She Ain’t No Southern Belle

We all have those regrets, the missed opportunities, the people, places, things. Maybe one day, out of the blue, that missed opportunity calls you up, a second chance? Could be you don’t rightly recall why you missed out, but now you see this again before you, and what do you do?

In a nutshell, a rough sketch, that is who MsB is to my Dad. Mom having been gone almost a decade or so, with one failed marriage following Mom’s death, and here comes this call out of the blue from the land of his birth, the place he spent his formative years and the girl who got away that winter after he met Mom, but before they wed the next summer. It was an in-between time, of losses and picking it all back up after a stretch of hard times. 

They met at a bowling alley, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles was their song, and Dad had just gotten out of the National Guard; the year I think would have been the winter of ’65.  

When asked, neither of them say they can remember why they split, but she went off to her life, and Dad went off to his that next summer, to Canada and Mom, and she remained back in North Carolina, married with children for all those years between.

They shared a common grief,  they had lost things, gained things, and they had grown up, this is like 40 or so years later. 

Until after that trip back home he took that year, bringing back with him this story of the girl he met that winter between, a story I had never known, neither my sister or I knew. Course, as these old flames do tend to remain nameless and faceless to us children, we just don’t process any other but our own, no place for these past partners in our insular world of Mom, Dad and the kids. 

Her spouse had died of cancer, as did Mom. Yet, while my sister and I were supportive of this new chance, this new/old flame from his youth, her sons were not, they took a bit of coaxing.

Eventually, my fathers genuine and humble nature won them out, and the story that told, for me, is that you can go home again. You can return, you can go back and do it differently, return a different man than the rabble-rouser he left as.

Well, actually, he left to go out to California, sold all our belongings that had fit into a dinky trailer and headed west. Well, headed west cause Mom and I had headed North when I was 2 and a half, headed home to where mom had grown up, back home to her Mom and Dad, in the place we call Dodge. Must have been a real tail between your legs time for her, having to walk in that back door of the Homestead with me in tow, and seeing “I Told You So” in Grandma’s eyes. Sure, he came around, it took 6 months, and back up here things were, well eventually, they were different, under the gaze of my Grandmothers disapproval he had to prove himself. 

Dad, given who he was back then, always says that mom saved his life. Both guys that stood up for him at their wedding are gone, both shot or killed in some dustup they got themselves in to. Actually, he says, almost all his old buddies from back then are dead and gone, and most in some sort of violent way, or drugs, leftover nightmares of Vietnam, as with one of his old cohorts who used to call him at all hours, reaching out to this old friend who had moved away and made something of himself all the way far away in the Great White North. 

In case your thinking my dad was a draft dodger, he wasn’t, he was an agricultural worker. I guess there were provisions in the draft for guys like my dad, they could do a stint in the National Guard and work, well in his case tobacco, for the other part of the year. It was as I mentioned, in the days after he was done his stint that he met MsB. 

Up here when they visit, all the woman has to do is say “hey” and ya know she ain’t from around these parts. Her deep southern accent drips molasses and sweet tea, and her bean casserole is to die for, and the first time dad brought her up he even had to explain to her she couldn’t bring the cute little handgun she carried everywhere with her, had to explain Canada’s gun laws and that you can’t bring weapons over the border. Eyes bugged out of my head when I heard that last bit, probably even spit out my beer when he said it. Hand gun? Her? 

Yip, she has a right to carry and carry she does. No, MsB ain’t no southern belle, she is no by your leave, walk all over me kind of woman. She knows her own mind and, in her soft southern style, she lets you know whatever that happens to be. She loves bright vibrant colours, and has an almost magical quality with animals, especially dogs, who lay down when she says, stay out of the kitchen when she says, yet she says it all so quietly, so subtly, that you can miss her strength if you bring your own pre-conceived notions with you when you hear her speak in her slow and considered fashion.

And she loves my father. Oh, she does, and it is right there in her eyes every time she looks at him. It is not a worshipful love, not a youthful love, nor an innocent and shy love. No, instead it is an “I know what a pain in the posterior, never want to go anywhere and do anything kinda guy you are, and I love you even so” sort of love. She sees right inside, the little boy with the broken heart man he is today and loves him for his deep passion, soft-spoken humbleness, and the Cheshire cat glint that sometimes sparkles in his eyes when he briefly reverts to the rabble-rouser she met all those years ago.   

But, ya, gotta be a but, and but she voted for Trump. She loves that he’s her president and thinks he’s doing his best and has some kind of fondness for him that, frankly, I am dumbfounded by. I mean, she is a very God-fearing, pray before every meal sort of Christian. She does not politely hide it, deny it, nor carry it around with her and wave it in your face, doesn’t shove it in your face. She just IS, and that’s that for her. She doesn’t prove her faith, renew her faith, sell her faith, or question it, it just IS her faith.  

She is the reason, or one of them, that I go out of my way to not talk about THAT man whenever they are up, and as much as I know my father would just LOVE, I mean, LOVE to get in to it with me, I always, always, always give it a pass, for her sake. I have a rather disgusted and exceptionally derogatory view of her beloved president, and as far as I value her right to her own opinion, I as well don’t feel the need to convince either of them of my ‘rightness’ and their ‘wrongness’, or think my own is of more value then theirs, if that makes any sense? 

Maybe there is a little bit of “you wait and see” about my hesitation to engage, as I know the worst for that man is yet to come out, like a dripping faucet now, I foresee a deluge, and quite frankly I’m confident that when it is all said and done that there will be little question as to when, what, where, how or who did what. 

MsB is not your stereotypical loyalist, she IS the average supporter though, the core who see the man as some kind of renewed vision for America’s future. I get that, I do. If I push away all the things I think I know, the things I myself feel, if I try to see it from her eyes, I start to see what exactly they see in him. He’s your crazy Uncle Bob down the way, who says all the crazy stuff, lies like a rug, but in the end get’r’done, and that’s all that really matters, to some, and certainly to Trump’s base.  All that other stuff is just flash and fake babbles, they don’t care, the swamp is the swamp is the swamp, and pft, what’s few more swamp creatures if the work still gets done? You know, eh, all those huffing and puffing to blow his house of cards down, well they’re all wrong, and he’s just making deals, and doing what is best, what is right for the country, and who cares what he does in his own time? Three wives, history of treating women like kleenex, paying off his tawdry affairs, is no business of theirs. Liberal media is all negative, negative, negative, they say, never tell you the good things he does. 

Sure, I’m at a loss myself as what those things are, as from my perspective I do not see it, but hey, I don’t want the same things. 

Her generation is one of distrust in government, a less regulatory, top-down, control every move, word and deed, of second amendment rights and abortion laws, and believe that national healthcare is just a bit to close to socialism, and socialism is big b BAD. It’s not for her about not taking care of your own, but not being TOLD how, and when, and why. 

But what I see ahead, and what she maybe sees ahead, I suspect are quite different. As I’ve poked around on the inside of who this man really is, she sees the man he presents to her on Fox News, with a smattering of CNN, which I think might just be a hail mary to our distaste up here of their one-sided point of view, but I don’t know that as fact, just suspect. 

I guess so I suppose she hears the same things I do about him, or some of them, the headlines, and sees it from her way, and I see it from mine. 

No, she is no southern belle, no fainting flower, nor just some gun-toting southern hick. I love her for that. I love her for her peace of mind, her faith, her cooking, her sweet southern ways, and her bright colours and love of my father. 

She is the very dichotomy of the average Trump supporter, the kind of person that hung under the radar for years, the flooded basement of discontent that everyone else missed. She is a lesson, too, in standing back and recognizing your own point of view can be just as clouded by prejudice, that even those hardened truths we carry can, sometimes, be maybe off base, or kilter, and or pointless in the grand scheme. 

So it is to her, and people like her, that should be the focus if we really want anything to change. She is the reality that this man was voted in as president by a fair number, and that they will not be ignored, most are not idiots, not ignorant, not just stupid pions, their discontent is real.

All the calling his lies out, the corruption, the paying off mistress’, the indictments, the plea deals, the spies, the crooks and conspiracies fostered by foreign powers to affect the U.S. elections, all of that falls on deaf ears, is of no consequence, with eyes that prefer their rose-coloured glasses to reality, don’t smell his stench as corruption, and apparently doesn’t hear the incompetent jackass that I hear. 

And, she does like her rabble-rousers, I mean, after all, she married my father. And so there is a part of me, a part that always comes back to take another look, who tries to see it another way, her way, and for that too I am very thankful, blessed even. For only those beliefs that can stand up to scrutiny, to challenge, only those can we truly value. Well, and she makes my Dad happy, and I give her the benefit of my doubt for that alone. 

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