Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Those of you who follow my scribblings will remember that a few weeks ago my post was uncharacteristically reflective, as I outlined some changes I have had to make in my daily life during this past year. [Life Changing] I say uncharacteristically, because I usually view Life in one of two ways, either as a glass half full or a new chapter just waiting to be written.
Sometimes, though, Life shortens our vision and demands a closer inspection, even a complete reevaluation. I imagine that many of the survivors of hurricane Sandy along the New York and New Jersey shoreline are going through just such a time right now, since much of what they once knew has, quite simply, disappeared from the face of this Earth.
Most of us recognize that without change there can be no life, but change can be disruptive, challenging and even heartrending. Even without Sandy’s unwelcome visit, these past few weeks have demonstrated all three of these truths most forcefully to our family. [Size Matters]
Due to health concerns, my uncle, more like a big brother to me, has been forced in a matter of weeks to sell the house in which he was born, to leave hundreds of friends he has made throughout an outgoing and generous lifetime, and to sort through and giveaway many of his carefully collected and certainly cherished belongings. Thankfully, he arrived here in Maryland somewhat intact weekend before last, and my sisters and I are already seeing signs of improvement in his overall condition.
Meanwhile, what was left of my uncle’s household has been packed by a marvelous veteran packer with twenty-one years of experience who not only recognized early Fiestaware, but felt privileged to be able to view some colors he had not previously seen. The owner/operator who is driving the remaining belongings eastward for a top-ranked national moving firm has an MBA and has assured us that not a single box will be lost in transit.
Still, I am on pins and needles, because I’m the one who requisitioned the move, and if so much as an everyday mug is broken, I will feel personally responsible. My uncle has lost so much already that one more loss seems to me to be unthinkable.
Besides, his move recalls my moves, not all of which went quite as we had planned. I say “we” because my husband would have had to accept some of the blame, if he were still with us. After all, it was his career in retail management that required us to move 19 times in 21 years!
Legendary among our moves was the one in 1977, in the course of which our young family moved from Gulfport, Mississippi back to Atlanta, Georgia. Hurricane Babe hit New Orleans on Labor Day evening that year, and our belongings were loaded into the truck for their journey eastward the following day. If that wasn’t enough, I learned with chagrin that our driver/loading supervisor was going to be Charlie L – part time stockman at my husband’s x-store and resident of XX county to the northwest of Gulfport.
Now this was before the gambling casinos put this part of the world on the map, and XX county had a phone book with fourteen pages in it that basically listed the members of three VERY extended families, who had taken the common phrase “Everyone in the South is cousin to everyone else.” to a whole new level. To say that folks in this part of the world had intermarried would have been one of the World’s Greatest Understatements.
Charlie was typical of most of his kinfolk. Short on brains, he carried a long rifle. Both my husband and I questioned whether or not this delegate of the moving firm, who was tasked with taking our inventory, was even marginally literate. Still, this paragon of good cheer greeted my husband with a firm handshake, tipped his baseball cap in my direction, and tossed our five-year-old ten feet in the air and caught him again before we could stop him.
Aghast, I hurried our child to a neighbor who had volunteered to watch him until we were ready to go, as my husband tried his best to keep his eye on our belongings. Mid-afternoon, the door to the truck was slammed shut, I retrieved our son, and we headed towards the still under construction I-65.
Star Wars having been released in theaters only a short time before, Son #1 left for first grade the next day from the Holiday Inn on Delk Road in Atlanta, outfitted in a commemorative T-shirt on which Luke Skywalker brandished a light saber. Six months pregnant, I gave my firstborn a big hug before sending him on his way, as he told me not to worry – The Force would be with him.
That afternoon, my husband and I met our son in front of the school, found the right bus and put him on it. I then got back in our car, as my better half explained to the driver that our son had never seen his own home. Therefore, we would follow the bus through its route until it reached the appropriate drop-off point for our child. At this point we would flash our lights, so the driver could tell Son #2 to get off. Our plan worked well, Son #1 liked his new room, and I began to feel a bit better about the drop-off of our household goods the next day.
Charlie arrived bright and early. Again, he shook my husband’s hand firmly, but this time he sent me a grin, stating that I was looking “mighty lovely” that morning. He then proceeded to marshall his troops as he opened the truck’s door. I was busy lining shelves in the kitchen, but I could hear my husband in the back of our new home, directing the placement of our bedroom furniture. Thinking I might be needed, I headed around the corner, only to be greeted by someone else’s couch and chair tastefully arranged in our new living room.
Now granted, they were much nicer than the ones Charlie had loaded at our place, but still…
As I dissolved into hormonal driven tears, my husband sorted everything out, or so we thought. Once we had been unloaded, we decided it would be best if we spent one more night at the Holiday Inn, where we could get both a good meal and a good night’s rest before having to go to the grocery store and then begin our unpacking.
At 2:00 a.m., the phone in our room rang. It was Charlie, calling from a motel on the other side of town that was known for its dubious nighttime activities. Charlie had apparently imbibed in one too many libations, because he wasn’t making much sense, but the long and the short of it was that he had found two more tiny boxes in the truck that he thought might be ours. Oh, and could my husband come and get them? Charlie wasn’t sure he should drive.
Always a sport, my better half pulled on a pair of jeans and headed out the door. When I opened the boxes later that morning, I discovered that the two “tiny” boxes contained our couch cushions and the seat cushions from two wing-backed chairs. Thankfully, Charlie was well on his way homeward. Otherwise, I would’ve had to have found him, if for no other reason than to give him a piece of my mind.
So, you might ask, what does this pleasant story with its somewhat happy ending have to do with my uncle? Well, I’ll tell you.
Years later, having moved many times since, I still have fond memories of Gulfport, Atlanta and all the other places to which my husband’s career led us. Along the way, I met lifelong friends, enjoyed different types of food and had wonderful experiences. And while it has been very difficult for my uncle to be wrenched from all that he has known, in the place where he has spent a lifetime, my wish is that he, too, will make some new friends, enjoy new types of food and have some wonderful experiences, surrounded as he now is by his loving extended family.
May this new chapter be the best one he has written yet!
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