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Posts Tagged ‘Full Moon Saloon’

Vic Lives On…Forever

vicStrange things happen.

My first husband was a man named Vic Latham and he lived in Key West. He was a huge, legendary kind of man who takes up too much space in the room. He drank, ate, snorted and smoked more than five men on a full moon night.  If they made a movie about Vic they would have to dig up Cecil D Demille to direct the damn thing. That’s how big he was.

He was more than twenty years  older than I and I was his fifth wife. (I was young and didn’t  think four previous wives was a bad sign for a marriage.) vic and I had two “first meetings”.

The second introduction occurred when my brother, Granger was getting ready to go to prison.   I had to take care of some shady business in the Florida Keys, for him while he was away.  I was in college at the time, semi innocent and dedicated, no, devoted, to my brother Granger.  He introduced me to Vic, who was one of the owners of a famous late night bar called the Full Moon Saloon (aka The Full Spoon Saloon). He asked  Vic to ‘keep an eye on me” while he was behind bars.

Vic fell in love with me. Hard.  I fell in love with Key West, the famous people who hung out at his house, the appearance of money and a rambunctious wildness, I fell in love with his charm, his stories and being completely adored.

After Vic and I had been dating for six months or so I suddenly remembered a picture, from a vacation my mom, dad and I took when I was a very little girl.  I called my mom and asked her to dig up the artifact. And she did. And it was so spooky I was nearly speechless for an hour.

My mother, father and I had visited Key West when I was eight years old. We ate lunch at a elegant bistro  called Louies’ Backyard. It was a beautiful old house on the ocean.  In the picture I’m wearing a blue Holly Hobbit smock shirt and eating steak tartar. My daddy is next to me with a bloody mary and smoking a cigarette.  The manager of Louies’ Backyard is standing between us staring directly at the camera with black eyes and a black goatee  He’s very tall, handsome and dangerous looking. And he’s the only one looking at the camera. It was Vic. He’d taken care of us that afternoon and he posed when my mother asked to take our picture.

For years Vic joked my father would have shot him right there had he known what would happen years later.

Obviously Vic and I were meant to be together. Fate was busy orchestrating our meeting and marriage because Jack and Mary were born, two of the most inexplicably magical, talented and extraordinary people on the planet. They are so much like Vic and so much like me. And they will change the world.

Vic died yesterday, Easter. But he lives on.

Granger

For me, looking back,  thinking abut my exquisite  and tragic past is one of the hardest things.  For those of you who don’t know me, here’s a brief retrospect.  My dad and brother died when I  was sixteen. My mom committed suicide ten years later. That left me and my oldest brother, Granger. He died a year and a half ago. So here I am, a zebra without a herd.

Since then,  God has given me the most extraordinary children, family, extended family, husband and friends.  I think he kind of owed me; but that’s between me and God.

This Thanksgiving is tough for some reason.There are lots of wonderful people in the house but I’m thinking about my Granger. I’m listening to Johnny Cash as I make corn bread stuffing and I’m wishing he would call me to talk about the NFL.

Granger thought of himself as a Poncho and Lefty kind of guy, maybe Folsom Prison Blues.  But for me Granger’s song is The Highwaymen. He was Chris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. He was a gift that lives forever, comes back and helps us, he is a part of the universe, the heavens and the earth.

Granger is everything for me right now and I would give ten years of my life for a few minutes with him. He was the beautiful, handsome bad boy, the heart breaker hero and I miss him so much because we were zebras from the same herd.

The family story goes like this. When I was born my brother Jack was 8 and Granger was 11. They brought me home from the hospital while the boys were playing catch in the  yard.  When my dad called them in they  weren’t interested in looking at me. Finally, my Grandmother, Bubba, offered them a quarter each to look at me. Jack said, “She’s pretty cute.” and Granger said, “She’s ok. Come on let’s go.”

Now when I think about Granger, who died 15 months ago, I realize, he is the mist a pilot whale exhales into the black night air,  the exhaust on the interstate and the fog hanging over the Everglades. Granger is a Hot Wheel streaking down an orange track on Christmas morning and , clean socks, and strong coffee.  He is a Cuban pork sandwich in a little shop in Islamorado, a blues riff floating up Beale Street and the perfect three pointer in a college basket ball game. Granger is a hail Mary pass as the crowd holds their breath, he is a cheerleader calling the Hogs at an Arkansas Razorback football game. He is the coral reef off  Key West. He is an elegant sentence in a trashy novel, a dancing old lady and a group of school kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Granger is all I breath and see and hear and miss. He is the stuff that keeps my heart beating when I don’t think I can take another breath. And I will love and miss him forever.

Granger was my brother. He was a foundation in my life since the day I was born. I can only imagine but never understand the pain and pride his daughters feel.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and a thousand times, I will give thanks for my brother Granger.

Love your family while you can.