Families are like fudge... mostly sweet, with a few nuts. You’ve probably heard something similar, but until I looked at my notes taken at my family reunion in Kansas, I had forgotten how true this saying was. The family reunion hadn’t taken place for several years, and during that time, boy am I surprised how some people’s personalities seem to radically change.
Now I’m not necessarily talking about those relatives who have grown old enough to begin, what seems to be, the life cycle all over again. We make some allowances for them, such as a grandfather of one of my second cousins, who is pushing 96. Although his mind is still sharp at times, he says that, “My mind not only wanders; sometimes it leaves me completely.”
When his mind is sharp he will share bits of wisdom, such as, “I am that mighty oak that years ago was the nut that held its ground” (which has to do with staying on the farm when others were leaving, such as my dad). And he has adjusted very well to grandma’s passing a few years ago when he says things like, “Mama said she always had to stay in shape. She started walking two miles a day when she was 80. She continued walking and now we have no idea where she is.”
And then there’s Uncle Bill, somewhere in his early 80s. He used to hike a lot but when he was asked why he didn’t hike any more, he responded, “My philosophy is no pain, no pain.” Okay... But then his wife, my Aunt Esther, when the discussion got around to talking about how much weight some of them had put on since the last reunion, said, “But I am in shape. Round is a shape.”
My cousin LaVera, just a few years older than me, had always said she was going to become a somebody and move away from the small farm community she grew up in. However, she finally married her high school sweetheart and settled down on a farm not too far from her dad’s. One evening as the cousins sat around a campfire discussing what they had wanted to do with their lives and what actually wound up happening, LaVera admitted, “I’ve always wanted to be somebody. I guess I should have been more specific.”
Actually, in truth, she has become one of the “sweets” in the family and has raised some wonderful children who have gone on to make their mother very proud of them.
That brings us to my two male cousins, Jimmy and Donald. Jimmy became a lawyer in Kansas City. He and his wife have a nice apartment in one of the high rises downtown. Now mind you, Jimmy is very bright, but when it comes to the method he uses for securing their apartment, it makes one wonder. Jimmy says that, “I have six locks on my apartment door, all in a row. When we go out, I lock every other one. I figure that no matter how long someone tries to pick the locks, they are always locking three of them. Uh huh...
My other male cousin, Donald, works in the psychiatric profession in Denver, Colorado. Although he says he helps others to get their thinking straightened out, when he talks, sometimes it sounds as though his brain went into the deep freeze in Denver. He is always using statistics to make a point, like when he says, “One out of every three Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of two of your best friends. If they are okay, then it must be you.” If you ask me, that nut didn’t fall far from the family tree.
I guess that brings us to me. I’m the writer in the family, so I have problems with things I write, such as, “If night falls and day breaks, then why aren’t they all cracked up?” Before moving to Atlantic I spent many days driving into and out of Los Angeles and always wondered why they called the slowest traffic of the day, “Rush Hour.”
A few years ago I had a shop called the Wood Medic on my property where I could restore antiques and repair furniture in my spare time (which I don’t have much of these days). At times I paused and reflected on the work I had completed. During these times of reflection, my mind would come up with such astounding questions and statements as, “Why does this screwdriver in my tool box belong to Philip? Well, at least this Allen wrench is mine.”
What? You say you think I may be one of the nuts, too? Well, it is said “you are what you eat,” and nuts have been one of my favorite snacks for years.
In closing, let me say, the following quote is attributed to a guy with the last name of Starks, from South Carolina. And since some research done by my sister-in-law over the past couple of years has shown we are related to the Starks clan, he may be one of our family nuts: “Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 2018 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”