Thursday, March 25, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #368
Nancy White Kelly

Think of a four-letter word. Gotcha!

No doubt your mind just conjured up something ugly that would have gotten your mouth washed out with soap in by-gone days. My parents weren’t prudes, but damn and hell were the two worst words I ever heard them say. Those rare utterances always surprised me.

After we married, Buddy became a walking lexicon for his naive wife. Being a Mississippi country boy who went straight from high school to the Navy, he was well acquainted with what I call gutter language.

Some unfamiliar words he interpreted had more than four letters. Buddy taught me that a “broad” was a non-complimentary term for a worldly woman and that a bitch was not only a mother dog but an uncomplimentary description of a nagging female. It didn’t take long for me to fondly attach myself to the term “lady.”

Toilet talk isn’t humorous to me either. When I was a teen-ager, my friends would tease me because I blushed at the slightest suggestion of anything lewd. Half a century later I still blush.
Some things were just meant to be private. Start talking about constipation or gassy exuberances and likely you’ll lose your audience. What occurs in the bathroom ought to stay within the confines of the necessary room built for that purpose.

I must now confess that a new four-letter word has entered my vocabulary…“Crud.” It isn’t in the dictionary, but I can define it easily because Buddy and I have both had this convoluted cold in the past few days.

He got the crud first. For days I endured his sneezing, coughing, laryngitis, dirty tissues and ill mood. Just as he was getting over the worst of his crud, my head started buzzing. Nasal passages dripped like a broken faucet and my voice sounded like a man’s.

Nothing about me is simple. I have had metastatic adenocarcinoma, histoplasmosis, renal azotemia, and an acute myocardial infarction. How could the four-lettered crud be so bad? Memory fades at my age, but I do believe this crud was the most complicated, congestive, cotton-picking cold in my lifetime.

While lightening may not strike twice in the same place, the crud does. We had hardly changed the bed sheets when Buddy relapsed. Round two of crud for him.

Buddy and I are polar opposites in many ways so it should not be too surprising that we handle illnesses differently. I prefer to suffer in silence. Should an unexpected sickness require that I disturb my doctor’s golf game you can be sure I am nigh unto death. Buddy, on the other hand, has his doctor’s cell phone number on speed dial.

My philosophy regarding something like the common crud is that “this too shall pass.” Buddy’s isn’t known for such optimism. When he picked up the phone last week, I quickly intercepted his call and sent the hearse back. As much as I dislike throwing money away on a cold that would likely cure itself, a doctor’s visit had to be cheaper than a funeral. It is always possible that this crud could be masquerading as the Swine flu.

The smiling doctor, who knows Buddy quite well, obliged him with a double-barreled shot, a prescription for antibiotics and a steep bill for sympathetic services.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #367

Nancy White Kelly

The ides of March have special meaning to me and not just because Julius Caesar was killed on that fifteenth day of the third month in 44 B.C.

In my family there are more birthdays in March than should be legally allowed in a single month. My only sister, eldest grandson and son Charlie have March birthdays. Until his death, we celebrated my father’s birthday on the 31st. All this translates into lots of cards, presents, parties and, yes, money in a period of just four weeks.

Of all those significant March dates, it is the ides that is circled in red. My grandmother, Claudia Lee Smart, and her identical twin sister, Maudie Mae, were born on March 15, in a small Mississippi town following the conclusion of the Civil War. Claudia and Maudie would be 122 years old this year. Claudia played the harmonica and the guitar and Maudie the mandolin. I can still here the harmonious strains of “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.”

Of all my heroes and heroines, my maternal grandmother ranks number one. She was the early widowed mother of five children. Without modern conveniences, she worked hard feeding and clothing her kids. For a few years, during the late forties and early fifties, she lived with my parents which was common then.

Grandma was one of eight children. She lived to be 99 and out-lived her siblings and buried three sons and a daughter. Though she grieved deeply at each passing, Grandma recharged quickly knowing that life goes on for the living.

Grandma had so many good characteristics. Never did I hear her say a foul word. She always looked for the good in people and found something positive to say. Her only alleged vice was to drink a shot of diluted whiskey when she took a cold. Her “hot toddy” she called it.

My grandmother wasn’t one to seek attention. Often her good deeds went unnoticed except by the family. I know of one instance where she gave every penny she had to help a family in need who promised to repay. Though she never got the money back, she wasn’t bitter. Her philosophy was that the Lord would provide for her needs and He did.

Before I could even read, I began accompanying Grandma to church every Sunday. The spiritual became very important to me also. Grandma never taught Sunday school, but because of her persuasive life I have. For more than fifty years I have taught the Bible to hundreds of individuals, young and old. I still teach Sunday school to this day. Grandma deserves the credit for that.

Who would have thought a little woman born in the late 1880’s with a big heart, sweet smile and kind spirit could reap influence in 2010?