Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Many many ...oh many years ago, we used to travel to Roanoke Virginia on a fairly regular basis. See, that is where our family lived. Meemaw and Papaw lived there, Uncle Jack and Aunt Judy lived there, along with a smattering of other family members who always showed up to check out the next generation of "Atkins' Kids" It wasn't the best place in the world to vacation, nor was it always the easiest family visit of the year, but it WAS family, and I have many fond memories that I would like to share with the younger set of my family who missed out on knowing these folks as well as i did.
The apartment I remember was small, dark, near a fire station, and had a LONG narrow staircase. The bathroom I remember had a very old, deep clawfoot tub. It was HOT, box windows fans will take me back to that place every time. :)
We were always greeted with Hugs, and the smell of something wonderfully southern cooking for dinner. There was a certain scent, a mixture of cigarette smoke, grease, and sausage gravy. It was wonderful to me, it meant i was with Meemaw, and Papaw, and Uncah Zak! I was one of his favorite kids, he loved to swing me around by arms and give me airplane rides, which I am pretty sure Mom scolded him for, since he DID do it in the hall pretty close to the steps.:)
I remember fishing, Dad and Jack went fishing, and sometimes we got to go. I remember walking to the corner market with Meemaw, and being in awe of "city life".
I remember two pictures on the wall, of my twin Aunts, not that much older than me really, I would try to remember meeting them, imagining where they were, what they were doing, amazed by tenia who was in the Navy. I didn't know girls did that! :)
I remember playing yahtzee, lots of coffee, and Papaw "bein' crazy" as meemaw would say. He just wanted to show Eric how to target shoot. Guess she didn't like him doing it into trash cans in the alleyway two stories down. :)
Lots of my memories of them there are fragments of moments, little things, smells and words. Whenever we play yhatzee, or sit around drinking coffee and tellin' stories, when i make a perfect batch of buscuits or fabulous sausage gravy, i think of them. Meemaw would be proud, papaw woudn't tolerate that, Uncah Zak would be laffin' When we played Yhatzee, Meemaw, when she got a good roll, she'd say "thank ya" Dad and papaw would get "all fired up" over how "some people" grouped cards in Gin Rummy. Unle Jack would just laugh.
We lost Uncah Zak last week. SO sad, and sudden. I kept seeing his laughing face, hearing his raspy voice on the phone ... "Hey Sara! This is yer Uncah Zak! How's mah Princess doin?" Roanoke feels a little empty now, we were there, and nothing is the same to me, except ... the star, on the hill. A big white star sits on the hill illuminated every night. SOme things don't change.
As we went our ways one night this weekend, My cousin Patrick and I had the same thought. Meemaw and Papaw and Jack, they were in heaven, with endless coffee, and probably just breaking out the yhatzee dice.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Flowers by the wayside .....

My son calls me impatiently from his car seat ..
"Mommy! What are you doing?"

That's a good question, WHAT am i doing?? I'm wading through waist high weeds, I'll probably go home with ticks, or worse, poison ivy! UGH. Then, i see it, the reason I am here ..... and I laugh, as a memory comes spilling over me.

Many many years ago, how many exactly need not be said, however, it was the year I graduated from High school, I also sat in a car, calling to my mother,
"MOM! Are you for real? Will you get in the car? This is nuts! People will see you!"

See, I was home schooled, and that makes my "graduation" something unique. I was the only member of the class of 1995. I also didn't really finish till sometime in June. So, my party was July, with a lovely 4th of July theme. My parents still had two kids in school, and two more upcoming, and the oldest ready to go into the Army. Dad was a full time National Guardsman, Mom was obviously a full time stay at home mom, and schoolteacher. Money wasn't something that flowed in our house, we were creative, we made every penny stretch.

So, when it came to decor, and flowers, My mother had a brainstorm. Somewhere, in the fields below My dad's Armory, were huge patches of Black eyed Susans. Wouldn't they be lovely with the red white and blue? Oh yes, they will, lets go get some!

This is how I found myself sitting in the van, with the patience of an 18yr old who thinks she is the smartest most important person alive, totally embarassed by my mom, wading out into the knee deep weeds, and coming out with armfulls of flowers. Stalks nearly as tall as her, with the roots and all still attatched. SHe dragged them over, and put them in her nice new van, dirt and all.

As we drove home, she with a VERY smug smile on her face, and me shaking my head and giggling, she told me a story, about HER mother, my Nana. My Nana was a lover of flora, she could grow anything, she loved beautiful flowers, and she rarely denied herself. She had a habit of driving along, seeing flowers she liked and hoping out of the car to pick them. Wild or not, they were beautiful, and she wanted them in her house. LOL The ones I remember were Cattails and Pussy willows, she showed me the places to go to find them, and how to pick them.

My Graduation Party was perfect, and the table was lovely, all red white and blue, and splashed with the bright yellow flowers. I will never look at them without thinking of that day, and My mom. I guess it's where I got the "bug" for flowers, for wild ones, I guess it's why I find myself out in this feild in late July,picking these black and yellow flowers, as my children sit and wonder why their Mommy is nuts.

Even for my wedding, the church was decorated with flowers grown in a friends garden, specifically for the event. Recently i heard a rumor that my mother stopped on the way to the annual church campout, with my cousins little girl in the car, welcome to our family heather! See, you can't pick the flowers in the state park, you get in trouble for it, My sister found THAT out. So, my mom stopped on the way, by the side of the highway and picked a little bouquet for her Campsite picnic table. The funny thing was, this story was forming in my mind the week before, and when I got to camp and heard the story, I was convinced this had to be documented. It doesn't seem this trend is ending anytime soon.