They appear to be looking at me lovingly, on the ship en route home from France, but, really, don't I look a little traumatized? All because the nanny quit.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
In most of the pictures I have of Ben, the Birthday Boy, he's dressed up as he was when previously presented on this site, looking all spiffy, going to a dance, with his girlfriend. I have pictures of him in a suit, and as a younger boy, and in his JROTC uniform, and even as a militant-looking ten-year old dressed ready for paintball! But, this is Ben the way I see him - a kind, gentle, polite, mature young man. He's holding his niece, my great-niece, Anabelle, in March of 2006. Ben has grown since then and is getting ready to graduate from high school and head to VMI in the Fall. He's going to be a huge success, and happy there, because he epitomizes a "rat". According to the VMI website, cadets prescribe to the "highest standards of honor, respect, civility, self-discipline and professionalism" and those are certainly all attributes possessed by Ben. He also has a wry sense of humor, is relaxed and flexible, well-spoken and interesting. A great kid. And we all love him. Happy birthday, Benjamin Downey Denton.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Among the correspondence that my mother gave me that she'd written to her parents while she was living in France when I was born, there is a postcard in which Mom wrote of her regret that her friend was leaving for the States. The friend to whom she referred is Doris Beatty, pictured here in the center, next to my mother on the right. They remained close friends for fifty more years through many moves and many changes. I was grateful to see Doris at Mom's funeral last Dec., and comforted by the her presence and that of other "old" family friends. That kind of friendship is hard to find and my parents were fortunate to have it with others, as well. Those family friends, the Kirkpatricks, Beattys, Kitty, Wengers, Sullivans, Carvers, Janie come to mind and there are others. Not to mention their childhood friends whom, because we didn't grow up in Mobile, we children didn't have the chance to get to know but whose names are part of our family history, adding depth and richness to our lives.
The Intervention of the Women of Sabine by Jacques-Louis David, is in the Louvre. Mom knew all about his works and I clearly remember her telling Mary, Micah and me about this scene when we saw it in March of 2000. I think she said that it took place in early Rome. It may depict a scene from a literary work, rather than a scene from history. If I'm remembering the story correctly, one army abducted the women of another army, and the women married the captors, had children with them. Then the men who had had their wives, sisters and daughters stolen from them went to battle with the army who had stolen and subsequently married the women. The painting depicts the battle between the two armies with the women, in the middle, children at their feet, trying to keep the armies (one army of their husbands and sons and the other an army of their fathers and brothers) apart. Even the children are fighting. I'm not sure why I like the painting so much. The story is interesting but, mostly, I'm amazed that a human being could paint something so magnificent. The painting is gigantic (12' 8" x 17' 3/4") and it took the artist almost 4 years. You oughta see it in real life! Much better than the one I got off the internet! Maybe Don can post something about this. I think he and Mom discussed this kind of thing frequently. She said some of the paintings we saw were from The Iliad or The Odyssey. Was this one of them?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
My mother's mother was born on March 15, 1904 and lived a long and fulfilled life in Mobile. She was a gardener, a learner, meticulously dressed and proper, a strong woman whom, as you can see from this photo, my mother loved very much. I stayed in her home a few times while visiting in Mobile when I was child. It was amazingly organized and neat compared to the sometimes hectic home we had back in Virginia with so many children preventing my mother from maintaining a lot of routine and order. Mimi kept delicious chocolate covered marshmallow and graham cracker cookies in her perfectly maintained pantry. Have I mentioned that I remember most of the events of my life by what food I ate there?! I got to sleep on the screened in porch, with the white wicker furniture and the glass louvred windows, on one visit and in the big tall bed on another. It was in her backyard, on her brick walkway, that I saw my first "rolly-polly" bug which I thought was absolutely adorable and amazing. I still associate the smell of fresh coffee with my grandmother because of the coffee brewing in the kitchen on just those few visits. And, oh, I was shocked and delighted to see that Mimi watched soap operas. My mother would never have allowed such scandalous behavior! But, Mimi would just pooh-pooh that attitude and do as she pleased! When she passed away, my mother was upset for a long time and I regret now that I was not more attentive to my mother's grief. Although my mother and I talked about it, I didn't really understand because I had yet to experience losing my mother. I'm glad that my mother was able to be close to Mimi after she and my dad moved to Mobile. And I'm glad that one of the last things my mom and I did, before she got sick, was drive around Mobile, talking about their lives there, mom's family and childhood friends, Namama, The Visitation, visiting the cemetary and talking about family members who were buried there, looking at, and photographing, the homes on Hunter Avenue and Cherokee St., in which Mimi and Daddy Jim raised their two daughters, eating lunch at The Battlehouse and talking about the events that had taken place there years before. That was a special day and we felt Mimi's presence. So, here's to Mamie Clarke Maury, on her birthday.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
My beloved Michael! How can I express what he means to me? Michael is selfless, honorable, sensitive, kind, handsome, funny, outgoing, friendly, generous, smart, loyal, articulate, a snappy dresser (Katherine's doing, no doubt), strong, considerate, competent, resourceful. From my very earliest memory, he's been my biggest supporter. He seems to just scan the horizon for ways to make me happy and do things for me before I even know I want them. Absolutely always there for me. And, for everyone else, for that matter. When we were seven and five respectfully, and living in Newport for a year, we shared a big bedroom in a most amazing old home. We'd get up in the morning and I, being the taker that I am, would ask Michael if he'd do anything I wanted all day long. Without even hesitating, he would say yes and then do so. I'm pretty sure this was a regular routine with us, a sign of things to come. Michael is my go-to guy and, in the 49 years we've been brother and sister, he's never said no. In September of 2001, when most of the country was concerned about terrorist attacks, I was, true to form, terrified, imagining all manner of disasters that would be directed at The Woodlands, Tx.. It seems unlikely now but, we are near Houston and there are oil refineries here, so it wasn't totally out of the realm of possibility! Just in case, I was one of the idiots in the Walmart line spending hundreds of dollars on the Homeland Security survival supplies. I even bought a butane stove, in case my family had to flee to the woods, and whistles, in case we got separated in said woods. Anyway, I told Michael that I'd given my children his phone # to keep in their wallets to use in case of emergency, and he said, "When I get the call, I'll be halfway there." That's just how he is. And we have the same sense of humor. He loves The Office almost as much as I do. The only person that makes me laugh harder and more often than Michael does, is his wife, Katherine. The two of them together make me laugh until I can't breathe and my face hurts. All my friends want to marry him, all of his wife's friends want to marry him. Hell, I've been tempted more than once! The guy is perfect! Happy Birthday to my favorite little brother :) Thank you for everything. I hope you have a wonderful day. You've certainly got it coming to you.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Baby David, my mother's mother, Mamie Clarke Maury (Mimi) , my father's mother, Irene Steele Denton, whom my siblings and I called "Irene," unlike her other (well-behaved, respectful) grandchildren who called her "Grandmother." Flanked by Terry and me. The picture was taken in Fall of 1984 or Spring of 1985. Looks like Fall. I was just thinking of one of the times Irene visited us in Virginia when I was about 8 or so. First of all, she was the only visitor to arrive by train which was exciting and left me with a lifelong desire to ride on a train, in a cabin with a little bed that folded down from the wall. I thought that was the most clever invention. During her visit, she tried to give me a $5 bill as a gift. I demurely declined and she offered it again and I said "oh, no, I couldn't" again. She offered once more and I said, "No, really." She insisted a couple more times and, just as I was planning to give in, she stopped asking. I had refused one time too many. I couldn't believe my tactical error. Of course, I wanted, and intended to accept, the $5 all along but didn't want to seem greedy. I decided, then and there, that playing hard to get wasn't for me! Mimi visited maybe even a little more often than did Irene. I remember once, probably in the 60's, when my mom told us, en route to the airport, not to tell Mimi that one of my brother's had a beard and long hair. He was off , safely concealed, at school and Mom wasn't anxious to let her well-bred mother know exactly how out of control her uncouth little brood had become! Of course, it was the first thing out of Mary's mouth as soon as she saw Mimi! I don't remember Mimi having a negative reaction. She probably knew my mom had her hands full up there in Virginia. Which is certainly why Mimi always parted with the reminder to be sure and help my mother. Which, of course, I didn't. I continued to be a wonderful source of pleasure and joy for my mom... climbing out of my bedroom window, scaling the dogwood tree, and slinking around the dark streets of King's Grant with all manner of inappropriate friends. In the end, it was alright. Mom got a lot of laughs, all in retrospect, at the troubles we caused her.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
I will never forget how you rushed through dinner, on the ship sailing from France to the U.S., so that you could rescue me from the crib in the cabin. Or how you bought me an electric blanket for Christmas (pictured in the previously posted photo of Mary and the skates), or how you sent Bill money from Vietnam to buy Mom a green winter coat for Christmas, or how you spent your own money to put an a/c window unit in her bedroom window, or how you bought us a clock for the den wall, or how you (or so you told me, at the time) called off your (1st!) engagement because your fiance said I couldn't be in the wedding, or how you sent roses to me after we had an argument when I was a little girl, or how you jumped out, at the top of the stairs, in your underwear, in front of my friends, and yelled, in a Gomer Pyle voice, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise," humiliating me and causing me to carry a stigma all the way through school, which I'm sure is the reason I was a social pariah, or how you sound when you sing "Frankie and Johnnie" and "Once I had a dog and his name was Blue", or how you drove a cool metallic blue Corvette that you couldn't afford, or how you searched the dark woods of 64th St., with a searchlight, trying to find your wayward younger sister (by they way, ask Katherine to tell you her story about 64th Street. She's the one you shoulda searched for!) or how you let me use your stereo and headphones so I could sing The Supremes, at the top of my lungs when no one was home (oh, you didn't know about that?), or how you immediately bonded with Terry and made him feel part of the family, or how you are rising to the occasion with brotherly love, how well you can tell a story, or how you had to drive to NC to find Bobby McFarland to tell him his brother, your best friend, had died in Vietnam, when you were only about 20 years old... and on and on and on. Happy Birthday, Buzz.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
My father's brother, Peyton, and my Aunt Renee (who is French and has a great accent), surrounded by, on the left, little Peyton and me and, on the right, Michael, Bill, Audrey and little Mary. Michael appears to be happily anticipating birthday cake, doesn't he?
These are my paternal grandparents, Irene and Jeremiah Andrew Denton (the 1st). They divorced, he moved to Texas and remarried. The word I think of when I remember Irene is "sweet". Not a very original word but the one that comes to mind first. She was fortunate to live close to her son, Leo, and his wife, Mignon, and their children. I hope they'll send me some stories about their times together. Irene passed away on June 10, 1995 when she was 92. I didn't see my grandfather many times but have been told he was a charming, gregarious man who liked to play poker. My mother visited him when he was older and ill and said he spoke of Irene to her and that she believes he always loved her. He died when I was a child in Virginia and is buried about 20 minutes from where I now live, in Texas.
Summer 1977, a few months before I got married. In Irene's home - Mignon, me, Kathy, (cousin)Irene, Michael, Marguerita and Stacy. When I was a little girl, I liked to visit my Dad's mother, Irene, because she was very sweet and it was nice to have a too-rare opportunity to see our cousins. There was a very cool fish pond and garden in the backyard, too! My Uncle Leo (my Dad's brother), the cousins and I are reconnecting after many years via emails and blogs. They're a special family and it was easy to feel the love in their home.
For those of you who don't recognize it, this is the screened-in porch on the back of our house on Watergate Lane, in Virginia Beach. The figure in the doorway appears to be Mary Beth, half dressed. I loved that door which, incidently, led to the den. It was what Mom called a "french door." It was two pieces and the top half could open while the bottom remained closed. Just like a stall door which was pretty magical to a horse-crazy little girl. The windows to the left are the living room. The flower bed, that was planted in the V formed by the screened-in porch and the living room wall, had a large hydrangea in the corner. I thought it was beautiful and, over the years, have tried many times to get one to grow in my yard, here in Texas. Last year, finally, it happened. I planted several and they all survived and even bloomed. Every time I saw them, I was amazed. But that botanical success is not the one I want to tell you about. Neither Mary, nor the porch, are the subject of this photograph. The rose, in the foreground, is one that was special to her. She grew it from a cutting off of a bush in her first-cousin (and a huge favorite of all of the Denton children) Marion's yard when Marion lived in Norfolk. Mom didn't know if the cutting would root but, after a slow start, it took hold, and eventually thrived. The very first rose bloomed on the very day she learned that Dad had been shot down. Mom believed the rose was a sign from God, a comfort, and a message that, even when a situation seemed impossible, there was always hope.
Monday, March 3, 2008
The expression on Mary's face, as she opens the skates that Jerry gave her for Christmas, almost conveys the excitement I felt at attending her wedding this past weekend! She was even happier at the wedding than she was that December long ago, but her demeanor was considerably more restrained. I'm so happy for her, and for her boys, that Mike has joined their family. Much more next week, after I get pictures developed. In the meantime, YAY!
My first very best friend, Kim, is still such a good friend that she surprised me by baking and mailing me a batch of my grandmother's cookies last week. See earlier post. It was so sweet, I wish my mom were here so I could tell her. I think that so many times a day. Kim also lost her mother suddenly last year and I know those cookies were sent with a lot of love. This picture was taken at Cheatham Annex, outside of Williamsburg. We used to rent a cabin there, often with friends. We liked to run, playing "The Most Dangerous Game" in the woods, sleep in sleeping bags on the screened porch and wait for the raccoons to come raid the trash cans, fish on the little pier, and pretend to live like the early settlers in the Virginia wild. Pictured: Foreground - Tornado Mike, who was the young son of Bill, the co-pilot who was shot down with my dad and his wife, Janie, who remained one of my mother's dearest friends to the very day we lost her. Behind Mike, left to right, Jerry, Jim, my brother Michael, me looking ghoulish, and Kim. Mary sitting on Jim's back. Bill in background.