Middle of the Night Thoughts

by Stefani on 6-February-2008

Computer is still on the fritz. It’s gasping for breath. Locks up every few minutes. This means that I’m only able to sneak the odd moment on husband’s computer when he’s not on it, working, or when the kids aren’t on it doing their school stuff.

Bah!

And THAT means that I’ve not yet finished making match ups for the book swap. Soon friends. Soon. I promise. You might as well know that I’m never, EVER on time for anything. Ever. I try, I really do, but it’s best you dispense with any thoughts of promptness, where I’m concerned. Just assume that I’ll be late, and then, on the rare occasion that I manage to be on time or (shutter to think it), early, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I’m not proud. I’m just realistic.

Anyhow. As if the computer issues weren’t bad enough, my sweet oldest boy woke me up at 4 AM yesterday with a raging fever. Meds would not bring it down, and then the doctor gave the words I feared would come: “It’s strep.”

That, after a hideous assault on the poor boy with a 3 foot long Q-tip. He gave that doctor a run for her money thought. He was not opening that mouth of his. When she finally managed it, he threw up blackberry smoothie all over creation.

Lord.

Before all that though, in the wee hours before dawn, snuggling my burning boy, I thought, for the thousandth time, of something my grandmother told me during our recent visit. It was apropos of nothing, but thats how you think in the dark morning hours… all floaty and deep-like.

The story in question came from my Granny after I’d prodded her with “tell me about”s until she finally settled into story telling mode. She talked about how an African American woman, Seeley, used to come help out with various things. like their wash. She’d carry the loads of clothes to a “spring down in the hollow” and boil a big pot of water, which she would use to scrub and rinse their clothes. My granny talked about how, as a little girl, she had watched Seeley, and marveled at how big and strong her arms seemed, wringing every last drop of water out of their wash.

Granny said that she used to love to hear her mother (my Momo) and Seeley laugh and talk and work together. She said they were great friends and would cut up, gossip, sing, and joke while their hands flew and their backs bent over their work.

The thing is though, Seeley never came in the house. In fact, at dinner time (lunch), my Momo would take both her lunch and Seeley’s lunch outside to eat. Together.

Table for Two

Granny said that Seeley never ate in the house.

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So there I lay wondering. Why? Did my Momo not invite her in because she was black? I find that really hard to believe, especially, considering how close my Granny says they were. And, my great grandmother is pretty notorious for not caring one wit about anyone’s opinion but her own. So, it’s not real likely she would have “done the proper thing”.

Maybe she invited Seeley in, but the woman wasn’t comfortable with straying from the social laws of the day? Maybe my Momo never asked because she didn’t want to force Seeley to make an uncomfortable choice? Maybe, maybe they just liked to eat together under the pine trees. I don’t know. I try to imagine my Momo dishing up plates of food and carrying them outside to sit and chat with Seeley. What was going through her mind? I guess I’ll never know for sure.

I do know this. My Momo was a strong and good woman. She was tough and took no nonsense. She was full of laughter and spunk. I know enough of her to know that she would have been a good friend.

I don’t mean to gloss over her failings. She was human. What I mean to say, is that I know she did the best she could with what she had. So, I believe that taking her dinner with Seeley was her way of saying that she was no better than anyone else.

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I’m hoping that one day, when my sons, my grand children and my great grandchildren are looking back on my life and my choices, that they will offer me the same grace. When something doesn’t add up, or rubs the wrong way, when the pieces just won’t fit together, I hope that they will have known me well enough, that I will have lived in such a way, that they can trust that my intentions, even in my failings, were good.

I hope too that wherever Seeley’s family is, they know that her sweet nature is still being talked about, even today.

I hope that she and my Momo are finally getting to put their feet up, laugh and swap stories to their hearts’ content.

Sarah Jackson February 6, 2008 at 7:35 am

Oh, I hope he feels better soon! We’re on day 4 of the flu around here for the girls.

I love your thoughts about your Momo. It sounds like she did what she thought was right in whatever way worked for her, given the context of her time and place. I hope to look back on my own life someday and know that I did the same.

nancy February 6, 2008 at 8:15 am

Sending you all some virtual chicken noodle soup; get better soon 🙂 I really enjoyed reading about your family. You left me wanting more of the story and I really felt like I was reading a good book. Love your writing as always.

miss chris February 6, 2008 at 9:01 am

Thanks for sharing this sweet and so very real memory… it made me think of my own Grammy. Sending well-wishes your way. XO

Tracy February 6, 2008 at 9:07 am

Aw. I keep trying to type the sound that escaped my lips when I read that, the feeling in my heart, but no combination of letters really can do it.

I hope so too. I hope so.

I hope he’s feeling better soon.

AMBER February 6, 2008 at 10:15 am

Such a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I remember so many stories from my Grandparents and my Great Aunts—and like you, I know they were always doing their best given what they had. And I hope my own kids will do the same for me, too. I wish my Grandparents were still around to share their stories with not only me but my children, too.

I hope your son gets better soon! It seems strep really made the rounds this winter…

Jill February 6, 2008 at 10:31 am

I love how you brought this story around to be a lesson for yourself. I think it is a very worthy and important goal for each of us–to live in such a way that the big picture of the way we behaved, loved, gave, hurt will cause only a minor speck of doubt about the things that “don’t add up”. The things don’t seem in character would HAVE to have an plausible, satisfying answer.

Thanks for deciding to share this with your readers.

Amy February 6, 2008 at 10:55 am

What a great story! You should be up in the middle of the night more often.

beki February 6, 2008 at 11:37 am

Such a great story!

I’m with you in the strep dept – my 3 yr old was disgnosed yesterday. We have our fingers crossed that no one else gets it!!

Mary-Sue February 6, 2008 at 12:05 pm

What a wonderful story! Thank you for that. My grandmother just died and those of us left have been talking about her and grandpa… And the same thread has emerged, realizing that his ill-temper had another side — a reason for it all… depression untreated, childhood wrongs un-righted, you know? I love how you afford your momo’s memory such grace, and I aim to do the same. Thank you! Love your blog.

molly February 6, 2008 at 12:20 pm

take care of that little sweetie.

this story is so touching. i just glanced above to mary-sue’s comment and saw the word grace–that, to me, describes you and the things you share in this space, and with your boys.

that last picture speaks endless words to me….

emily February 6, 2008 at 12:55 pm

those are the most lovely middle-of-the-night thoughts. gives me goosebumps.

i hope your boy is on the mend…

erin February 6, 2008 at 1:16 pm

once again, you’ve got me. i have the same hopes as you.

Molly February 6, 2008 at 1:25 pm

You know, the idea of eating your lunch outdoors every day is kind of sweet and wonderful, a nice routine in companionship. Today, so many people eat in cars. Why not enjoy the beauty of outdoors?

Love love those images with your story.

Well wishes to your wee one and your computer. 🙂

Kate February 6, 2008 at 2:27 pm

This is such a wonderful story…what struck me most is the reminder that back then, accomplishing the mundane tasks of running a family brought women together, and that often those chores brought about and sustained lifelong friendships. Sometimes I think the conveniences of modern day life have robbed today’s women of these sorts of relationships.
Love your blog!
Wishes for a speedy recovery…

emily ruth February 6, 2008 at 2:36 pm

so beautiful…& i love the name seeley, i just added to my baby names list:)

Jade February 6, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Take care of that boy AND keep him away from the others! 😉 We all had the flu last week and it was wretched.

Loved the story. Thanks for sharing!

prairie daze February 6, 2008 at 5:59 pm

good stuff.

good hopes.

Irene February 6, 2008 at 7:46 pm

That’s a very powerful story and I would love to know the answer to your question. There is so much we don’t know about race relations and what individual people of different races thought about each other. I live in the Netherlands and my grandmother had a maid, but the maid was part of the household and ate with the family. When both my grandmother and the maid were very old, they were friends and would go shopping together and have a coffee at a caf

Ellie February 7, 2008 at 2:24 am

I hope your little one gets better soon – at least he has a precious and gentle and strong and loving Mama to hold him in the night, and keep him safe and company.
Of course Stef, your family could think nothing but beautiful things about you – I know that the way you live your life is with integrity and warmth and love and tenderness and generosity.
I love the photos in this post – the vacant personless spaces speak such volume about who has sat there and who may eat there. They really say so much about the past and the future.

Aimee Greeblemonkey February 7, 2008 at 5:59 am

Lovely. and welcome back.

Mandi February 7, 2008 at 7:12 am

Wonderful story, just had to comment, my childhood was filled with lazy summer days that always started with ” tell me about ” stories from my grand-parents. Your story was wonderful on so many levels. I hope your son is feeling better. I enjoy visiting your blog.

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