Does one fill the tub with water with pending hurricane? I seem to remember back when Fran came through…that was the advice to me, newly arrived from California. We got 22 inches of rain in that storm. Katrina caused my parents to evacuate from their new home in Pensacola and head north to our home…my mom was frantic, my dad banned the weather channel…said the programing was inciting fear in viewers…mom specifically. They returned home to find their home intact.
We have two plus acres with woods. My daughter is out to sea with her helos on a ship off the coast. I am lighting my Virgin De Guadalupe candles until my daughter is back on land and Irene is gone.
I grew up and lived most of my life on the West Coast. I lived in rural northern California as a young mom. Having always considered myself a “city girl”, I developed an appreciation for agriculture, farming and the processing of field crops, we later find on our store’s shelves. That appreciation of country stayed with me, when twenty years later I met my husband. He was retired military and had recently been rated a disability for his post traumatic stress. He had lived in California for several years, both in the military and as a civilian in Orange County area, but he said California was “too brown”. He wanted to move to the “green” of North Carolina. He had been born there, but had not lived there for twenty years. We decided after we married to make a leap of faith and move. I fell in love with the change of seasons, the colors of the trees when fall came, the lushness of spring and summer. I had never seen so many shades of green, nor ever such a brilliant green as when in spring the new grass and leaves have sprouted. I even loved the snow until I was stranded at home in two feet of it and no electricity!
We lived in a huge three bedroom apartment for seven years, but the house on the development called “Evans Ridge” was a dream come true for me. We move into our new home on July 22, 2005. I didn’t even realize until the day of closing that the house was on three acres. After the closing, I remember we went into the empty house for the first time as homeowners and sat on the carpet, looked at each other and started laughing. We never went back to our apartment to sleep. The furniture we had purchased was to be delivered that day…a new sofa, a breakfast table and chairs and a new refrigerator. The sofa was “L” shaped sectional and for that night and the next, we each took a side. The first night, I woke up to hear my husband chuckling…he was standing at the dining room window and I asked him what was so funny. He told me to join him. He pointed out onto the property…a half-acre was cleared for the house and “yard”, the remaining two and one half-acre was left with the woods intact…on the front lawn were two deer eating what little grass was coming up. “They live here” he told me.
I started feeding “our deer” the following year, hoping they would leave my rose bushes and fruit trees I tried to plant alone. They didn’t. I put corn out into the woods, not far from the edge of the lawn and would watch from the bedroom as the deer would gather. Later in the summer, they brought their fawns and we delighted in seeing them romp in the back yard, carefree and unencumbered with the vigilance that their mothers displayed.
I noticed we had a lame doe feeding and being chased away from the feed by other doe. In the weeks that followed, I noticed the doe was missing a hoof, her left hoof. I also noticed, when I inadvertently went outside while they were feeding, she had no problem bolting with the other deer.
In 2006 my husband told me our three-footed doe was pregnant. That summer she brought her twins to feed where she was feeding. The doe with her at the time, we believed to be a daughter from two years before.
I feed racoons, and this year one of the moms had five babies!
The blessing for me is to have wildlife thriving in my woods. It is a wonder to watch the years go by and the deer have babies and then the babies have babies and they all seem to gravitate back to where they know there is food. There have been deer hit by cars over these years and it’s heartbreaking for me to see. Then, I marvel at the strength of our three footed mamas to carry two babies on her three feet and survive. I may not have fruit trees in my acreage, and I had to move the rose bushes closer to the house, but the trade-off is to walk out my back door and see mamas resting on the grass, rise to her feet, and watch me while I leave corn for her.
When I was in grade school in San Diego, we had one car. Mom used to get my brother and I up, pile us in the car to take my Dad to Fleet Landing on the city side of the harbour so he could catch a boat to the carrier, the Bonn Homme Richard CV31. We had a little 1960 Convair and my mom would keep the car to run errands during the day while my brother and I were in school.
I was reminded of this when I watched a behind the scenes episode of Oprah about the Bravest Families. Military families. No one knows what life is like for military wives and children, sometimes setting up home and dealing with life without the benefit of their spouse and parent. My mom and dad were from small towns in Texas. They moved to California when my Dad was stationed on a carrier. My dad went on two West Pacific deployments in the early 1960’s for about 10 months each time. My mom handled the finances, took care of my brother and I and dealt with the day to day by herself. It was during a time when women’s liberation had not yet evolved, but she had a head start on some aspects of independence, at a time when June Cleaver was the norm.
I have the lyrics to Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis songs in my head from all the lps my mom played in the evenings after she had put my brother and I to bed. Our neighbor, who was a teacher, complained about the late night music once. My mom moved the stereo so it was not against the wall that joined our side of the duplex with our neighbors. I now know why I developed a love for jazz and R&B because of the albums she listened to.
My mom got real sick from her nerves when we lived in the Philippines. My dad was finally was off the carrier. It was 1966 and he had one transfer to Bremerton, Washington for six months while the carrier was in dry dock. He asked for Spain and got the PI. Olongapo City which is outside the gates of Subic Bay, was culture shock for my mom. We had to live out in town, with the sewage canal running outside out front gate. I have a distinct memory of her screaming in the bathroom because a rat was caught in her bathcap that was hanging in the shower stall. As children, my brother and I had no idea what my parents went through, but now with children (and grandchildren, in my case) of our own, we now have an idea what our parents dealt with.
Because I lived in a third world country, because I went from one duty station to the next, changing schools and changing friends, I grew up believing that we, as a Nation should be more like Israel. Everyone should serve in some capacity. Everyone should sacrifice for family, for country…When we were stationed in the Philippines, it was the beginning of the Viet Nam War. When we returned stateside, it was the middle of the anti-war protest. There were no welcoming parades for our military. There was no pride of Nation for those who served. On that Oprah episode about military families, Tom Brokaw stated that 1% of our Nation carries 100% of the responsibility for protecting this country. 1%.
My mom is not doing well. She has had a series of setbacks in her health, nothing life threatening, but strung together, it has overwhelmed her. I realize part of her decline is possibly psychological and emotional, however having seen her recently, I found myself panicking. My mom has never looked her age. She always was mistaken as my sister for years. She has always exercised and walked. Now, at seventy-six, and after a fall that broke fingers in both hands, I realize that she has aged. She seemed so vulnerable and fragile, that I wondered if she would beat this, like she did the artery blockage at forty-four and the angioplasty at seventy.
When she was in her forties and into her fifties she would leave me breathless on the wide walkway at Mission Bay Park, or the inclines of Scripps Ranch. It was only in the last ten years, I could out-walk her…pathetic. This last weekend, she clung to me as we made out way through Books a Million to the day spa where we had manis and pedis for the first time since I was a teenager. Why, was I thinking, did we wait so long for this? She never went to a manicurist and neither did I until I was in my thirties. I went with my daughters, but not my mom.
As we sat in the spa chairs and chatted, I allowed the twinge of guilt to surface, of allowing time to pass us by. Then I reminded myself of all the other times, the other loves we shared…shopping (mostly window shopping), lunches and coffee dates, watching baseball games, traveling to Savannah for a day trip, St. Augustine to tour the historic areas, a recent road trip to visit my aunt in Mississippi…she was stronger then.
Coming home to Evans Ridge I realize I have entered a new phase as a daughter. My mom is aging, as am I…but until last weekend, she drove her car, she could handle a knife, she could put in her hearing aid, she could saunter around the house teasing my dad and making us shake our heads…I know in my heart, she will get stronger, I realize this is a preview of what is around the corner. It is a part of this magic we call our lifetime…
I am the one who told him about the Chinnook that was shot down and the Navy Seal Team Six members that were killed. I told him, because I expected his young vets to call…I wanted him to be prepared for group, and in preparing himself, he started to spin. He is not sleeping, he is snapish, he is not engaged.
The coverage on the President meeting the plane bringing the remains that have to be sorted and identified…he is having trouble with this. We are both having trouble with the images in our heads…