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Every day is a winding road

We’ve reached the point in life that Sheryl Crow sang about years ago – every day is a winding road, and we can’t predict from day to day what reality will be.

I suppose it hits everyone at some point. If you live long enough, you’ll have elderly parents (if you’re lucky), elderly pets, achy joints, grandkids – things that can throw you curveballs when you’re expecting an easy catch.

All you can do is catch the curveballs the best you can and juggle all the balls that need juggling – and know that you’re bound to drop a few from time to time, because all we can do is our best. Perfection eludes me and I don’t even try for that anymore. (That’s a surefire recipe for  insanity.)

Yesterday Cathy and I were pretty worried significantly about Mother. Her blood count is way down again, which is part of the equation, and the events of the day were the rest of it. We took her to the 65th wedding anniversary reception for Bill’s buddy Burl and his wife Bernice. It was very nice and we were pleased to be there, but of course it took a toll on Mother.

Mother does her best Vanna White pose to show her new TV. Even on a bad day, she looks good.

Mother does her best Vanna White pose to show her new TV. Even on a bad day, she looks good.

She was pretty jittery and as we left we felt awful bad about her being 20 minutes away.

But this morning Mother called at 7:30 to tell me that she’d be hard to get a hold of today because she had lots of plans and places to go, but she didn’t want me to worry if I couldn’t reach her. She’ll be home after 8 tonight.

For today, the mother who raised us is back.

(A week and a half ago, John and I took her shopping for new TVs (and a new red cabinet for  the 50-incher) and she was definitely her confident self. We just never know what each day will bring.)

Mine's bigger!

Mother has the biggest TV in the family now, but the remote is giving her heck.

On a fun curve of the winding road, yesterday morning Liz brought Sylvia and Silas over to walk to The Bernice Garden Farmers’ Market, and we decided it was the day to bob Syl’s hair. Impromptu as all get-out and I had to do some guerrilla snipping as she darted about, but, boy, is it cute.

Sylvie bobs her hair! (Actually, Lolly bobbed it at Mom's request, but how cute is that?)

Sylvie bobs her hair! (Actually, Lolly bobbed it at Mom’s request, but how cute is that?)

Friday I got my own hair cut off – my friend Susan Conde at By Design salon gave me a new-fangled but retro shag. Then last night as I was loading the pics I’d just taken of Mother with her new TV (she has the biggest one in the family  now), I came across some we’d forgotten about on the camera including this photo that Jude took in early May. He did a great job for a 6-year-old, but, boy, did I need that haircut!

Jude's camera work is pretty good. He's had a good eye since he was tiny – probably because he's an artist.

Jude’s camera work is pretty good. He’s had a good eye since he was tiny – probably because he’s an artist.

On a sadness S curve, Cathy and Paul finally put down their ancient Lucy, the blind and deaf white dachshund who used to be the best little red girl. She was a few months younger than our Toby, who would’ve been 17 in January, so that means Lucy would’ve been 17 next month.

Then Kitty texted me this afternoon to tell me that sweet Milo, their 12-year-old happy boy died this morning. He seems to have had a stroke and died in his own bed with his favorite toy and loved ones holding him, which is about as good as it can get, but we’ll all miss him.

Milo was a good boy. He's much younger in this photo, but he never looked much different. Just a little stouter and a little slower.

Milo was a good boy. He’s much younger in this photo, but he never looked much different. Just a little stouter and a little slower.

Pets teach us how to love and their shorter lifespans help prepare us for losses in life.

We know where the winding road is going to lead one of these days, and we anticipate those phone calls. We’ve had two heart-stopping ones since December (and a few heart flutterers) – but Silas’s close call has given me a new outlook on everything. Nothing really matters as long as my grandkids are ok.

(Sounds a little like a line Freddy Mercury might have sung.)

But my girl Sheryl is right: “These are the days when anything goes.”

And I try to be prepared for anything. But my heart still drops when my phone goes off early in the morning or late at night.

Day tripper

Though I said I wouldn’t write more about it, people keep asking for details of the Paul McCartney show in Memphis, and since I’ve been a day tripper a couple of times lately, well, what the heck. I’ll write a bit about both trips.

And by now, you can find oodles and gobs of YouTube uploads of the concert, if you want to see more than what I’ve linked above. (Just put in Paul McCartney Memphis or Paul McCartney FedEx Forum.) They’re not bad, but they don’t do the eternal manboy justice. He was a 70-year-old doll and ball of fire.

Balls of fire were literally part of the show on “Live and Let Die.” Cathy and I were in the nosebleed section over the stage (actually good seats, just very high up), and we could feel the heat of the fire jets that shot up at the front and back of the stage several times. And who but Paul McCartney would be allowed to set off indoor fireworks, in addition to the flames?

But I get ahead of myself. Let me back up.

This little guy was sitting on my bed at the Econolodge four blocks down the street from the forum.

This little guy was sitting on my bed at the Econolodge.

Cathy and I checked in our slightly nappy Econolodge with a view of the Forum from our window, after being greeted by the sweetest hotel crew ever, then hoofed it over to Beale Street, where we quickly said “no, thanks.” Memphis, and especially Beale Street are not particularly vegetarian-friendly.

We backtracked a couple of blocks when I spotted Automatic Slim’s, which thrilled me to pieces. (For you non-nerds out there, Automatic Slim is a character in Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” a marvelous blues song, though I prefer Howlin’ Wolf’s version.)

We sat at the bar and had a quick libation (vodka martini, me; Pinot Grigio, Cathy) and arugula, pear, blue cheese and walnut salads, with a big old platter of hot, fresh-made potato chips covered in blue-cheese fondue – and enjoyed our feisty bartender’s showmanship. She should have a reality show. Didn’t get her name, but you’ll know her by her long black hair and talent.

Then we hit the Forum.

The show kicked off at about 8:34 with “Eight Days a Week,” and we were instantly little girls again. (I know the time because I called Liz and held my phone up in hopes she could hear.) I called Ben at 9:23 when “We Can Work It Out” started, and “Hey, Jude” started just before 10:35, which I know because I recorded part of it for Jude. I don’t have the time of the pyrotechnics, but I filmed some of it before “HJ,” so it was around 10.

Oh, let’s see, what do I tell? “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which Paul mentioned writing for Linda, was the only old solo song Cathy and I remember. Earlier in the evening he did his solo “My Valentine,” which he wrote for his wife, Nancy. He rocked. He rolled. He played the hell out of the piano, either ebony grand or psychedelic-painted spinet, several guitars (including Les Pauls in assorted colors), and his familiar violin-style bass.

The man is immensely talented. If you ever wrote him off as “the cute Beatle” who rode on John Lennon’s coattails (yeah, I’ve heard you my whole life), you are ever, ever so wrong. Each one of The Beatles was an immense talent and together they were perfection.

Old Paul still is, even though his voice has aged and he sings in a lower key. He’s a testament to vegetarianism, I suppose, because he looks and moves years younger than he is (yes, he dyes his hair and eyebrows, but you can’t dye a body or that stamina).

He wore Beatle boots and made me feel old, young, nostalgic, happy, sad, tearful. Cathy and I laughed with glee and reminisced. And evidently sang along a lot, since I had laryngitis for two days after the show.

(I saw George Harrison almost 30 years ago in Memphis, and though he was quite divine himself and I was terribly moved by him, too, this show blew that show away.)

You can find set lists online – this one seems the most accurate to me, since some of the others don’t mention the instrumental “Foxy Lady” tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Paul played a cherry red Les Paul decorated with children with arms up-reached and told a charming tale about when Jimi Hendrix played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” while the Fab Four and Eric Clapton were in attendance.

He discussed how influential Memphis was to The Beatles, added that without Memphis music, The Beatles might not have happened. The man is quite chatty and can work a crowd. People of all ages were putty in his hands.

I didn’t scream. But I’m screaming in my head right now as I relive it. I SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY!

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OK, on to the other day trip. You may know that Arkansas is home to the divine Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. If you don’t, it’s a museum of such quality that visitors come from all over the country. Anyone who knows me is bound to know I’m no fan of Walmart, but I am a huge fan of art and appreciate the donation of such a fine, fine museum – with free admission, no less. So thank you, thank you, Alice and family for that.

We’ve wanted to go for ages but since John’s sister, Kitty, was coming this spring, we decided to wait and take her to the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas, which we did shortly before the scare with Silas. We took the new Cruze up the Pig Trail and stayed with my step-sister Lisa and brother-in-law Steve at their home overlooking Beaver Lake. Lisa, Mother, John, Kitty and I went to the museum the next day.

If you haven’t been, you must go, even if you think you don’t like American art. Even if you really don’t like the early, primitive stuff (which doesn’t hold a candle to the European masters), c’mon, they’ve got Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton 1985. We saw Mark Rothko’s No. 210/No. 211 (Orange). (Forgot my camera, so forgive the fuzzy iPhone pics.)

Rothko

And this Maxfield Parrish. He’s one of my favorite artists in the world, so it was a superthrill. This one is called Lanterns.

ParrishOf course, you can see better versions at the website. And you should, if you don’t go.

What really tickled me, since I recently read The Devil in the White City (which I highly recommend), about the Chicago World’s Fair (and a serial murderer to boot), of which almost no photos exist, was finding Theodore Robinson’s World’s Columbian Exposition (1894). I might have to buy a print of it someday.

colombian exposition

Again, do yourself a favor and look it up.

Parts of the museum are interactive and the grounds are fabulous. We’ll go back – I hope to see the “Angels & Tomboys” exhibit, in fact, though we passed on the Norman Rockwell exhibit since we were short on time. We did see Rosie the Riveter, though.

Kitty’s trip was cut short a day by her getting stuck in Dallas the first night and coincided with Silas’s hospitalization, but we did have time to take her to some of our favorite restaurants around town. We had lunch at Trio’s and Loca Luna, dinner at Creegen’s and dinner on the deck at Brave New Restaurant, where her sweet brother proposed to moi in 2003. John and Kitty went to Bosco’s and Vino’s – and of course Community Bakery got a couple of visits for sweet necessities.

Even under normal circumstances, there’s just never enough time for visits from family.

And speaking of time, I’m out of it. John Lennon is singing on the iPod dock. Seems a good time to sign off.

Cathy, Paul, John, Kitty and me on the deck at Brave New Restaurant.

Cathy, Paul, John, Kitty and me on the deck at Brave New Restaurant.

Helter skelter

If you’ve read many posts this year, you know 2013 has been helter skelter. But the past few days it’s been helter skelter in the normal, crazy Lolly/Laura’s life way. And that’s a very good thing.

Silas is better, Mother is better, our upstairs is walled and painted, and ob la di.

Silas and John/Pop at Mother's for the family party.

Silas and John/Pop at Mother’s for the family party.

Grammy is in heaven with lovable Luke (and a mimosa) in hand. She's decided those great-grandkids are plenty to live for.

Grammy is in heaven with lovable Luke (and a mimosa) in hand. She’s decided those great-grandkids are plenty to live for.

I’d sing that for you, but I’m in day 2 of laryngitis following the Paul McCartney concert Sunday in Memphis. I promise I didn’t scream as I would have had it been The Beatles in Memphis in 1966, but evidently I did sing along a lot – and yelling was required to communicate with my sister (we were right over the stage in the nosebleed section).

The Cartwright girls had our first concert road trip alone together in 30 years. (The last time was Jackson Browne in Memphis when our kids were toddlers.)

We split for points east as soon as precious Luke’s christening/family brunch at Mother’s ended.

Luke kept leaning for Pop pre-christening.

Luke kept leaning for Pop pre-christening.

Proud parents and priest post baptism and christening. Holy Souls was the setting.

Proud parents and priest post baptism and christening. Holy Souls was the setting.

 

Catholic Godparents, Brent and Liz, honorary godmother (and Elizabeth's sister), Christy, and parents. Elizabeth and Ben. And the boy of the day, Luke.

Catholic godparents, Brent and Liz, honorary godmother (and Elizabeth’s sister), Christy, and parents. Elizabeth and Ben. And the boy of the day, Luke.

 

He is such a love and it was a beautiful day, though I missed the ceremony while busy corralling the 2-year-old cousins, who were running-and-screaming banshees in their cute dresses. A good thing is that I can still run in kitten heels. A bad thing is that Annabelle and Sylvia can run a lot faster, which made it insanity when they took off in opposite directions. After I called Jude over and asked for his help, things were wild but fine.

Jude helped me chase the little girls all over Holy Souls. Here he gets a breather as Pop snaps a picture.

Jude helped me chase the little girls all over Holy Souls. Here he gets a breather as Pop snaps a picture.

He’s exceptionally good at helping for an almost 7-year-old.

(Sir Paul of course played Jude’s song, and as a dutiful Lolly, I recorded some of it for him on my iPhone.)

Life as a big brother is tough, as Jude if finding out. But he's not afraid.

Life as a big brother is tough, as Jude is finding out. But he’s not afraid of his position.

Saturday night we made it to Market Street Cinema to see The Company You Keep. (Nicely done with a few major flaws but stellar cast.) You probably had to live through the era to really appreciate the complexities, and all but one couple in the audience was at least John’s age or older. (That put me in the youngest three there, now that I think about it!)

Friday night we rented John Dies at the End (spoiler alert: not really), which we really liked, and I cooked like I haven’t in months. Normalcy.

I could do an entire post about the concert. Super fabulous. Realization of a dream and all that. I could do another about how it felt to know that for two-thirds of the people there, those songs have always existed – and that they have no clue how earth-shattering they were to those of us whose lives were changed at the first note of “I Saw Her Standing There.”

But I won’t. I’d rather savor that and share my precious ones with you photographically.

And bask in the glow of family and mighty fine music.

Annabelle and her big cousins, Wesley and Caroline, await the ceremony. Wesley's a great helper, too.

Annabelle and her big cousins, Wesley and Caroline, await the ceremony. Wesley’s a great helper, too. You can see the mischief on Annabelle’s face.

Sylvia's retro dress makes her look like a little lady. Don't be fooled.

Sylvia’s retro dress makes her look like a little lady. Don’t be fooled.

Youngest grandchild, Silas, youngest child, Liz, and sweaty Lolly from running after toddlers.

Youngest grandchild, Silas, youngest child, Liz, and sweaty Lolly (from running after toddlers).

Talking ’bout boys – the three grandsons.

Talking ’bout boys – the three grandsons.

If all you need is love, I've got it made. Five grandkids and two Elizabeths.

If all you need is love, I’ve got it made. Five grandkids and two Elizabeths are part of my bounty,

 

 

 

 

Mercy

Mercy. Or as Jude used to say, “Lawsy mercy!” So this is 57. Or in my method of measuring, this is nine years older than Daddy ever got to be.

So I’m happy to be 57. Doesn’t feel that different from 17 or 47 in my mind. My body might beg to differ on certain days, but I’ll take it.

Friday was the big day, but my birthday has been of the extended variety this year. John had to leave Tuesday to help with his mom, so he started giving me gifts a week early. His absence was definitely noted, but family and friends took up the celebratory slack.

Thursday Liz, Jude and Sylvie brought me cupcakes, cards and the new Avett Brothers CD. I may be an oldie, but my musical tastes run wide, and those darling boys put out a  The Carpenter just in time for my birthday. 

(Dave Matthews Band obliged my 57th with Away From the World, and Ben picked it up, along with a bonus copy of the Avett Brothers.  The best gift there is that an almost 34-year-old son knows and cares what his mother wants.)

Creative Jude made a Mr. Potato Head Statue of Liberty, then performed a tableau version. Most impressively, he picked up the latest issue of Mother Jones in the kitchen afterward and said, “Hey, the Statue of Liberty with a black eye! And why does it say, ‘Fight Club?’”

Jude as the Statue of Liberty.

Pretty impressive for a first grader, if a proud Lolly does say so. (Sylvie’s gift is that she now says “Lalla,” which will morph into “Lolly,” just as Annabelle’s “Baba!” is turning into “Pop.”)

On Friday, the real day, Mother, Julia, Anita, Rhonda and I went to the Clinton School (the gift that keeps on giving, lecturewise) to see Fran Drescher, who was engaging, informative and entertaining as she talked about her fight with uterine cancer – as well as with the medical community that kept misdiagnosing her – and her organization, Cancer Schmancer (cancerschmancer.org – you owe it to yourself to check it out). 

Then we all went to a lovely late lunch. That evening, baby sister (Cathy, who will always be 3 years and 4 months younger than me, no matter how old we get), Julia and I went to Market Street to see Robot & Frank, which is interesting, quirky, slightly funny and slightly sad.

Saturday my girls and I – Elizabeth, Annabelle, Liz and Sylvia – watched the slaughter on the hill (Poor Razorbacks. Poor Ben, who drove up alone to sit in the rain. Bad Bobby Petrino!), then had pizza. It was another good day, despite the score.

The babies love their new Sesame Street table. And each other.

For the record, I almost titled this post “Ants Marching,” which is still one of my favorite DMB songs, because time marches on for all us ants and I love the lyrics. (This acoustic version should let you understand them, plus it’s pretty cool.)

But “Mercy” seems to address it all – the surprise at being this old, the happiness that is my life most days, and the feeling of luck at getting here at all.

So, this is what 57 looks like, only backward, of course, courtesy of my trusty MacBook. I normally dodge photos, but what the heck. I’m a golden oldie.

Here I am

Tonight after dark John and I took the four-legged girls for a fast stroll. As we rounded the corner by Mt. Holly Cemetery, the local ice cream truck went zipping by, lights off and, much to my delight, softly blaring the smooth vocal stylings of Al Green, a hit from 39 years ago before he thought of becoming a Rev.

Here I am, baby.

Normally the ice cream man blares “Turkey in the Straw/Do Your Ears Hang Low” and on occasion makes the dogs howl with the bells and whistles he’s also prone to blast.

But school’s in session now and things are quieter. Ahh, late summer evenings – they can take you right back to high school when Rev. Al first recorded his greatest hits.

Jude’s in first grade this year, speaking of back to school delights, and he’s reading Nancy Drew! How fabulous is that? And how cool that Nancy Drew is unisex these days? Gotta love it.

You’ve also got to love our cute baby girls. We really don’t store them in the dog crate – it just makes an excellent play house when you’re their age. But they’re growing up so quickly.

 

Sylvia and Annabelle hang out in the dog crate. Tess and Zuzu don’t mind.

Annabelle has started calling Pop “Baba!” – usually with the exclamation point included. Precious. At some point “Baba” will morph into “Pop” just as Jude’s “Yah-yee” smoothed into an ever-so-proper “Lolly” as soon as he mastered the “L” sound.

Little Syl is singing – and talking – up a storm; she’s especially fond of singing the “A, B, C” song from Super Why, one of the girls’ favorite educational television shows.

Too much fun.

Life’s simplest pleasures. Here I am; come and get me.

 

Stand back

Sometimes you just have to stand back and look at where you’ve come from to figure out how you got to where you are – and maybe to figure out where you go next. That started running through my head as I read Gregg Allman’s recently released autobiography, My Cross to Bear.  

Liz got it for me for Mother’s Day, and it was totally addicting, if a bit disconcerting to learn that someone who’s played such a huge part of your life is, well, as my friend and fellow Allman Brothers-lover Julia puts it, “a bit dim.”

Maybe he’s substance-addled, though he’s been straight for years now. I really think it’s just that despite fame and fortune (and plenty of misfortune), he’s just a good ole redneck Southern boy.

Whatever – the Brothers are the soundtrack of my youth, at least Live at the Fillmore East and Eat a Peach  and Gregg’s first solo album, Laid Back.  I never had much use for Dickie Betts, who became way too influential after Duane Allman died, though he did write my beloved In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” — which is my daughter-in-law Elizabeth’s ringtone on my phone.

(Allman cuts Betts no slack in the book, but he does explain why such a misfit – in my humble opinion – was an integral part of the band. According to GA, the only way to get Berry Oakley on bass, which to Duane was imperative, was to take Dickie Betts, too, since it meant breaking up their band.)

Liz’s ringtone is Layla, which is what as a teen I planned to name my daughter. Her dad soundly vetoed that, but every time I hear Duane Allman’s amazing opening from my phone, I know it’s my daughter calling. (Yes, Eric Clapton wrote Layla and it’s his song, but Duane Allman made it what it is – unforgettable.)

I’ve gotten some strange looks in stores when I forget to silence my phone, but I’ve also gotten some positive comments and knowing nods.

Julia’s ringtone is the opening bars of Whipping Post, another of my AB faves. I love. love, love my iPhone, but I won’t bore you with my ringtone set list. (Tom Petty’s Breakdown is my default ring. Sorry, I’ll stop there.)

Back to the subject here, which is what you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino: Hell-if-I-know. It’s multifaceted, I guess. A. Life’s influences (mostly music and books in my case). B. Twists and turns, coincidences and synchronicity – here I am in a crazy restoration project house a few blocks over from where my parents lived when I was born, making organic yogurt in my Great-Aunt Opal’s antique heavy pressure cooker pot. I’m a totally southern girl married to a well-traveled man from Washington state, who’s family, as it turns out, was actually from Minden, La., where the Hardy House still stands.

C. Figuring out what you want to be when you grown up. Grandchild 4 is on the way and I’m still not sure. I have so many interests and so little time.

We’ve been marathon-watching seasons of Madmen like, you guessed it; we’re finally caught up for this week’s episode. The point isn’t that we’re lunatics, though some would heartily agree with that assessment. The point is that watching the show makes me think maybe I was right when as a little girl watching Bewitched, I thought Darrin Stevens and Larry Tate had the coolest jobs in the world and that I’d like to go into advertising when I grew up.

I think I’d have loved it and might been good at it.

Ah, well.

My desire to be a back-up singer for Leon Russell or a female Pip was cut short by my absolute lack of vocal talent. But music is in my blood, heart and soul. I’m named after a song. I was nicknamed after a song. My dad was a damned good professional musician for a while, and I wasn’t bad on the piano as a kid. Few things make me happier than good music.

Might have missed a boat there. But I did marry a guy who used to live on a boat and traveling through life with him is a pretty fun ride.

I do know that at this point if someone came to me and said “Laura, my dear, I want to fund you while you pursue your dream career,” why, I’d just up and become a documentarian. A documentarian grandma who travels the world while listening to great music and creating fabulous advertisements for her movies.

And is a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Hey, a granny can dream.

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This is not at all where this blog post was supposed to go, but this is where it went. And there’s only one way out at this point, because evidently it could go on and on. I’ll just stop.

The end.

Those were the days

Garth was the boy next door from our earliest days on Blackhawk, one school year ahead of me but only about 11 months older (we were both young for our grades). He quickly became the closest thing I’d have to a brother until my sister married our beloved Paul.

Garth and I were almost 15 and almost 16 in this photo. Dig the shortest of cutoffs hemmed with wide red, white and blue grosgrain ribbon to match my top. Groovy, huh? Not sure what that expression was about.

Not too much time passed before I couldn’t imagine life without him. He was always there, just a few steps away, with a good ear, good advice and a joke of the day. We used to come up with solutions for most of the world’s problems – or our little world, anyway – and he was always willing to listen to the minutiae of whatever adolescent drama I had going on.

Fortunately for Garth, my life was fairly drama-free, but, still, he was always there for me. And he always took my side, even as he might point out the error of my ways.

We always played on the same team in street football, too. I was the quarterback – had a good arm for a girl – but Garth was the brains. He’d call the plays and tell me what to do. I was just the executioner of his moves.

He taught me a lot about football, and for a while I kept up with the pro games. (Wanted to be the first female pro for a while.) So football became another topic of conversation, including what a crush I had on Joe Namath.

We also played some mean ping-pong and street baseball, but mostly I remember and cherish our talks. Soft-spoken, easygoing Garth.

Soft-spoken, easygoing but mischievous Garth – he had a wicked sense of humor and, as the brother I never had, he did his part on occasion to tease me until he really got my goat. And riled my temper.

I only remember two times I got so mad I physically attacked. Once I pinched him on the forearm with my fingernails, which were long and probably painted – pinched so hard it took a plug out. Of course he didn’t let me see him flinch, but it had to have hurt like hell.

Another time I got so mad I ran across the street to the empty lot next to Pam’s house and started throwing smallish rocks at Garth, who stood laughing in the street. The more he laughed, the madder I got and the more accurate my aim became. I can still see him dancing around dodging rocks while alternating laughter with “Ow! Ow!”

Guess that was a little over the top. Sorry, sweetheart. Whatever you teased me about that day really got to me, evidently. Of course I can’t remember what it was.

Once Garth got violent in my defense, bless his loyal heart. I developed rather early and seemingly overnight in the days when boys “knew what caused that,” or thought they did, and it wasn’t charitable toward girls at all. Or chivalrous or the least bit grounded in reality.

People took me for 18 at almost 13, at least from a distance, but that didn’t mean I was anything but a little girl inside.

A boy from a neighboring school with whom Garth went to church came to the Crownovers to visit and evidently that boy applied the “you know what causes that” theory to me in Garth’s presence.

My gentle, brotherlike boy next door gave him a bit of a beat-down and made him take it back. My hero.

I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness it.

As I started dating in earnest, Garth and I had less time to hang out, but we remained close – in proximity, but also in fondness.

(Our proximity was so close that Doyle Crownover, one of the sweetest men you’d ever meet and one of my bosses years later when I taught in the NLR School District, would peek out the bedroom window into our carport when I came home from dates. Most nights ended with “Goodnight, Doyle!”)

The end of Garth’s senior year came sooner than I expected, somehow, and suddenly he was gone out of state for school. A couple of years later, my parents moved from Blackhawk to Wewoka, on the other side of Indian Hills, and that ended even occasionally proximity.

But the fondness is still there and always will be. You never forget the boy next door.