Thoughts inspired by MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY

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This is the third book I’ve read by Fredrik Backman. Not sure if this or A Man Called Ove is my favorite.  This one is story with lots of characters, which gives me hope for the book I’ve written that all is not lost. It’s main character is a child, but every character is a rich part of the story.

“…. because the people who reach the end of their days must leave others who have to live out their days without them.” — Frederick Backman

There is death in this story, but it it necessary for the story, just like in our lives. I am living out my days without a number of people who I wish were till here. I wish Cathy was here because her sense of adventure and love of music matched mine. I wish Debbie was here to leave me long, drawn out messages on voicemail. I wish Betty was here to enjoy watching me eat Key Lime pie and to tell us that “Larry says Hi!” And that Larry was here to say Hi and listen because he was always interested in everybody. I wish Charlie was here to teach E how to fish.

I wish Mamaw was here so I could ask her about what happened in 1938. I wish Great-Aunt Marie was here because where she was love was. And I’d even like to hear her burp again. I wish Dad was here to teach his great-grandkids all his nonsensical sayings. I wish Mom was here for so many reasons, I can’t even begin. So I’ll just say she was the one who always asked how Loretta was doing. And she would have liked Ruby just as much.

So I live out my days without them. I take Ruby now on my adventures and listen to lots of music with my husband. I think of Betty every time I have Key Lime anything. I’ve reached out to other relatives, some of whom I only recently met, to ask about 1938 and many other things. My brothers and I carry on with Dad’s sayings, and Mom’s jokes. But my voicemail still stays pretty empty.

 

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Bell Camp: Days Six/Seven

Our last two days went by too quickly!

Day Six

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Today we went for a short hike at Moss Rock Preserve. I think the kids knew we’d do at least one hike while they were here since we’ve done several with them in the past. We took a trail that I knew would take us to a mini-waterfall. There we all took off our socks and shoes and splashed around, and ate some snacks we’d brought along in my trusty backpack. It was really quite perfect!

In the late afternoon/early evening we went to the Ross Bridge Farmers Market. This was another WIN. We got a little produce, the kids got free balloon creations, bounced around in the bounce houses and rolled around on the lawn. We then got our meals from the food trucks. The kids had some chicken tenders from Eugene’s Hot Chicken, while Grandpa  and I got sandwiches from the I Love Bacon truck. Chuck got the The BLT of Curtis Loew and I chose the Miami Sound Machine, a Cuban sandwich made with beer braised pork belly.  We all polished it off with some shaved ice. E and I both got Vanilla Cream, while JuJu and Grandpa got Cherry Limeade.

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Ladybug balloon

Day Seven

Our last day was rather low key. JuJu and I met a few ladies from church for breakfast at Panera, then made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. In the afternoon the kids’request was a return trip to the library. That night we had breakfast for supper per JuJu’s request, then a fairly early bedtime so we could be out the door by seven the next morning.

In addition to “Field Trips”, our days were filled with math, maps, and language arts; screen time; playing with, feeding snacks to and walking Ruby; reading and coloring; card games, board games and puzzles; Legos and scooters; telling family stories.

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Our first Bell Camp was a success and we look forward to many more to come!

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Outake – LOL!!!

Bell Camp: Days Four/Five

 

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Day Four

Today we discovered Let’s Play Hoover. The kids had a blast!  Let’s Play offers unlimited all day play that allows you to leave and return the same day with no extra charge. The kids ran, bounced, jumped, climbed, and slid. We went home for a lunch break, then returned for more fun. There are plenty of spaces for parents to sit and read or use wifi.

 

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Right next door is Roll It Up Ice Cream. This is a unique ice cream shop where each creation is made to order while you watch. It’s fun to watch and oh so delicious to eat. I can’t wait to return! We ended the day watching Wall-E for the nth time. It’s one of E’s favorite movies!

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E’s creation

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Yum!

 

Day Five

This morning we went to Hoover’s new Explore Playground and Splashpad. This was another WIN! There is plenty to do on the playground and then there’s the splashpad for fun and cooling off. And best of all it’s free.

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Under the tree house

 

After going home for lunch,  we headed to the library. The kids always request a trip there. I have to admit it’s the ipads that attract them, though both kids love to read.

We finished out the day with a trip to  DQ per Grandpa’s request. Smiles all around. 🙂

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Bell Camp: Days Two/Three

Day Two

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After breakfast at the Hyatt (which was great both mornings we were there) , we headed home via Lawrenceville to do one more house drive-by – the home of Chuck’s grandparents. Then we hit up Boulder Creek Coffee where JuJu found some hidden treasure in an old trunk upstairs! We let the kids get some wiggles out at the playground before hitting the road.

After we got to Bham and unloaded, JuJu and I went to get Ruby from the vet. This was the first time for them to meet and they were both excited.

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Ruby

 

Day Three

This was Toy Story 4 Day. We started the morning with Toy Story 4 cereal. Kinda meh on the flavor scale.

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The kids wore their t-shirts and even though I messed up the tickets I’d pre-purchased, the manager saved the day and we enjoyed the show. I laughed a lot and teared up a little. It was a hit with all of us!

 

Afterwards we had an early supper at Jim-n-Nicks, then a little scootering around the neighborhood  and some Toy Story 4 Pez before the day ended.

Bell Camp: Day One

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Day one consisted of cemetery/house hopping.

Our first stop was the Oconee Hill Cemetery. It’s a lovely, historic cemetery and the setting for a book called The Song of Daniel by Philip Lee Williams. It is a huge place and I had no clue how to find my relatives except for a photo I had of some steps with my great-grandparents’ names on them. I had the kids and Chuck on the lookout for Baileys and not only did they find some, but also some Eberharts, Seagraves, Bells plus a few other names that the kids thought were funny. It was the photo that saved the day – we found the steps and then nearby the graves we were searching for. I was so excited!

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I had not been to the cemetery since 2000 for Aunt Marie’s funeral. Our little Juliette Marie is named after her as am I and my cousin Susan and my daughter, Leah. Juliette is also named for her mom, Claire Marie, her Noni and two great-grandmothers on her Mom’s side. We are all MARIE STRONG!!

 

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I found the resting places of my grandmother and great-grandparents, also. We found a random Sorrells headstone, which is how my husband and I are connected, but that’s another story for another day.

 

The next stop was the Friendship Baptist Cemetery in Danielsville. This is where Dad’s parents, grandparents, and other relatives are buried. I remember going here a few times as a kid when Mom and Dad would bring flowers and clean up the area a little bit. I also found the graves of Uncle (Give me some sugar) Eugued and Aunt Mabel Nash. Huff is a another family name and there were Huffs buried there, including my great-grandmother Annie Tallulah Huff Graham.

 

There’s a great story about one relative named Peter Hoff/Huff. Way back in the day, Peter Huff was a bootlegger who went by the name of Pint Peter since he supplied the pints for discreet drinkers in the area. When the government came in to put in a post office, they asked the people what to name the area. They said Pint Peter, but a misunderstanding resulted in it becoming Point Peter. Using gps, we were able to find the location, but the area is now referred to as the Glade. However, we did find a road sign, which led down a dirt road to a quarry.

 

We headed back to Athens for lunch at The Varsity.

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After lunch we located three old family houses in Athens. The first was on Sylvia Circle where we lived when I was about two. Again, it was a photo that led us to the correct house. The next was Grandma’s place on Vine Circle. It looked very much like I remembered it.  The last was a house where my great-grandmother Lucy lived in the 1940s. I found the address on a letter that was in a box of letters Mom had saved. I also have a picture of Lucy sitting on the steps of that very house which was built in the 1920s. I wanted so badly to go up and knock on the door, but I settled for taking a picture from the car window.

 

That night we once again walked to Mellow Mushroom for supper. Hey, if it ain’t broke…

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Artist at work in Mellow Mushroom

Day one of Bell camp was full of family history and a walk down memory lane for me.

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Scooter and playground break

 

 

 

Bell Camp: Pre-Day One

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At Memorial Park – Athens, Georgia

After our family reunion we were privileged to have our grandchildren for a whole week! We had a wonderful time with them. We stayed in Athens at the Hyatt for a few days which was a great location seeing a bit of Athens. We walked to the Mellow Mushroom for supper, then walked around some more afterwards, fulfilling my desire to reconnect with a bygone Athens and give the kids a little family history along the way.

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Mellow Mushroom – Athens, Georgia

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Absorbing wisdom from Athena

When I was a kid my Great Aunt Marie worked at the A & A Bakery in Athens. When we visited in the summers we would often pick her up from work in the afternoon when we arrived,. My Grandma lived in a small apartment on Vine Circle with just one bedroom. So, my older brother and I would often spend the night with Aunt Marie. We’d have great breakfasts, look through old photos albums and watch her grainy black and white TV. That’s where we saw the Great Wallenda cross the Tallulah Gorge.  I also remember  the nights of sleeping in the creaky twin bed in the same room with Aunt Marie.

Aunt Marie was known for her belching, which we mimicked in love, but even more for being the kindest person I’ve ever known. She loved life and never had an disparaging word for anyone. I’m so glad I have Marie for my middle name and strife to live up to her example.

I wanted to find the location of the bakery and was so excited when I did. It’s now a bar, which is sad, but I went inside and tried to imagine how it used to look.

 

We also saw the Georgia Theatre where Mom worked when she and Dad were dating. It was devastated by a fire in 2009 and rebuilt. The story of my Great Uncle Eugued coming by to see her there is a classic. He’d say, “Give me some sugar,” and embarrass her to death. Whenever I think of Uncle Eugued (we pronounced it like U-kerd) I think of Willie Nelson. I have no pictures of him except for my faint memories. He played the banjo and chewed tobacco and  Mom always told me how intelligent he was. He’d read The New York Times and other newspapers, but try to hide them from people, as if he didn’t want them to know that side of him. Quite the opposite from most people I think.

 

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Georgia Theatre – Athens, Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

Letter to Dad

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Dear Dad,

You never knew a father who sat you down to give you instructions in life. You bellowed because you didn’t know how to express your love. Yet, I knew that you loved me. I would get so angry when I had to do things that the boys weren’t expected to do. My heart would boil with the unfairness of it. How naive and spoiled I was. I didn’t see the hard work you did for us. Without a college education you still rose in the ranks of your company and did your job well. We were well provided for, without a care for our daily needs. We never knew want of any necessity.

The night you held my hand in the car during a thunderstorm was so out of character, and I let you because I sensed it was a real attempt at closing the gap between us. It seemed to be your way of holding on to me so I wouldn’t grow up and away from you.

Your question on my wedding day – “are you sure you want to do this?” was your way of showing your love and concern. The practical way you enunciated “Her mother and I” filled me with tender amusement. I didn’t understand then the feelings you had for your little girl who thought she was all grown up. As a teenager I thought you were callous to mom and that I would not want a man like you for my husband. Yet, a few short years later I chose a boy/man who was like you in many ways. He is a good provider and sometimes awkward with his daughters. He likes sports and doing yard work. And, like you did, he has mellowed over the years. You and mom had over forty years together and I saw how your union was strong until the end. I saw that you were a part of each other, a whole together, one flesh. I thank God for His mercy to me.

Love,

Puncie