Before You Tie the Knot

 

I am not licensed to give any type of therapy sessions related to marriage. No one is offering me hundreds of dollars per hour to sit on a couch in a small room for input on how to deal with issues that go along with transforming from two individuals to a functioning couple. However, after reading this work I can provide PayPal account information if you feel led to donate.

Any of you potential grooms out there, I’m going to give you a few scenarios that maybe you haven’t thought of that could potentially prepare you for this important path.

Be prepared to continuously move the toilet seat up and down when using the restroom. Remember this, if not you may wake up to a splash and screams in the wee hours of the morning. What follows is an invitation to take a trip to the luxurious resort inside your living room named “Le Couch.” I never quite understood why the females of the house wouldn’t return the favor of lifting the toilet lid back towards the tank when they have completed their experience. I mean that’s only fair, right?

Be prepared for magnificent date nights. You know with candle lights, flowers, freshly made hors d’ oeuvres, the finest steaks and the finest service that you can think of. All of that may well be the case in some households, but I’m going to give you a clearer picture of what happens more often than not. Babe, let’s get something to eat tonight. Oh, you don’t care where we go or what eat. Ok, I’ll make arrangements for around seven. At approximately 6:53, you will still be sitting on “Le Couch” waiting for your significant other to complete last minute make-up and hair adjustments. Upon arrival at the dining establishment at approximately 7:15, we find out that our reservations have been given to another couple. It was probably a good thing anyhow, come to find out, she doesn’t find the local Waffle House a desirable destination for a date night. So, for the next thirty to forty-five minutes, you will ride around arguing about eating at a place called “I Don’t Care,” only to arrive and find out that wasn’t the exact “I Don’t Care” that she fancies.

Be prepared for two sets or rules. When we are trying to “quiet the monsters” also known as our children for their beauty sleep, there are unwritten rules that the parents and older sibling know to abide by. If you want to see a dark side of the lady of the house, make any type of noise while she is rocking or laying with the children at bedtime. The wife has superpower hearing during this juncture in the evening. Our oldest child had a near death experience just the other day for merely “blinking” too loudly. Which brings me to last night. While trying to get our daughter to sleep, my spouse proceeded to: laugh obnoxiously while attending a virtual prayer meeting (praise Jesus), did I mention that the volume on the phone made the conversation seem as if the Pastor was shouting at me personally (forgive me Lord), and lastly she began mixing batter and banging pots in the process of making banana bread. My life insurance is paid up for instances like these when the tables are turned.

Couples have to make sacrifices and compromise. I hope this has helped inform some of the gentlemen out there what may lie ahead. I love my wife dearly and while some of this is truthful, some may be slightly exaggerated. Proverbs 21:9 states, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. I choose not to live in the corner of any housetop, but if you need me anytime soon I will be at the resort “Le Couch.”

Dear Paw

Dear Paw,
As I walked the isles of the local Piggly Wiggly today, I reminisced of the weekly visits we took to get enough ration to last until the next trip. As a young lad, I could hardly contain my excitement for that trip into town for vittles and to fill your prescriptions. More than twenty years has passed but under the current circumstances a similar excitement for our family exists. Today, this consists of freeing them from the bondage of our homestead on a mere trek without entry into the local grocery store. The kids sit in the car while I or my wife grab the items needed for the next few days. I’m not sure who gets the short end of the stick on this one. “Stay in the car with three kids” or “enter the danger zone where people are disagreeing about how many packs of toilet paper you can buy at a time.”

 

People are being infected by a virus globally. Some people have died and others fell extremely ill. The Governor has announced a stay at home order to help eliminate the transfer. In your time, these restrictions would be relatively normal.
We spend most of our days working in the yard and playing games with our children. We’ve cooked more meals in our house in the past few weeks than the entire three years we’ve lived here. The most peaceful time is when we sit in the rocking chairs on the porch in the late afternoon looking out over the farmed country side: admiring God’s creations, listening to the birds chirp, the dogs bark and the neighborhood families spending quality time together.
Boy this is an uncertain time Paw, but it feels so much like my childhood spending summers with you and your kind hearted bride.
Days went by without looking at a watch or a calendar. Cousins played ball, went fishing, fought and awoke the next day to do the same thing. We worked the fields, shelled peas and feasted on home cooked meals.
We planted a garden last week and been teaching the oldest how to run a weed eater, how to treat a woman and how God is in charge. When you were teaching me these things early in my life I didn’t completely understand the magnitude nor the importance. Now look at me Paw, I’m trying to teach these young’uns of ours about working hard for a living and loving the Lord with all their heart.
After supper, the kids watch a little television before bed. We have more options on the tube than when you were around. The strange thing is we pay for all this entertainment and we seldom watch more than a handful of shows. The subject matter is mostly too vulgar for the kids to watch and the news broadcasts a lot of negative headlines. Shows like “Dallas” and “Miami Vice” have left and came back again, only to fall in ratings to reality T.V.
The celebration of Jesus’s resurrection is this weekend. Preachers will broadcast sermons over the airwaves and through computer screens. Family gatherings with the aunts, cousins and grandparents may be hindered this year. What a great time we had actually communicating with relatives face to face back in your time. We weren’t all perplexed by highly addictive handheld digital devices.
It’s been fun talking Paw, we miss you. I wish our children would’ve been blessed to meet you and hear your stories. Things have changed since your departure, but for now I will cherish the slower pace. My children may actually experience a little bit of how we were raised.
Well, I better go. My wife is calling. No, literally she is actually calling me on that little addicting device I told you about. She is merely yards away in the kid’s room, but this is our age of communication.

 
Nathan

Riding the Strip

In the theme of Spring Break 2020, one member of my family is reverting back to her late high school and early college days.

 
She stole my primary use of transportation to head off to get the essentials at the local Wal-Mart. Usually after she takes one of the vehicles I normally drive, I would have something to say about how extremely difficult it is to get into the vehicle with the adjustments she has made to the seat. Imagine me running late for work and jumping into the vehicle only to find that my knees are stuck in the steering wheel. Now the horn won’t stop blowing and every neighborhood car alarm is blaring. The neighbor is out in his bath coat and has dialed the local sheriff’s department in an effort to catch the car jacker who has caused all this commotion. Heaven forbid we interrupt his viewing of “Good Morning America.’

 
This morning was no different except for the fact that I was not in any hurry due to the observation of Spring Break 2020 by educators across our district. In less of a rush than usual, I indeed noticed that the seat was set in short people mode.

 
What I wasn’t ready for was the volume and vivid beat coming from the speakers upon insertion of the key. I believe the volume goes to a numerical setting of 60 and she was on the verge of blowing the sub’s, burning up the amp and shattering the back glass. I don’t have an amp or sub in my vehicle but the vibrations turned the front seat into one of those massage chairs at the mall, if you get my point.

 
This is where she is having flashbacks from the late nineties and early two-thousands. The first song that came across the screen was DMX’s version of “Party Up,” I can only imagine what type of party was going on in that vehicle. With three children of various ages on a trip to the grocery store, the lyrics mention something about, “Yal gone make me lose my mind, up in here, yal gone make me go all out up in here. Yep she must’ve been hitting that middle aged white girl dance move as she was screaming those lyrics at these contrary young humans.

 
I thought maybe it was a fluke that the song came on our normally more conservative radio station, so I listened through to see what the next song would be. My mouth fell to the floor when the words came through the air waves something to the extent of a poom-poom and shake ya rump. Shake ya rump! My goodness, my daughter is learning a lot in relation to moving her backside in a rhythmic motion. So when our children do finally return to school and any type of activities involving dancing come up, just remember that my wife taught them all of her skills in that area.

 
I flipped around to various radio stations before returning for one last listen to see what type of music our children were being exposed to when I felt as if I needed to visit a confession booth for what my ears had heard. The musician was slick with his words but I did make out lyrics that resembled the phrase, “it’s getting hot in here, so hot.” Visualize the Wal-Mart store pick-up delivery associate (probably just out of high school) approaching a vehicle when he notices a mother of three hanging out the sun roof dancing to Nelly. I mean if it’s hot outside, wouldn’t you consider eliminating outside air and blasting the air conditioner instead of the radio.

 
Regardless of her shenanigans on the strip, the section of Highway 84 from Wicksburg to Dothan (a 15 minute commute), if you see an abnormally active driver or passenger with her hands out the roof and/or windows, don’t mind her. She is merely jamming out to the 90’s Pop Hits on Sirius Radio, trying to relieve any stress related to unruly children or a stubborn husband.

Traffic Signal

Red= According to how long the light has been red or if any other traffic is visible (especially law enforcement) determines whether or not we should actually adhere to this transportation suggestion.

Yellow= Speed up in order to prevent a few minutes of inconvenience that may exist for the time it takes for the light to cycle back to green.

Green= Squall the tires of the GMC as if we are trying to get the fastest restart time at the Talladega Speedway.

These are the rules of the road according to my wife. Anytime I play conservative for the safety of our family, I get degraded with comments such as: “come on grandpa,” “if you weren’t driving 5 miles per hour under the speed limit you would have made it through the light,” and the best “there is a funeral procession somewhere traveling at a higher rate of speed than we are currently moving .”

What if the rules of the road resembled the game played out on elementary playgrounds all over the country? You know the one, red light means you stop, green light means you take off. The first student to make it to the goal line following the cues of the teacher becomes the winner. If you continue to run when the light has turned red, you could be forced to return to the starting point. I was always so eager to finish first that I would try to get a few extra steps in after the light had turned red. Our teacher would play a sick game with me as to get my hopes up that I would finally be the winner. Just as I would be ready to dive head first over the finish line and receive all the accolades that come along with being rewarded the gold medal of the recess games, she would tell me “son you haven’t stopped on red one time the entire race, go back to the starting line.” If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying, right?

On one of the most traveled roadways of the area, I recently witnessed one of those instances that had me scratching my head long after the events had unfolded. A traffic light had turned green and maybe I was accustomed to the whiplash that normally occurs when riding shotgun with the bride, but the vehicle in front of me didn’t budge. I looked to left and to the right to ensure that travelers from the other directions were not following the red-light guidelines set forth by the woman of the family. No ambulance, no hazard lights, a tow truck wasn’t visible, random livestock weren’t crossing the major roadway and ice hadn’t formed on the highway ahead.

Things got worse as people started to scream their tires as they passed our vehicles. Of course, I was trapped because the parade of cars that had grown impatient surely wouldn’t stop to let me change lanes. Momma wouldn’t have approved of the verbal obscenities coming from the mouths of these fine upstanding citizens. Even a few hand gestures appeared, I had to explain to my child how this behavior could be punished with jail time.

After what seemed like the amount of time it takes to boil water while watching the pot on the stove, the vehicle slowly crept through the intersection. Imagine my joyous demeanor when the light flipped to red just before I could continue through the crossing. With horns a blazing from the patrons behind us, there wasn’t any need for my show of frustration. But with the extra time at the light I began to think. I realize the potential dangers in thinking on my part.

All signs are telling us to follow through the intersection as the light is giving us direction. But we sit at the crossing in life with little faith that the path will lead us to our destination. Outside sources tell us what could go wrong or how we should follow the world’s idea of what “makes sense.” We often want the traffic signal to turn green. Then we want God to physically push our foot down on the gas pedal. Finally, we want those people around us to clap their hands and pat our backs with external approval.

All of a sudden, an audible voice whispers from above, “Come on Grandpa.”

Unanswered Prayers

George has been battling dementia for years, but his family finally decided that his care was too much for them to handle on their own. Lord, please allow my children the ability to chose my care wisely when the time comes. 

Insert a blessing of mass proportions when home health sent Rebecca. She is a young woman that has a desire to make a difference in her patients and their family’s lives. She treated George with a type of care that you would see a daughter who was handling her elderly father’s needs.

She had issues of her own, but never allowed them to affect her performance while handling the care of her patients. Handling her three children along with the weaknesses of the others that provided much trust in her abilities had began to take a toll on her nerves. She reverted to an old nasty habit she had picked up from a high school sweetheart that she thought she would marry one day. When it seemed like things could only spiral downward, she would smoke a square from time to time. 

It is said that a baby can sense the love from the parents involved even before they are able to crawl, walk or talk. George had come full circle in the realm of life and now was much like a newborn with every need being addressed by those around him. He could sense the sincerity while Rebecca was around even though he was knocking on deaths door with the bell man in the den nearest the entrance to the house. 

Rebecca walked in to the two-bedroom house that smelled of a nursing home mixed with the old-fashioned wood paneling onlyfound in houses built pre 1970. Today she had three or four of those cancer sticks before starting the journey of her care forGeorge. 

Even though he hadn’t spoken fluent sentences in nearly six months, George was very aware of his surroundings. Today he realized that Rebecca was far more stressed than anyone imagined. Her rent was due, but her youngest had been to the doctor five times in the past three weeks with a cold, flu, and sinus infection. The medication along with co-pays had drained her attitude as well as her bank account. As she entered the house only moments after she put the cigarette out in a clay pot on the front porch that housed potting soil from a plant that had died along with George’s wife years ago, the odor of “cowboy killers” filled the room. 

But something clicked with George even if only for a brief moment. The smell of tobacco burning had brought back a flood of emotions and memories from a time that seemed like hundreds of years prior. In reality it had been a short thirty-fouryears that had passed from that hospital bed to the prime of George’s life. 

Gas was $1.09 and you could buy a pack Marlboro Cigarettes for a little over one dollar in South Alabama.  A farmer in his mid-forties had the crop of all crops. This was the harvest that would put him over the top. He would be able to put enough profit back to keep him floating above water for years ahead. 

It was 1985 and Mel McDaniel had everyone talking about their baby with blue jeans on. George couldn’t help but smile when hearing those lyrics come across the dials on that old Ford farm truck. This was the gal that would approach heaven’s gates with his hand held close to her stomach. His business had exceeded expectations and this hot drug store clerk would be the cherry on top of the sundae.

Mr. McDaniel mentioned blue jeans and a baby but who would’ve thought with all that was going in George’s favor that his young lady would decide that she wanted to raise cattle instead of peanuts. The idea would throw George into a state of distress. The idea of her turning on him would nearly kill him. This was the type of heart break only seen on the hallways of a middle school when a note was passed with the words, “let’s just be Friends.”

George thought he would never love again. The pain from thisone “bad apple” would cause him to be bitter for the rest of his living years. 

That reminder of the smell of smoke had come from his own rolled tobacco during these struggling times. He could remember tears from his mother’s eyes dampening the area around his single wide trailer on a rural county road. His mother cried for his heart break but also because she couldn’t handle the billows of smoke headed in her direction. He lit one after another until the papers and tobacco had run thin. 

George screamed to Rebecca “Unanswered,” the only comprehendible words out of his mouth in months. He screamed the word over and over again. 

The smell of smoke according to the story brought back a terrifying time in this elderly gentleman’s life. However, you would be amazed at the memories that surfaced for George with the smell of Rebecca’s habit: he is reading bible stories to his young daughter, he is chasing his son around the yard practicing roping calves and learning to play a guitar with his twelve-year-old son that will soon be a high schooler. 

That smell in relation to the relationship with this young girl could have been detrimental, but George and his mother prayed for the Lord’s will in the situation. The Lord failed George or so he thought. The girl in the end did not become too fond of the peanut industry. 

Those bedtime stories, roping practices, and guitar lessons proved unanswered prayers are just as important as the answered ones.