The Parents are Here

As we were sitting down to dinner at the “Florida Seafood” restaurant on Nolensville Road (their unofficial motto must be “Let’s see how much we can get these folks to eat!” because they brought out so much food I thought for a minute we’d misordered, like the place was like that Italian place “Boppo de beppo” or “Bello de poppi” [help!], where you order a couple of items and everyone shares. But no, they just want everyone in Nashville to have an abundance of food in front of them. So, if you like seafood not too fancy but tasty, I’d recommend it.) I realized that my mom can’t read the menu. She’s holding it right up to her face in order to see the words.

Gentle reader, as you may recall, my dad is recovering from major surgery on his right ankle. He can put NO pressure on it, so he can’t drive.

I think you see why I’m VERY alarmed and yet very grateful that they are down here in one piece. Seriously, if you see a stout man pushing himself around on a scooter (he’ll be the one shouting “Weee” as he zips by you), watch what van he gets into and drive your car in the opposite direction. Mom claims she can see distances just fine. I will be testing her on it today, rest assured.

But anyway, I wanted to brag on what they brought me. First, they brought the Butcher down a drill and some saws. Now, he can build his own frames. That will be cool. And they brought us some light house figurines–hell if I know why–and so I volunteered to take the one that looks like the light house Elias and I once saw and the Butcher took the one from Boston.

But then, they started unpacking the cool shit. They brought down three paintings that my great grandmother Teckla painted (I’m named after her. Don’t laugh, motherfuckers, Beckla is a fine name. No, just kidding. Teckla my middle name. What kind of woman was Teckla? She once beat up Amelia Earhart in grammar school and, though she was born Theckla Annie Albertina, when my mother was born Mom Anne, Theckla changed her name to Theckla Anne, and by the time I was born, had ditched the “h” because folks in America didn’t get that it was just supposed to indicate a heavy “T” sound and not the “th” sound we know.) and there’s this awesome one of the trumpet vine out back behind their cottage at the Indiana Dunes and some railroad ties that my mom then told us about jumping off of all the time when she was a girl.

But the coolest things they brought me were three books. 1. An illustrated Bible that belonged to Teckla’s husband when he was a boy, given to him, I think, by his aunt. 2. An old family Bible from the 1830s with a big section in the middle filled out with birth and death dates of the Payne family, who, I’m pretty sure, were in-laws of Teckla’s husband’s. 3. An elegant old illustrated edition of Tennyson’s poems.

This volume broke my heart. I don’t know much about Teckla’s husband’s side of the family. I know he had an aunt who lost her fiance in the War at Chickamauga and that said fiance was fighting along side her brothers. But this book is beautiful–leatherbound, every page is two color, there’s an awesome frontispiece of Tennyson. You look at this book and you feel like you know something about the people that owned it, that they loved literature, that they loved beautiful books, and that they felt it was important to have a good library.

It made me feel very close to them. Now, if the Super Genius ever comes back from Las Vegas, I will have to ask her to use her library learning to give me some advice on how best to preserve these things, as they’re already not in the best of shape.

Oh, and dear reader, speaking of ways in which I felt very connected to my larger family, even though I have to go through the house and hide the alcohol from these old school Methodists who birthed me, my parents brought down with them a wrapper that went around an old liquor bottle from Fisser Likore (seit 1845), which is the distillery my great great grandma’s (Hulda Annie Albertina) husband’s family owned in Germany. I tried to look it up on the web, but I don’t speak German or Belgian and the only Fisser distillery I could find in Europe was this one.

I suppose national boundaries could have shifted or the company could have moved or gone out of business and another taken its place. I don’t know, but I’m still happy to have some distillers in the family tree.

Maybe I’ll order some whiskey from them and sit around and drink it while I read Tennyson out loud to the neighbors.