Posted in Family

Auntie Sue aka The Skip-bo Queen of O.K. City

            My little Auntie Sue always said she was going to give Eve a ‘talkin to’ when she got to Heaven.  Never a complainer, she did want to tell Eve how miserable life with menstrual cycles, menopause and adult diapers was.  She blamed Eve for all of this and wanted to give her the ‘what for.’  It’s been several years now since Auntie Sue got to Heaven so I’m sure by now they’ve had their talk.  Being a reasonable soul, I’ll bet Sue got it out of her system and all is forgiven.  She never was one to hold a grudge…for too long.  Unless you continuously interrupted her sittin’ ugly time or messed with her family, then she could positively be ninety pounds of bulldog fury.

Auntie Sue and my mother

            Every morning, at the crack of dawn, she would make her one and only cup of Sanka and sit down to read her Bible and her Alanon book.  This was her sittin’ ugly time.  Her quiet time to get her mind straight for the day.  And then she was off like a bolt of lightning, hitting the trail for her morning mile with her sporty red walker.  Down the hall, down the elevator, past the common room, across the solarium, outside, down the sidewalk and across to another part of the building then back up the elevator and down the hall to her apartment 215.  She would do this twice a day, adjusting for rain or snow, as Oklahoma City was prone to have.  “You have to walk or die,” she would say.  And I believe her.

Family Reunion Love

            My little Auntie was over-the-top with enthusiasm.  If I came for a visit, she would say it was the best visit ever!  Every rent car I drove from the airport was the best car ever. It was always better than the last one.  Every joke she heard, was the funniest thing ever told.  Every meal was the most delicious.  Every game of Skipbo was more fun than the last and everyone she met received a compliment.  She was genius at complimenting even the hardest shell.  She was thankful for every phone call, card, and hug.  She was generous with her money and always tithed to the church, even on a fixed income.  She was fiercely loyal to her family and loved her only child more than life itself.

Ysleta and her son, Chuck (me)

            If she was here and heard me going on and on…tooting her horn, she would argue that she was not perfect, she had faults.  Maybe she did, but I never saw them.  Her five-foot frame, ninety pounds soaking wet, shock of white, curly hair and easy smile was perfect to me.  Her true grit, determination and positive attitude was perfection.  Auntie Sue had it all and everyone wanted to be her friend, even her would-be foes.

  Like her issue with Eve, there are many things in life we don’t understand now. There are loved ones who leave us too soon, and some things we know in part but won’t know the true reason until we’re in the by and by.  That’s just the way it is.

            January 19th would have been Auntie Sue’s ninety-ninth birthday.  Those of us who knew her and loved her, still miss her every day.  She was a loyal and loving wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend and there will always and forever be only one, Ysleta Davis Lane aka Auntie Sue, the original Sittin’ Ugly Sistah!

Posted in writing

A Writer’s Soul by Nancy Malcolm

            Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I had a white ‘My Diary’ journal in sixth through eighth grade.  It had a tiny key so I could lock up my secrets safely from prying eyes.  I’m positive I wrote about daily occurrences and boys I liked or who said what about something or other.  I wish I could remember what happened to ‘My Diary’.  Maybe it made it to a landfill somewhere, fully intact, secrets safely hidden.   Maybe I dramatically ripped out each page and tore it into a million pieces to protect my thoughts… I  don’t recall its demise.

            Once, I came across some writings from high school where I had copied the words from songs. During one particular romance, it was that song by the Turtles: “Imagine me and you…I do.  I think about you day and night, it’s only right…. So happy together!”  The name of the boy is nowhere on the pages, and quite possibly he didn’t even make it to the end of the song, but I had pages of songs written out.  I must have listened to my albums playing over and over to get the words, because there was certainly no google lyrics to look up.

            In my early twenties, my then husband and I tragically experienced the stillbirth of our first daughter together.  The months afterward were dark for me, and I have since found the poems I wrote during that time.  The poetry of my grief was written in sprawling handwriting on sheets of stationary and somehow, I preserved them, guarding my grief like the protective mother I wanted to be.  I still feel the sadness written onto those pages.  It rises from each word like heat off a summer sidewalk.

            I saved the hysterical letters I later got from my girls when they were at summer camp.  I’m sure my letters to them were discarded long ago, but theirs are short and confessional.

Dear Mom, I’ve worn the sme cloths evryday, but they made us take showers and eat cantelope.  Send stamps!  Luv, Courtney

           Sittin’ Ugly Sistahs, the antics of life that Ginger and I share with you, as well as the birth of my memoir, I Thought It Was You are recent projects that fill me with joy and at times, angst. I feel as though to write is to live.  To breathe is to write.  Words scrawl across my mind like an old-fashioned typewriter clicking away.  The one thing that remains the same is my fear at being vulnerable and, in contrast, the exhilaration of facing my fear.

            I’ve learned an awful lot about myself since beginning this writer’s path.  I’ve seen boldness and shyness live on the same page.

I’ve pushed myself to see parts of my life I long ago buried.

I’ve resurrected bravery.

I’ve accepted that not everyone wants to read what I have written, and I’m learning not to take that personally because I have to write.  It’s part of who I am.  And whether trolls on the internet agree with me or not, I am a writer.

Whether an agent takes my book or not, I am a writer.

Whether my husband, children or grandchildren ever read a word I’ve written or not, I am a writer.

Whether somedays I don’t believe it myself, and my inner critic is screaming ‘You’re Not Good Enough!!’ I am a writer.

I am a writer with a writer’s soul.

I am a writer.

 “I can shake off everything as I write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

Anne Frank

Posted in Contemplations

Why I Write by Ginger Keller Gannaway

In 1968 I got a 3×5 inch red five-year diary with a tiny lock and key to protect all the wisdom and intrigue I would pour onto its pages. Each day of the year was allowed four lines, and profundity like “Today I quit playing paper dolls forever” (first entry) or “Kelly made her confirmation. It lasted 2 and a half hours. But it was comfortable with the new cushioned pews” (last entry) filled its pages.

I was a faithful writer for four years, never neglecting to document a day’s monumental trivia. I hid these pencil-written treasures in the bottom drawer of the heavy blonde oak night table next to my bed. Two years ago I reread my 12-year-old regimented thoughts and found at least three interesting entries over that four year span.

A year before I received my diary, I had tried to write a children’s book. I made up a tale about a rabbit and a crawfish and mailed off this masterpiece to the “Be a Writer!” course advertised in the back of an Archie comic book. The writing professionals sent me a typed letter that proclaimed I had “potential”! They promised me fame and publishing creds if I sent them $50. My dad exposed the company for the scam it was, and in 1967 I decided I should settle for being a world class actress instead of a writer.

 Still I kept writing, and in 1971 I traded my red diary for a blue 8×13 ledger that expanded my writing experience. I no longer wrote every day, and a day’s entry could take up four full pages. I obsessed over fights with my sisters and crushes on boys I was terrified to talk to. My ideas danced around philosophical questions like why cousin Gina liked my sister Gayle more than me or who Bobby G. was taking to the homecoming dance. Also, my Barbra Streisand fanaticism screamed from these pages because I always wrote her name in all caps and underlined it.

Intro page of my ledger journal

Despite the banality of what I wrote, I still felt compelled to fill the ledger’s pages and apologized for sometimes letting weeks go by between entries. After the blow of the children’s book writing course, I no longer believed I was a writer; however, I needed to write for my own sanity. When I read To Kill a Mockingbird in ninth grade I loved Scout’s thoughts on being a reader before she went to school: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

         When I move my pen across blank pages, ideas often come faster than I can write. Even if I later loathe what I’ve written, I feel stronger and saner. Now that I have the time to write every day, a day is not pointless if I have made time to write something down. Life is somehow easier if I write. It’s my Balm in Gilead, my parade I don’t want people raining on, and the actual rain that washes dust and bird poop off my car.

         As much as I hate the word “blog” because it sounds like a portmanteau of “blah” and “slog,” I’ll keep posting essays online because it feels equally right and ugly. I may be vomiting words that are unworthy of others’ attention, but filling pages in notebooks lets me process life’s joys and tragedies. I write for myself for sure, yet pressing the “Publish” button on a wordpress blog gives me a jolt of bravery that I think I’m addicted to.

Some of my journals for the last few years