Posted in Death, Grief, Life

My Father’s Legacy

Pictures of past memories
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Picking on people comes naturally to me. My father was the king of humor, pranks, and shenanigans. Nobody was spared. I grew up never knowing if anything he said was to be taken seriously and respected or if I was in danger of mortal embarrassment.

Injuries were also known to happen as a result of his pranks. I, myself, was traumatized a few times and I know I was not alone. Yet, despite the pranks that failed, his humor has been the theme of his memory since his death. I have not heard many, if any, anecdotes that did not center around some joke he played on someone.

In his memory, I would like to put these pranks in writing. At least the ones that caused the most laughter and/or trauma. Has a dent in the world was not huge to all, but it was to me.

Snipe Hunting

This prank was not only done by him, but was and is used widely in the south. In particular, it is used on city people or people that aren’t familiar with hunting or wildlife.

He would invite and hype up some new recruit to go snipe hunting. They would wake up at 6 am and dress up all in camouflage. Outfitted with black paint all over their face and twigs in their hair, they would all tote a canvas or burlap bag and a stick into the darkness. Dad would drop the newbie off at “his tree” with some convoluted instructions on how to trap and kill said snipe. Seeing as how snipe doesn’t exist, the newbie would be left by the tree for hours while the rest went back to bed.

This was widely considered to be the unofficial initiation into our family for a long time.

Funeral Home

For as long as I can remember, my father worked at funeral homes. He would collect the dead during all hours, prepare cadavers, set up funerals, and many other things that go into the business of death.

As a child, I would have to go with him in the middle of the night often to collect the bodies. At first, I was terrified and he played upon that a great deal. But, he taught me invaluable advice which was not to be scared of the dead. It’s the living that hurt you.

The staff at the funeral home were very professional and were good at what they did. They were caring towards the bereaved and respectful at all times. When the home was empty and free of any services though, they brought the morale from depressing to fun in a variety of ways.

At my father’s funeral, the staff told stories about the number of new employees they had lost due to my father hiding in the storage trays, for the dead, during the new employee’s tour of the new workplace. When said employee got close, the tour guide would pull out the tray that my father was hiding in and my father would jump up and scare the ever loving shit out of them. It was priceless, but also traumatic.

That phrase, priceless, but traumatic, explains my father and my childhood to a tee.

Roof

In today’s times, this would have landed my father in jail, but the eighties were a different time with different rules. He loved to hoist me up onto the roof of my grandmother’s mobile home. After encouraging me to carefully look around, he would disappear. I would be stuck on the roof from minutes to, what felt like, hours.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy this as much as he did.

Turtle

One of his other pranks got him in trouble with my grandmother. I was around seven years old and taking a bubble bath in her garden tub which was the epitome of luxury back then. My dad came in to check on me and pulls a turtle out from behind his back. I was terrified of turtles because my dad liked to talk about snapping turtles very frequently. He said that if you were bitten by one, you had to wait for lightning before you could get it off.

Of course, in my child’s mind, I immediately was imagining how tough my life would be with a turtle dangling from my finger for months on end.

So as any terrified child would do I jumped out of the tub and immediately fell and smashed a hole in the sheet rock with my elbow. Which caused my grandmother to get mad at him because ruining her house is taking it too far. Apparently my sanity was fair game.

It’s been 12 years since his death and I miss his sense of humor more than anything no matter how traumatic it may have been at the time. I have inherited his ability to take life with a grain of salt. He and I both use humor and you to get through anything that life throws our way.

I look forward to seeing him again one day and I take comfort in knowing that my sister is up there in heaven with him now keeping him company. And, no, I don’t have any doubts that he made it there.

Some of these might explain my weirdness. My mom is not off the hook for that though, as she was also a factor in my personality.


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Posted in Life

Amazing Home Remedies That Actually Work

Home Remedy
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As someone with no health insurance, I have become a self-titled expert on home remedies and unusual cures. Some I have found through research, some from recommendations, but most have been handed down in my family throughout the generations.

Thousands of remedies have withstood the test of time by being passed down through the generations of families. Even now, many people distrust the medical profession and think they run it like a business. Meaning that if you keep someone sick or dependent on a medication, you will keep generating a profit. I believe there is some truth to that but, having a chronic illness, I cannot always self-treat. Luckily, I absolutely adore my general practitioner. Much like husbands, for me, I went through a lot of horrible ones before I found him.

Pho

This Vietnamese soup can cure almost anything! When I feel that telltale tickle in my throat or fatigue creeping up, my husband and I immediately phone in a to go order at the closest pho restaurant. I enjoy the chicken noodle pho, but any kind is enough to render a cure.

Mix in all the ingredients, the spicier the better, and consume! After that and a good night’s sleep, you will wake up as if nothing ever happened.

Vicks Vapor Rub

This rub smells as good as it works. Not only can it be used to disguise the smell of rotting flesh, my dad was a funeral home employee, but it can also be rubbed on the heels of your feet and covered with socks to rid you of a stubborn cough. I am tied on if it smells better or the same as Noxema.

It can also provide relief to sunburns.

Tobacco

I’m not encouraging you to take up smoking. When you hear the telltale scream of a wasp or bee sting, take the tobacco out of a cigarette or from a tin of chew and wad up to press on the sting. It takes the sting out almost instantly.

Don’t do like my brother did. When he was younger, he stole a pinch of my grandfather’s snuff and tried to hide it. He didn’t count on turning green and throwing up for a good thirty minutes so he was busted immediately.

Desitin

White crusty lips dried out from being sunburned or windburned get instantly better after a night treatment of Desitin on them. Desitin is a diaper rash ointment and tastes disgusting. Please don’t consume it, but it can clear up sun or wind burned lips faster than anything else I know. The next day, you wake up as good as new.

Crocs (the shoe)

I would just like to throw this one in. Crocs, the shoes not the animal, are absolutely 100% effective as a birth control measure.

Toothpaste

Do you have a massive zit that popped up suddenly before a big date or meeting? Instead of naming it and applying for a birth certificate, dab that baby with some toothpaste before bed. When you wake up, Zitty McZitterson will be but a crusty memory on your face.

I don’t know why but only the use of white toothpaste works for this.

Pickle Juice

Freaks all over the world, including me, love the taste of pickle juice. I hope that any reading this will be happy to know that there are health benefits along with the amazing briny taste! It is amazing, according to word on the street, for cramps and dehydration.

Grocery stores all over the world have caught on to this and now make it as a drink, aka no pickles included, and a popsicle. The world is a wondrous place indeed.

Soap

If you use this bar, you will become clean.

I’m kidding. Actually, I’m not kidding, you will become clean. But that is not where I was going with this. If you put an unwrapped, fresh bar of soap underneath your sheets it somehow causes lamp leg cramps to cease.

Leg cramps, a.k.a. Charlie horses, were a nightly torture for me during all four of my pregnancies. Since I have the best luck in the world, I discovered this remedy at the very end of my last pregnancy. For those that are not fluent in sarcasm, I was being very sarcastic when I stated that I have the best luck in the world.

Banana Peels

In 5th grade, I was plagued with warts all over both of my hands. They were embarrassing and caused me to keep my hands balled up in a fist so no one would look at them. My mother took me to the dermatologist countless times. After each painful treatment to freeze them off, they would grow back and bring a few friends to join them.

The summer after fifth grade, we made the ten hour drive to my Cajun grandmother’s house for our annual visit. It wasn’t long before she noticed my clasped hands.

Grabbing them, she pried them open and was greeted with the sight of 75 warts. Clicking her head and murmuring curses, she grabbed the bananas and started peeling them.

An hour later, my mother was making an army’s worth of banana bread and I had my warts treated. My grandmother put the peels, slimy side down, on my warts and then taped them down with duct tape. She swore that duct tape was the only one that would work. Every day, we changed out the banana peels and duct tape. Within a week, they had almost all gone away. They never came back.

Modern medicine is an amazing thing, but a doctor isn’t always needed. We got by in the past with herbal and homemade treatments and we can still use them for many things.

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Posted in Life

Gone In An Instant: The Images Of My Life

The pictures of my life gone
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This illusion – presented as a moment — has always been named a memory to me – Kylie

To make sure that I start this article off on a hugely depressing note, I would like to begin with a fire that devastated my little apartment when I was a young wife with two small children.

It was a dark night, as nights tend to be, and I had put the children to bed and was preparing myself for the same. I heard my small dogs barking ferociously all of a sudden. This wasn’t like them as they did not have little man syndrome like most little dogs do. Nervous since my husband was at work that night, I got up to investigate.

At first, nothing seemed amiss, but it wasn’t long before I smelled the distinct odor of smoke. Since I knew that I was not at a bonfire, I was immediately uneasy and ran looking out all of the windows. Nothing seemed wrong, so I headed back to bed. As soon as I got comfortable, the dogs started up again. I waited about 10 minutes while also yelling in my loudest whisper for them to shut the hell up. Then, I got up and walked back out to the living room. This time I looked out the peep hole thinking maybe I had a midnight visitor which would be completely uncalled for and unexpected.

I put my eye up to the peep hole, looked out, and all I saw was flame. Four seconds later, I felt the heat from the door that had transferred onto my face causing a slight burn. Panicking, but also realizing how lucky I was to be on the ground floor, I grabbed my children and my dogs in one fell swoop. That is not a little feat for someone who that weighed 99 pounds. Yet, I was somehow able to open the dining room window and get all of us outside in one motion.

Within moments a crowd had gathered around and the fire department was busy doing their job with the fire. They determined that someone walking by had tossed a cigarette butt causing the pine straw that lined the entire building exterior to catch fire. Hours later, I was left with healthy animals and children, minor smoke damage to my lungs, a few burns, and the complete loss of everything I owned. Anything that had not burned was ruined from the smoke or the water.

It was my first time ever considering the trauma of losing these kind of items. I had known of it in the past, but I have never taken the time to consider the implications of memories that can never be replaced or heirlooms that have been surviving throughout centuries burned in a flash.

A burning photograph with a woman crying on it.
Photo by PH romao on Unsplash

Being a mother and a woman, I shoved my feelings of loss to the side and moved on with rebuilding my life. The Red Cross stepped in as well as insurance and replaced furniture and clothes in addition to providing a new apartment. This was possible because we did opt to pay the extra nine dollars a month to have Renters insurance, although at the time we never thought we would use it. Isn’t that what everyone thinks?

I thought I got through that time pretty much undamaged until I realized later in life that I was a photo hoarder and almost obsessive with my memory making. All of my childhood photos and the baby pictures of my children were burned in the fire. I often thought about all the albums and scrapbooks I had back then. I missed the countless hours that I would spend pulling out these albums to reminisce about my childhood or adding to them with each little event in my children’s lives.

Starting over is something I have had to do many times. It has never been easy, but mostly necessary and my decision. Losing all of your material possessions adds a new traumatic twist to things. Too ashamed to express anything other than my extreme gratitude that no one was hurt, I didn’t allow myself to grieve for my memories that were lost until many years later.

Black and white photo of a man and baby with a pocket watch set beside the old photo.
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

This is not the end of the story.

As history tends to do, it repeated itself many years later. My children were older and I had remarried and had two more children. My first husband had passed away and I was married to my second husband who turned out to be a narcissistic piece of shit if you want me to put it politely.

During one of his drug induced jealous rages, he hit me where he knew it would hurt the most by pulling out all of my photographs and burning them in front of my face. It was one of many traumatic and cruel things he did just because he could.

These unhappy stories from my past are not ones I tell many people for obvious reasons. But I do get tired of getting told to stay in the moment instead of taking pictures. I am an adult. I know what I should do. I also know that I am doing my best and that is good enough for me. Any issues I have or don’t have is not their business. I will keep on replacing, capturing, and making memories as often as I can. Anyone that doesn’t like that can turn away, walk off, or shut up.

A beautiful picture of a family facing a sunset. They are standing on a log and there are several more logs around.
Photo by Haseeb Jamil on Unsplash

Admittedly, I have not learned a whole lot in my lifetime, but one of the few things I have learned is that everyone has different experiences and traumas that make them who they are at any given moment in time. We don’t need to apologize for the way we have chosen to get through this life, or how we heal, or how we grow. We don’t need to explain our idiosyncrasies to anyone for any reason.

I do not plan to stop documenting memories or capturing the images of my life. Legacies do not leave themselves.


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Posted in Career, Life, property management, tips, Uncategorized

Maintaining Composure During Heated Situations

Staying calm at work

Curse words spewed out of my mouth and into the tenant’s face. This wasn’t the first time that I had been pushed to my breaking point by being screamed at, cussed out, and sometimes pushed around. As a landlord, aka property manager, I have many houses to manage all over every part of my city. I have learned how to deal specifically with each section of the public.

There are the elitist tenants who call me every second about everything. They, for the most part, cannot do any home repair items themselves. This includes changing air filters, smoke detector batteries, and resetting tripped breakers. They hide their ignorance by flaunting their money. They have been brainwashed into thinking money is the same as intelligence. They hide their loneliness by talking, whining, and complaining to everyone they meet.

There are the poor tenants who struggle to survive who blame me personally when they can’t pay their rent. They will drive to my office and threaten me if eviction is looming. They never call about maintenance issues unless it is dire because they just want to be left alone and don’t want anyone seeing the messy state of their frantic lives.

There are the young tenants who are living alone for the first time and need help with everything from how to pay rent, use of an online app to submitting a maintenance request.

Then there are the old tenants who live alone or with a spouse listening to the echoes of their children in the halls from years past. They look forward to any contact and will happily chit chat with someone who calls, from telemarketer to me or my staff, for hours.

At any given moment, I can go from being physically pushed and verbally abused to spending half an hour talking with the sweetest little old lady I’ve ever met. It took me a good year to learn how to maintain my composure during these swift emotional transitions. I had to create boundaries and try to stick with them, becoming never too mad, too attached, or too invested in any one person’s circumstance.

Of course, this doesn’t always work and sometimes I lose my footing. I have dropped my professionalism down the tubes and hit back, yelled back, babysat, bought food, bought clothes, and loaned rent money. I have regretted doing this most of the time. I usually end up getting taken advantage of once anyone sees that I have heartstrings to pull. I have people that have turned on me as soon as I helped them.

I would like to think I have learned my lesson, but someone will come along and test my boundaries and find them lacking. Setting boundaries is essential in this line of work, as in many others that deal with the public.

You have to work hard not to become jaded because people lie about anything if it benefits them somehow. My sense of humor and not taking things personally have really been the two biggest things to keep me successful in this career and not burned out and jaded.

I continue to always look for the little acts of human kindness that are shown periodically. That brings fresh air to every one of us. Sometimes those little acts are enough to keep going for.

By setting boundaries, keeping my sense of humor, and searching for human acts of kindness every day, I am able to survive this work and hope that I have made a difference to someone, somewhere along the way.


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Posted in Humor

My Son Turns 14 Today

14 years ago today, I had my youngest son. He is the third out of my four children and he is the one who has tested every boundary I have ever put down. His love is strong and his humor is sharp. Happy Birthday Nolan I love you!

Photo by Author
Photo by Author
Posted in Humor

The Tween Daughter And The Chamber Of Chocolate

Literally overnight, I lost my child. Her love and affection seemed suddenly and completely lost to me forever. She went to bed a sweet, loving child of ten and woke up with a period and an attitude problem. I don’t want to trivialize this. It was not just an attitude. It was awful. I was not prepared for this.

My oldest daughter didn’t menstruate until she was thirteen, just like me. I blame my youngest’s excessive diet of chicken nuggets. Silently, nature declared defeat in the battle against my nurturing.

Suddenly, smiling was only for losers. And I was Queen of the loser club, gathering recruits everywhere I went. Everything that anyone in our household did or said quickly annoyed her to no end. I tried to not get offended by her sudden spurning of me, but my heart ached for the child I knew was now gone.

I called my mother one evening and was whining to her like I tend to do on most days. I told her I didn’t remember ever having an attitude like this or having hormonal rages. She scoffed and reminded me of how I treated her real quick. She also reminded me how I cried and literally stomped my feet at fourteen after being told I had eaten enough chocolate for the night. I locked myself in the bathroom for four hours after not getting tickets to the NKOTB concert, clearing delighting my parents with a break from me.

I have come to accept this inevitable change, but every now and then, I get a glimpse of my baby girl. Even so, I know the monster is just sleeping. I also know, as the mother of a grown daughter, that she will come back to me one day.

She will suddenly find herself calling me every day and missing the things she hates about me now. That is what is keeping me from despair.

I also know that by focusing on the growing pains, I am unable to see the masterpiece that is forming right in front of me. Through this suffering, a vibrant and brilliant woman will rise up ready to change the world.

In the meantime, I still have my dogs.