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Posts Tagged ‘Granger McDaniel’

greenDear Granger, I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

Today Alex and I repainted an old doghouse that the dog absolutely refuses to enter. But it’s too big to move. At least it looks  better.

I was winding up an electrical extension chord in the yard and discovered a big animal had pooped on it. Pretty gross but I guess that’s why they make soap.

Mary in in Indianapolis working at a super inner city Boys and Girls Club. Good Lord the stories she calls with all the time. You’d be so in love and proud of her . She’s unspeakably gorgeous and silly.

Sandor is thirteen now and off riding his dirt bike. Last night he stayed with a friend.  His brother got a fish hook caught in his face so that was the big story for the night. He’s selling some kind of meat sticks this week so he can go to band camp.  I’m sorry your not here to help with the cause.

Jack called this morning. He went to see John Prine last night. Fifth row at the Ryman in Nashville. We are working on a screenplay together about Dad.  I know you’re glad to hear that.

Last night Alex made me chicken picata and Lexo stopped by the house for a little while. She’s so beautiful now, you’d be astonished.  She brought her guitar too and played.  I wish she wasn’t such a good song writer so I could discourage her.  She and Alex put on Leprechaun garb and I laughed till I had to pee.  You would have loved the chicken and the two of them. Every time you called on the phone you always asked what Alex was fixing for dinner.

It’s been a pretty good weekend here on planet earth.  I had a dream last night that I died and when I got to heaven you were all there. But I missed the kids so much that it wasn’t heaven at all, so I asked you all to send me back.

Tomorrow will be a good day too because I have my family.  Tomorrow is also March 15th, The Ides of March. Remember? that was the day Mom killed herself. She left me that note on the door that said, “Beware of the ides of March.” She was nuts! Who does that?  It’ll be a good day.

I love you and miss you. You’d be proud.

Love Pooh

 

A Boy In Love

classMy parents fell in love in third grade, during the Great Depression.

On bright fall afternoon, my father, Granger McDaniel, squatted next to Whittington Creek. Patiently, he jiggled a piece of string. There was a tiny piece of bacon attached. He knew most of the crawdads were gone this time of year but he had a feeling. Finally, Granger watched as a crawdad approached the bacon and snapped his claw onto the meat.

“Gotcha!” he said as he raised the string up and removed the crawdad.  He looked closely at the crawdads face and bulging eyeballs. “I’m keeping you for the baby! He’ll think you’re really funny, I bet.”

He shoved the string, bacon and crawdad into his deep front pocket then without hesitation or thought, started running, into the woods and up West Mountain.

There wasn’t a visible trail but Granger knew exactly where he was going. He expected every rock and log. He knew each fork and tree. He’d run this game trail up and over West Mountain so many times he didn’t really have to think as he ran.

West Mountain was steep, but not terribly tall. Granger reached the summit in less than fifteen minutes.  Grinning,  stopped to take in the view for a moment and get his bearings. Then as quickly as he stopped he bolted down the mountain, sliding and skidding, sometimes sling shotting around thin trees to slow himself down.

Exploding out of the tree line, Granger stopped completely to catch his breath. He whipped off his hat, licked his dirty hand and smoothed his dark shaggy hair.

He was standing on the edge of a manicured lawn. A beautiful white colonial house with dark green shutters and trim loomed in front of him. After dusting off his pants with his hat, he suddenly sprinted to the back door and knocked twice.

He saw Louella, in her white uniform peek out the window at him before she opened the door.

“Hi Miss Louella, can Ann play today?”

“No, Dr. Stell said she needs to practice her piano.” She handed him a small plate with two cookies and a glass of milk. “Eat up and leave the plate on the table.”

“Can I take one of the cookies to my baby brother?”

“It’s your cookie, do what you want.” She watched him for a moment then said. “Tie your shoe before you leave so you don’t trip running down the mountain.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said as he shoved an entire cookie in his mouth then slugged down the little glass of milk.

Louella closed the door as Granger dropped the extra cookie into his deep front pocket with the crawdad. He squatted down and tied the lace on his ragged shoe, pulled his cap down tight on his head and started running.

Before my dad died, when he was fifty one, he told us to pour his ashes on West Mountain, because he’d always be running to his girl.

It’s always been said, my mom and dad fell in love in third grade. It wasn’t always easy.

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.

God Gave Me A Rock…Literally, A Rock

peaceI’m reprinting this story because I gave my rock to a friend yesterday.  She is the aunt of a seventeen year old boy who is struggling with all sorts of issues.  She wants to save him so she took her own sister to court to get custody.

When I walked into court I handed her my peace rock because it has the power to help in special situations.

Here’s the story of my peace rock. (And fyi, the aunt’s story had a happy ending.)

 

 

A little less than a year ago my brother, Granger, died. It was a pretty horrific and heartbreaking situation. Granger was my last living family member. That’s why I sometimes feel like the last creature from my herd; the last zebra with these stripes.

The day I got the phone call, telling me Granger wasn’t going to make it, I was hanging out with my kiddos, Lexie and Sandor, who was 8 at the time.  We were looking at some funky art in a  tiny gallery on Central Avenue.  When the phone rang I stepped outside to take the call.

I was told he might make the next 24 hours, but it was doubtful.  My big brother was going to die and leave me here, all alone.

My heart thumped with pain and I tried to breath evenly. I didn’t want to break down and wail in front of the kids.  It was really hot that day, almost a hundred degrees but I shivered in the sunshine and I prayed.

“Lord, please help me with this, please help me find some peace and strength to get through this. I don’t have much left. Just help me find some peace, Lord, because I don’t understand this.”

Peace and strength, that’s all I wanted. After I prayed I felt a little better. I took three giant breaths and willed myself not to cry then I walked back into the gallery to find the kids.

Lexie was looking at an abstract painting of a horse, or maybe it was a volcano. I took her hand, it was warm and dry and felt nice. For a moment I stared at the painting with her. “Where’s Sandor?”

“He went out back to play with Daniel and Ben.”

I nodded and decided I wouldn’t tell them about Granger until we got home.

I willed myself not to start crying as I walked to the galleries’ back door. Sandor and two other little boys were squating next to a pot- hole filled with black water.

“Come on Boy Boy,” I yelled. He popped up like a jack-in-the-box and ran to me.

“Look what I found, Mom.” He stuck his grubby hand in his pocket and waited for me to stretch out my hand. Then he placed a smooth river stone on my palm. “Look at it!” he said excitedly.

I unwrapped my fingers and stared at the grey rock. The word PEACE was etched into the surface. I looked at Sandor, who was grinning.”Where did you get this?”

He was bouncing just a little. “I found it in the puddle over there,” he said and pointed to the pot hole. “You can have it,” he said cheerfully than ran off to find Lexie.

Granger did die the next day. I kept that rock in my pocket for the next two weeks.  Now it stays in the cup holder in my car.  I rub when I need to and sometimes, when other people need a little Peace, I share my rock.

I’m pretty sure God and Granger would want me to pass the peace.

**You can comment or write to me at hampoland@gmail.com or find me on facebook. I always need more friends.

I. Granger McDaniel II

Eulogy for I Granger McDaniel

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Hot Springs, Arkansas

As most of you know, McDaniels are legendary crybabies so please for give me.

Having Granger as a brother was a little like being related to a rock star. He came to town, the world temporarily shifted on it’s axes, black was white, three in the morning wasn’t late, then he would leave and it took months for things to be normal again.

But there were always two things Granger loved, first his daughters. His life was so full of love, everyone one considered him their best friend or the love of their lives.

But for Granger, it was the girls. They were the great loves of his life. The love he was looking for was there.

But Granger’s second love was a little like being a life guard at Magic Springs. My brother lived to rescue people. Like Don Quioete he would never give up, he lived to help and he was always looking biding his time till the the next great adventure.

If you were jammed up and needed somebody to loan you 500 dollars and drive you to Walla Walla, Washington . Granger was your man.
If you were a stranger in need of help, he’s the guy you prayed you’d run into.

I told CB, Granger was forever coming home with strays…there was Motorcycle Rick who lived in our garage, there was Danny Beavers who wore white turtle necks and I think totaled my mom’s car. There was a Russian poet named Valadimer. Granger picked up while he was hitchhiking in a suit with an umbrellaon  the Florida turnpike around Christmas.

Granger was simply incapable or turning his back on anyone in need. Imagine that next time a hobo asks you for a dollar in the Walgreens parking log.
Granger couldn’t’ say no

And after the rescue was complete, Granger created the story. You would be “Grangerized” .

When something is grangerized it becomes bigger, brighter, more extraordinary because that’s the way he saw life. Lakes, puppies, alligators, relatives, beautiful women, buildings. He had the uncanny gift of recognizing the most magnificent attribute then building entire fantastic descriptions around that single quality. It was his way of loving the world. If he met an ugly woman, I mean really horrendous looking girl he would tell me something like “she has the most beautiful ankles, so small I can get my thumb and forefinger around them, she has ankles of a race horse..” And the ugly woman was grangerized and beautiful

I realized the other day Granger was one of the few people in life that didn’t settle for the box of 8 or 16 crayons, he used the gigantic box of 124 , the one with the sharpener in the back because his world, and his vision of the world, needed that many colors

You know, the world would be a better place if was could all be a little more like Granger, find the amazing in every thing, use a few more crayons and take the time to rescue those in need.

If you really want to remember Grang make sure you turn your radio up waaay too loud, flirt shamelessly with a pretty girl, dance with an old lady and embrace this magical life God has give each one of us.