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I’m on a roll with this “Crazy Family of Ours.” When my nephew Davey and I get together, we exchange stories about the family. I asked him if he knew why we didn’t have Thanksgiving dinner together at his grandmother’s house. He said he didn’t know.
I told him, “We had too many kids.”
His response was, “Are you kidding me?”
No, Grandma Slade always thought I had done My Sweet Al an injustice. She said I had put a hardship on her Poor Little Al having that passel of kids. He had to work so hard to provide for all those children. She felt we should’ve only had two children, like she did. Having her David Warren and Al was perfect; two was enough.
I felt like “Sophia’s Choice.” Which one would I choose if I had to choose among my children? A mother can’t make that choice. She wouldn’t and couldn’t in her right mind.
I asked Al’s mother once, “Since, I have four children, which two do you think I should choose?”
She said, “Of course you would choose Al’s first born, she has my name.” Then she told me the name of the other one she would choose.
Davey said, “You must be kidding.”
“No, I’m serious.”
She didn’t think her Poor Little Al could do any wrong. Therefore, it was my fault. R-e-a-l-l-y? David Warren had two children plus Davey, who didn’t count. He was from a first marriage and Poor Little Al had all those unruly kids because of me.
Grandma Slade would have Al over for lunch all the time. She would invite the secretary, Cleo, to join them. I said once, “If I was invited, I would come for lunch. Why wasn’t I invited?”
Al said, “You know Mother, she can only seat four at the kitchen table.”
Davey said, “Man, she was something else. What did you do?”
“Well, when Al left for work, I’d tell him I’d meet him at the office and have a picnic lunch with me. I suggested we go to the park.”
“Did Uncle Al know what you were doing?”
“No, he thought I was thinking of him. He still recounts all those picnic lunches we had in the park, and how much fun we had being young again.”
I always agreed, “Weren’t they sweet?”
I told Davey that I asked the Lord what to do about Al’s mother always wanting my place. He said, “Take your place, then she can’t fit in it.” That’s what I was doing, I was just taking my place.
Al’s mother would send home one piece of pie for Al on several occasions. Do you know how that went over with four teenagers in the house? You tell them they couldn’t eat it, Grandma Slade sent it home to their dad. I was to make sure that only her Poor Little Al ate it.
I guess she thought I was starving Al, too. She would send dinner home for us. She believed Al loved and missed her cooking. She would send chicken cooked in red wine. Can you imagine what teenagers thought of Grandma’s cooking? To this day, if they smell burgundy wine, the kids go into orbit.
It was strange. I’d go by Al’s office. He was working for his brother at the time. I noticed Easter baskets with green plastic grass, little candy rabbits and chicks. They were placed on Al and his brother’s desks.
I’d say, “Who brought those Easter baskets?”
Al would say, “Oh, my mother put them on mine and my brother’s desks.”
“Did she hide Easter eggs for you, too?” I’d say, “Al, you and your brother are over fifty years old. What is your mother thinking?”
“Oh, it’s Easter and she was just thinking of us.”
One time I said to Al, “Your mother has a problem.”
He said to me, “It doesn’t bother me.”
I said, “Well, it bothers me.”
Back to Thanksgiving dinner. Al’s mother always invited David Warren’s family over first. They only had two children. Our family was always invited after they finished eating. We had four children and we might eat it all.
Oh the stories I could tell on Al’s mother.
Final brushstroke: Al’s mother taught me one thing among many. I pledged when my children got married, I would love whomever they chose. Ask my sons-in-law today what they think of me; I’m sure they would have plenty of stories to tell on me. One thing they can’t say is that I ever chose between our daughters and them. I never have.