Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Myrtle, With Love -- From Tubby

As many of you know, my Mother died of cancer a little over eight years ago and she’s still in my thoughts in one way or another every single day.  Whether my girlfriend Marty and I are taking a drive in the country and we spot some house with what we call, “A Marion porch”, (which is basically a big front porch that my Mom always wanted, but never got to enjoy one in her life), or laughing at something our grandchildren has done that we wish that my Mom was alive to see it for herself..  One of the hardest things about my Mom not being alive is realizing how much time I wasted when she was here.  I wish I could have just one day back to tell her how much I love her and how much she means to me – but we all know that that is not possible.

I may not be able to tell my Mom how much I love her – but I still have some time to tell another person who has meant a lot to me how I feel and in a roundabout way – you could call this woman my second Mother. 

Her name is Myrtle Graves and if there was ever a woman who should receive an award for being a Mother – it would be Myrtle.  Myrtle, along with her husband Bob, are the proud parents of nine kids – ten, if you want to count me (the chubby little fat kid from across the street who usually found his way into your kitchen at around dinner time). 

Doctors have recently told Myrtle that she a large cancer mass near the lungs and it’s inoperable.  I can’t imagine how I would handle news like that, but Myrtle is handling it pretty well.  As she told me on the phone, “all things come to an end”, and you can’t really argue with that logic, can you? 

It’s only been a few months or so that I finally was able to reconnect with Myrtle and her family after some seven years or so.  Her daughter, Pat, had given me a phone number where I could reach Myrtle, but before I had a chance to do so, I received a phone call from her.  It was a Monday night that Myrtle called and we must have chatted non-stop for a good half-hour or so and there literally was tears in my eyes the moment that I hung up the phone.  Talking with Myrtle brought back all of those good things I remembered growing up on the east side of Flint and hearing Myrtle’s infectious laugh only made me smile even bigger.  It’s easy to make Myrtle laugh – all I had to do is give her an example or two of how stupid my sister is and she was laughing up a storm. 

I can’t tell you the exact time or how I connected with Myrtle and the entire Graves family – it just happened.  I would come home from school and instead of going home to an empty house – I usually ended up across the street at the Graves house.  We’d watch “the soaps” (General Hospital, One Life to Live, and Dark Shadows) and when dinner was ready – I usually grabbed a plate and joined everyone.  (Luckily, my Mom could cook and she’d make up for me eating the Graves out of house and home with an occasional pie, cake or some cookies – especially near the holidays.)

If you were visiting the Graves family – sooner or later you would be talking and laughing up a storm.  Some of those conversations took place at the kitchen table over a game of Crazy Eights or Aggravation – or – it was getting together on a hot summer night on the Graves’ front porch with a cold ice tea or an ice cold bottle of Coke that you bought at Jack’s Trading Post. 

Those were the days, Myrt!  I wouldn't mind being able to go could back in time and enjoy another one of those Saturday night get-togethers at Andy and Millie’s place next door, too.  You, Andy and Millie sitting around the table enjoying a cold beer or two and listening to country music on the radio while we kids drank pop and played pool.  Back then, we would make fun of that “hillbilly music”on the radio – but now that I have gotten older – I now appreciate a lot of that music and we’d probably come to an agreement today that that was the real country music – not this rock n’ roll crap that they’re passing off as country today.

I know that I have been rambling on about things, but there’s one thing that I want you to know Myrt – I want you to know that you did pretty good.  Nobody’s going to give you that special Mother’s award that you justly deserve – but I want you to look around you and know that there’s one thing that you can be proud of and that’s your children.  All in all – you did pretty good with those young ‘uns that you brought into this world.  Oh sure, there was a little bump here and bump there and nights that you wondered how you were going to keep everything going – but you did it!  Your kids know that every decision that you made – even if it made them angry at first – you made because you loved them and wanted only the best for them.  And…just for your information everything doesn’t come to an end – because a little bit of you lives in each one of your children and grand children and all of the people that you have touched.

Your children love you, Myrtle and I love you, too.  May your journey be as peaceful and as beautiful as you have been to all of the lives you have touched. 

Since this blog was originally posted, Myrtle Graves died at her daughter’s home in Texas, on Monday afternoon, May 17, 2010.  In a conversation with one of her sons on Tuesday night – I reminded him that with his Mom’s passing – the family goes on and his Mother was more than just a link to his past, she was the glue that held everyone and everything together.  You keep the memory and the spirit of your Mother alive by keeping the family going.  No one says that it will be easy – but look at it as a beautiful tribute to the great lady that your Mother was.  


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