Thursday, October 16, 2003

life of buddy don, chaptur 70:
roena may

my sister roena may wuz born whenever i wuz five years old. i member her cumin home with mama n how i wuz jes big a nuff to carry her roun now n then ifn i gut the chants. the two of us wuz a lot alike in sum ways. we both had brown eyes lack mama, witch eli had blue n brew n maise had hazel or green dependin on the lite n whut they wuz a'wearin. n lack me she wuz a lergick to mos everthang. n wurse wuz how bofus wuz easy criers n that made us natcherul bait fer daddy.

when we wuz havin dinner, daddy wood eethur use the time to quiz us all on importunt thangs lack whut happent in 1066 n why twuz the mos importunt thang ever or whut wuz the capitull of montana or whar wuz the azores n so on, or he n mama wood fite, witch they wuz masters of sar chasm n irony n the hole range of tools ye kin use in a fuss n fite.

n that mint twuz easy fer daddy to make sumbidy cry on a counta even tho he wuz way more edge-ucated than mama wuz, witch she only made it to the 8th grade n he had his docters of jurisprudents frum ut law skool, seem lack she wuz his equal in a fuss n fite, n that mint he had to turn on sumbidy else, witch twood be me ifn i fell fer it but more lackly roena may on a counta it seemed lack he hated her frum the momint he larnt she wuz a gurl.

a hole lot of them fuss n fites twixt mama n daddy wuz over how he treated roena may. sumtimes he wood try to make me cry furst n that wurked bout ever thurd try, but ifn he couldnt, he wood turn on roena may. fer the most part, tho, he wood jes go fer roena may furst thang, n purty soon he wood be makin smart remarks bout how the water wurks wuz a'gittin on his nerves n that wood git her to cryin more so he wood ast sumthin lack did the water main brake? n corse mama wood take up fer roena may n sumtimes the boys wood cum into it on daddys side on a counta we looked up to him the way we dun.

i aint sayin daddy wuz a fair man or that he warnt cruel bout sum thangs, but dint matter to eli, brew n me. we wonted to be lack him till we gut to be teenagers when we wonted to be innythang else. by then, tho, we had dun follwerd after his way of pickin on roena may. we wood call her names n play tricks on her n cut her down ever chants we gut. n ifn we could make her cry, we wood laff n pile on. i aint proud of it, but tiz true n tiz one of them awful truths thats better to cunfess than lie bout.

but roene may wuz made out of strong stuff. i admit she had sum trubles with it whenever she wuz lil. she had her a bald spot on her hed on a counta she wood pull out her hairs n wrap em round her thumb n suck on em till she had swallerd em n then she wood git more till thar warnt hardly no more to git. n we wood call her names lack baldy n spot, witch nuthin wood hurt her wursen us a callin her lack she wuz a dog, 'here spot! cum on gurl! we gut ye sum food.' n we wood have sum dog food thar in a bag n be a shakin it.

n speakin of food, she wuz so hongry fer a lil luv n tenchun that whenever mama wood serve liver, peas or lima beans, we wood git her to eat ourn in eggschange fer half our dessert, ifn thar wuz dessert. ifn thar warnt, we wood offer other thangs. n whuts the verr wurse bout that is how all the kids wuz skinny as rale ceptn fer her n she had to fite fat all her life n to this day she eats when thangs hurts too much.

oh, roena may, ifn only i could take back whut i dun to ye!

but life is a one-way street n ye cant go back n ye cant make up fer nuthin, so ye gut to tell the truth bout it bes ye kin n hope them thats readin mite avoid makin the same bad miss take. not that innybidy ever larned much of innythang by readin or bein tole. seem lack they half to go out n make thar own miss takes to find out how awful they are.

innywho, roena may grew up smart n dun good in skool n when the time cum, she went off to cookevull to skool at tennessee tech. n thar wuz started one of mama n daddys gratest fuss n fites of all time.

why? on a counta daddy had dun tole all of us kids that ifn we wuz thankin bout goin to collidge we wood half to pay fer it our ownself on a counta mama kept daddy payment poor, witch that means she had credit cards n lacked to use em fer thangs lack skool cloze n more cloze fer her ownself than she could git to fit in a closet. n i had to pay my own way n daddy never sed a wurd bout heppin n i never speckted him to.

but mama went behind daddys back n signed a piece of paper promissin that all of roena mays skool eggspentses wood be paid fer by them on time with intrest. they fought over thatn fer years n truth is she had forged his signatchur so he had sum ground to stand on, but fack wuz also that roena may cum thru the furst two years of skool with grate grades n met her husbin, witch he wuz a drummer in a rock n roll band. he had im a huge mustache n wuz a verr smart guy name of jim coates who wuz a'studyin biology.

everbidy lacked him n wuz rite proud of roena may fer makin such a good match. she wuz at her mos beeyootiful on the day the gut marrd. she had lost all her wate almost as soon as she gut out of the house, witch that tells ye a lot bout how thangs wuz fer her. she looked lack a model fer a weddin gown cumpny, n whenever they wuz fixin to go away on thar honeymoon, she put on a green dress n a lil hat with a veil on it n twuz lack a beeyooty queen from the 1920s.

n ever after that, dint matter bout how much daddy carrd on bout how he wuz ronged by whut mama dun, all we could thank bout wuz how roena may had dun eggscaped to a better place. n jim coates went on to git his docterate n be a biology perfesser at lincoln memorial uninversity n ye never met a better man in yer life.

they lived out in the cuntry n had beagles n cats n a garden. n in the winter of 1977 we gut the news she wuz specktin a chile, witch that wood be lillian mize coates who wuz born on october 5, 1977.

n even then, seems lack roena may couldnt ketch a brake. whenever she gut close to her time, the docters tole her twood half to be a ceasarian seckshun, n how she cride to here it on a counta it mint all her babies wood half to be delivered the same way. but she dried her tears befor she gut reddy to go to the hospital n lillian wuz born with a hed of black hair n calmly suckin on her thumb, witch that made mama say she wuz the spittin image of me whenever i wuz born.

me n daddy n maisie drove up to visit the nex day n thar wuz roena may, direcktin traffic n in charge. she tole daddy whar to go to see his furst grandchild n she started to callin him granddaddy the instunt he walked in n yew could see he dint much lack that on a counta he wuz only 55 years old at the time. so he ast could she jes call him gran n bless her hart, thats jes whut she dun n ever after that, mos everbidy in the fambly called him gran.

corse mama wuz not a'gone be called no grandmother or grandie or grandmama or innythang grand atall. she insisted they call her nana n they did, witch eli ast me had she ever read that book by zola n i sed i reckond she hadnt or else she wooda tuck a differnt name. but it stuck to her n folks calls her that even today.

on the drive home, we gut into a talk bout whuther ye wuz born with yer hole persunalty set n daddy tole agin how he bleeved twuz. he splained fer instunts how maisie wuz born happy n wuz happy to that day. corse time wood tell a differnt tale. n roena may wuz born sickly but stoic n never cumplained, n thatn held up purty good. n brew wuz born contented n eli wuz born hyperactiv n scairt of everthang n i wuz born hyperactive n curious bout everthang. n he sed dint matter how he n mama had dun tride to train us on how to do, we wuz set frum birth.

so we ast whut he figgered bout lillian n he sed mama reckoned she wood be a model, n she turnt out to be purty a nuff, but that wernt whut she wonted. n daddy made a perdickshun that wuz a goodn. he sed she wood be a artist on a counta how she looked at him the furst time he held her. n we ast how could he tell frum that, n he sed that a artist is a vitim of his eyes, n hers wuz the eyes of a artist. how rite he wuz.

n roena? he sed she wuz as tuff as they git. so maisie ast wuz he proud of her but befor he could anser sumthin cum on the radio bout the tennessee-georgia tech game n he never ansered.

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