Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sarah

It has taken a long time for me to get around to writing about my sister Sarah here.  Perhaps I was afraid I couldn't do her justice.  Maybe a fear I couldn't make her real enough to those who read it.  But through this holiday season she has been on my mind more than little bit.  So now I think it is time to try.  Allow me to tell you about my sissy. 

Mother had been married before Daddy.  She had two beautiful little girls in the 40's.  The oldest was Edna.  The younger was Sarah.  Most of their growing up years it was just them.  Then in 1959 mother wed Daddy.  And in 1960 they were blessed with me.  Well, they at least thought I was a blessing. 

Edna and Sarah were mortified that mother might breast feed me, so I was a bottle baby.  And the two of them played a roll in picking my name; Barbara Lynn.  It was quickly shortened to Barbie.  My earliest memories of Sarah involve a head full of curls and many giggles.  She loved to have fun.  She danced on the edge of being bad, but never crossed over. 

There are memories of rides in automobiles with her and her friends.  The scent of cigarettes, hairspray and open beer bottles mingling.  Sarah taught me to scream much to mother's chagrin.  She'd lock me in the bathroom closet to hear me scream.  But never let it go too long. 

Somewhere before I reached Hannah's age, she had married her high school sweetheart, Eddie and begun a family of her own.  I remember being so jealous over that new baby's attention.  (Sorry Holly)  But Sarah found ways to make it okay, showing me how to fold the clothe diapers and finding other ways to involve me with my young niece's care. 

Sarah is the one I remember baking cookies with.  Rolling out dough.  Cutting shapes.  Decorating.  Eating plenty of raw dough.  Giggling.  She's the one that taught me to put peanuts in my coke.

Sarah taught me to fly a kite in the jenny's pasture beside our house on Cook's road.  She drew a horse on my chalk board so lifelike and real, it's weeks before I erase it. She's the one who showed me to hunt for four leaf clovers and make a daisy chain at her and Eddie's little rent house by the train tracks.  Heaven Scent perfume lingering in the air.

Everything was beautiful to Sarah.  Joy abounded in creation and creatures.  She thought if she could touch a cloud it would feel like cotton candy.  She had a way with animals.  Having them trust her.  Mending them when they were hurt.   I think Hannah has it, too. 

I remember trips to sand bars with Sarah.  Swimming.  Picnicking. Swinging high, so very high on an old rope swing.  Sarah also always knew where the best hamburgers and french fries could be found.  And great songs on the juke box.  "Me and you and a dog named Boo"  "Big Blue Diamond" 

As an adolescent that was sometimes feeling chunky and oh, not so cool Sarah found ways to make me feel special.   Outfits she whipped out by hand.  Perfume.  I think perhaps she was the first person in the family who began to try to treat me as an adult.  Let me stay with her and "see" my boyfriend who lived not far from them. 

High school came for me.  I seem to be more and more busy.  Sarah's life is too.  There is a handsome young son now, Clay.  Sarah works and still finds time to do a thousand mama and wife things.  Her van has a bumper sticker about a women's place is at home and she should go there right after work.  I baby sit some for her in the summer's.  I can't believe she allowed me to care for her children.  All I ever knew of children before mine, was the time I spent with hers. 

The women folk gathering over at Sarah's house to watch an Elvis movie while the men gathered elsewhere to watch Monday night football.

She was left handed, but was known at work for being able to run the calculator with her right hand and copy down the results with her left.  She rode horses with Eddie.  She sewed with or without a pattern.  She was known for sleep walking on occasion and claimed to have sleep driven at least once. 

I graduate high school and go on to college in Nacogdoches.  Sarah and I exchange some letters.  But Edna is the letter writer.  Sarah prefers to catch me on the phone.  Daddy is gone.  Mother has met Polk, Jr. and plans are made for their wedding.

Sarah puts together an idea to take Mother to the Palace in Beaumont to see Conway Twitty for a "bachelorette" party.  Sarah's van packed to capacity with women of all ages.  All linked together one way or another.  On the way down there, I had such an over whelming sense of foreboding.  And it centered around Sarah.  I closed my eyes and silently prayed (and I wasn't all that spiritual then folks) "no Lord.  Not here, not now.  Too many mother's.  Too many lives changed." 

We proceeded to have a wonderful time at the concert.  Mama acted like a teenager when Conway walked by our table in the steak house headed to his private room.  I swear I think she almost swooned.  We all arrived home safely.  The wedding is fast approaching.  Not another thought did I give to my strange feelings that night.

Then one night I am awakened by Mama.  It seems Sarah and Eddie had been out to eat.  They had come home and Sarah thought she needed to tend to a load of clothes out in her laundry room near the house.  She had stepped out the door and down the steps and been bitten by a copper head.  Eddie killed the snake and had her at the hospital.  Polk was taking Mama there.  No need to worry. 

And one moment Sarah was laughing and joking with those in the ER.  And the next she was gone.  Differing opinions of just what happened.  The snake venom?  Perhaps she didn't need the anti-venom?  Perhaps she was allergic?  Perhaps something from the scarlet fever she had as a child caused it?

Does it matter?  Sarah was gone.  Lives forever changed.  She was in her thirties.  I've already out lived her by more than 10 years!

I saw her once more, in a dream.  We were at her house.  She was trying to leave.  I was trying to stop her.  She was trying to reassure me that things here would be alright.  I was left with the impression she was with the baby she miscarried in between Holly and Clay.

But you're in my thoughts Sarah.  You're still sitting on one leg tucked beneath you, sunglasses perched atop your head.  Hand around a mason jar full of ice water.  You are ageless and timeless and will always be with me.    

 

Precious gifs by Emma.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What's Cooking at Nat's?

What's cookin' you ask?  Nat graciously invited me to do an entry over at Interface.  Go see. 

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Real Gift

                       

There He is in the manger....resting in Mary's arms.  The Original.  The Real Christmas Present.  Sent by the loving and merciful Father God to all His children.  To all mankind.

Have you opened your heart and received your Christmas gift from God?  It's easy to open, just pray to receive the Christ in your heart and the fullness of His present of love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.

                    

              A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to one and all!

                                                   Barbara

Beautiful graphics by SugarShackKeepsakes.
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Was Surprised, So I Know You Will Be!

So the other day I was goofing around and checking out my own tags at technorati just to see who and when had used the tags I had used.  Then I saw some other little linky button thing that I didn't know what it was.  Of course I clicked it.  It took me to some list of people who had linked to my journal. 

Okay, most of them were people I knew and I remembered the entry they had done and why they had linked to me.  Some were merely because they had me listed in their sidebar.  But I noticed one that I didn't recognize, and the name intrigued me:  The Bayou

So, (Mrs. Lindsey, my 6th grade English teacher is rolling over in her grave as I am starting so many sentences with prepositions.  She once told me that I had a flare for writing, but would have to have a full time person to check my spelling and such.  She had no clue that spell check was coming. ) Where was I?  Oh!!

So, I clicked that link to see what was what.  There was an entry that was informative and humorous about where is mile marker zero.  At the end of the entry, the author had a list of Ten Texas Blogs You Should Read Today.  Here's the surprise part, Life & Faith in Caneyhead was one of them!!

So, now I am really, really curious.  Who is this Gator and what kind of blog is this?  Turns out that the Bayou is one of several blogs associated with the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper.   We're just 33.5 miles NE of Beaumont up here in the woods.  Heck, my job is in Beaumont!

Well, there you have it.  Aren't you just as surprised as I am?  How neat!  How awesome!   

         

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bear or Beara

Tom Bear Stutts, or so I was told in my youth.  According to the things I remember Daddy telling me his father was part Indian.  At one point he served as the sheriff in the rural county they lived and farmed cotton in.  He passed away of natural causes and then Daddy had to leave school in the 9th grade to begin to work and help support the 14 children in the family.  Daddy wasn't the oldest, but one of the older ones.  These are the things I was told across the years.  These are the things I grew up thinking were true little tidbits about my long gone grandfather. 
 
It should also be noted, that my father and his family lived next to the Alabama Coushatta Indian Reservation.  I remember several family reunions at the old cemetery when their choir would come in and sing stirring gospel songs under the roof of that old wood frame church.  Once Daddy took me to the Indian Reservation.  We toured like everyone else, except for one strange occurrence; several old Indians greeted Daddy warmly and called him Bill.  Well, Bill is nothing like Clayon so I couldn't understand it.  Daddy just said that was what they called him.
 
I also recall going back to where the old home place had been with my Daddy once.  He took me to visit a very old woman, half blind, named Cordie.  She was so excited when she figured out who we were!  She had been a neighbor and perhaps even some sort of relative.  He showed me the little old falling down house where a man who didn't have legs had lived.  Daddy said that man went everywhere anyone else would go on his hands.  Just swing his torso along. 
 
Now, Daddy never recounted much at all about the war with me.  I know he was infantry.  I know he served in Europe.  He was private first class.  I know he brought back moneyfrom all over.  Had been collecting for years.  He'd occasionally throw out a phrase in German, especially if we were watching an old war movie.  He would say it was really very easy to learn, worked a lot like English.  When the movie about the Battle of the Budge would play on TV, we'd watch.  He'd get rather excited saying how this part was exactly as it was and that part just wasn't real. 
 
I remember jokes over the years about the Stutz Bearcat.  An old make of car.  Daddy said that was the German spelling of Stutts.  Sounded the same as our name, but spelled differently. 
 
Now, many years later Bubba and I drove to attend the funeral of my dear aunt Meryl.  Daddy's sister, R. A., was still alive and there but definitely not herself any more.  Also assorted older cousins of mine.  Among them, Aunt Meryl's son Peanut.  (Another story down through the years was that Meryl's first husband, Peanut's daddy, had been a gangster.  Not a rap star, a real gangster.)  After the services we were walking around the cemetery looking at tombstones and I was sharing with Bubba what I could recall of each person.  My grandmother who always grew lots of roses, had a kitchen full of food, an apron on, and arms out to hug you.  Uncle Peara, who always had plenty of Borden's Dutch Chocolate milk on hand when I'd visit.  Who's wife, Elizabeth, took me downtown one fine day to the drugstore and bought me my Wa Hoo board and marbles.  (I still have it.  Play with the kids on it.)
 
                                
Then we are in front of my grandfather's grave.  Tom Beara Stutts it says on the headstone.  I was starting to tell Bubba the tiny bit I had been told over the years, when Peanut come alongside of us.  I stop and ask him about the spelling.  Daddy had taught me, Bear.  He said, no it was Beara.  A German name.  I asked how much German and how much Indian was he.  Peanut, who has done much family tree work, said he was all German.
 
I was dumbfounded! Flabbergasted! Embarrassed!  My universe rocked.  How could this be?!  Peanuts facts were squewed!!  And we went on to discuss how Daddy loved to tell a tall tale.  But, no, this wasn't conversation from those silly times, this was "tell me something" Daddy talks.  I remember Daddy spelling out the names for Mama and her writing them on paper, storing them in her jewelry box. 
 
I don't know what is what anymore.  Don't know where to begin.  I pushed it back for some time, out of my thoughts.  But here lately it has surfaced again.  I want to know.  To know what to pass on.  But there is hardly anyone alive anymore I can trust to ask.  Peanut had said he'd send me copies of everything he had on the family.  But it never came. 
 
And as bad as I want to know who Tom really was, I want even more to understand why Daddy never once in 16 years mentioned any other alternative.  Did he see things in the war that made him want to distance himself from any link to the Germans?  I know he told me how the infantry walked in front of the tanks spaced so far apart, so if one man got on a land mine, hopefully only one man would be lost....not several in tank.  But he always seemed so well adjusted.  So over it all.    Was he somehow honestly mistaken about his own father?  Or did he just think him being anIndian was more romantic a tale for his daughter?  Did he die before he could straighten it out?  Was our family name ever spelled Stutz?  If so, when did it change and why?  Texas is known for many large German communities.  There should have been no persecution here.  So many questions.  So few answers.
 
Well, one mystery is finally solved from all this;  why I craved sauerkraut and wieners through both my pregnancies, though I almost never touch the stuff any other time.
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