Posted in Contemplations, Relationships

Deep Thoughts by Ginger Keller Gannaway

   

My husband Gary wakes up with a head full of Gary. Like a toddler or teenager, he has perfected the art of self-absorption.

Gary

In the 1990s when our three sons were young and Gary and I both taught full-time, I woke up early to make little lunches and plot the day’s obligations:  get the boys to two different schools before getting to my own school and teaching five sections of seventh grade language arts;  remind Shane he had jazz band practice after school, Casey he had computer class at Boys and Girls Club, and Evan to do homework at his elementary’s Extend-a-Care program; stop by HEB for supper ingredients and swing by Terra Toys for a birthday party gift on Saturday before I picked up my sons. 

All day the kid details fought for control of my brain with lesson plans about teaching the difference between “your and you’re” or nuances of dramatic irony in Roald Dahl”s short story “Lamb to the Slaughter.”

Gary’s brain lived a different existence. It woke up an hour and a half later than mine, and after his mandatory two cups of coffee, it was awake enough to carefully fry three neat strips of bacon for his own breakfast. He did help with the dropping off and picking up of children if I wrote him detailed notes and reminded him during his lunch break and ten minutes after his school’s final bell.

As our boys grew up and needed more rides to more places, Gary became a trusted driver as long as my directions were specific and did not impose on his weekend jogs and his Thursday “pint night” at the Dog and Duck Pub.

Casey, Evan, Shane

Now our boys are men and living their own lives. Gary and I have been navigating the pandemic and aging as best we can. We walk our dog each morning as a team – he’s on lookout duty for other dogs on leashes and for free-range cats. He also scans the sidewalks and grassy areas for discarded scraps of food or other potential dog distractions. Millie pulls on her leash as I follow, and Gary calls out helpful warnings like “Big brown dog at twelve o’clock” or “Broken beer bottle on my right.” Sometimes, however, his head fills up with his own thoughts, and he misses telling me about a stray fried chicken bone or a big turd dropped in the middle of the sidewalk.  We have brief spats and he may say, “Don’t you have two good eyes as well?” 

Millie walking Me

Gary has admitted to not being a noticer. And he’s not talkative when he gets in his “me zone.” Also, now that he’s lost hearing in his right ear, I take no offense when he sometimes does not respond to my insightful comments during our dog walks. Did I remember to direct my voice to his left side? Or is his mind too preoccupied with more important things like his latest film script or the current Amazon rental sales of the horror/comedy movie he wrote and self-produced in 2013: Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains

Gary is a natural at self-promotion. He raised thousands of dollars on Indiegogo to realize his dream of being a film producer! He will tell our condo neighbors or grocery cashiers or anyone who comments on his Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains t-shirt, “I wrote and produced this movie! Available on Amazon! Very meta; not a porno!” I envy his confidence and bravery.

Am I any less self-obsessed with writing blog essays and linking them to my FB and Twitter accounts? What is the line between “Look at me!” and “Give me your money”? 

Most mornings my head fills up with thoughts of my family and friends.  I worry about their health, their happiness, and what I can do to help them with either one. 

Momma, aka MaMa Gerry, making biscuits

I blame my momma. She took care of my dad, my brother, my sisters, and me like the strong Cajun force she was. She cooked and cleaned nonstop and insisted we spend all our time with her because she did not want to miss a bouree card game, a trip to the drive-through Daiquiri Shack, or hanging out on the front porch. At the end of our holiday visits, she hated telling us good-bye. 

“Oh, oh, I don’t want y’all to go,” she’d say and give me the biggest hugs her 5’2” ninety-nine pound frame could produce. She’d lock her arms around my waist and give me three short but intense hugs. “Humph! Humph! Humph!” My body would tense waiting for those squeezes of love. She cared and worried about those she loved. However, she also realized that not everyone needed looking after.

Movie Producer and Screenwriter Gary

Every Christmas holiday, Gary spent a night in Baton Rouge with his best friend Richard. One time I was concerned about saving enough turkey gumbo for my husband when he returned to Eunice. Momma focused her bright blue eyes at me and said, “Don’t you worry about Gary. Gary will always take care of Gary.”

My momma knew some big truths! 

My husband may think about himself a lot. He may need a little guidance with remembering others’ needs sometimes. But self-reliance is a very positive attribute. Emerson said, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” As I follow Gary on our dog walks, and he clasps his hands loosely behind his back and strolls a half block ahead and he tilts his head to look at tree branches dancing in the wind, I will recognize a man comfortable with himself and at peace with his own thoughts.

Author:

I grew up as a crooked girl who dealt with a mild case of cerebral palsy. In a small Cajun town during the 1960s, I relied on my little sisters' support and energy to give me confidence and our grandma's movie theater to help me escape when life's "pas bon" moments overwhelmed me.

14 thoughts on “Deep Thoughts by Ginger Keller Gannaway

  1. Ginger, this is a true story about so many men!!! I love Gary and I appreciate his self-reliance and meta thoughts!!!! The part about your mama made me teary. She was a sweet, Cajun force for sure. Love this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do think many men are self-absorbed, but it could be they’re a product of their environment. It still is surely “a man’s world.” Glad you like my momma part. She loved meeting you, and I loved that Mardi Gras we shared with her just a couple of years before she died!

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    1. Merci beaucoup, Crystal! You were a big, big help to Gary when he was promoting his Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains! Our director Paolo was so impressed with your Fox Hole hospitality!

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    1. Thanks, Sweet Sue! Both of our mommas were strong, wise women. And that’s so true about having our own “thinking” space. That’s why I still wake up hours before Gary so I have the quiet time to think and write and take my by-myself walk.

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  2. Thanks again Aunt Faye for reading and liking my story! I hope you and all of your wonderful family are doing well and getting ready for a Mardi Gras gumbo.

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  3. Thanks for reading, Sandra! I like that you find the story funny because living with Gary for 36 years has definitely given me appreciation for laughing through our struggles!

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  4. I especially like the concept of “waking up with a head full of Gary”
    Your language describes that phenomenon so perfectly. We all do that sometimes or know people who do. Like a lot of your writing, it tells truth with a wink.

    Liked by 1 person

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