Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A FAMILY STORY -OR- THE (DAMN) YANKEES WANTED TO STEAL MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT GRANDMOTHERS AND SELL THEM TO A SIDE SHOW

That is not just a catchy title, you guys.

I'll be honest, I don't know an awful lot about the history of my family. It's not that I'm not interested in knowing about it, but no one ever seemed to keep many records. We always heard stories about how we were related to this family or that (because we came from a small southern community that didn't see fit to marry outside of the county lines) and occasionally we'd hear a fifth-hand anecdote about how this cousin might have been buried alive, or that relative was sent to live in a mental asylum because they hit menopause and got a little emotional, but information is sparse as far as any real concrete history of our family goes. 

While we were staying with my brother before he passed away, one of the things that we did to pass the time was look through boxes of old pictures and news clippings that my mom had stashed away in a closet. My sister found a newspaper clipping, from a 1993 edition of the formidable Athens News Courier with a story (a story which I thought would have been brought to my attention at the time, but was not) about two of my great grandmothers. This was a story that would have tickled me to death as a teenager, and honestly, it kind of tickles me to death now. It's so rare that I find out real stories about my ancestors and its a bizarre story to boot!

First off, I suppose I need to explain why I keep saying "my grandmothers" in plural.  My family tree kind of joins back together in a certain spot.  My great-great-great grandmothers on both my mother's side and my father's side were sisters.  Actually, they were part of a set of triplets, born in 1862, and thought to be the first set of triplets born in the state of Alabama.  Their names were Melissa, Artimisa, and Narcisa Smith and they were the youngest of 21 (gulp) kids born to Roland and Elizabeth Smith on a plantation close to Cherokee, Alabama in Colbert County.

First off, I had no idea that any of my relatives ever lived on a plantation.  So...yikes. Until reading this story, I was under the impression that all of the people in my family had once been po' white sharecroppers and Native Americans, with some randos from other places thrown in for good measure. However, apparently this branch of my family tree had some money, and a plantation, and triplet daughters that were a very unusual occurrence at the time.

As you know, during the Civil War northern troops came down and burned and pillaged a lot of the plantations and farms of the people who lived in the south. They were not stand up guys, obviously, and when they got wind that there were triplets in one of the homesteads, it got back to the Smiths that soldiers intended to kidnap their daughters, probably to sell them to a circus as a side show act.  Roland Smith then took the time to build a false wall in their house where the hid the girls whenever the Union soldiers were nearby.  The fact that representatives from a county fair had also been after the family to allow them to display the girls in their own side show made the family aware that the threat of the Yankee soldiers very real, so according to the article "Fearing for the triplet's safety, the family left their plantation home and moved to Madison County, just over the Limestone County Line. They fled in the night, crossing the Tennessee river on a ferry, and traveled on to Madison County by horses and wagons."

Neato.

The Smiths then settled on a farm in Madison County, where the girls lived altogether until they were 21 and unfortunately Artimisia died of Pneumonia.  The other two girls, Melissa and Narcisa, went on to marry and have babies and those babies grew up and met and some of them got married and somehow I am a result of that craziness.

That is really all I know about the family, but I'd love to learn more.  Also, knowing that the family had 21 children probably explains my very complex, very interconnected list of cousins around these parts. The only other things of note that I found out was that Melissa (my maternal GGG Grandmother) had really thick ankles, so I guess I know where I got those from now.  The more you know! 

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

SIGH

Do you ever feel like life is just taking the piss?

Yesterday morning we received word that the husband of our cousin, one of the ones we visit every year in Georgia, passed away after a fairly short illness.  He was only 45, has two teenage kids, and was doing fine until he got sick in October.

I can't even imagine how our cousin is feeling right now. How do you suddenly have to live without your partner of 19 years, the father of your kids, all unexpectedly? My brain won't even wrap around it.  It makes me feel sick for her.

So it looks like this will be a two funeral week for us. We started out the week with one, and we'll be traveling to another one in Georgia for a couple of days at the end of this week.

I'm so, so, so tired of being sad.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

LAST UPDATE

For those of you who have been keeping up with the story of my brother and his illness, I wanted to let you know that he passed away Friday night, just before 9:00 PM.

It was peaceful and everyone in our family was there with him when he passed.

I wish I could be poetic, and write some wonderful, elegantly worded essay about him, but I can't do that. At least, I can't do it right now.  It's still too new and it still stings too much.

I told a friend of mine that I have a lot of feelings that I don't understand about all of this, and that is true. I haven't understood any of this situation from the very beginning. I don't believe it is meant for me to understand and right now I'm ok with that. My brother was the person who least deserved to suffer, but for some reason he did. The universe is a weird place.

His memorial service will be tomorrow and I already wish it was over. Not because I don't want to remember him, but I need time to remember him on my own terms; without the music and the preachers and the people telling me "He's in a better place" or "He's healthy now" or any of those platitudes that well-meaning people say at funerals.

He was my brother. He was good and happy and the weight of the world and all of its problems never touched him. He had the purest soul of anyone that I ever met. I loved him so much.

And that's all I've got to say about that.

At least for now.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A NEW UPDATE

Just to let you know, because I know that some of you are keeping up, my mom called me today and told me that my brother is not doing well at all. 

The Hospice nurse told her today that he is basically wearing down and is probably not going to last much longer. They said that before when he first got sick, but he's physically wearing out now and the signs are getting clearer.

I don't really know what to say other than that, but I'd appreciate your prayers and good vibes for my brother and my mom.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

SIGH

OK, just a heads up, I'm about to have a little pity party here for myself.

I feel like a failure.

Anyone who has been around these parts since January of this year knows about the rather extreme weight loss program that Steve and I were a part of. It wasn't fun.  It was hard, and awful, and hungry and depressing, but it worked.  I lost over 40 pounds and, I'm not going to lie, I was kind of proud of myself.  Granted, anyone who basically starves themselves will lose weight, but I felt like I was doing it in a relatively smart way: medical supervision, with a support group and an educational class to teach about nutrition and exercise.  It had all of the elements of a successful program that would provide long term results.

I think for almost everyone else in the program it has worked, but for me not so much, and it's all my fault.

Ever since Steve and I were released into "Maintenance Mode" which basically means that we are no longer under weekly supervision, things don't seem to be working out so well.  Some things are fine, as I'm way more aware of the things I eat, I go twice a week to pretty intense circuit workout class, I rarely eat fast food anymore (maybe 5 times since January,) I hardly eat sweets, I eat more vegetables and less carby stuff now than I ever have in my entire life, and a good half of what I consume in a day is hospital approved meal replacements.

Despite all of that, I am still not doing something right, even though I can't really pinpoint it. I know it has to be a lot to do with what I'm eating, as I do eat at restaurants and don't always make the best choices when I'm there.  I have a weakness for salty things, and although I don't do it often, I'll occasionally have a drink if we go out with friends. I'm so tired all of the time that when I don't specifically have gym class, I'm usually sleeping as much as possible so that I can make it through the day without falling asleep at work. Even though those habits aren't even at the level that they were, my weight is creeping slowly upwards and I am ashamed of myself for it.

I know I shouldn't be, because there are probably way more things I should consider being ashamed of myself for, but I can't help it. I worked so hard to lose this weight and now I'm just...failing...at food. I spent so much money and time doing the danged program and now it feels like I wasted all of it.  I know I didn't, as I saw results, but for them to be so easily lost is disheartening.  What's even worse is that when we do go to our monthly meetings, I see everyone doing their thing and it seems so effortless, and I'm just sitting there slowly melting back into a blob of personage by the second.

The thing is, that my shame isn't specifically just about gaining the weight back, although that is something I desperately don't want, but the fact that I couldn't be disciplined enough to maintain the weight loss I'd achieved for even a month after being let go from the program. I'm not back to where I was in the beginning, but if the trend continues, I will be and I don't want that.

I'm just so disgusted with myself, you guys!  I know that if I work at it, I can find some kind of groove to get back into, but right now it seems kind of hopeless and I'm just so frustrated.  I can't just live on meal bars and dietary Yoo-Hoo for the rest of my life. I can only do as much exercise as my body will let me.  I'm just...ugh.

I'm sorry, I know that in the scheme of things this is a very minor blip on the screen, and I hope that I'll just figure out what my issue is and fix it, but right now I'm just so disheartened. 

That is all.  Pity party over for a bit. :)  I hug you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

WHELP...THAT HAPPENED

Some of you have already read this.  I posted this on my Facebook page because I knew people who I'm friends with there would think it was funny. However, I also felt strange NOT writing about it here, because this is where all the crazy stuff that happens in my life ends up!  So I'm posting it here as well, because why not show the rest of the world what a doofus I am!

****

I know I don’t have to tell this story. I know that embarrassing myself is unnecessary, but I’m going to do it because no matter how I felt at the end of the day, it was funny.

Yesterday I had an early appointment and I was in a hurry to get dressed so that I wouldn’t be late. I grabbed a green dress out of the closet and put it on, only thinking for a moment that it seemed a bit short, but as I was wearing hose (don’t judge me) it didn’t seem that concerning.

I went to my meeting, and on the way in and out I struggled to keep my dress down to hide my business when the wind blew. I went to Wal-Mart and had the same problem, but I was shopping, so I didn’t think about it much.

At work, I finally looked at myself in the mirror and realized that my green dress was a lot shorter than I realized. It wasn’t completely indecent, but much shorter than I would be wearing if I had more time to pick my clothes that morning. Every time I’d go into the bathroom, I’d look at how short my dress was and wonder if it had shrunk in the wash. I didn’t remember it being that short before.
On the way home I got gas, and stood in the edge of a busy Huntsville street holding my dress down in the wind as cars went by. I went inside the store to get a drink, even.

As I was getting ready for bed and taking the green dress to put in the hamper, I took one last look and realized that...my green dress didn’t have pockets. It was also not by the brand that was on the tag.

You guys, it wasn’t my dress. It was a shirt. Granted, it was a long shirt, but it was not meant to be worn alone!! I essentially went out of the house, went to an appointment, went to Wal-Mart, went to work, only wearing a shirt! I LEFT THE HOUSE NOT WEARING PANTS.

I knew this day would come, I just thought I’d be older. I need your prayers.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A WHOLE LOT OF RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1) Oh, Lord, y'all....I had a very full weekend!  I'm not complaining, as I enjoyed everything, but it is Monday morning , and if I could take off all of this week just to recover from the weekend, I would.

2) I spent the night at my mom's house Thursday night so that I could stay with my brother the next day while my mom had a procedure on her eye (thankfully nothing serious, but it involved lasers which is a little scary.) I like my mom's house because it is so clean!  She complains about it being messy, but it isn't at all.  It's like a vacation from my own house that still hasn't recovered from our wall remodel! Also, she has a shower the size of my whole bathroom, which I fully appreciate.

Tommy is still doing about the same, although he has persistent fevers that none of the doctors or nurses can figure out. They told my mom that she could send him to a hospital and he could be extensively tested on, or she could keep him at home and make sure he's comfortable. She has chosen to keep him at home. He is so incredibly fragile that I am terrified to take care of him in case I hurt him somehow, but we did ok. I gave him lots of hugs and kisses and I let him play "Got Your Nose" with me, because for some reason pinching my nose makes him inordinately happy.  That rascal took my nose a hundred times, and in the end refused to give it back, so it's still under his pillow, I guess.  He also got me in a bear hug before I left, and even though he is thin and weak, he can still hug like a bear! Hehe.

Of all the things in the world I don't understand, I really don't understand why he, of all people, is going through this kind of hell.  I don't even know how to pray about it. I suppose it's one of those "by and by" things I hear so much about, huh?

3) Friday night we went out with some of Steve's coworkers and I'm so glad he works with nice people who like me. We had to set up a tent in the downtown area for a race that was going on the next day, so we headed to downtown proper and went to a local brewery and a new restaurant that had opened up a few months ago.  We had a good time, although I think I had more to drink than I should have, i.e. I had two pints of cider instead of just one. I know, I'm a total lush, right?  Actually, I misread the ABV info on the cider and I didn't realize until it was too late. Oops. I didn't embarrass myself or do anything stupid, but I was just a little floopy before it was all over. 

4) I did wake up in the middle of the night regretting the cider because I was supposed to be running in the race the next day.  It was the fifteenth annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K, which I told you about before (I think.)  There were 6,500 registered participants, and I was number 4146! I didn't realize until the day of that the race was going to be timed, so that was fun! Steve works with a woman who is a survivor of breast cancer, and his company got together a group of people to participate in the race. I was excited about it, because I'd wanted to do another 5K, and hadn't been able to find one that really interested me. This was for a good cause and I wouldn't be running alone!  I didn't practice very much before the race, which was stupid.  I know it's just a 5K, but most people can't just wake up one morning and decide to run that far without doing a little bit of preparation. I kept thinking I'd have more time, but I didn't. Totally my fault. At any rate, I knew I wanted to run as much of it as possible, so that's what I did. Steve was going to walk the whole thing, but I pulled him into the runners area with me and so he didn't have a choice!  Haha! It was cold and raining, so it wasn't the best weather for running, but we were ready to go!

Ok, in light of full disclosure, I did walk a lot of the course. I just wasn't fit enough and I run slowly.  I like to run, but I'm very bad at it.  I don't just mean I'm slow, though. I don't think I run...right?  Is that a thing?  I feel like I'm stomping the ground instead of smoothly running, and I get out of breath so quickly, but I soldiered on as hard as I could.  I did manage to run the fastest mile I've ever run. It was less than I expected, and even with walking, I didn't do too badly time wise.  Steve can run faster than me (even though, unfairly, he never walks, runs, or exercises as much as I do...grrr) so when we'd do our running parts he'd get ahead of me and stop to wait. I told him not to, but he insisted, which I know is nice, but I felt bad holding him back.  He did decide to leave me on the final stretch, which was fine.  He beat me by two minutes almost exactly!  I finished at a perfectly average time of about 46 minutes and change, so I was solidly in the middle of the 6,500 people who started out.  I'm ok with that, though. I didn't need to be fast, I just wanted to finish before it was all over! I can get better if I want. Like I said, I like running, but I don't think I want it to become my only hobby, so it'll be a process. In the end we were tired, wet, cold and covered in glitter, but we had a good time!

5) Right after the race, and I mean I just had time to change out of my wet shirt before we left again, we went to Steve's band picnic, which was cold, wet and also unfortunately poorly attended. There were less than twenty of us shivering in the pavilion, eating sandwiches and talking, but it was nice. I was really ready to go home, though, because I was so, so, so tired.  Everything was hurting by then, and being cold for so long wasn't helping matters.  We finally went home and got dry and fell asleep for a while.  It was much better when we woke up, but everything still hurt! I'm pretty sure I rattled some bones that hadn't been rattled in a while!

6) Sunday I got someone to cover me on the sound board at night, and Steve, Anthony and I went to do autumnal things in a corn maze and a zombie splatter!  I think we were probably too old to do most of the stuff, but we enjoyed getting, literally, lost in the corn maze.  We wound up exiting out the way we got in, so I've decided that we are very bad at corn mazes.  We also shot a pneumatic corn cannon, which was a little scary, but fun!  The zombie splatter was a new thing to me, but it was clearly the most fun. There is a big flatbed on wheels that is rigged with mounted, air powered paint ball guns. Someone on a tractor takes you out into this course with overturned cars and drives through it while people dressed as zombies come at you, so you get to peg then with paint balls!  I really hope the actors were well padded, because I shot one of them in the crotch, like, five times.  It didn't last nearly long enough, though!

Afterwards we went to a diner and had cake, which was a very nice way to end my weekend!

7) Hope your weekend was just as nice!  I HUG YOU! (hug)