I’ve seen all the memes floating around about how toilet paper is flying off shelves, and what that has to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. I know people are making light of other’s actions, but I think we can all agree that it boils down to two things: A strong-held belief (mainly from Christianity) that the “End of times” is near, and a sense of loss of control when faced with such a chaotic, confusing, and scary time such as we find ourselves in now. The problem is, when the “End of timers” run and grab all the toilet paper and bottled water, it causes mass hysteria with those seemingly “normal” populations of people, who feel compelled, for no other reason than they see others doing it, to then go and do it. It helps them. It allows them to rest easy at night knowing that they won’t have to dig a shit hole in their backyard if in fact this is the rapture. Do I have your attention now? With the whole “shit hole” thing?
If you follow along closely you will know by now that today my nephew Josh is marrying his fiancé Sarah. They are a lovely young couple, with bright, talented futures ahead of them. They have already accomplished, in their mid twenties, things that others can only dream of. We were set to fly to Kansas City and be part of the ceremony this weekend, but we decided last minute (eight hours before our Uber came to get us) that we would not make the trip to Kansas City and back at this time. And it was for one reason only, Covid-19.
We spent all of the hours up to that final decision talking to friends and family. Jerimiah and I spent a lot of time looking blankly at each other. I knew that if we didn’t go we would be viewed by some family members as “crazy” or “dumb” or “Libtards” (yes, we have family members who use that word). So we had to decide, were we willing to risk carrying a deadly virus with us (Georgia is a state with high-incidence levels) to a place with not many cases, or would we rather suck it up and go, and not look dumb. We had to decide how we would feel if one of our loved ones became ill. We were set to see many loved ones who are over the age of 65, with various health problems. We had to decided how we would feel if we unknowingly transferred something to them. How we would feel if they contracted the virus from anywhere. If we had visited, whether or not they got it from us, we would always think we gave it to them. We would always blame ourselves. Whether or not they contracted anything from us, we’d always think it was us.
There were other factors. My mother is 75-years-old and lives in a retirement community. One that we would spend substantial time in.
Our son has asthma, and although Covid-19 seems to be staying clear of children, it’s not something you want to risk with asthma.
We didn’t want to unknowingly pass anything to a loved one. We have been in Atlanta in the last two weeks. We took public transit. We know of self-quarantined cases in the actual town we live in. We understand that community spread is real.
Then we heard other about family members who have been to places with high incidence in the last two weeks, and they are not taking this seriously. Family members our son would come in contact with.
Then my best friends’ husband got an email from the University he works at in Kansas. It listed states to stay clear of, Georgia was one of them.
Then our governor suggested the State of Georgia close schools. Jerimiah and I looked at each other. Then came the letter from the superintendent, moments later. They did close the schools. All Dekalb County, until further notice.
There we were, looking dumbly at each other, both with a million things on our minds, when Jerimiah finally said, “Do you think it will be easy to cancel everything?” I said, “Let’s find out.”
It was. Delta refunded everything. Marriott refunded everything. National Car Rental refunded everything. Rover, the app we use to book our dog sitter, refunded everything. No questions asked. No fees of any kind. That’s when we knew we had made the right decision. No one should be traveling right now, if they don’t need to be. And the travel industry knows that.
Were we bummed? You betcha. But we’ve realized over the last 24 hours that this isn’t about us, and too many people are acting like it is. Too many people are being selfish right now. That’s why the tp is flying off the shelves. That’s why there are still people booking flights and traveling to beaches. That’s why there are people walking around carrying a virus, unbeknownst to them, and passing it to their community, rather than being inconvenienced for a few days.
Now listen, I get it. Some people have to work. Some people have no other option. If they don’t work, they don’t get a paycheck. I am not talking about those people. I am also not discussing how horrible it is to cancel school when there are children who feel safest at school. When there are children that are only fed, at school. Those are other topics. Today, I’m just sharing our decision. What and who played a role in it. And I’m imploring you, please stay home if you are sick. Please don’t buy all the tp you can buy. Please leave a few bottles of hand sanitizer on the shelf. Please, for the love of all the shit holes, try to be a kind, civilized person who cares for others just as much as you care for yourself.
Oh my goodness, do you guys remember like forever ago when I wrote about my secret desire to be part of a book club, but that I just knew that I would never be invited into one because I suck so hard?! Remember I called it Book Clurb because I was putting extra Rs in words to annoy my husband at the time? Okay, well guess what?! No, I wasn’t invited into a book club. Sad face. I started my own! Eek! Okay now before you are all, “Jesus Missy, this won’t end well.” Listen to what actually, for real happened.
First of all, at the beginning of the school year I met this friend named Julie outside the walker line at Jackson’s school. Not to be confused with THAT Julie. She cray. This Julie is legit, and nice, and totally, usually, up for whatever. So Cool Julie (who also has an MA in English) was all, “I’ve been thinking about trying to start like a book club or something.” And you know I tapped into that shit hard! I played it cool at first, I was all, “Hmm, I book club. I don’t know. I mean, do people read anymore?” And she was all, “I think so. I mean I do.” I looked toward the ground and pretended like I was unimpressed. “Sure, sure,” I countered, “But like what do you read?” And she proceeded to tell me some books and I fell in actual love with her.
Fast forward a couple of months and we have a book picked out, “Hillbilly Elegy” one of those ones we were always meaning to get around to one day, and a couple of people in the club. Full transparency, one of the people is my husband, BUT, he said he wanted to read more this year and in January we read a book together, “The Nest” and had our own mini-book club and it worked well, so there’s that. Also, read “The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, especially if you love New York City, or family dysfunction, or various POVs. Good stuff.
Even fuller transparency, we are holding it at my house mid-month, we have very little rules other than we all have to be reading the same book, and you know I am gonna make a Charcuterie Board (and you know I can!) and have plenty of wine on hand. So if we actually get around to reading and talking about the book, cool. If not, that’s cool too. Either way I will let you know how it goes. And if anyone wants to join now is your chance! There is only one spot left if I stick to my original plan… Five. Five is a good number.
My two favorite things to do on this day are to send Jerimiah really, really bad, hella inappropriate Valentine cards (see above) and text/call all my girlfriends and tell them that I think they are awesome, because V-Day sucks for some people (mostly women) and I don’t want it to suck for people that I love. I just think it’s a great day to remind people (mainly women) that they are loved, they are worthy, and they are not alone. I mean, any day is a good day to do that, but sometimes it has more impact on a day like today. So just in case no one has said anything nice or loving to you today allow me to say this:
You are amazing. Your hair, did you do it today? Did you just recently get it colored? Did you get a blow-out? What, you did it yourself?! You’re amazing. That color, geez, that color suits you so well. What’s that? Is that a new trick you saw on YouTube for your mascara? You rocked it, girl! You should start your own YouTube make-up tutorial channel. You’re not wearing make-up? Oh, so that’s just your natural beauty. Cool. Cool. Cool. I’m not jealous of you. Just kidding, I’m hella jealous of you.
But remember, your self worth is not tied up in your hair, or your make-up, or your amazing birthing hips. What I like best about you, and so do so many other people, is how kind, and empathetic, and honest you are. I love the way your hair flips at the ends, sure, that’s cute, but I love that when I’m having a bad day you reach out a hand, or an ear, or your arms. I love it and I appreciate it. I appreciate you.
I love that you smile at strangers. I love that you get upset and cry when you see children and animals in pain. I love that you stand your ground, that you have a soft heart and sometimes soft skin, but that you can rise up when you need to. You can stand up for yourself, for the women around you, those you know and those you don’t, because you know that there are people who can’t do it for themselves. I love that you take your responsiblity as a woman in the fray, very seriously.
I love you for allowing yourself to be open with me. I know it’s not always easy, but you always try.
I love you for understanding the importance of self-care. That sometimes you need to cry alone in the bathroom, while partners, or kids, or pets, or strangers bang on the door looking for you, needing to suckle your time and your strength. They only do that because they absolutely NEED you and your strength. Because you are strong, and smart, and encouraging. Because you can lead, and sometimes it feels like you can’t, I know that, but when it comes down to it, you’re capable of so much more than you know. You will remind yourself of this time and time again, try to see it when it happens.
Lastly, I love that you are respectful, open-minded, and that you always do the right thing. I know this sounds silly to say, but in a world like the one we live in today, that is harder and harder to find.
You amaze me, girl. And I gotta ask: Will you be my Valentine?
The rest of these images are specifically for Jerimiah. You’re welcome, Babe. And you’re obviously the luckiest guy in the whole world.
Today was another oppressive day of rain in Atlanta. I had some errands to run, and some dry cleaning and donations to drop off, so I piled up the car with all my errands and headed to grab Jackson. Jackson is released a little earlier than the other kids because he’s a “walker,” meaning we walk home most days, though as of late I can’t recall the last time we were able to walk home a full week. It’s a nice treat to get my kid before the chaos of carline, which we were used to at previous schools. On days when the weather is bad, I park in the school lot and walk up to the “walker” door to grab him. I’m usually the last parent there, because he’s usually the last kid to leave. He makes sure all the others get safely to their parents before he departs. Part of his “Safety Patrol” pledge.
Today I parked close to the school because of the rain. I decided to sneak up in front of the school so I could stay under the school’s awning for as long as I could before I headed to the walker door. As I hopped up onto the dry sidewalk in front of the school I noticed three young boys standing around the flag pole at the entrance, and recognized Jackson immediately. His favorite Under Armor coat on over a hoodie whose hood was shielding his head from the rain, and his black Nike glasses being pelted with the big, round droplets. I was surprised because he doesn’t have “Flag Duty” right now, so I was just about to call over to him and ask what he was doing when I noticed they were having some trouble.
There are two flags on the pole at Jackson’s school. On top is the US Flag, which is customary to have at all public schools, and just under that one flies a smaller white flag recognizing Jackson’s school as being part of the International Baccalaureate program (they are also a STEM Certified school from AvancED). An IB school, according to an article at Great Schools, was created in Switzerland in 1968 for students in international schools. Great Schools says that IB is now offered in 5,175 schools across 157 countries — with about 1,800 public and private schools in the U.S. IB has gained popularity for setting high standards and emphasizing creative and critical thinking. IB students are responsible for their own learning, choosing topics and devising their own projects, while teachers act more as supervisors or mentors than sources of facts. IB emphasizes research and encourages students to learn from their peers, with students actively critiquing one another’s work. Beyond preparing students for critical thinking and college-level work, the full IB program calls for students to express themselves through writing, requires community service, and aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
Essentially these kids are learning to set themselves, and each other, up for success at problem solving, among of a myriad of other important lessons about life, culture, and critical thinking. The problem solving though, is a big topic for fifth graders. Problem solving on the fly, as well as researching and planning solutions to larger, global problems like world hunger, city infrastructure, and urban decay. I tell you all this so you understand what I saw yesterday in the rain. Two boys attempting to take down two soaking wet, tangled flags, relying on each other and their ability to problem solve, work through creative solutions, and recognizing when it was time to ask for help.
It wasn’t raining that morning, they would come to understand, when the morning safety patrol put the flags up. But it had started raining right after, which means it rained steadily on the flags all day. As the day waned on, the IB flag tangled itself into a knot at the clip that attaches to the cable that hoists the flags up and down. Which means, try as they might, they were only able to bring the flags halfway down, then they would stop.
One glance up at the flags told me that they were tangled, but I couldn’t see how from my vantage point. Later, I learned that within a few minutes of discovering a problem, one of the boys had bowed out, opting instead to stand under the awning in the rain and yell possible solutions to his friend. That’s when Jackson happened by the front door, was spotted, and his friend called to him. Essentially his buddy needed a little help and knew just who to ask. Great start to the problem-solving, knowing who can help.
As the rain beat down on Jackson and his friend, they tried, and tried, and tried to get the flag down. They shook the metal cable that hoisted the flags up and down, the tried to move the white flag around the flag pole to see if they could stand in a different spot to get it off, that’s when they saw the tangle and realized what had happened. All the while I silently watched under the dry awning, as did the Assistant Principal, who was between shuffling kids back and forth from the door and the line of busses. Neither her nor I ever stepped in to offer advice or assistance. Why would we? They didn’t ask, and they are fifth graders. IB model tells us both not to help quite yet. So instead we stand, me under the awning and her under an umbrella nearer to them, and we watch.
Several minutes go by. They have been able to get the flags down to their lowest point now by shaking the cables, which have dislodged a portion of the knot on the white flag. They hoist the two flags back up again, then quickly back down, assuming at this point that they have solved the problem. The get them almost within reach (so they can just unclip the flag) when boom! The cable is caught again.
The boys are apoplectic. Jackson slams his hands down to his sides, and his friend in a show of frustration throws his hands up in the air. They look at each other, then back toward the draining sky. They are cold, they are wet, they are out of ideas. That’s when they make eye contact with the Assistant Principal. She saunters over with her umbrella, pretending to have no idea what is happening. She says, “What’s up, guys?”
Jackson’s friend tells her that the white flag is tangled. Jackson adds, quickly, the various measures they have tried in solving the problem. She says something like, “That should have done it. Do you want me to try?” They shake their heads in tired agreement. She sticks the handle of her umbrella in the space between her chin and shoulder and goes to work on the cable, essentially doing the same thing the boys were doing, but with a mighty strength that only a Principal possesses. Her umbrella falls behind her. She ignores it, keeps going. Now she’s getting pelted in the face by the rain, and I think for a minute to run over and help, then I notice Jackson run behind her, grab her umbrella, and hold it over her head while she looks straight up to the sky.
Eventually she gets the flag untangled with her pure might, gives Jackson’s friend the cable, and we all watch as he lowers the flag. Jackson hands her back her umbrella and they say thank you. She smiles, and walks back to the busses.
I stand, sort of in awe of what I have just witnessed. The third boy is nowhere to be found, he’s abandoned his post years ago, and Jackson and his friend stand in the rain and fold each flag the correct way, then take them back inside.
Minutes later, as we are walking out to the car I ask him what happened. He relays the story about the friend who needed help with the flag, how the other boy chased him down in the hallway to help. Then he tells me about the knot. That’s when I say that I saw them eventually figure it out. He stops me and says, “No, it was Ms. Young who figured it out.”
“No,” I assure him, “it was you two who figured it out. Ms. Young just had the strength to do what needed done.” He smiled a little.
I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I tossed and turned. Got caught up in reading some comment sections about the half-time performance (y’all some haters, JLo and Shakira literally ROCKED our socks off! Don’t be jealous, or racist.) And as far as I’m concerned, I’m now a lifetime fan of both ladies because y’all, THE CHIEFS WON THE SUPER BOWL! I couldn’t sleep because I was so amped up on chicken wings, fudge brownies, and sexual thoughts about Patrick Mahomes, or was it Shakira? Maybe it was Andy Reid? Doesn’t matter. At two am, I was like, it’s cool, who needs sleep?! Then I started searching for pictures of the times I made my son, who has no desire to watch football, and who isn’t allowed to play football (because some brains are worth saving) dress in Chiefs gear since he was a baby. I found some. Then I finally fell asleep. That is to say that this post is really just a post of pictures. A post of disappointment over the years, rooting for one of our favorite teams (Jerimiah is a Packers fan) and then getting our hearts broken repeatedly.
In fact, it wasn’t until the Royals won the World Series a few years back that we even knew what winning felt like, and you guys, it feels damn good. Some of us have been waiting on this win for longer than others of us in the Goodnight household. But the win is for us all.
It’s for Kansas City, it’s for Kansas and Missouri (even though our dumbass President doesn’t know which state the Chiefs play in). Shit, maybe I should clarify that real quick for some of you. Arrowhead is in Kansas City, Missouri. But Kansas City is split in half. Half in Kansas and half in Missouri. (But trust, you don’t want to be on the Kansas side of the city by yourself at night). But honestly, honestly, the Chiefs are one of those teams that belong to a lot of people, not just in two states. They belong to the Midwest. To all the men and women in little towns with tattered Chiefs flags hanging from their front porches. They belong to our families in Oklahoma and Arkansas. To our crew down in Southern Missouri who hosted parties every time the Chiefs made it into the bracket, then lost. To our friends out in western Kansas, with Chiefs banners stung across old barns on wheat fields. To our friends in the Flint Hills, in Jeff City, in St. Louis, cause I mean, St. Louis needs a win. The Chiefs belong to Nebraska, because college ball is only good for so long. They belong to the people who hate the Broncs and the Raiders. And yes, they belong to Kansas City, first and foremost.
Last night’s win is for our friends and family members, the ones in their sixties and seventies who have been waiting, relentlessly waiting, for this day. It’s for my mom and my mother-in-law, who have sat screaming at television screens for too long. It’s for our friends and family members who aren’t with us anymore. Who didn’t get to see the win here on Earth with us. Today, especially for me, it’s for my Uncle Arthur, and my nephew Little Scottie. Sending love and hugs to wherever you are. The Chiefs did it!
We celebrated bigly last night in the Goodnight house! Jerimiah, a true Kansas boy, let me scream and yell and run around, while he just smiled and laughed, “I can’t believe they pulled it off.” Jackson, who was born in Southern Missouri, high-fived me, more excited that he got to stay up past bedtime than watch that fourth quarter unfold like it did! And then there was me, just a 38-year-old Chiefs fan who was so used to saying, “We’ll get ‘em next year” that I pulled out all the stops to try to indeed “Get ‘em this year,” including making a prayer candle in honor of the ghost of Derrick Thomas. I have my beliefs, about who helped us this year, and my lucky things, but I gotta say none of that really matters. Those guys played a hell of a game, both teams did, and I congratulate the 49ers and their fans. They showed up. It’s just that the better team won. Wow, that’s crazy to say.
Hoping to get some sleep tonight, but until then, have a look at some Chiefs fans over the years! And HOW ‘BOUT THEM CHIEFS?!
I’ve been wanting to share about my mom’s friend, Ruthie, for some time now, but I have been unable to. Ruth was one of my mother’s oldest friends and she died recently. She was a fiery, friendly, funny kinda gal, whose antics litter my childhood memories. I have so many stories to share about Ruthie, that it was hard for me to pick which ones to share. I wanted to share the kind of stories that would highlight who she was, at her core. I was going back and forth wondering if I share how she would let me sit up front with her in her VW Beetle and move the stick shift when I’d ride along on a beer run with her? What about how she would laugh at me while I danced around her dining room at the old house on Pine Street, while she played 1970s country music on her large stereo, shuffled cards and drank beer with my mom and a few others? What about when she lined all the neighborhood kids up at the pool down on Fourth Street and taught them all how to dive? Or her jokes, her hilarious, sometimes crude, usually not age-appropriate jokes? I just couldn’t decide. I couldn’t even decide if I would actually ever write about Ruthie. I couldn’t decide until two Sundays ago*.
Two Sundays ago the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Tennessee Titans to clench the AFC Title and waltz their way into their first Super Bowl in 50 years, which they will be playing in this evening. Now listen, I don’t believe in angels. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or purgatory (unless you’ve even been stuck in line at IKEA), but I do believe in the human condition. I believe that people we love don’t really ever leave us. It’s something I can’t explain. It’s something I don’t care to have explained to me. But I know we are all made up of stars, and I believe, with no real reason or explanation, that Ruthie had something to do with the Chiefs’ win that night, and that’s when I knew that I had to tell the story of Ruthie.
I don’t know much about Ruthie’s life before she met my mom in the 1970s. I know she grew up in Leavenworth, I know she went to Leavenworth Senior High School in the same building that was my middle school many moons later. I know she was loved in the community. I know she was funny, and smart, and I knew as a child, that she had a pure heart. But otherwise, the Ruthie I know is the Ruthie she had became after marriage, and kids, and heartbreaks. Still, she was a force to behold.
Ruthie and my mom met when my mom was new in town. My mom walked into a bar with a run in her pantyhose one night. She didn’t have a car, and the night was young, so she walked up to a man sitting at the bar and asked him if he would give her a lift to the grocery store so she could buy a new pair of pantyhose. She offered to give him a couple of bucks for gas. He laughed at her and said, “Sure thing, as long as you can clear it with my wife.”
“Well, where’s your wife?” my mom asked, clenching her hose so they wouldn’t fall down.
The man pointed to the woman behind the bar. She was funny looking, a little rough around the edges, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, her own full draft beer sitting on the bar.
My mom walked right up to her, said her name was Margie, showed the woman the run in her hose, and asked if she minded if her husband gave her a lift to the store to buy a new pair. She offered the couple bucks in gas. Ruthie pulled the long 100 out of her mouth, looked my mom up and down, and said, “Sure thing, Sis. If you’re balls enough to ask me if my husband can take you to buy pantyhose, you’re alright.”
The man at the bar was Ronnie, Ruth’s husband, and Ruth, in case you missed that, was the bartender. Ruth and Ronnie became a part of my mom’s life from that day forward, and would remain, well into their seventies. They fussed and cussed at each other sometimes. They had spats and disagreements. They didn’t talk for some time toward the end of Ruthie’s life, but over all those decades, their families merged.
I was the youngest of all the kids in both families. I was so young that I grew up with Ruth and Ronnie’s grandkids, rather than their kids, though their youngest Julie was my primary babysitter after my sisters moved out of the house when I was in kindergarten. Mostly though, I got to hang out with the adults, because by the time I came along in 1981, they spent more and more time at home drinking beer, than hanging out at the bars. Some of my earliest memories are of Ruthie and some other ladies coming over to our apartment to play cards at our small kitchen table. They would drink beer and listen to sad country songs, Patsy, and Loretta, and Hank. They would play so long and so late that I would make a little pallet on the kitchen floor under the table, right next to my mom’s feet. I’d fall asleep there and wake up the next morning in my own bed. It was comforting, the cold linoleum under my Care Bears sheets. The smoke rolling over my head (my mom didn’t smoke, but she let Ruthie smoke in the house back in those days).
Later, when the card playing meandered over to Ruthie’s house, I’d climb onto their sofa, one room over from the dining room, I’d watch cable television (we never had cable) and I’d drift off to sleep with MTV on mute, while I listened to those familiar, sad songs from the dining room.
On warm summer nights, before the sun went down, Mom and Ruthie and Ruthie’s older daughters, Rhonda, or Robbie, or Debbie, would sit on the small front porch of their house on the corner of Pine and Fourth Streets, and listen to music, and drink beer, and talk about their week, how the Royals were doing (it never was too good), or who Ruthie had cut grass for that week. Ruthie would be propped up in her corner spot near the back of the porch in a lawn chair, a table next to her with a small radio (for the Royals and country music), a Diet Pepsi if she’d just come in from mowing, in a styrofoam Wood’s Cup. She’d have her Royals cap on, her cut off denim shorts, and a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. Her shoes, once white, by this time in the summer were faded green from grass, and her knee-high men’s socks would be pulled all the way up, with grass clippings hanging on for dear life. Summer Ruthie was a sight to behold. And I loved her for it. She was sweaty, and covered in grass, and she would sit there in that corner and wave at the people who drove by, drink her Diet Pepsi, until it was time to switch to beer, and she would tell stories. Ruthie was an amazing teller of stories, and she always had plenty, and my ears were always open, sitting on the cooler lid across from her and my mom on the tiny porch waiting for whatever was about to happen, because at Ruthie’s house something was always about to happen.
The summer was Ruthie’s time to shine. At some point in her life, she stopped bartending and switched to mowing grass. Ronnie worked construction, and devoted a lot of his time to the Mormon Church, of which Ruthie did not belong, and together they were staples in the community. Do-gooders, who would help any lost soul they came across. My mom was often on the receiving end of their goodness, often relying on Ruthie to fix a broken muffler on one of my mom’s old junkers, or let us sell items at their yard sales, which were always a big hit since their house was so well known, and in a great location on a busy street. Ruthie would swing by and cut our grass if she was in the neighborhood. Ronnie would slip my mom a $20 bill, that my mom always paid back, in between pay days at her job as a housekeeper. They were friends. And well, that’s what friends do.
I’d spend my summer days running up and down along the house with Rags, their dog. I don’t know what kind of dog he was, but he was friendly, and furry, and he was permanently attached to a run on a close line, right next to the back door, which was sometimes used as the front door for the people in the know. In the evenings Ruthie’s grown kids would wonder over with their families and their kids, who were my playmates on those long nights. We’d catch lightening bugs and smear their light on our arms, chase each other around the backyard, filled with cars, and lawnmowers, and Rags’ excitedly wagging tail chasing us as far as his line would allow.
Cars would drive by and honk, and we’d stop and wave. Everyone waved when the cars honked, even though they cars were just honking for Ruthie. They all knew her and loved her. From the stuffiest, most uptight old ladies to the men who sometimes didn’t have a couch to sleep on, people drove by and honked, they walked by and sat for awhile on the stoop. Ruthie always offered a smoke, or a beer, or a Diet Pepsi. Ronnie often offered a ride to wherever they might be going. There was a lot of laughing on those long, humid summer nights. A lot of friendship, kinship, and fellowship.
As the sun would go down the party would move indoors. More people would stop over. One of Ruth or Ronnie’s sisters, or a neighbor. Julie might show up with a group of her teenage friends. One of my sisters might stop by if they were back in Leavenworth. And there always seemed to be more kids. Kids from everywhere. We’d stay outside until the called us indoors for the night. We’d tell ghost stories about the old house on Pine Street. Like the ghost that we were sure lived upstairs, which also happened to be the only place there was a bathroom in the house. Up a long, curvy, old, creaky staircase. I spent many nights holding in my pee for as long as I could, then running up and down those stairs, while Ruthie would yell, “Be careful, Missy. God damn, you’ll break your neck!”
As the years rolled on I stopped going over to Ruth and Ronnie’s with my mom, in lieu of slumber parties with my friends, or even later when I was a teenager, I’d rather stay at home alone and watch television, or listen to my music while my mom went over, or the adults went out to play darts or go bowling. I became “too cool” to sit on the stoop. God forbid someone see me. What I didn’t realize back then, was that Ruthie’s stoop was the cool place to be, and there have been many a nights since then that I have wished for just one more summer night on the corner of Pine and Fourth.
After I left Leavenworth, married, and had my first born, we went back to Leavenworth for a visit and stopped by Ruth and Ronnie’s. They had moved a couple of houses down, and the old house on Pine and Fourth was torn down. It was beyond repair. We introduced Baby Jackson to Ruth and Ronnie, and Ruthie bounced him up and down on her lap like she had all her grandchildren. Laughing and telling him inappropriate jokes.
Years later, the last time we saw Ruthie and Ronnie, Jackson was five years old. It was the summer before we moved to North Carolina. We took a long weekend in Leavenworth, and just as we were headed back to Southern Missouri I grabbed Jerimiah’s arm and said, “Wait, let’s run by Ruth and Ronnie’s!” It was evening time, and the Royals were playing, I knew they’d be at home.
When we got there we parked at the end of the long line of cars outside their house. We were about three houses down from where they lived, and I recognized most of the cars. There was Debbie’s car, and Ronnie’s old work van. There was Ruthie’s black Chevy, and another truck that I assumed belong to her son Johnny, or maybe Billy was back living with them. We walked up to the front door and knocked, as we peered inside. We didn’t see anyone, but we heard them. A whole clan of Logan’s from the backyard. We let ourselves into an empty house and followed the noise. When we stepped onto the back patio, the veranda Ruthie called it with a laugh and a slap on your arm, we were greeted with cheers and hugs.
“Well, look who it is!” Ruthie yelped, getting up from her recliner she had brought onto the veranda, along with a television, a stereo, and a ton of Royals and Chiefs memorabilia, under a canopy tent. Jackson stood and looked around, taking in all the noises and people. Ruthie grabbed him up in a big hug, and then offered him a Diet Pepsi. Then she showed us around. We hadn’t seen her in years by then so she wanted to show us all the updates, which were really just more Royals and Chiefs decorations, signed balls and posters, a Gretchen Wilson poster hung in her “Royals and Chiefs” room. We walked around and followed her as she pointed out pictures of grandkids, and great-grandkids by then. She offered Jackson every piece of candy or sweet we walked by, and he obliged, eating pie and a lollipop that she kept around for the kids. I caught a glimpse of her red Chief’s “brick.” The foam one from my childhood that she’d throw at the television and yell, “Sonofabitch!” when the Chiefs made a bad play. I smiled. Smelled the familiar smells. Remembered all those many years ago. The house was different and Ruthie was smaller by then, more frail looking, but somehow still mighty, still strong, still able, I knew, to entertain, to amuse, to tell a dirty joke or two. And I’m happy that my son got to meet the woman I knew and loved for so many years, even for just an hour.
On Sunday, August 18th, 2019, a week after the Chiefs beat the Bengals in a preseason game 38-17, I got the call that Ruthie had passed away. I cried, but not for long. Too suddenly the memories came flooding back, and I was forced to smile. The stoop on the porch. The Chief’s Brick. The day in the alley behind her house when she tied my mom’s car muffler up with a wire hanger, while she cursed and hammered under the car. The night I stayed up way past my bedtime to help string up lights on Ruthie’s St. Patrick’s Day float. The dirty joke about the nun I heard on her front porch when I was 12 years old and didn’t quite understand. I laughed aloud. Jerimiah asked me what was wrong, then I told him…
A bus full of Nuns falls of a cliff and they all die. They arrive at the gates of heaven and meet St. Peter. St. Peter says to them “Sisters, welcome to Heaven. In a moment I will let you all though the pearly gates, but before I may do that, I must ask each of you a single question. ”
St. Peter turns to the first Nun in the line and asks her “Sister, have you ever touched a penis?” The Sister Responds “Well… there was this one time… that I kinda sorta… touched one with the tip of my pinky finger…” St. Peter says “Alright Sister, now dip the tip of your pinky finger in the Holy Water, and you may be admitted.” and she did so. St. Peter now turns to the second nun and says “Sister, have you ever touched a penis?” “Well…. There was this one time… that I held one for a moment…” “Alright Sister, now just wash your hands in the Holy Water, and you may be admitted” and she does so. Now at this, there is a noise, a jostling in the line. It seems that one nun is trying to cut in front of another! St. Peter sees this and asks the Nun “Sister Susan, what is this? There is no rush!” Sister Susan responds “Well if I’m going to have to gargle this stuff, I’d rather do it before Sister Mary sticks her ass in it!”
Hey Ruthie, thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the memories.
*I wrote this post last week in order to honor Ruthie the day the Chiefs play in the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years, and I woke up yesterday morning, Saturday, February 1st, to the news that Ronnie had passed away. My heart is heavy today knowing that the Logan family is going through the loss of their father, and I’m sending love and hugs to all of them. This family, that was such a special part of my life for so many years, is having to bury a second parent in the coming days, and my heart breaks for them during these struggles. But the thing I know about the Logan Clan is that they are supported in a community who loved their parents, and they are supportive with one another. They will get through this. Ronnie was a religious man, and he devoted his life to two things: His family (even the ones not related by blood) and the Mormon Church. I know he is where he needs to be today, and I’m pretty sure it’s kicked back in a chair watching Ruthie throw her red brick at a television screen once again. ❤
In what seemed like a moment of clarity yesterday, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and asked my husband to log into my phone and ban me from the mobile version as well. I asked him to use the parental block, create a passcode, and block me from accessing Facebook for more than 15 minutes a day (just long enough to see puppy and baby pics, and post my daily blog) on my phone, my MacBook Air, and my Mac since they are all connected by some invisible Apple cloud in the sky. He agreed. He did it. Then I immediately tried to log into the Facebook mobile site.
Okay, here’s my line of thinking.
Facebook has been, and always will be, my biggest time-killer. It’s where I get my news, though there are tons of other ways. It’s where I stay connected to family and friends who live far away, but I can always call and text or (gasp) write letters! And it’s where I sort of document my life, my husband’s life, and my son’s life for posterity. But I can do that here now. So why was I really on Facebook so much? To self-indulge.
I like Facebook to get into political spats with strangers on the comment sections of USA Today.
I like Facebook because there is always someone who seems to be having a shittier day than me and it makes me feel better.
I like Facebook because I can be self-loathing while CNN plays in a small part of my screen, and poodles dance around in another part. I can compare my life to others. I can offer witty banter toward Trump supporters who never really understand I’m making fun of them.
But really what that all says is that I can let Facebook, and the people on there (half the people I am “friends” with I don’t even like in real life, even the ones I’m technically related to) ruin my day. And I let them. A lot you guys. I let them zap my energy. I let them take up my motivation for laundry, and real writing, and calling people I like, and volunteering in my community, and I let them turn that time into hours and hours of meaningless crap.
Like yesterday I called three different people out on their bullshit posts, and what changed? Not a damn thing. I didn’t make them see how horribly wrong they were, like how no, you probably shouldn’t be comparing the plight of the Jewish people in concentration camps in Nazi Germany to crazy, gun advocates. They don’t give a shit about that. They just like to share memes.
Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I feel better.
So, fifteen minutes a day. That’s it. Enough to say I’m alive. Enough to share the link to my daily blog post (cause it’s the only social media site I can’t do it from here), and enough to share pics of Jackson. Fifteen minutes. Okay? Okay. Okay sure. Let’s do this.