what they'll say about me
just some fool rambler
dyin' to be free..."
Joe Ely, Grandfather Blues
Everytime I listen to that song,
I think about Mamma Wanda.
She was the middle daughter of three. Raised by a C-R-U-S-T-Y German carpenter.
You know, from when carpenters were carpenters.
When guys that couldn't speak English could actually miter a SQUARE corner?
When a carpenter built fine furniture without a single nail?
Without a new yankee toy shop?
MY Great Grandaddy would cold-cock that Norm guy.
If for no other reason, I'd tell Ol' Norm that the Old Man's name was Kaiser. Then, I'd sit back and wait for the cold-cockin' to commence.
See, the Old Man's name was Reiser. Old hands would tell the new guys that his name was Kaiser. (Keep in mind this was during the WWI era.)
Then, they'd stand back and wait for the Cold-Cockin' to commence.
(Note to self: Maybe that's where I get some of my twisted sense of humor?)
Reiser brewed his own beer.
He raised three daughters.
He built houses and courthouses in southwest Oklahoma.
That was just after the Land Rush.
Some of them are still standing. Enduring Urban Renewal and tornados, for nearly one hundred years.
Mamma Wanda was the middle daughter. She used to spend her days on the job site with the Old Man.
She was a little girl then. Surrounded by crusty carpenters.
The way I figure it, they all thought of her as their little girl. Hell, if ya made it on Reiser's Crew you had to be an Ace. And, you'd probably already been hit once. I doubt any of them wanted a real old fashioned Dutch Ass Whippin'.
I'm thinking now about how much that old man shaped the woman I met.
I know for sure I don't want (another) ass whippin' from her.
Let me tell you what.
Scariest words I ever heard, my Grandfather was sitting in the living room when I came in, "Your Grandmother is driving around town. She's looking for you. Seems you weren't where you were s'possed to be."
To this day, I can hear his thoughts, "Damn Glad I Aint You!"
She was 50-something years old by then...
She lifted my ass offa the floor.
I can't imagine and don't wanna know what the Old Man coulda done to my jaw!
I'm thinking now about how much of the Old Man was instilled in my Father.
My Father died when I was 11 goin' on 12.
When I was 10 or so, he told me, "Boy, I'd better not catch you starting any shit but if the shit gets started, you'd better finish it."
I'll have to follow up on that one some other time because it's out of context.
There are times when I come out of an airplane, grinning, 'Check that out. Ha, I found it, I troubleshot it, I fixed it."
Two of the biggest, "Whoa... That's... Unexpected.", moments of my entire life...
My Son was a tiny baby lying there on the couch, all dammed in with blankets and pillows...
I stared into his eyes...
He seemed to gaze back into mine...
I had to step back for a moment...
I never broke the eye contact but...
For a moment there David Russell was looking at David Ryan and seeing David Edward...
Can you grasp it?
I'm looking at my infant son and in his eyes I see my long dead Father...
A year or so later at Mamma Wanda's house...
"...It was as if I was looking into Daddy's eyes..."
All casual, non-plused, "David Russell, eveytime I look at you, I see my Daddy. Are you brewing beer yet?"
- ▼ 2008 (55)