Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")
Thursday, June 24, 2010
V: Wal-Mart Friends & Wonder Woman #1
Earlier I was checking in on Debbie at www.dcwisdom.wordpress.com.and enjoyed her funny post about an experience in Wal-Mart. I "commented" to Debbie about how I've become friends with a woman, who works the evening shift as a clerk at Wal-Mart. Her day job is in an office at a hospital nearby, and she works the second job to help take care of her aged (Alzheimer victim) mother and often has one of her adult kids and grandkids living with her. When I was taking an evening class a while back, I got into the habit of stopping by Wal-Mart to pick something up on my way home. I always park near the garden center because I like to check out the stuff and it's not nearly so congested as the rest of the store! She would often be working there alone in the not so busy garden center area, so she usually was the one who checked me out. Often we'd get into a little conversation if no one was waiting, and that's how I learned that she also had a mother with this terrible disease, and we would commiserate over prodigal children and helping to raise grandchildren. Our oldest daughters even have the same name!
I'm convinced that women bear the brunt of all the family responsibilities- always have. Among women, there are those who bear more than the normal burdens of life, and "C" aptly refers to these women as Wonder Women. They may be accomplished by being a pioneer in a field not open to women in the past, such as her octogenarian law partner. But we can never forget the many ordinary women, who held families together and sacrificed to raise their kids right. And by the way, is anyone really ordinary? Considering that made me think of Rita. Rita was our neighbor who lived across the street from "C" and I when we were kids. Rita was a registered nurse, and the only mom who worked in our neighborhood. She had to! Her no-good, alcoholic husband couldn't keep a job to support their three kids, and so it was up to Rita to be the main breadwinner. I still remember the black lady, Essie, who stayed in the summers and helped raise Rita's kids. There were no day camps or daycare centers back then for working mothers! When Rita was a nurse in the 50's and 60's, they dressed like this.
Rita was a larger than life personality! She was tall, thin and lanky with a broad smile and the loveliest chestnut hair. Her hairstyle reminded me of the old star, Veronica Lake. Sometimes she'd come over for my mom to help fix her hair. My mom was not a beautician, but she had a knack for fixing hair and we had a couple of neighbors who would come over for coffee and she would put their hair in curlers or help with a perm. Rita had a loud guffaw laugh and I can still see her in my mind's eye, standing in our living room, sharing her newest joke (sometimes off color) with my parents, throwing her head back laughing while slapping her knee with the ever present cigarette dangling between her fingers. Sometimes she brought over a jar of jelly or something she had canned from her family's old farm place. She loved that farm, and considered moving there, but it was too remote to find work there. She was loyal and never complained about her mean husband, but we kids knew. Sometimes her husband came home drunk and in a bad mood and beat them all. My sister was closer in age to Rita's kids and she spent lots of time at their house. The kids told--and it's hard to keep secrets in a little neighborhood. Finally after over 20 years of putting up with him, she decided to end it. He left and we never saw him again. For a while she rented out her house and moved to a town about an hour and half away, but eventually they moved back. In the ensuing years, while raising teenagers alone, Rita underwent two mastectomies and then suffered from a benign brain tumer that was pressing on the optic nerve. Surgery saved her life, and prevented the blindness that had begun to affect her, but she was left with seizures to deal with after that. Do some people just never get a break? Through it all, Rita, never lost her zest for life or her outrageous sense of humor. She married again to a younger fella, and raised his daughter as her own. Her children never approved of the new man and they were estranged for a while. She helped send her stepdaughter to Georgetown University and paid for a lot of it! Then one afternoon she came home and found hubby in bed with a new lady! I don't recall how it came to be, but he stayed in the house and she moved into a rent house. Everyone thought she had really been taken to the cleaners by this jerk! He stayed in the house and drove the new truck that she had bought him? How did that happen?
I do know that one of the ways that Rita dealt with all that life had given her, was her strong faith. Not the usual "church lady; Rita was no shrinking violet of a woman. Her language was often peppered with expletives which was just a normal way of talking to her, and she smoked like a chimney! I've often wondered about all the conservative, country Baptist pastors who dealt with Rita through the years. I'm sure she didn't change her style of talking for them! Although he was known to use a curse word or two, my dad disapproved of cussing women and phonies. A little double standard for sure! But he did like Rita. She was fun and she was real and we all knew that her life was hard. My dad was naturally reserved, but Rita could always get a laugh out of him!
Rita came to my wedding and it was her house I ran to for help when my dad suffered a fatal heart attack in the wee hours of the morning. She was at the funeral. But a few years after that was when she left her unfaithful husband and we lost touch with her. That still makes me sad. "C"'s mom called her a few months ago when she saw the obituary in the newspaper for Rita. She had married a third time which was a shock to me, but was a widow. She passed away in a nursing home in a nearby town. The funeral had been several days before I learned of her death. If I had known, I would have gone to the service. Anyway, I sure wish I had a photo of Rita - or of all the neighborhood moms I grew up with. Life is different now and I miss a lot of it.
So when hubby and I go to Wal-Mart together and I speak to my friend there, he asks "so how do you know her?" "Oh, we talk in the evenings when I go in to buy milk or whatever", I reply. He's a little bewildered and amused that I know so much about her personal life. And there is a little something about her that reminds me of Rita. It may be her chestnut hair. Sometimes, we find our new neighborhood in other places--even Wal-Mart!
So does a particular neighborhood character stand out in your memories? I'd love to hear!
Mid-sized city, Somewhere in the South!, United States
We are "C" and "V," two baby-boomers who have been through thick and thin--50+ years of best-friend togetherness.
C is a divorce attorney, separated from her husband of 40(!) years--at age 59 he ran off with a thirty-year-old-never-married-mother-of-two and has now fathered another--and we're not even divorced! A very hard time for C.
C has one grown son--no daughter-in-law or grandchildren yet! (Drat!)
V works in a community based instruction program in a public school, helping special-needs students learn life skills. Mother of three, grandmother of five!
For 50+ years we've laughed together, cried together, and we've learned a lot! We love, love, love writing and want to share with you! Please come share, too!
Check out our posts under the label "Stickhorses" for more, but suffice it to say that these cowgirls started their lives together riding stick horses. Stick horses have come to symbolize the power of dreams and imagination for C and V--besides, we love cowgirl spirit!
You and the mother of the man who done you wrong are going to raise chickens together? I love it. I hope you become international stars in the chicken-raising world, and when you (and his mother and your chickens) are famous, I hope he comes crawling back, pleading with you to take back his poor miserable, not-famous self. You go, girl!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! On to International Chicken Stardom!! C
YET ANOTHER STUPENDOUS COMMENT!
SimplyJoolz (see our blogroll for link) said these kind words about the travails of C:
I love this story -its like a well written novel. I can't wait until the part where C kicks the useless husband between his hanky and his small change pocket! Lol!
It's coming, Joolz! C
PS - thank you all for your comments. They so give me a lift--often just when I need it!
C's SINGLE AGAIN POWER
Below is a list of things I'm learning to do--wish I'd started years earlier! It feels so good to list my "Power Accomplishments" for you, and I'd love to hear about yours!
Replacing the back fireplace refractory panel. Who knew?
Jacking up the front porch with my new, red, hydraulic jack!!
Learning to shoot and getting my Conceal-and-Carry license! (Power rush!!)
Purchasing tires...all by myself!
Buying and installing (!) the lawn tractor battery! Again, not rocket science...
Putting a new end on a ruined looooong extension cord. One prong was missing, and we replaced the plug-in. (Who knew you could do this??) I feel so, well, powerful!
Cleaning Tractor Air Filter
Dealing with fire ants--boy, are those suckers tuff!
Gettin' that utility pole installed.
Ordering gravel (SB 2!)
Replacing hydraulic hoses
Learning about the lawn mower (engine stabilizer!).