11 May 2012

Momma, Jack Daniels and Me.

    By the time I was really aware of what alcohol was, momma no longer drank, and neither did dad.  They met in a bar because mom was the bartender, and dad thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. So sure, they did drink.  As a kid, there were "speciality" bottles momma had kept and neat little swizzle sticks that always fascinated me. The green eagle bottle sits on my mantle at home. I have no clue what booze it once contained, but I loved the bottle and its green hue so much momma just gave it to me.  The other little gem, was a swizzle stick from the 1960's.  Its white plastic forever immortalized a short little man from which came a strong, strong drink: Jack Daniels. 
    I know not the reason for my obsession with this little stick.  I would sneak it out of the cabinet where she kept her small collection, and just spin the stick in my hands all the while looking at the little man in old time attire. Eventually I would learn he was a short man, just 5'2", and never had any children. But at the time the white plastic statue was enough to fascinate me for hours. Mom would always seem to know when I had been in the cabinet digging in the old relics of a life long ago, and would scold me. 
    Though now, I can not remember exactly how it transpired, I managed to break the little stick. Mom was not pleased.  She fussed and fussed about how careless I was and how valuable that would be one of these days.  I took a LOT of butt chewing that day. Mom kept the pieces for years, and never let me forget how I'd broken it. I'd still, even as an adult, get those pieces out of the glass and look at them in wonder. I'd never even tasted this little man's drink, but I was enthralled just the same with the little swizzle stick.
 Its a strange childhood memory to be sure, but I can remember playing with the swizzle sticks in that old glass she kept up in the dark, dusty cabinet.  I had to tell you all of that to tell you this story....

   Years have past since the swizzle stick was broken, and the pieces have long been thrown away. I've gotten married and moved away from my homeplace, and momma died just under a year ago.  My last birthday celebration was at Hospice with her, eating flavored cupcakes and not knowing if we were counting hours or days. Her last real food, I think, were those birthday cupcakes. The last person she spoke to before she left us in June was me. She just said hello to me. Days later she was gone. The hollow space her death left is one that I cant imagine will ever be full again. The grief and sorrow are unimaginable, and I miss her every day.
    This first Mother's Day without her approaches quickly, as does my birthday. We have picked out the gift for my wonderful mother-in-law, and have talked about how much momma would have like it too. The thought of momma has weighed heavy on my mind for a while. I miss her so much, and I think of her often. I especially wanted to brag to her when I found out my wonderful hubby had scored free tickets to see the Zac Brown Band. (I'm cheap, like momma was, and don't like to pay giant prices for a concert, so free tickets is a bonus she could understand). 
    The countdown to the concert day began, and I started to get a little excited. I'm not a concert goer, for a number of reasons, the foremost being the cost, but especially now since I have Meniere's and the loud music makes me dizzy. None-the-less, I started to get really excited.
    Then my dear hubby got a call from the friend that got us the tickets...  "Do you want to go to the eat and greet?"  I was going to get to eat dinner with the band. How cool is that?  So at 3pm the day before the show I was frantically trying to get the last hour of my last appointment covered. My lead promised to cover it if the office wouldn't let me off, and amazingly enough, the client's dad was going to cancel anyway. My afternoon schedule cleared like a sky after the rain.  I was beside myself excited.  The strange thing was momma was weighing so heavy on my mind. I kept thinking, momma must have put a bug in that lady's ear to get us that eat and greet pass. A strange thought, indeed, but it kept rolling around in my head as I got ready to go. I shook my head and the thought away.  I thought unless I see something that screams "momma", I'm just a little nuts.  After all, I told myself, its crazy to think momma would have been involved in anyway getting this set up for my birthday. I'm silly.
    So behind the Bi-Lo center we lined up with about 100 other folks to have supper cooked by and served by the band, and to mingle with some really down to earth guys. Upon entering, we see the whole thing is sponsored by Jack Daniels, and there is a statue of the little guy.  While standing in the beverage line (same line for booze or water), I see it. A little white plastic swizzle stick with a short man perched atop. I had to laugh and snatch up a little stick with my soda. I could almost hear momma laugh and say "I didn't know they still made those".  I felt as if momma had given me one last birthday present. Somehow I knew momma must have inspired that lady to give us eat and greet tickets too. All I could say was Thank you Lord and Thank you Momma, as I twisted the necklace I wore around my fingers. It once was hers, and she left it to me.

    Now I believe in "God Winks", you know those funny little coincidences that are just perfect little examples of how God works in our lives. They are the kind of thing that wouldn't qualify as a religious experience, but do bolster one's faith in a special way that nothing else can. I believe in those darkest times when we feel that all hope is lost, God allows certain things to happen, and if you are looking, I mean really looking, you can see it. Once you see those God Winks, you will see them all over your life. Even in the strangest places imaginable...

Yesterday I saw momma, Jack Daniels and me, in a plastic swizzle stick. Thank you momma, for everything. 

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