Archive for the ‘Love’ category

The Haggard Sisters

June 18, 2009

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but I must agree with what she said about  “It takes a village to raise a child”.  I’ve come to realize the truth to this statement as I have reflected on all the people in my life who helped to raise me.  My parents, of course, but so many more people impacted my life, and helped to shape and develop my personality, spirituality, goals and dreams, and all other aspects of my life. 

Through this blog, I am chronicling my life story.  I have mentioned my parents, grandparents, siblings, a couple of my aunts, and a high school music teacher.  A few weeks ago, my sweet Aunt Mable passed away.  She was 92.  She was my mother’s sister.  My mother and my Aunt Margaret preceded her in death.  You might remember Aunt Mable and Aunt Margaret from a previous blog post.  They were pranksters!  They are  in the picture below.

Seated -A. Margaret, Standing, L to R A. Mable, A. Wanda, A. Nina

Seated -A. Margaret, Standing, L to R A. Mable, A. Wanda, A. Nina

My aunts lived full lives.  They were fun people!  I want to be a fun person. 

I spent a lot of time with my maternal aunts, and my cousins.  We lived within a few miles of each other, so we were at each others houses often. 

Like Mother, Aunt Mable was an extraordinary cook.  She was the supervisor and head cook for a technological college in Knoxville for many years.  You talk about some good eating!  A family get-together, starring the prize winning dishes, cooked by my mother and aunts, was enviable.  I say prize winning, because they competed at the Tennessee Valley A & I Fair, and took home many blue ribbons for their baking.

Aunt Margaret was quite the seamstress.  She could sew anything!  And, she could do it without a pattern to follow.  She taught me a number of short cuts when I was learning to sew; things like how to sew in sleeves.  This tip saved me many hours of time.  She encouraged me in my sewing, and complimented me on a job well done.

Aunt Mable let me hang out with her as a teenager.  Her son, Phil, was a close friend, and we double-dated.  Mother and Daddy allowed me, on occasion, to go to Sunday evening services with Phil and Aunt Mable.  There may have been an ulterior motive in my wanting to go, since my boyfriend also went to that church.  On the way home, we would sing those old hymns we had sung in church.

Anytime any of us got together there was music, or singing, involved.  I particularly remember one incident with Aunt Mable.  Her daughter, Betty Lou, my sister Nene, my Aunt Wanda, and me in the car.  I don’t remember where we were going, but we started singing.  I unashamedly say that we harmonized amazingly as we sang “Country Roads, Take Me Home”, and a gamut of other songs.  It’s funny how a seemingly insignificant moment can create a memory that lasts a lifetime.

My Aunt Nina is one of the most unique individuals I have ever known.  She took great care of herself, long before exercise was a household word.  She could roller skate.  I was awed that she could skate backwards.  She swam and walked, to add to her physical regimen.  I love her laugh!  It’s contagious.   She was an encourager to me, too.  I was 15 years old, when she came over to the house one day.  I was sitting at the sewing machine.  She came over to look at what I was making.  “Pamela, you’re going to save some man a lot of money one day.”   she admired.  Her words echoed in my mind as I sewed clothes for my three daughters, and as I made various items for gift shops.  That one sentence gave me confidence in my sewing, a skill I was able to use professionally.

Aunt Wanda is the youngest of the sisters.  A career woman, she had a lot of wisdom to impart to my young, impressionable mind.  I look more like her than any of my other aunts.  She calls us twins.  I have many memories with my Aunt Wanda, but one that really stuck was when my husband was in Vietnam.  I was only 19 years old at the time.  All my friends were still dating; going out on the weekends.  I was lonely.   I had moved back home with my parents while my husband was gone to war.  One night, they invited Aunt Wanda to spend the night.  She loved being at our house as much as we enjoyed having her.  She slept with me that night.  We talked and laughed into the night.  She told me that she felt sorry for me, because I was so young ,and I was going through missing my husband. (We had our first anniversary while he was away.)  The tears started to flow from my eyes.  She was a strong comfort for me that night, and I’ve never told her that. 

Why am I telling you all of this?  It’s because they were mentors to me.  It’s because they believed in me, enabling me to believe in myself.  It’s because we should be aware of the kind of impact we are having on the lives of those around us.   

Are we creating memories, or are we simply existing?  Is our impact positive or negative?  What will be remembered about us, after we are gone? 

From my aunts I learned that:

1. Extended family is an important part of that village that raises us.

2. Encouraging words give hope.

3. If you don’t want to laugh, don’t hang around with the Haggard sisters.


Daring to Date

March 27, 2009

The Payne girls had to be sixteen to go on a car date. Boys could sit with us in church, or we could go on group dates, like a banquet at church when we were fourteen, but nothing where we would be alone or unsupervised.

I had a big crush on a guy at my high school. I had been wishin’ and hopin’ and plannin’ and dreamin’ for this guy to ask me out. All those positive thoughts came to be when he invited me to a football game. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it! I counted the days until Friday night came.

Another rule was that we were not to answer the door when our date arrived. Mother or Daddy was to let him in and spend a reasonable amount of time getting to know him before we could make our entrance into the room.

Don knocked on the door and Mother invited him in, as I anxiously waited in the hallway outside the living room. After the introductions were over and the “What does your daddy do?” and “Are you planning to go to college?” questions were over, I knew it was safe for me to enter.

Nervously, I made my way into the living room, where my dream date was seated…also nervously. You can only imagine how mortified I was as I stood in disbelief at hearing the words that were escaping my father’s mouth. “Now son, I give you to understand that my daughter isn’t a salt block for any old bull that comes along to lick on. Have her home by eleven. You two have a good time.”

He did NOT just say that! You could hear a pin drop. “Dad-deeey!” I moaned. Don picked his bottom lip off of the floor and escorted me out the door. He didnt’ have much to say to me for a few minutes. It was an awkward silence. Even though Dad said he was teasing, it didn’t sound like it. I felt it totally unnecessary to make such a remark, and I was mad at him for days.

The date went well, but we didn’t date for long. Summertime came and since we didn’t have a telephone, it was hard to ask a girl out. I guess he figured it wasn’t worth the drive to see me if he was going to have to face the judge and jury every time he visited. I can’t say that I blame him.

Our cufew was always ten or eleven o’clock. That is until I agreed to go to Harry’s prom with him. Harry was a pitiful, ugly guy from church that noone would go out with. He had a crush on me. He asked me to the prom three months ahead of time. I didn’t have an excuse to say no, so I agreed. I dreaded going so badly. My parents knew this. Harry wasn’t a threat! When he came to pick me up that night, Daddy told me it didn’t matter how late he kept me out!! Again…mortified! I endured the boring date, and told him that I needed to be home by nine, because I had to study my Sunday School lesson. He bought it. Poor guy.

I can’t really fault my parents too much. I owe them a debt of gratitude in many respects, but when I was sixteen going on seventeed, I didn’t understand. I made a lot of the same rules for my own daughters, though I didn’t say things that would embarrass them in front of their dates. My daughters would tell you that they are thankful for the boundaries that we set. It showed that we cared. I agree that it did.

I learned from my dating experiences that:

1. Boys didn’t always have my best interest in mind.

2. That my parents did!

3. That the embarrassing your kids approach was not something I would perpetrate in parenting.

Come back for my next post, when I tell you about Donna’s mortifying experiences with Mother and dating. You won’t believe this one!

Saturday Morning Hair Salon

February 14, 2009

The Knox County Baptist Mission was supported by area churches, and primarily First Baptist Church, in Knoxville, Tennessee, where we were members.  Daddy had been called to be the pastor for the mission.  He and Mother wanted us to enjoy the advantages of being a part of a large church, so Suz and I went to the main church, while Mother and Dad were ministering at the mission.  Nene played the piano for their church services, but  joined us on Wednesday and Sunday nights at the main church, as did Mother and Daddy.  To leave Suz and I to our own devices, probably wasn’t the wisest decision, but that’s another story for another time.

Our parent’s work at the mission was hard, and often discouraging, but they persevered and had an impact on many people’s lives who passed through there.  They picked up children on the way to church, so our car was full every time we made the trip.  We didn’t have seat belts.  They hadn’t been invented yet.  We crammed as many people in the car as we possibly could, and then some.  It was a happy time.  The car was as full of laughter as it was people.  For these “underprivileged” children, it was quite probably the only lighthearted time of their young lives, to that point.  They faced such hardships with alcoholic parents and/or abusive parents, that they were hungry for attention and love.

On Saturdays we went to the mission to help get the women and children ready for church on Sunday.  Daddy cut hair.  Mother, Nene, Reva, and I washed and rolled hair.  We had two or three hair dryers that we brought along with us.  Do you remember the ones with the caps?  They had a hose from the cap to the motor.  The motor blew heat into the cap to dry the hair.  We taught them how to style their hair, how to apply make-up, and how to act like a lady.

Minstering to the physical needs of the people was vital.  It boosted their self-esteem.  They learned skills that would serve them well when they went  to apply for jobs.  We were doing something for them that would have a lasting impact.

I was fifteen years old at the time.  I had grown up learning to serve others.  It came naturally by the time I was fifteen.  The compassion that was taught to us by our parents’ example will never be forgotten.  I was thinking today how the past couple of generations haven’t had the privilege to observe or practice serving others.  I feel sorry for them.  They have missed so much, mainly the purpose of living!

Our parents taught us well how to look out for our brothers and sisters.  Not just the ones we had by birth, but the ones we met along the way.  For this I am thankful!


Daddy Cutting Hair


Mother Styling Hair

Pam Brushing Hair

Pam Brushing Hair

Fighting Means Having to Say You’re Sorry

January 30, 2009

Laughter rang through the corridors of our home, but so did fighting.  With four girls, there was always fodder for fighting.  “Moooooooootherrrrrr.  Suzanne pinched me.” or “Moooooooooootherrrrrrrrr.  Nene has on the blouse I was going to wear to school today.”  we would whine.  “Girls!  Stop fighting this instant.”  Mother sternly laid down the law to which end we continued to fight, under our breaths.”

If Daddy was home, he stepped into action.  That wasn’t fun!  I remember the sound of the belt swooshing through the loops as he removed his JC Penny #32 from his pants.  We knew we were going to catch it, when that thing came off.  The howling and gnashing of teeth began before the first lick hit our padded tushes.  Believe me, we were kind to one another for quite a while after that.  Sometimes he would line us all up and whip us for no good reason, but for all the times he should have whipped us and didn’t.

I never viewed this as child abuse.  The fact was, I probably deserved most every spanking I got.  I also told myself I was running away from home that night.  That was until Daddy would come and sit down beside me, hug me, and explain why it was necessary to administer discipline.  I generally thanked him and went peacefully to sleep, vowing to be nicer to my sisters.

Mother had various approaches to discipline, ranging from a hair brush to the behind to child psychology.  Mother wasn’t a college graduate, but she was very smart.  One afternoon, Nene and I had been fighting.  Neither of us can recall why, but we both remember the discipline.

Mother heard us fighting.  She was sitting in the chair in their bedroom, reading her Bible.  This was a daily sight, and one memory of Mother that I cherish.  Anyway, she called us to their (her and Daddy’s) room.  She told us that we were going to have to stand there until we we told each other that we were sorry.  I can tell you that it was worse than any hide tanning!

“I’m not about to tell her I’m sorry.”  I pouted.  “Are you kidding?  I can’t stand her!”  Nene snapped back.  “Well, I guess you will be standing there for quite a while then.” Mother said as she glanced up from reading her Bible.  We begged and pleaded with her to change her mind.  “I’ll scrub and wax the living room floor, if you’ll just let me go.”  I implored.  “Okay.  After you and Nene tell each other you’re sorry, you can do that.”  No amount of coaxing worked.

The pleas got more and more ridiculous.  “I’d rather eat frogs than to apologize to her.”  I swore.  “She stinks!”  Nene’s smug face galled me. Back and forth we continued to insult each other.  Finally, one of us said something that made the other one giggle.  That’s all it took.  We started poking fun at each other and laughing louder each time.  We did say “I’m sorry.”, but it was more like, “I’m sorry that you are so ugly.”, or “It’s okay.  I’m sorry that your breath smells so bad.”  and so it was.

What I learned from the discipline that Mother and Daddy administered was:

1. A good belting will make you repent and do better for a while, but the only lasting impression it makes is on your hind quarters.

2. Taking ownership of one’s part in any disagreement is the bigger person thing to do.  Ending a disagreement with laughter is cleansing.

3. “Love means never having to say your sorry”, is the most stupid quote of all time!  Saying you are sorry, when sincere, heals lots of hurts, and let’s you off the hook, and out of your parent’s bedroom.

Sharing Boyfriends Is Heartbreaking

January 21, 2009

Sharing is something you learn to do early on when you are part of a large family.  Eight of us shared one bathroom.  We didn’t have a shower, so we had to take baths.  Baths were taken before going to bed, because we would have to get up before daylight-thirty to have time for us all to take a dip in the mornings.  The hot water heater didn’t match the size of the family either, so we had to engineer a system.  Large kettles and pots of water were heated on the stove to add to the small amount of tepid water that was run in the tub.  Since the result wasn’t all that warm, baths didn’t take long, especially in the cold of winter.

Hot water wasn’t the only thing we shared.  If there was one biscuit left, we were taught to never take it prior to asking if anyone else wanted it.  If someone else spoke up, it was divided among them.  The same applied for the last of anything.  There was little that belonged to just one person in the family, be it food, clothing, shoes, toys, books, or beds. 

It should come as no surprise that it didn’t raise an eyebrow when Nene and I liked the same boy.  It happened on more than one occasion, and was heartbreaking for both of us.

Larry Joe was my first true love.  (I don’t count my first crush at age five.)  I met Larry Joe when I was eleven, at church.  We were instantly attracted to each other.  I was hopelessly and helplessly in love!

He could write the most romantic love letters!  “My own true love, Pam.  You are the most beautiful “woman” in the whole wide world.  I will love you forever and ever, ’til the end of time.”  Page after page he poured his heart onto that paper, and page after page, I read them over and over again, believing every word. 

Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, I always got a a card and gift from my own true love.  I was convinced that I would be Mrs. Larry Joe Hamilton one fine day.

As was customary, we invited our friends to come home with us after church and spend the day, until it was time to go back to church.  Larry Joe was a regular, along with his brothers, and some of our girlfriends.  When we were eleven, we spent the afternoon playing tag, Red Rover, and other outdoor games.  We spent lots of time riding ponies, and playing in the hay loft, and exploring the forty acres that we lived on.

At thirteen, our interests changed.  Spin the Bottle was the main game we played.  We had a blast!  It was all fun until I discovered that Larry Joe had a crush on Nene.  My heart was broken.   All of those promises, all of those “forever until the end of time” letters meant nothing now.  To add salt to the wound, I found out that he hadn’t written any of the letters!  He had a sixteen year old girl write them for him.  I guess it was no big deal, as he had to approve them before he gave them to me. 

I learned some valuable lessons from that experience:

1. If  you want to be assured of a hot bath or shower, use birth control.

2. Never trust a man who has his secretary write you love letters or purchase your gifts.

3. Long after the man is out of your life, you still have your sister.

Pam, Kathy Zimmerman (of Temporarily Permanent blog post fame), unknown, Linda Hensley, unknown, Nene, and Larry Joe

l.-to-r: Pam, Kathy Zimmerman (of Temporarily Permanent blog post fame), unknown, Linda Hensley, unknown, Nene, and Larry Joe

Country Bumpkins In Las Vegas

November 7, 2008

In this continuing saga of sibling prank playing, I have fast forwarded a few years.  Oh, my brothers and sisters do like to have fun, particularly at the expense of each other.

Since the remaining five of us have moved closer together, we get to see each other more than we use to.  A few years ago we were spread out all over the United States.  Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, here and there we had scattered.  Donna made it possible for us all to meet in Las Vegas for a reunion.  We were so excited to get to spend time together.  We knew the days ahead would be filled with hilarity, performance, lots of eating, and a spat here and there thrown in for good measure.

All of us were arriving at different times, but each time one of us would arive, the rest of us were there to meet them.  Curtis and Judy were to be the last ones to arrive, from Dallas.   Schemer and plotter, whose names shall remain anonymous, but whose initials are Sonny and me, got our heads together.  We felt that Curtis and Judy were worthy of a grand welcome. 

We called Suz and Donna and got them in on the plot.  Nene couldn’t come that year, so we really missed her spice and sarcasm.  We were to all pack hillbilly clothing so that we could give our brother and sis-in-law that good ole homecoming feeling.

We carried our garb to the airport and got dressed there. (We didn’t want to get stopped and searched on the way to the airport).  We were all ready for them!  Curtis and Judy deplaned and came walking into the crowd.  We started singing some dumb song we had made up.  Curtis ignored us and started walking the other way.  We turned to each other and started hugging and yelling “Oh Sister”  “Oh Brother”, as if we hadn’t seen each other in a hundred years.  Curtis acted like he didn’t know us!  He was pushing us away and calling for security! 

One man passed by us, looked at Sonny’s outfit and said, “Nice!” in an envious manner.  Sonny thought he especially liked the tie.

You know what the funniest thing about all of this was?  We blended in.  The crowd in the airport looked as wierd as we did!

Spending time with family can be a drag or you can make it as fun as you want it to be.  Just put your thinking cap on and start plotting.

I put the picture of Sonny, me, and my husband, Chuck at the bottom for the surprise factor. LOLsonny-me-and-chuck-in-vegas

I Do, I Do, I Do

August 14, 2008

It’s no wonder I love weddings so much, and no accident that I should be a wedding and event designer.  I grew up with it.    We often had weddings in our home. 

Daddy was a minister.  He would preside over the ceremony, Mother made the wedding cake, and catered the food.  Donna and Jeaneane would play the piano and/or organ, and Suz and I would light the candles. We had candelabra, that Mother would decorate, and chairs to set up an aisle in our home. 

I loved to hear Mother’s beautiful, melodic, soprano voice as she sang songs like “O Promise Me”, and “The Lord’s Prayer”.  Her voice was so clear, she sounded like an angel.  One of my favorite memories of her is hearing her sing around the house.  She was always singing while she worked.  I learned a whole repertorie of songs from her housework concerts.  “Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang Of Mine”, was one she would sing.  Mostly, she sang hymns and songs about how much God loves us.

I don’t remember many funny things from those weddings.  I recall that they were all very sweet and intimate, and it didn’t matter that just a few people were in attenance.  That made it all the more special.  We have come to think that we must have a wedding that costs many thousands of dollars, but the truth is, by the end of the day the result is the same.  You are married!

Mother made melt in your mouth butter cream mints for the weddings.  She would make them by the hundreds, and put them in a tin, in the freezer.  They would mysteriously disappear.  After her passing, my children and their cousins all admitted to sneaking to the basement to get into Mamaw’s mints.  I’m sure she probably knew the culprits of the missing mints, but she never said a word about it, she just made more mints.

I miss those simple weddings, where they promised to have and to hold until death did them part.  More of those folks remained married than the kids getting married today.  Was it the simplicity of the times, or was it that they had been taught the meaning of commitment.  I wonder.