk mail.”

Writing a letter of forgiveness, whether or not the intended recipient ever knows it was awarded should be cathartic, shouldn’t it?  To me, just writing it down, whether sincere or not, is a reprieve and that is something I cannot and will not offer.  I don’t give pardons so that somebody can be relieved of guilt while the people left behind in the devastating ruins they caused are still suffering.

If I wrote a letter to my children, what would I say?  Would I present myself like a death-row inmate begging for clemency?  Would I apologize for not being the mama they used to have?  Would I apologize for not forgiving all of Losers’ transgressions?  Would I apologize for not allowing Loser and his WTC to be my new BFFs (after Loser said he wouldn’t give me a divorce?)
Would I remind them that it was I who was always there for them?

The most important question is, if I wrote them a letter, would they even care?  I don’t think so.  It would just be one more thing for them to share with Loser, the WTC and each other and say “see.  We keep telling you.  Mom’s insane.”

I have no intentions of doing it, of course.  Maybe it’s because I’m a piece of shit.  Maybe it’s because I’m evil…or maybe it’s because I’m dead inside.

There will be no letters from me to anybody.  There will be nothing left behind to trigger anybodys’ pretentious and sudden affection, which would clearly be exhibited for display purposes only.

I’m okay with it.  I didn’t have a family growing up.  I thought I was going to have one when I got married but that didn’t work out too well….so again, I don’t have a family.

That was the story of my young life but never in a million years did I think that was how it was going to be at the end of my life.

A Relative Named Frankie?

My FIL was really into the “ancestry” thing and worked on it quite a while before he died.  Loser then took up the cause.

Loser has spent hours and hours, researching his ancestors and he loved to talk about some sixty-ninth cousin, twenty-three times removed.  It was hard for me to sit there and listen to that bullshit about people I didn’t know and certainly didn’t care about but I did.

That’s what he would talk to his children about and I tried to get him to stop doing so much of it when he visited them.  He would sit there and talk about those people and never ask anything about how they were doing.  Daughter #2s’ husband mentioned that it bothered him.  I told Loser and his response was FUCK T**.
It insulted him.  He thought that everybody should be enthralled with his “kinfolk.”

My familys’ history is sparse to say the least.  I know my paternal grandfathers’ mama and daddys’ name but that’s as far back as it goes.  There’s just not much information but Loser was diligent in his search to find out anything he could.

He called me one day and was pretty excited about something he had found about my great-great-great something ( I think maybe a distant aunt.)  Her name was Frankie.

Apparently she was the first woman ever to be hung in the county.  She is quite a legend in my neck of the woods and there was even a movie made about her.

Frankie was apparently a beautiful woman and married an equally beautiful man, who was a womanizer.  He continuously and blatantly cheated on her and it was believed that he beat her.  They had a small child and Frankie was left alone most of the time.

He was constantly coming home late at night, drunk and smelling like other women.  One night, Frankie had enough.  She waited until he passed out on the floor and started chopping him up with a hatchet.
She cut off every body part, including his head.

She put a few parts into the fireplace and burned them.  She buried the other parts out in the yard.

He just became a strange mystery when he “disappeared” after a hunting expedition but as misfortune would have it, a man came to clean the fireplace and noticed not only an oily residue, he noticed bones.

Frankie was charged with his murder.  There was some speculation that she had been helped by her mama and brother because Frankie only weighed ninety pounds and it would have been difficult for her to carry the parts.  Her mama and brother were charged but later released.

In those days, women were not allowed to testify in court.  She wasn’t able to defend herself so the adultery and beating defense was never introduced.
Many of the townsfolk lobbied for her acquittal but to no avail.  At one point, her family broke her out of jail and dressed her as a man.  They almost made it to Tennessee before they were caught and sent back.  Even after the jailbreak, the public still wanted her pardoned.

The presiding judge (who was from my hometown) had a reputation for being lenient.  He was elected Mayor and used Frankies’ case to hone his new image as “stern.”  Even though the outcries for a pardon persisted, he did not grant one.

Frankie was found guilty and hanged.  She was only eighteen years old.  She is buried in a cemetery but the stone marking her grave is almost impossible to find.

There are several different places where Frankies’ husband is buried because he was not buried all at once.  As they found parts of him over the years, they buried each piece and put up new markers.  Some reports say there are seven different sites.

The next to the last time I saw Loser, he brought me a big manila envelope.  He had printed out information about my family and seemed to be so proud of himself.  Most of it I already knew.
He took some of them out and started reading the information.  He printed everything he could find about Frankie and her unfortunate demise.
I returned the envelope to him on the day of the final decree hearing.  I just didn’t want anything from him.

I’m not sure what I think about the Frankie lineage.  All the evidence points to her being a distant relative.  The names make sense.  Geographically, it makes sense and if I am indeed a descendant…

where the Hell is that damn hatchet?



Now What?

I went off the deep end the other day when I found out that my son had lied to me.  Was it a life-altering lie?  Was it an unforgivable lie or was it the kind of lie that leaves you feeling betrayed…again?

When Loser first “got” his WTC, my son was outraged.  He didn’t like the way Loser had sneaked around with her for so long, while still “playing” husband to me.  He didn’t like the way Loser was treating me and he really didn’t like it when Loser decided to turn me into his whore.

My son told me that he was “never going to meet THAT woman.”  I reminded him that Loser had made it clear that “if my kids don’t want to see HER, then they won’t see THEIR DADDY.”  My son said “I guess I’ll suffer the consequences then, because I am never going to meet her or have anything to do with her…EVER.  You are the one who has always been there for me.”

When “somebody” let me know that Loser was taking her to spend the holidays with my children, I knew my two oldest daughters would welcome her with open arms but I never expected my son to do the same thing.  He even told me (before I had gotten the note) that he told Loser “if you come to town, I’d love to see you but I’m not going to see her.”

The one time I talked to my oldest daughter, she obviously knew they were coming and said “I can tell you one thing, mom.  They are NOT staying here.”
Well, they did.
K**** has intestinal fortitude to spare but she was just probably afraid of the abusive bullying she would endure from Loser if she told him they couldn’t stay there.  I’m sure she knew if she said no to him, she would never see him again and he would reduce her to a pile of garbage.
It would have been okay with Loser to make K**** feel like shit…he has his WTC on his side.
It would have been hard for K****.

I found out that my son had indeed “met” her.  Just like with K****, I felt like somebody had punched me in the gut.  I got the usual text from him saying “hey mom.  Hope you’re having a rad day.”  I asked him why he hadn’t told me about meeting the WTC.  He never responded.

Three days later, he sent another text saying “hey, mom.  I hope you’re having a good day.”  I asked him why he didn’t answer my question.  He said “because I was just saying hello.”
I told him it was fine and he responded “quit being weird and stop trying to make me feel bad.  Anyway, you saying you hope I’m too well but NEVER saying you love ME.”  (Several words were misspelled in his texts.)

I said “clearly, you are drinking.”
He said “you ought not take your spite out on me.  MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.  I DON’T HAVE TO TELL YOU SHIT.  SCREW YOU AND YOUR FEELINGS.
If you don’t want a baby boy, fine.  Imagine how I feel…oh, wait.  You don’t feel.  So sorry about your tragic life, mom.  YOU’RE ABOUT AS SELFISH AS I AM.”

Then he said that it was okay that I was “CRAZY.”  ( I wonder who he’s been talking to?)

I told him not to text me anymore and he responded with “whatever.  Block your only sons’ number then.”  It took a few minutes before he texted me again.  This time he said “bullshit is what this is.  You are betraying your son, your blood.  You ain’t going to get me twisted.  You’re making stuff up in your head.  Why don’t you BLOG about it instead of taking it out on me?”

I blocked his number and spent all night worrying.  What if he got in trouble and needed to talk to me?  What if he got sick and needed advice?  What if he hurt himself?  How would I deal with that?
But, I also wondered why he says the things he says to me.  I wonder if he ever says things like that to Loser.  I don’t imagine that he does.  He would be too afraid of Losers’ wrath.

I also imagine that he HAS been talking to Loser.  I think Loser has successfully convinced three of my children that I AM indeed insane.  It has been mentioned by them too many times.
It also endears Loser to them when they think  “look at what poor dad had to put up with all those years.  Thank God he has a sane WTC now.  He REALLY deserves to be happy.”

Did I do the right thing?  I don’t know.


And then, there was one.


A Crying Child

I found this picture of me this morning.  I remember when it was taken like it was yesterday.  Mama had dropped me off at my grandmothers’ house.  I was begging her to take me home.
When she took this picture, she was smiling and said “maybe if you were a good little girl, this wouldn’t happen.”

I think this is going to be my last blog.

me 30001

Annas’ Story

Anna wakes up every morning, after only two or three hours of sleep and lays there for a minute thinking “why should I get out of bed?”
She gets up and wanders into the kitchen, takes the vitamin that she hopes will help her frail body and then she turns on the television to see if any towers have been hit by airplanes.  If not, she tries to concentrate long enough to get an idea of what is going on in the world…but she doesn’t care.

After a one or two-hour numb-fest, she decides to go make her bed and get dressed.  The clothes she wore yesterday are laying on the bathroom floor.  She picks them up and puts them on…again.  They’re the same clothes she has worn for the last week…but she doesn’t care.

She decides to gather up all the pictures of those who were once her family and pack them away in a box.  She is taking a painful, drastic move to erase all vestiges of the last forty years of her life…but she doesn’t care.

She thinks about selling all of her fine china and crystal, which have been in bins under her house for almost a year.  In the past she had gone to so much trouble to make sure she could set a proper, formal table for visitors and family…but nobody ever came.
She wanted to set a romantic table to celebrate her anniversary…but her husband thought she was ridiculous.  Somehow, sitting in a bar or going to a golf tournament was always more enticing to him so she spent her anniversary alone.
She thinks she could smash the dishes into a thousand bits and make a mosaic out of the shattered pieces but she won’t.  That would require energy that she no longer has.  She thinks maybe she could sit them out on the curb and post “free stuff” on Craigslist.  She thinks about how many thousands of dollars those things are worth…but she doesn’t care.

She thinks about her collection of French Jumeau dolls that she dressed all in white and how she meticulously replicated their original outfits.  She named them and since she was alone most of the time, she talked to them and told them her secrets and hopes and dreams.  Sometimes she would sit one of them on her lap while she watched television, waiting for somebody to come home.
Eventually, she put it back with the others and went to bed because she got tired of waiting.
They are packed up somewhere.  She doesn’t even know where…and she doesn’t care.

She looks at her collection of hand-painted Limoges that represented things in her life.  There were little sewing machines, dress forms, spools of thread, doll houses and a grand piano.  There was a pumpkin to represent a “pet name.”  Those little boxes once meant so much to her.  They mean nothing now…and she doesn’t care.

She thinks about her sewing machines.  She thinks about the incredibly expensive quilter that sits on the floor in her basement…the one that was a gift when somebody was trying to buy her forgiveness.  She thinks about selling them because she knows she will never even turn them on again, much less run them.  She thinks she could probably get quite a bit of money for them but she won’t sell them.  That would require an effort that she doesn’t want to exert.
She knows they will eventually seize up…but she doesn’t care.

She thinks about the two rooms full of fabric that will never be cut or fashioned into anything.  The fabric that was so carefully chosen for a special quilt.  The fabric that she would run her fingers over and visualize how it would be instrumental in creating a beautiful work of art.  Those little pieces of inspiration used to be her friends.  They aren’t her friends anymore…and she doesn’t care.

She thinks about the mountainous amount of decorations that are taking up half of her garage and one room in her basement.  She thinks she should sell them since she no longer decorates for the holidays.  It would require tedious, back-breaking scrutiny to through the bins and find the things that were family treasures.  She wonders if she would even want to see them again.  She thinks it would be painful to see the handmade ornaments her children had given to her.  She thinks she could just slap a for sale sign on every container and let it go.  She thinks about selling forty years worth of collectible Hallmark ornaments, her childrens’ now almost antique toys and her entire past…and she doesn’t care.

She remembers her vast collection of “The Night Before Christmas” books.  Some of them are from the years she and her children were born.  She intended to give them to her namesake but she doesn’t even know her namesake anymore.  She will get rid of them…and she doesn’t care.

She opens her closet and looks at the designer clothes and shoes.  Some of them still have tags that were never cut off.  She remembers buying them to try to fill an emptiness.  She knows she will never wear them again so she’ll pack them up and get rid of them…and she doesn’t care.

Mostly, she remembers how much she looked forward to having a life, where she was the only one who mattered to somebody.  She now knows that life will never be…and she doesn’t care.

Anna looks at the sum of her life, confined to a few rooms in a house that has never really felt like her own.  She’ll eventually get rid of the house, too…and she doesn’t care.





Emergency Medical Technicians

I have first hand knowledge of being an EMT.  I used to be one and for the most part, I really enjoyed it but it is hard, sad, rewarding and sometimes dangerous work.

I have been kicked, punched, spit on and called everything but a child of God.  I have had my hair pulled so hard that it left a knot on my head.  I have had people try to grab equipment out of my hands.  I have had to get out of my ambulance and threaten a driver if they didn’t stop following me.

People are frantic and desperate when somebody they love is hurt or dying.  Some of them watch too much television and think the magical phrase “clear” will bring somebody back to life with one shock.

As an EMT, some things make you laugh.  Some things make you wonder what the hell somebody was thinking.  Some things make you so incredibly sad, you wonder if you will be able to make it for the rest of your shift.

The first real trauma I ran on was a man who had jumped in front of a train.  I won’t go into the blood and guts part of it because there wasn’t any.  He looked like somebody who had just laid down to take a nap.  Even after we cut his clothes off, there was very little evidence besides a few minor abrasions.  The real damage was apparent when we tried to lift him onto the stretcher.  It was like trying to lift an over-cooked piece of pasta.

I have run on homeless people whose blood pressure was at stroke level but they refused to go to the hospital so we had to turn them back out onto the street.  We couldn’t make them go so we had no choice.

I have run on people who were mad because we were called and wouldn’t let me touch them.  As long as they were oriented to name, place and day, there was nothing I could do.  If I touched them, it would be assault.  Later in the day, we were called back and right after I got them to the hospital, they died.

I was the first person who got to a man who was literally thrown out of a car at the emergency entrance.  His meth lab had blown up and he was fried from head to toe.  He was begging me for help.  He didn’t make it.

Now that I think about it, maybe my oldest daughter got her driving and reaction skills from me.  My partner and I were driving down a two lane road one day and it was pretty trafficky.  I noticed that a driver coming toward us looked sort of distracted.  It became obvious that she was going to hit us head on and it would most likely have been fatal for her.  Somehow, I managed to maneuver that great big ambulance enough for her to sideswipe us instead.
After she hit us, she ran.  I turned around and went after her to see if she was alright.  We found her several miles down the road.  She had pulled over and was crying.  She was okay but she was trying to hide the bag of pot she had on her front seat.

When any public servant is involved in an accident, no matter who is at fault, they have to go get a “piss test” as everybody calls it.  My partner and I were thinking “cool.  We get to go hang out in the hospital and drink milk while we’re waiting for the urinalysis tests.”

NOPE.  Our boss showed up and asked if we were okay and then gave me the key to another ambulance.  Everybody was flabbergasted.  We were the only crew who had never had to be tested.
But…think about it.  We were the “A Team.”  I was the one who was going to go pick up a man named “Richard Cranium.”  My partner couldn’t drive the ambulance and run the lights and sirens at the same time without crying.  We were the crew who sometimes got so lost, we couldn’t find our way back to base.  I guess there’s something to be said for being….ding-bats.

My partner and I were never thanked by a patient or their family.  The only person who ever said anything was some random man who just walked up to us one day and said “I just want you to know that I appreciate what you do.”

Medics are the stepping stone from your house to the hospital.  They can bring a person out of a drug overdose.  They can stop bleeding that would otherwise cost your life.  Sometimes, they can shock your heart back into a normal rhythm.  They can ease your pain with Morphine.  They can talk softly and reassuringly to you when you are scared.

We didn’t expect thanks.  We were doing our job, just like police officers and firefighters but I will say again.  If you happen to see a medic, think about saying “thank you” to them.  It would mean a lot and I’m sure they either don’t ever hear it or don’t hear it enough.