Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How Long is 65 Years?

Today, October 23rd, 2006, was my parents' 65th wedding anniversary.

I told the students in one of my classes. One kid said "Wow. That's longer than I've been alive." Duh.

My mom and dad are two tough people. They endured WWII, mostly apart, ran a farm for 40 years together until my dad retired at 62. Raised 4 kids on the humble earnings of an independent crop farmer. Dealt with a long recovery from a knee replacement, skin cancer, diabetes, bad crops, hard times, and currently are fighting the battle with my dad's Alzheimers. But they have one of the most obvious loves I've ever seen. My dad doesn't have many jokes left in his memory. Doesn't know when he's repeating himself. But he still likes to say, after all these years "It's a trial marriage."

They still hold hands every day, must have their quota of snuggle time every night during the local news, and still, even in their compromised physical conditions, I'm certain, would fight to the death to defend the other.

Among my favorite memories of my parents:

Late 1960s, early 1970s. My dad usually came home from the field for lunch. Filthy, sweaty, his overalls layered in dust from being on a tractor all morning. He pulled into the gravel driveway on his tractor, his radio blaring the country music station. (The only local station we had.) I remember Freddie Fender's "Before the Last Teardrop Falls" and Charlie Rich's "Did You Happen to See the Most Beautiful Girl in the World." (He hated rock and roll. Called it "whangy-dang music.") We could actually hear the radio from a quarter mile away, because he had to have it so loud to hear it above the tractor. Mom went outside where he was standing on the patio, waiting. She picked up her broom and started beating him with it. Big yellowy brown dust clouds flew off of him, and until she had beaten him to her satisfaction, he couldn't come inside.

They were playful, her swats with the broom getting a bit slapstick, him often saying "That's a little too hard, honey."

For lunch, his favorite meal was Campbell's tomato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, a pickle, and white whole milk with Hershey's syrup mixed in. I remember the clanging of his spoon against the glass. Lunch (which is called "dinner" on the farm) started promptly at noon, so Dad could watch the mid-day grain report on TV. You did not want to make noise during this moment.

On days when he was too far behind in the field to come home for lunch, Mom and I took it to him. I got the job of holding the freezing cold 16 ounce bottle of Pepsi with the plastic cup turned upside down on top, and the opener. This was the highlight of my day. I had no one else around on the farm. Mom and I would try to guess whether, when we got to the field, Dad would be going away from us or coming toward us on the tractor. The wait was longer when he was going the other way. He got off the tractor, pulled his red bandana out of his back overalls pocket, wiped his face, then sat down in the shade of a tree. Mom unpacked his sandwich and a little ziploc bag of chips, and something sweet like a Twinkie or a cupcake, and I handed him the Pepsi and the cup and the opener. I watched him eat and I watched Mom watch him eat.

20 minutes later, he got back on the tractor and worked until dark. Usually a 14 or 15 hour day in the field, if the weather held.

Oh, I forgot. When he came home for lunch, he'd take what today would be called a "power nap." Too dirty to get onto a bed, he laid on the living room floor, flat on his back, and my dog Nicky, the size of a loaf of bread, curled into the bend of Dad's elbow and slept soundly with him.

He does still remember Nicky.

8 Comments:

  • At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Belle said…

    This is your writing that I could read all day. When is that book coming out?

    More, more!!!! We want more!

     
  • At 8:55 AM, Blogger planbreaker said…

    This post brought a tear to my eye. And I mean that sincerely, for once.

     
  • At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Scott P said…

    Wonderful stuff, Candy.

    I'm with Belle- when is your book coming out?

     
  • At 10:26 AM, Anonymous oneavid said…

    Just a suggestion...send the www.candyrant.com to everyone you know and tell them to read it.
    Your writing is unmatched, except by your crazed personality. Just put all these blogs into a paperback and it will be all downhill from there. Except for the pressure to write more and better all the time. And the fame...and the movie offers...and the....

     
  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Yikes. You people have made Candy's day.
    And *I* am sincere for once.

    Now I have extra energy to go flog the college kids.

     
  • At 1:45 PM, Anonymous chubbyknuckles said…

    Your final sentences either punch me in the gut, put a tear in my eye, leave a lump in my throat, or put a guffaw in my heart.

    Sometimes all four.

    Movie offers, huh, oneavid? So what do you all think? What famous actress shall play the part of CandyRant?

     
  • At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Tony from the Bronx said…

    Dear Miss Rant:
    Chubbynuckles asks who should play you in the film version. I've given it some thought and I think ideally the best person to play you would have been the English actress Dame May Whitty. Since Dame May is no longer with us, I think Jessica Simpson would be just fine.

    Like all the correspondents above, I think your writing is super--but then I've always been been attracted to Hoosier lit. Grew up reading James Whitcomb Riley. And one about a horse....I forget...something about a horse.
    T. from the B.

     
  • At 10:22 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Tony from the B.,

    You are too kind. I had no idea you were such a fan of the literature of the Hoosier State. "Inbred Lit" as it is known.

    Give all the credit to my mom and dad who are siblings.

    Soak up some of that Bronx life for me. I will stare at some cornfields for you.

     

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