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My family

Embrace Today By: K. Wilhelmina Floria

Tears of happiness shall fall,
listen close for your destination call.

A river of tranquility flows through life.

Ride out the eye of the storm, pass the strife.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lord Bless this house

Today must be a good day. I got up worked on a my medical emergency card, a birthday card and I permed my hair.  A bit pissed off because my blow dryer gets over heated and stops working and it did this before my hair was dry, so now it's wrap. I wanted to curl it before I wrapped it. Oh well, who know when I'll have the energy to mess with my hair again. My mate and her mother went out this morning she had a a bunch of running around to do.  Her mother is back and she's not, she kept saying she needed to get her hair done, so that's probaly where she's at. There use to be a time when she use to take me with her. Those days are over.  Or she went to the bar, so a day alone as usual.

 Mr. 23 years called me today.  I thought he didn't want to talk to me after reading my blog. He says he reads it when he can, but his computer is broken. He has no problem with what I'm writing he says it's what it is. I told him about my health and how every time I go to the doctor I'm diagnosed with something else, I said it in such a cavalier attitude that he laughed and wondered why he's so healthy.  I told him it must of been all the drugs he did. He told me he missed getting high, but know the consequences.  I told him that his drug habit messed up both our lives, including the childrens'. My fault to I was an enabler.  He knows he can't get away with getting high now, he'll be on the streets for real, his wife won't put up with it.  She wouldn't let him live with her unless he married her.  After I tell my story further you'll understand that she did that, more then likely to spite me.

So back to my story.  Mr. 23s' friend asked if one of his brothers could rent my project apartment, I agreed.  Him and his wife moved in with their I think five, six or more kids, I don't know how many, it was a lot.  They were suppose to pay the rent.  I should of went and collected the rent from them.  They didn't pay the rent and got me evicted from the project and incurred a bill of over two thousand dollars.  One of the sons is playing for the NBA, you'd think he would pay me back the money. Yes, I paid the bill because it was garnished from my payroll.  I don't do favors no more.  I give and never get.  That's why I knew I wouldn't get anything from the SLE Lupus Foundation.  When I was going to group therapy one of the women was talking about family that was staying with her and not paying any rent and eating her food. She said they moved out and wanted to come back.  I told her don't do it.  Everyone thought I was funny when I went ballistic talking about people will take advantage of you. Mistaking your kindness for weakness. When they get on their feet and are doing well, they forget about you. I kept saying don't do it, don't!

Yes you want to help your family and friends, after all it's the right thing to do. Not! In the end you are the one who ends up losing.  All the help I've given over the years has me in this situation that I'm in today.  I don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.  I went in debt helping other people and come this March I may not be able to afford my medication when Medicare kicks in. Ain't life a bitch and then you die, for fucking real.  Oh! I'm still okay just a side track vent there.

We moved into my family house.  The house I grew up in. Where my sister and I played between the wall of windows and under the table, while Gran cooked dinner and watched her stories or Mike Douglas. The house where I use to sit on the couch in the living room and let my boyfriends finger me and feel my titties.  The house where my family use to get together for holidays and share good meals, drinks, and laughter.  The house where my aunt, who won the house in a palimony suite in1928,  died a year before I was born. Her body was laid out on the porch, and my grandmother stayed up all night watching the body. This is the aunt I was named after, my middle name. The house my uncle who had lung cancer use to smoke and cough all night, after coming in from the VFW Post, drunk. He died in the arms of my aunt, his sister, in his bed.  Where the same aunt for years use to read her Dick and Jane books trying to learn to read.  The house where my mother, after putting the trash out went and layed in her bed and had a heart attack.  This was the house, and forever will be the house.

This is a description of the house I grew up in:

Lord Bless This House

On any warm summer evening the setting sun would shine  on the multiple variety of colorful flowers that lined the curb and walk way.  The lawn green and freshly cut was watered in the morning to keep the sun from burning it during the day, on hot days the grass received an extra watering in the evening. A ‘keep off the grass’ sign wasn’t needed; you could hear Gran often yelling out the window, “Get off my grass!”  Even stray dogs knew better then to poop in front of the big house without a driveway, in the once quiet Jamaica neighborhood in Queens, NY. Two evergreens and one honeysuckle bush lined the front of the house beneath the three windows facing the west.  In the fall the flowers, grass and honeysuckle bushes turned yellow then brown.  The fallen leaves from the neighbor’s trees would cover the grass. In the winter snow covered it all, only to melt in the spring and the whole cycle would begin again.

Walk up five steps and wipe your feet on the worn mat that no longer said welcome and enter the enclosed porch. Over the three windows, that separated the porch and living room hung a plaque that asked the Lord to bless this house.  The hard wood floors were cleaned and scented with Murphy Oil. The screen covered windows allowed a breezed laced with the scent of honeysuckle to enter and blow the sheer curtains.  There was a wicker couch and chair set where mommy sat in the evenings drinking Papst Blue Ribbon and smoking Kent cigarettes, while my sister and I played punch ball in the street with the neighbor kids before it got dark. When street lights came on we’d play hide and seek.  Along the north window Gran’s house plants grew.  In the winter the plants were protected under plastic. Beige drapes with red flowers were hung to keep the cold out and the heat in. The door leading to the long hallway remained closed in the winter.

The hallway seemed long, especially since I was the one that had to sweep it after I swept the thirteen stairs.  I then would wipe the wooden base board with Pledge. The sun from the front door and south side stain glass windows gave the hallway a soft glow.  From the hallway I would enter the dining room.  The walls were a soft texture of bumps and holes painted an off white color.  The pattern of the hard wood floor was slanted and border with a square design with four triangles in the center.  A plastic table cloth covered the dining room table and a vase with red and white roses cut from the backyard use to rest in the center in the summer.  On one end of the table were a week’s worth of newspapers, at the other a folded white table cloth would be laid for the dinner each night. My sister or I would set the table for three. a fork was placed on top of a napkin, on the left of the plate, on the right close to the plate was a knife next to it was a spoon. A glass of milk was placed above the plate on the right. Dinner was served on a platter, or bowl depending on what Gran prepared.  

The buffet has a crystal stand and punch bowl that became home to open mail, phone messages and grocery store receipts.  A chair sat on the side of the buffet close to the hallway door, where we use to sit and talk on the black rotary phone.  On the other end was where Gran kept slips of paper to write her numbers to play.  Above the buffet was a mirror that we vainly used when sitting at the dining room table.  The china cabinet housed the fine china and crystal glasses, used only on holidays and when Aunt Mamie came to visit.

In the spring the area rugs were taken up, beaten, rolled and stored in the dark basement.  In the fall the rugs were placed back on the floor, fruit replaced the roses on the table and green drapes covered the windows. In winter the punch bowl was emptied, cleaned and filled with Grans’ fruit punch during the holidays.  The fresh fruits were replaces with nuts.

No eating or drinking in the living room, you could sit on the sofa bed couch or high back green chair to watch T.V. or to read a book.  There was a sealed fireplace, on the mantle photographs of relatives dead and alive were on display.  On the walls beside the chimney were two stain glass windows that brightened the living room during the day in any season.  My mother’s piano smelled of pledge, our school pictures were there. Gran’s stereo didn’t have an eight track or cassette, it had a radio and could play 33, 33 1/2, 45 and 78’s, you could hear it all through the house. The new RCA color TV, the green tint often needed adjusting, sat on top of the old black and white console.  Three windows looked out to the porch, during the summer the windows were open to let the breeze from the porch in.  In the winter they were covered by itchy red and white drapes. On Christmas Eve Aunt Thelma and Uncle Vernon would arrive to take us to pick out a live Christmas tree that we decorated with ornaments that weathered many Christmas.  The smell of the pine would filled the house.

The kitchen never had any dirty dishes except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There was always a meal cooking, fried chicken, fried liver and onions, lima beans and smoke neck bones, beef stew or spaghetti.  In the summer there would be fresh corn, carrots, green peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes from Gran’s garden. On New Year’s Eve chitterlings stunk up the whole house.  There was a table in the center of the kitchen. Each night Uncle’s dinner was in a pie dish on top of a pot of water so it could be heated up when he came in from the VFW at night.  Every meal included rice, even if there were potatoes.

There was a toilet in the basement; the door that enclosed it had glass windows with decals of naked women. The only full bathroom was upstairs.  There were three racks and two hooks behind the door for towels and wash clothes, a matching toilet seat cover, tank and floor rug around the toilet. There was a rug on the floor by and one draped over the porcelain bath tub. The tiles on the wall were painted light blue with flat paint.  The tiles on the floor were small, white and rectangular and were laid without any specific pattern.  The bathroom always smelled of pine.

The bedroom next to the bathroom was my brother’s room, they had twin beds, with checkered red bedspreads, and there were two windows in their room, one facing east, and one facing north. The next bedroom was Uncle’s, his room was neat, a twin bed with a white bedspread, two dressers, and one with cologne he never used.  There was a window in his room. He had a thirteen inch black and white T.V. that he let my sister and me watch after school.  Uncle’s room always smelled of stale cigarettes and liquor.

The master bedroom was Aunt Dale’s room.  She had three west windows, and one on the north and south side of the room. She had twin beds, one for guest. She had a big black safe in her room. My aunt went to night school every year to learn to read. In the evening she would ask me to help read her Dick and Jane books.  Aunt Dale never learned to read, I suspect she was dyslectic.  She wasn’t crazy like Gran use to say; after all she owned that big house and managed to keep the lights, water and heat on in the winter. She couldn’t read but she could count very well.

The attic was where Gran, mommy, my sister and I slept. Gran had a little room with a little north side window, a closet that was stuffed with clothes.  She had newspapers, notebooks filled with numbers and Bible books stacked in one corner.  Another dresser with two jewelry boxes full of costume jewelry and her pearls.  A coffee table cluttered with an ashtray for her chesterfields, a radio so she could hear the Yankees play, scraps of paper to jot down her numbers.  It was hard to open Gran’s door because of the clothing she hung up behind it.

The hallway was short up there; there was wooden rail and a little crawl closet where trunks of clothes, old toys and books were stored.  My brother had a huge collection of first edition Marvel comic books and baseball cards that Aunt Dale threw away, not knowing the value.

The room my sister and I shared with my mother was big. Mommy had a full size bed by the west window, the area was an alcove.  She had a long console T.V. that had a radio. It didn’t work so it was used as a dresser.  She had stacks of magazines on the floor.  At night she would put on classical music for us to go to sleep to, or we would listen to Sally Jessie Raphael talk show.

Our area of the room was big and mommy didn’t care how we changed the beds around, they were bunk beds that we stacked and sometimes put side to side.  There were two metal closets and two dressers in the room, one for mommy and one for us. There were also two deep closets, one mommy kept her clothes in; it was home to the squirrels in the winter. The other deep closet my sister and I often played in with a flash light.

This was home for 44 years even when I moved out, I could always come back home. I did right after mommy died to stay with Gran.  I moved in with my husband and three teenagers, the old house couldn’t handle them running up and down the stairs.  The patched repairs became unglued and the house deteriorated. My income couldn’t keep up, the house that I love so, became a monster. I got a loan and repairs were made, I stayed. Rising insurance rated, oil, water, electricity bills, I was struggling. Now I understood why my house had an extended family when I was growing up.

My Aunt Willie died a year before I was born, I was named after her. She won the house in a palimony suit from John Elwood in 1914.  In 2004 in the shadow of the Middle East upheaval I sold Aunt Willie’s house to an Arab and Jew. I felt shame and disgrace that I couldn’t keep our family house.

I packed the dining room table, the china cabinet and our vanity mirror.  I tried to take out the stain glass windows but the wood was too old and the first one cracked.  I packed all the mementos I could, everything was put in storage. I swept each room gathered my bags on the porch. The sun didn’t shine through the west window that afternoon, it was raining and my heart was breaking.  I walked the buyer through the house, I looked at each room for the last time, I could hear the ghost of laughter, I could hear the pipes clank and smell the oil burn when the heat first comes on for the year.  I could feel the house rock when the wind blew. I could hear the Yankee game being announced over the radio.  I could hear Aunt Dale reading ‘see Dick run, see Jane run.’ I could hear Uncle snoring.  I could smell the pine from Christmas trees, and stinking chitterlings.  As I walked through each room on that gloomy summer afternoon, I felt my heart sink deeper and cried for hours after I said good bye to my old friend.


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