Friday, September 28, 2007

Marriage: An institution that leads to another

After Sunday services, my Granddaddy was standing outside talking with all the men of the church when he pulled my grandmother’s bra out of his back pocket and blew his nose. When hunting down a handkerchief, he had been mistaken. Knowing my grandmother, she was more upset that he had dirtied up her clean bra than advertising her cup size to the entire congregation.

I love watching couples who have been married for decades. They tickle me.
My parents have been married for 40 years, and according to them, they have been 40 long years. They pick at each other like children for pure meanness, but they always manage to laugh – usually at the other. I figure they just want to keep things stirred up to prevent boredom.

My mother had knee replacement surgery Monday, and will be in a rehabilitation center for the next two weeks. This is a good thing since Daddy insists that “she is a horrible patient.” I figured if she recovered at home, one of them would be dead, and I would be visiting the other every Sunday at Parchman.

After Momma’s surgery, Daddy called all of us to let us know that she was doing okay. In fact, he said the doctor called him and said she was doing wonderful. She even pointed out that Momma had not woken once and opined on how the surgical team should proceed. “They sure know her,” he said.

Momma is known around town as Miss Dot, and nobody crosses Miss Dot. She is very outspoken with a sharp tongue and will tell you exactly what she thinks – right, wrong, or just plain crazy. She has a heart as good as gold and will do anything in the world for you. If you want to know the truth, her bark is a lot worse than her bite. I know this because none of my friends have ever been scared of her even with her threats of beating them. Now Daddy is a different story – maybe for us kids.

Daddy is the quiet one – for a Sexton that is. He is stoically Southern with a dry sense of humor. It is usually best not to laugh until you are sure he is joking. When he gets excited or angry or stroke-level with veins surging in his forehead, his voice can break glass. I would recommend not being anywhere in a mile radius when this happens. God forbid you be the cause of the excitement or the anger. He is so hyper he makes coffee nervous, but there isn’t anyone who doesn’t warm to Daddy immediately.

A few months ago, my parents were awakened by their security alarm in the middle of the night. With Momma being a crack-shot, Daddy sent Momma downstairs to investigate with a .410 shotgun. I can just hear him, “Dot, go down there and see if there is a burglar. Holler up and let me know what you find.”

This is the same man who had Momma shooting woodpeckers off the house and a rouge rooster at 6 a.m. in her nightgown (thank the Lord we didn’t live in town!) That rooster escaped from somebody’s coop and made a mess all over the porch. Momma snapped his head off at 100 yards – now that is impressive.

Daddy admitted to me the other day that he had accidentally tried to wear Momma’s jeans. He managed to get them buttoned, but pitched a huge fit because Momma had shrunk them into “high-waters.” It took him a few minutes to realize what he had done.

I’m not just picking on Daddy. Momma has given him some gray hair, too. She considers herself “management,” and will argue her point until the rapture.

Once on a trip to Arkansas, Momma was pointing out landmarks and commenting on them. “That there used to be an old church,” she said. Of course, we all knew it was just a Howard Johnson motel.

She is constantly telling us that over the years, we have driven her insane. Maybe so. We all went to dinner in Memphis for someone’s birthday, and seven of us had piled into one car – Momma was driving. After dinner, with the six of us laughing and hollering and Momma’s nerves to a breaking point, she turned left. The next thing we knew our car was straddling a concrete median and kind of seesawing back and forth. Even she thought it was funny once she got tired of trying to backhand us – bobbing and weaving - in the backseat.

I guess after a while a spouse does become as comfortable as old shoes. My parents have never quit laughing, and I believe that is what holds two people together for 40 years. When the crazy stuff just isn’t funny anymore, then someone ends up in a padded room. Momma and Daddy have some more years before they decide who.


Dana said...

Your family sure sounds colorful! Much more entertaining than mine... Wish I could meet y'all!

Jules said...

This is great!
I love the part about the high water jeans