HampoLand

rainbow

Posts Tagged ‘Mary Hampo’

Love Changed My Daughter

My oldest daughter, Mary, was a spectacular kid. But when she was young she was…..well….really really greedy. She laughs about it now, we all do, but when she was six, eight, ten, I was a little concerned.

Mary always wanted more. She idolized, adored her older brother Jack. She literally worshiped him.  Jack was her everything, he even tried to fail first grade so he could be held back a year. He thought he should to stay in Mary’s grad and then he could take care and protect her. Still, Mary would steal Jack’s stuff all day long, even if she didn’t really want it.

Every Easter, for at least seven years, Mary woke up early, studied the baskets the Easter Bunny left, then she put all the good stuff, including chocolate, in her basket. And she filled Jack’s with the cheap candy, do-dads and toys she didn’t want.

She did the same thing with the Christmas stocking. Then she’d shrug and say something like, “I don’t know why Santa likes me better.”

Mary was a beautiful, wonderful, selfish, greedy little kid.

But a few years ago, something changed in Mary’s heart. She met Andy and fell in love…. as she’d never fallen before.

The week after Thanksgiving the texts, emails and facebook messages began. She sent me links to things Andy would love for Christmas. There was a pair of brown Aldo loafers she desperately wanted him to have, but couldn’t afford. A week later she called her dad, to tell him about a saw that would make him so happy.

The “suggestions” went on and on. The girl who stole all the chocolate Easter bunnies’ literally didn’t care what she got for Christmas. She only wanted Andy, the man she loves, to be happy.

Mary told me over and over, “don’t worry about me this year, Andy deserves everything.”

Was this my Mary on the phone? Had some kind of a ”body snatchers” thing happened while she was in the basement?

“Big Love”, the kind of love that makes you forget about yourself, is rare. Lots of folks get married and live together for years and years and years but they never stop thinking about themselves.

Mary has crossed that line and grown into a more beautiful person. She loves Andy so much she places his needs above mine, above the families’, above everything. And she fiercely protective.  Now she chooses Andy, her husband and her love. And that’s the way true love and a marriage are supposed to be. I believe God has given both Mary and Andy a higher job order.  Now, they are supposed to take care of each other. That’s the first requirement and these guys have it right.

I love and admire this new woman she has become. And Andy Stanley is a lucky man.

Just A Little Drug Deal

granger and kidsWhen I was in labor with Lex, eighteen years ago, my brother Granger came to town.  He picked up Mary and Jack from the elementary school and brought them to the hospital.  But on the way, he stopped at a fairly shady hotel/motel.  He ran into a room for just a few minutes, then got the kids some ice cream and came on up to the hospital.  Yes, Granger had to take care of a little business, it was just a tiny drug deal, before coming up to the hospital. But that was Granger, brilliant, magical but undeterred by the constraints of society or the laws of the land. This picture is from that day, in the hospital.

I lost years, on and off, being mad or offended by Granger. He always said the wrong things, I thought. He told me to ask his ex-wife how to get rid of my crows feet, he showed up two hours late for Thanksgiving dinner, he showed up two days late for Christmas. He told me our family was “redneck white trash perfection”. And teased me for being uninformed because I didn’t listen to NPR.  When I was ten he left me in his apartment with his dog and a loaded gun and told me not to answer the door. He fought with my mom (back then I didn’t know why, now I kinda get it).

I lost time with him because he made me mad because he didn’t act the way I thought he should. Instead he was Granger. I never doubted he loved me, but he hurt my feelings and made me furious.

Last night I was watching a twenty year old video of my daughter Mary, and his daughter Faith playing fooz-ball in our living room.  They were probably eight. I heard Granger talking in the background. Just a couple of sentences but his voice was so deep and musical.  He was talking about getting a tiger cub.

Hearing his voice broke my heart and made me so happy because I miss him  desperately. Why didn’t I turn the camera on him for just a few seconds.

Children of mine, do not waste time, valuable and precious time being mad at each. Children of mine, don’t lose a day of love being offended by some off handed comment, oversight or ignorant stance.  It’s not worth it.  Just love and accept each other, as you are.  Because you are all perfect in your weird, quirky, selfish, lovely way.

It’ll be a few years, I hope, before I get to see my brother, Granger, again, but I promise you, when I do see him I won’t waste a precious second of our time together.

PS If you know any publishers or literary agents…help me out. I need one. Thanks

Revolting and Delicious Dinner

My idea was pretty simple. Crescent Roll night.  We would eat anything we could roll up in a crescent roll…who doesn’t like that ? I had two ideas in mind, hot dogs of course and asparagus with Swiss cheese, and maybe a ham and cheese roll up. Easy breezy and the little boys Sandor (9 years old), Kyle (10 years old) and Edie (24 years old) could help after they washed their grubby little monkey paws.

Before going to the store I decided to text my oldest daughter Mary(23), my oldest son, Jack(25) and Edie.

“Any ideas on stuff to put in a crescent roll for dinner?”

Their ideas came back instantly and were so perfect, bizarre and possibly delicious.  Weird thing though, their suggestions matched their personalities. You know how dogs end up looking like their owners? Well apparently it works with Crescent Rolls too.

Eddie is a guitar playing, truck driving, bourbon drinking boy who grew up in the tiny town of Alread, Arkansas where the average income is 24000 dollars per year.  Eddie, who is a pilot, wrote back BBQ Chicken.Of course, Eddie is a BBQ kind of guy.  Yup, that would work in a Crescent Roll. And I had some left over from the night before.

Mary is a senior in college and she’s about to start applying to graduate programs. Right now she works for the Clinton Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is driven and silly and has georgous clothes. Mary’s idea: tomatoes and pesto with a little extra olive oil. That’s Mary: healthy sophisticated and fresh, in more than one  way.

Finally I got Jack’s suggestion. The text said, “Mini Milky Way, trust me, it’s delicious.” Of couse. Jack lives in Nashville and has an ridicously good country rock band called Natural Outlaw (www.naturaloutlawmusic.com ). The band is like eating biscut and gravy with a glass of whiskey. He smokes a lot of pot, makes a lot of money and  stays up late. he’s also a really good cook. Of course he’s tried putting a Milky Way in a Crescent Roll. He was right. It was outrageously good for dessert.

Dinner was wonderful and kind of absurd And if you ever really want to understand somebody, just ask them what you should wrap up in a Crescent Roll.

 

A Families Secret Language…Happy Chickens and Nipples

Today Lex, who is a junior in high school, texted me. “made a 90 on pre-cal test”.

I texted back “happy chickens.”

Happy chickens? Yup.  In Hampoland, in my house,  when we are really happy we say “happy chickens”.  Then one person extends an open palm and the other  pretends to be a chicken and pecks at the imaginary feed in the open palm. Weird, right? But it’s one of our things. Happy chickens. It’s kind of like a Hampoland secret handshake.

If we want to make somebody laugh we just say, “nipple nipple nipple.” That’s a really fun word and makes everybody happy.

Several members of the family are bi-polar. It’s gone on for generations.  And when one of us is manic and full of ideas, good, bad, brilliant and crazy….we call it “popcorn brain”. 

I’ll  call Jack and say, “I have popcorn brain”  he know that means I have too many  ideas popping around in my head and don’t know which ones I should throw away. The ones I dismiss are “burnt kernels” . 

My family has a secret language. Nobody else knows what we’re talking about but Mary understands exactly what I mean when I say, “we can handle this. We are ‘Team Us'”. 

When Jack and Mary were little, Team USA, the first Dream Team with Michael Jordan, hit the scene.Posters and tee shirts said “Team US”.  We were pretty broke then so I told the kids we were “Team Us”. Nothing was more important than Team Us and we would always take care of Us.  This message sunk in and to this day, twenty years later, Team Us is hampoland and we are all proud team members. 

Five years ago one of my children went crazy and ran off to Canada with a semi-pro hockey player.  Sandor who was three at the time  said, “you can’t go to Can’t- a- da.”  In Hampoland Canada is always pronounced “can’t-a-da”.  And we all get it.

My mom, Ann Stell, died when Jack and Mary were three and four. But she used to say “try not to think hippopotamus.”  When I say that to Lex she knows exactly what I’m talking about.   It means thinking about something people tell you not to think about is freaking impossible!

A few years ago we had a dog that was literally insane.  Seriously, there was something wrong with this little hound dog. One day he pooped in my shoe, which was in my closet.  I don’t mean on my shoe, the dog actually pooped in my shoe.  So, sometimes, we say, “At least he didn’t poop in your shoe.” That means things are bad but they could be much much worse.

Secret languages are magical. They build bridges and provide band aides. I love “happy chickens” it reminds me we are and always will be “Team Us” . And there’s not another team on the planet who speaks our language or understands the hampoland accent and  dialect.

 

Poor Kids Are Awesome

A few days ago my son, Jack, said “growing up poor was awesome.”

I pressed him to explain what the hell he was talking about.  As far as I’m concerned being poor is not awesome, it’s not even kind-of-cool. Being poor sucks and ranks right up there with having the chicken pox.

First, I want to state, we have never been poor.  When Jack and Mary were little, we were clinging to the lower end of middle class but we were never poor.  Jack and Mary however, love telling stories about their glorious, impoverished, redneck childhood.

When they were little, we never went on vacations. Instead, we spent almost every weekend in the summer playing in the creek not far from the house. I would pack up their friends, Bryce and Kay, some cheap red sodas and crackers.  They would slide around on the little rock water fall for hours and we would catch army’s of crawdads, then then turn them all loose.

One winter we couldn’t afford to go to the skating rink in Little Rock so we tried to make one in the yard with a giant piece of plastic and the garden hose. It didn’t work but we laughed a lot.

All their clothes came from Wal-Mart. Until Jack was in 6th grade. The whole family was ridiculous proud of his first expensive pair of  shoes.  Alex paid $80 for a pair of And One basketball shoes. The entire team was impressed. Back then, it was a really big deal when anyone at Fountain Lake got a new pair of Nikes much less And Ones.

Ok, we were pretty broke most of the time. The kids never qualified for free lunches but I do remember, after church we would roll through the Burger King drive through and get one happy meal. One child got the burger and one got the fries and they split the drink.  A two happy meal day was a really big deal.

At least once a year Alex had to pawn his 9 mm hand gun so we could buy school supplies (those cost 120 for both kids) or buy Christmas presents.  But we always paid off the loan and and got his gun back. Good news now Alex has an arsenal and he hasn’t pawned anything in years.

But all their  friends were in the same shabby economic party barge so they didn’t realize just how broke we were. We had food, electricity and a lot of fun. I grew up wealthy so at least once a week I had a meltdown but the truth is the kids were really, really happy and well adjusted.

The really great thing about kids who grow up on a shoe string….they are  very easy to impress. Great big malls, elaborate Christmas lights, concerts and nice shoes make them so happy.

Kids who grow up with money, in big cities, are rarely in awe…of anything. They’ve already seen better. But poor kids are pretty excited about everything, they’re amazed, the recognize the beauty, they marvel and smile.

My youngest son, Sandor, still says, “Oh my goodness” when we walk into the Hot Springs Mall at Christmas time.  And our Mall is tiny, but Sandor who is nine, thinks its magical. (And yes, he really says “oh my goodness”, he also plays football so don’t make fun of him.) Imagine how he’ll react when he sees Rockefeller Center or Big Ben.

Maybe Jack and Dolly Parton are right. There is a noble magic to growing up almost poor.  I just hope that sense of wonder and awe  stay with my kids for the rest of their lives.