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

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.

Bi-Polar Dictator at The Breakfast Table

A good mom (or dad, I don’t want to be sexist) in the morning has to be both bi-polar and zen to get kids to school on time. you gotta be be exquisitely irrational, brutal and daring. One person, with just one personality, doesn’t stand a chance . Every morning I’m the wheeling dealing gambler, dictator, stand up comedian, dancing diva, chef, dj.

Daughter, “Mom what’s it like today?”

“Warm and rainy, almost 80 degrees,” Meteorologist Mom

“What shoes with this?” It’s a short fluffy skirt and Chuck Norris tee-shirt.

“Cowboy boots, not the suede ones, because of the rain, maybe a belt or  something shiny with that shirt.” Fashion designer mom says.

I open the lap top and daughter says sweetly, “Lil Wayne, please?”

DJ/ Censor Mom yells, “Are you out of your mind? He can’t listen to that. Next request?”

“LMFAO?”

We all laugh our way through ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It.” I do my little hootchie coochie dance.

Then boy asks for Weird Al. Nothing better in the morning. Pop Scholar Mom has everything on the lap top or can find it on YouTube.

But boy is still just staring at his scrambled eggs.  He’s not a morning eatter, but I have to get a few calories in the kid. The Wheeler Dealer mom says, “What’s it gonna take to get you to eat?”

“I could do a donut.”

“Ok, you eat half the eggs  and you can have a donut. But you have to drink milk, not juice.”

“Ok,” he says and crams exactly half the pile of eggs in his mouth, it’s grotesque. He swallows it all, as though taking a dose of cod liver oil.  Nutritionist Mom hands him a donut and a glass of milk.

Daughter appears, looking really cute, in the boots and skirt. “So Mom, Roy is acting like such a punk to Heather since they broke up. He’s hanging all over other girls, big time. He gave Jessica a full back rub at lunch just to bug her.  I swear I want to punch him in the face.”

“No face punching.”

She makes a face. “Then I’m going to talk to him and tell him to cut it out.”

“That won’t work,” Says Relationship Counselor Mom.  “That’ll just give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s upsetting her. Just make sure she’s no where near him. If she can’t see him doing stupid stuff it won’t bug her.  And make sure you keep her busy. Do something fun Friday night.”

“I still want to punch him. Stupid mean boys.”

“Yeah, stupid boys.” I say and she laughs.

“Hey, stop talking about stupid boys,” son says. He has a huge milk mustache.

“Oh my lord, boy! You don’t have any pants on yet. You have to wear pants to school, I’m pretty sure that’s a rule.  Go get dressed. We leave in seven minutes.”

It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes an entire staff of  schizophrenic forward thinking professionals.

*What’s your morning like Write to me at hampoland@gmail.com or leave a message. They make me happy.