Sunday, July 15, 2012


   Procrastination, a long word that means nothing gets done. One of my pet peeves as well. I didn't grow up with it but took to it like a fish to water later on. That lasted until UPS came along and I started driving. I learned a lot there and while I wouldn't want my kids to work there, it taught me a lot. That word ceased to be when a driver I was covering for left a note on my steering wheel when he came back from work. I had not delivered a few stops that were hard to get to. The note was plain and simple and enraged me to no end, probably because it was true. It read, "How the hell are you going to find to do what you didn't have time to do right the first time". I walked around like a swelled hen for days until a supervisor called me in the office. He laughed too, just like the rest of the drivers, but said he would talk to Bill. It didn't do any good though, Bill refused to apologize, and rightfully so. So the supervisor suggested I might think as to what bothered me so bad about the note. Deep down inside I knew it was true and I had been raised different than what I had learned to become, a Procrastinator. I was young, strong, and fast with deliveries. Friendly and courteous, but I wasn't complete. I went back to the way I was. That note was without a doubt the best thing that I could have read. It was easy to deliver the quick stuff, even looked good on the over/allowed time with the added miles, but then I had to answer for the extra miles. Worst yet, it took longer to get done and if you haven't experienced a package car with no power steering, straight shift, no a/c, fan, in 90 degree temps. I think we had 1 vent back then. I wasn't the only cover driver that done that, but that didn't make that any better. I relearned to take it as it comes.  

     There is one thing about tomorrow and that it never comes, when it's here it is today. Things come about and sometimes we can't address everything on a rough day, but we can make a start. Something pops up and like shoveling dirt, thrown to the side, it can and will become a mountain. Time can't be the issue because we all have the same amount of time in a day as everybody else and the same amount yesterday as we have today. That means tomorrow will pretty sure have the same amount too. Procrastination can cause a mountain of stress as things build up and suddenly we are behind with more than one can get done on a given day. Not to mention those of us who don't find it annoying as hell. It's hard to feel sorry for someone who puts things off and then works hard to catch up, especially the things that don't wait. If what one does depends on another doing their part then eventually the one that does their parts quits too. Little can be done to motivate the one who quits to restart after several times. 

  I saw this a lot at places I would pick up from. They would set and goof around until the end of the day then go wild trying to catch up, many times asking if we could come back. At home TV and Internet takes up time that could be otherwise used when matters need attending. Nothing wrong with chilling out and watching TV or surfing the web when all that can be done is. There is something terribly wrong though if you know more about the stars than the real people in your life. Something bad wrong when your memories are a TV show, instead of your own. People on TV don't watch a lot of TV, they do. Watching isn't the same as doing. I made some people mad one time when they said, "We Won", in reference to a football game. I simply said, "You play football, I didn't know that. Where are you at, I missed that. " They said, "No, never played football." I smiled and said, "Then they won, not you." I bought some donkeys from a lady who holds a high position on long ears, but no practical knowledge. Lucky for her she pays someone to tend them and lucky for the donkeys I felt sorry and bought the pair. Those that can should do. Those who no longer can but once did teach. Those who think they know usually supervise. Years ago I proof read, not for writing but for accuracy, many poultry and gamebird articles. 

  Old people had a lot of saying when I was a kid, like "Make hay while the sun is shinning." "Loose yer Round-to-it". "Don't put off tomorrow what you can do today". They lived by that and died by that. It simply meant to do what you can in the time you have when something needs to be done.  Don't put something off. There is no day like today, yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes. Life is here and now and problems and chores are here and now. I guarantee unless you can pay someone to do what needs be done they will be here tomorrow, maybe bigger, plus some.  So don't let mole hills become mountains. Take care of business as it arises. Live, make your own memories, and life will go smoother, I promise. Reduce your stress in life, or the one who doesn't procrastinate. If you have kids aggravate them by showing as well as telling to handle things as they arise. Learn not to put things off if you do, then lead by example. Then again, as the old people said, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." Thing is, you lead by example and unless someone you depend on procrastinates, life will be easier. Tell yourself that it will not get done if you don't attend it.           

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Annie Hill

This is for one of my cousins, whom I think of as a brother, he will know it's for him. Last we talked you said you didn't remember Annie saying a lot of what I attribute to her. Honestly, you'd be right. Some comes from Papa and some from me, but some did come from Annie. You said you remembered a different Annie than I did, but in the last years she became a different Annie. This isn't to change you mind or make excuses, but rather to maybe shed some light on why she was as she was when you were around her. Sometimes when we know the background we can understand things a little better, and sometimes not. It's all good.

  She was born in 1894 to Maggie out of wedlock. She would watch Maggie meet a "rich man" at a bridge who would give her money. Over the years we come up with a guy named Tarr. Maggie married a German fellow who Annie referred to as Pappy, and she didn't like him one bit. Annie said he was as mean as the devil. Maggie and him had children together and all I ever heard for she was two daughters. Since Annie was a bastard child she wasn't included in a lot of things. There was a picture of the Crucifixion that hang on her and Papa's wall in their bedroom, different than what is taught today and from what I've read more Biblical based. She sneaked out one evening to the Fair where her sisters were allowed to go and won the picture for being the prettiest girl at the Fair. She hid that picture until the day she left from fear of what Pappy would do to her for disobeying.

  She told tales of the Civil War and yet I never understood if it was Maggie or Mag's mom who the tales come from. I think though it was things Maggie had seen as a child. Point is though, men and women were being traded still after the Civil War. If you remember eating Annie's cooking, some recipes were from slaves. Being a bastard child she was treated just above the black people her Pappy traded on. I know he farmed and grew cotton and she told of having to pick the cotton with the slaves. She said at least he gave her shoes, something he didn't do for the slaves. She told of their feet cracking open and bleeding, frost bite in the winters when he would make them pick up rocks barefooted, so shoes meant a lot to her. Socks were insulation and perhaps why, along with her budget, she always gave everybody a pair of socks for Christmas. She saw him chain and sometimes tie men to a tree, take a Bullwhip and beat them, sometimes to death. He constantly reminded her she was just one step above, and it was a short step at that.

  When she met Papa, he was the only man in town with a car, and he was a stud, lol. Today's terms, a player. Papa though fell for Annie and they decided to get married. Papa wanted a church but Annie refused, she wanted to go to the courthouse. There was a reason for that. Pappy was a religious man and the church as well as him had shunned her since birth. She was second class, if indeed ever that. Annie had faith in Jesus and believed in God, but she did always say, "Religion will get you to Hell". So her and Papa was married by a judge in a courthouse. She took her picture she had won with her, perhaps the only time she ever felt special and loved, but for sure the first time. Papa I think was always faithful but liked the drink a bit, so he would go to town, play cards and come home drunk. One night Annie stood waiting behind the door and knocked him out with a frying pan. The next day, Papa got the law handed to him of what was tolerated and what wasn't by Annie. Papa never done that again.

  I have a tape of an interview that Irene done with Annie in the 70s where Annie tells a lot. Until then she had never heard her own voice and wanted to know, when played back, how that box knew all of that. It was too funny. They share cropped for a man and lived in a Pig House with dirt floors. The man would apparent come and go as he pleased, usually telling them they was poor. One day he went too far. He told Annie and Papa that poor people were nothing more than a knot on a log. Annie flew mad and cussed she said for the first time telling the man to leave and calling him a son of a bitch. I think this came before the event of hitting Papa with a frying pan. Annie had spent her whole life in fear and being quiet, it all ended that day.

  She would go into the woods and pick Walnuts, hull and sell them, putting the money aside. She eventually saved enough for a down payment and they bought a farm by the river. The corn was in bundles and ready to bring in when the river flooded, it was cold that night. Papa tied a rope to himself and waded in to try and save the crop. In the event he chilled his blood or something and after that day Papa always had heart trouble. That meant Annie had to do the work that Papa once did. In a world today we see women doing the same job for less pay, imagine back then. She had to stand up for herself, her work, and fight to get what a man would at the market. Papa would do what he could, he just couldn't do a lot before having a spell. Mom talks about special foods bought and raised for Papa that he had to eat, and nobody could eat that food, they couldn't afford for them all to eat it, so they ate regular food while Papa ate special food.

  Then comes the Great Depression. She done well to make the payment each year and feed them all. To date, mom still cries when talking about that, and you know mom, she usually don't cry. There is a lot of stories about that she and mom have told, Elizabeth fills in the blanks too and Perk has even more stories. Annie's hair was long back then and she prided herself on her hair. They all say it was beautiful. Annie became having bad headaches and weak, eventually she saw a doctor who said she'd have to cut her hair. I'm guessing that is why she never fussed about us having long hair in a time where people didn't like it.

  Now somewhere through all of this TVA was formed and started taking people's land. Their last load was taken by boat away from their farm. It was in Talbott and they did give Annie and Papa the option to keep what they didn't take. It wasn't enough land to farm so they declined, now it is the upper crust neighborhood. The locations was through the Black Woods, where a lot of weird things happened. So they come here to White Pine. I take it they couldn't afford much, TVA must not have paid a lot back then.

  This place was called the "Starvation Place", people said all that would grow here was briars. They started out living in the Old House, the big one that Gerald and Edna lived in, only 2/3s of it was torn down. Daddy, Keith, Gerald, and Sin all brought the small house Annie and Papa lived in from the woods behind it. Reworked it, and that became their home. I guess they just didn't need all that house after the kids married and moved away, except Gerald. They all worked the place and I don't know if you remember it or not, but corn with pumpkins for the hogs, tobacco, and they had a Dairy.

  Things were looking good for the first time, except the burden for work fell on Annie even more, and she was getting older and Papa getting sicker. Keith would come over and help work the farm along with Gerald who stayed behind. Gerald and Keith had went from Plow horses and mules to TN Walking Horses. Gerald married Edna and Edna's mom, Ms. Hickey moved into the big house, where she died after a while. There are a lot of stories in between those timelines but that gives a glance.

  Annie spoke her mind and sometimes it was harsh. You got one chance with her unless you were blood, that was it. She had remained quiet and felt helpless for so very long that when she had to stand up it could be like an explosion. Papa always said she was "Cut and Dry", the two couldn't have been more different. I used to say, and still do, that Annie believed in work and money, though she had no money. Papa believe in God. I watched Preacher Gayland and the one before him come to the tobacco field many times and pray with Papa. They would get on their knees and Papa would cry, so would the preacher, be that as it may though, they never stepped foot in the church.

   They went to church for a while and Annie got tired of all the busy bodies and crap they went around. She told me once when they stopped going and the events leading up to that decision, Papa would have probably kept on though. Without calling names, a bunch of ladies said they noticed Annie didn't have a bull. Annie says they asked her about it finally. She said they paid a man to breed the cows. Artificial Insemination was new back then. It was taken totally out of context. The preacher came up and asked about this event and told Annie it was wrong for a man to have sex with animals. After Annie explained it he looked relieved. She never went back after that. She wasn't much for idle chat, but you already know that.

  I'm not saying she was right in the way she was in all ways, she was tough and rough, but she had to be. This is the Annie you saw. The day Papa died, a piece of Annie died too. The joy he had in his heart, enough for them both, died with him. Papa's last words were to ask for a drink of water. He had talked to her for 2 weeks before that he would die. He said he'd ask God for her to come to but God said no, Annie wasn't finished yet. He shaved, had that ugly radio playing gospel as he did, with a dull electric razor which didn't do much other than make a noise. Annie would tell him to hush, Frank, don't talk like that. Thats crazy. Papa sat down in the chair and asked for a drink of water, Annie went and got it. She sat beside him, holding the glass. He laid his head on her shoulders. Annie said she could see Heaven in his blue eyes, but he looked like he was seeing into her soul. He smiled (as Pap always did) and said, "Annie, when you visit my grave to put flowers, don't look down and cry. Look down and smile, and I will look down from Heaven and smile back." With that, Papa drew his last breath with his head on Annie's shoulder.

  The day Joe was  murdered though was the last straw. She had been through cancer and the cruel treatments but came out a bit differently. Joe's last words Annie would hear was, "I'm going, but I'll be back. If you need anything don't get up, make Mark get it. I love You." Joe never made it back though. Annie lacked 2 days being 8 months later when she died, but the events to come would transform her even more. The cancer came back and went wild. We took turns feeding her, turning her, and holding a bucket while she threw up. After a surgery she went blind for a while. I bought her a miniature rose plant in a pot. It was the first thing she said she saw when her vision came back. We laughed about it. She said, "That rose was the first thing I saw, then you watered it to death and killed it." She would laugh so hard at that.

  The new Annie made me promise to not kill Bo. She made Gerald do the same. She would fuss at me for hardening my heart, but I didn't listen. She began to pray and if Bo ever reads this, she prayed for God to forgive you too. She regretted not trying harder with you and all of us, and believing one of her kids who lied after Keith's death. The one who lied to her has been dead long since. She was sorry for that, but forgave her too. She gave no excuses or reasons for her tough shell, only that she was sorry. I was down there everyday, just like the rest of us, with the exception of when she died, it had been 3 days.

  Seeing is believing, so I want to tell you something I saw. Annie's heart had become softer but after one night it became completely healed. One night, we had been there and finally I left at 3am, everybody had been called in. I was in Voc Tech school plus me and Lenard had a TV repair in the basement, 6am came early. I had done that schedule for a long time, so everybody fussed for me to leave and rest. Her fever went high and we were told to get some Tylenol liquid, she was pretty much out of it. I remember the last dollar and change I had was enough to buy a small packet of bendable straws. We had to have them because she was still. Her arms and legs grew cold and turned blue and she went into like a coma. This lasted for hours.

  Now don't take my word for it, present that night were mom and dad, Gerald & Edna, Herbert & Elizabeth, Perk & Buford (I think), Mark, and I think Chicken. Elizabeth, mom, and Perk are all that remain to ask, maybe Chicken's wife. I can't remember if a nurse was present. She became so stiff and cold we had to check for a heart beat or breath. It was dark that night and as I walked home I ask God to either take her or leave her, this was cruel. I don't think I ever cried that hard or that long. I went to sleep that night and expected them to wake me up and tell me Annie had died. They came up, woke me up, think it was dad, and said Annie had suddenly sat up and asked for something to eat.

  The next day I talked to her and told her about the prayer. She told me she saw Jesus and talked to Him that night. He said He was sending her back for a short while. You know as well as I that is strange for Annie. She would stay a month or two after that. One thing she did say was that she loved you. She wanted to tell you that face to face, so that is why back then I tried to get you to come down and see her those times. For the less than two months she remained, probably just over a month, her heart lifted up. She was completely new. She did talk about the last days and not to fear. We talked about a lot of things. She also understood why you didn't come, though we didn't go into detail on it, nor did we dwell on it.  Her message was don't hate, judge, or waste time on petty things. Many of the things I attribute to Annie is paraphrasing what she said. If you ever want to know any of the things she talked about just ask, but nothing was more important for you to know from her other than she was sorry and loved you very much.

  Her last day she ate, then asked for Ice Cream. Gerald got her some and she ate two bites, tossed her arms in the air and fell backward. Gerald caught her and held her as she left. She did though live almost painless after that night, and died the same way. She left everything to Gerald not because she loved him more, but because he was the only child left alive that helped her, and he sacrificed everything to stay there, education included. Nothing in this world held much meaning for her materially after Joe died, and whatever did lost the meaning and worth after that night. Her eyes and smile even changed. One of her sayings was "Let it go", and indeed she did.