We stayed the weekend in Alabama. It was supposed to be a vacation and for Willie it was. For me, it was not. I cleaned packed and got the run around while Willie stood on the porch talking to her dad about God Knows what.
Her father was a saint of a man. I never saw or heard of him hurting anyone. The story of Willie’s dad and mom is something out of a fairy tale.Willies mom, a rather amazingly gorgeous small woman, 5’ and blonde, had been married a couple or more times already. This woman had done everything from being a shill for Lucky Luciano in Vegas to becoming a minister and going to foreign countries to bring people to God.
She met Willie’s dad at the Aircraft Company she went to work for. He was smitten with her immediately. She? Not so much. But he was not to be ignored and he would go by her house every day. He sat on her porch, sleeping there at night so she and Mandee, Willie’s older sister were safe. These days, the safety would have been questionable since this man was by modern thinking, stalking the poor little family. But he was harmless enough.
Willies mother had a lung collapse and kidney failure. She was a mighty sick young woman. While she was in the hospital, Willies dad to be, took care of Mandee.When Willie’s mama came home from the hospital, she figured “what the hell” and married the man. They stayed married until their deaths. It always seemed he loved his wife more than she loved him. The doctors had told her she needed to have a baby. Something to do with her “female” health. Made no sense to me. She was 39. And that is where Willie came from.
Willie was a tiny infant that grew to a sizable girth quickly. Her dad carried her everywhere and she didn’t walk until she was almost two years old. Her father doted on her right up to his death. Willie liked to brag she was like her father. Loyal, giving and a chosen ignorance to people who did not have her best interest. Frankly, she is nothing like her father and carries all the characteristics of her mother and sister. Unfortunately.
We left Alabama knowing this crazy woman, Willie’s mom was packing them off to some “miracle in the desert” she foresaw. Willie and I were concerned to say the least. Poor Willie, her mother had always been a vagabond, uprooting the family and tearing out of town on some great whim. Willie lived in Belize for a while, during a governmental situation, they almost didn’t make it back to the states.
When Willie was in the service, she came home on leave to see her family in Florida. She opened the door to find another family living in her house. Her mother forgot to tell her they were moving. I guess, due to the fact Willie was in uniform, after all the pots and pans and other items the folks grabbed for defense, everyone sat down and had a laugh over coffee.
This was the mindset I had invited into my life. Willie talked often of moving. She was definitely the restless sort.So she quit her job of over 10 years at The Methodist hospital to go into Dental work in the private sector. I warned her, in Texas, unless you are with a company that has so many employees you will never see the “big guy”, you will fall victim to all kinds of prejudices, from chauvinism to homophobia, and more. She went to work for the dentist. Then promptly fell on the floor and busted her ankle. She slipped on a piece of my lingerie.
But before she made this move, and the break, it was Christmas. Our first together. Christmas was no longer a festive time for me. I had lost my brother over Christmas; add to that, my lovers chose that time of year to leave me. So taking out all that crap and decorating for the holidays was not something I wanted to submerse myself in. I had written of this before:
Willie had several awards and certificated from her days in the Coast Guard. I felt it was a shame to have them in tubs locked away. She earned them; she deserved to have them on Display. I searched stores for hours after work to find just the right frames and mats. I also had several of her pictures blown up. This task was so much fun. But steadily as the days went by, Willie became sullen and removed. Finally one night she came home in tears asking for a “we gotta talk” meeting. Don’t you just love those? “Are you cheating on me” She wrung her hands looking down at her feet. “What? Are you crazy? I have never been this happy, why would I destroy this?” “I know you are saying it is something special for me” She continued “but it has been quite a while, and I don’t know, it just seems suspicious”
This was to be her Christmas gift from me.
Instead I hung up all the pictures, and then, for the first time in 10 years I pulled out all the Christmas stuff I had. Then I must have gone to every store in the area to buy every Christmas this and that, you know, everything from ornaments to pot holders.’
This is an absolutely true story
Willie came home the night of this festive endeavor to a dimly lit house that looked like a gift shop out of Old Town Spring, and then – officially, I had Christmas back.
She was so delighted she cried. Then I cried. Then Devo came home and cried.
That's a lie. She told us both to shut up, it ain't all that.
We could not buy enough for each other or for the kids and from Thanksgiving till Christmas our house was a rotating door. And I was doing the songfest booklets. Every moment was filled and one couldn’t contemplate anything bad with the world because everything was just too right.
That Christmas will always be a stand out. We had others, but that was the beginning of a whole new family history.