|As I Was Saying
By Opal Toney
As most of you know, when a group of folks get together and begin
“reliving the past” many tales are repeated.
And it’s the same way when I write ‘em. So, I’m tellin’ you, if you start
readin’ somethin’ I’ve jotted down and you say to yourself, “I’ve already
heard this,” I’ll give you a bit of advice – toss it aside and write your
But, first I want to know if any of you recall that long ago the New York
Times printed the same Christmas story for many years. It was called, “Yes,
Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” I figured if the Times could do it – so
can I, so here I go...
The twenty-third is Daughter #4’s birthday. So, what else could I be thinkin’
of but the day she was born.
She came into this world with her mind made up that it was time to make her
appearance, whether anybody else thought so or not.
I was in full agreement, but I had a little problem. First let me set the
stage for the forth-comin’ story. I’ve relived it and tell it every chance I
She is Daughter #4, but the fifth child. A son had been born somewhere in
the line of girls, and he told me, “Mama, don’t bring another girl home from
Just a short time before it was time for me to go to the hospital, a great
tragedy occurred. Our beloved Dr. Jennings died of a heart attack.
The whole town and entire area was heart broken. I felt I couldn’t have my
baby without his presence. Then I received a call from Dr. Hall, a good
friend of Dr. Jennings, and co-owner of the Kaufman Hospital at that time.
He told me to come for a visit with him at his office, and I went.
As he held my hand, he said he knew he couldn’t take the place of Dr.
Jennings in my heart. But he promised he would be there to take care of me
and my newborn when we needed him.
The day came. It was quite early in the morning when my husband and I
arrived. I was made comfortable in my room.
The day wore on, as it sometimes happens in such situations. Progress was
being made, but kinda slow.
So the “head of our house,” or so he thought, decided to go back home to
check on the other kids and Mama, who was with them.
A little later, along came Dr. Hall. He checked me over and said, “I’m going
to run home and eat supper. I’ll be back soon.”
He lived real close to the hospital so I said okay and decided to take a
little nap – or at least relax and be patient.
But quicker than it takes to tell, #4 let me know she had other plans.
But I could not convince the two nurses-aides, who had been left to “take
care of me” that I knew what I was talkin’ about!
The first one came at my bell-ringin’ and said, “Oh, honey, just lay still
and rest. You’re not even in labor yet.” And left the room.
I guess she told the other one to answer the constant ringin’ ‘cause she
appeared at the door.
Her response was, “I can’t bother the good doctor, he’s home eatin’ supper.”
As she turned to leave, I rather loudly yelled, “If you won’t call the
doctor, call my husband at home!”
She said, “Oh, okay, what’s the number?” Soon the phone by my bed rang. I
picked it up and Mama answered. I don’t remember what all I said but in a
very short time my husband walked in the door, fastest trip he’d ever made,
He walked over, took my hand and said, “Honey, just calm down.”
I yelled, “Don’t honey me – get help!”
He did, and I won’t go into details here, but there was lots of action that
Somebody pushed the gurney-thing into the room. He told ‘em, “Get that
tea-cart out of here. It’s too late to move her now!”
Somebody else came along and pushed it back in. He picked it up (I think)
and threw it back into the hall!
‘Bout this time the doctor came rushin’ in the door. Looked the situation
over, reached down and picked up #4, who was laying at my feet, and took
care of us as he had promised.
One thing that has stuck in my mind all these many years is hearin’ him tell
my two “care-givers” that when somebody who has had as many babies as Mis’
Opal, you’d better listen to her. He didn’t use his usual kind, soft voice
either. I took great satisfaction in that. Still do.
There’s a lot more to the story. But I’m plumb worn out tellin’ it – one
As I was saying, what else could I be thinkin’ of but her birthday.
View From Here
By Katherine Veno
While feeding the mud hens lately I noticed they are still super sensitive
and flighty. I can never get them to come for bread or corn like big ducks.
They circle away and take off as soon as they see me. Then they sneak back
and get whatever the other birds have left.
But yesterday, I saw the beginnings of a mud hen leader. The tiny duck did
not swim away when I appeared with my bread bag. She did not fly away as
others did when the bread wrapper made a sound of rustling. She eyed me
warily but just swam some 30 feet off the shore. Everybody else took off for
the reeds. There she was paddling with her little feet and weaving and
bobbing all the time, watching me cast bread upon the water. Little fish
sprang up from everywhere and began to crumble the edges of the bread.
I sat down on a bench and waited. The bread floated her way as she came
slowly towards the free meal. With great hesitation, she pecked at the bread
and when it went under water she flew upward in a flap frenzy, and came to
settle back on the surface about a foot away.
She must have liked the small piece she ate, but she was still unsure as she
came closer. This is how leaders are born in animal and human species. We
are all afraid of the unknown to some degree, but some are more frightened
than others, and always run away no matter what. Leaders have something the
rest of us do not have in the general makeup, and it is called courage, with
a generous swipe of curiosity.
Leaders do not follow the crowd, and they are not afraid to think for
themselves and be a bit different. When I used to teach horseback riding, I
told my students it was more than okay to be set apart from the crowd and be
different. I would encourage them to not follow the crowd off the cliff.
All of a sudden, somebody in the feathered group noticed she was eating
something. Two of the other small ducks began to swim toward the leader.
Then three or four more ventured out of the rushes and swam in her general
direction. Bread began to go at an alarming rate, and our leader squawked
but shared her bounty.
Every time a piece of bread broke off, another hen took it into her beak,
and soon there were about 50 of them splashing about in the sparkling water
on a sunny day.
I felt good to be out in the sun after so much snow and such cold
temperatures. It must have felt good to the ducks as well, because everybody
was cashing in on their tiny leader’s discovery.
Because of her bravery and courage, everybody got something easy to catch,
tasty, and found out the woman with the noisy plastic bag, and the funny
brown flat things thrown out on their water, was nobody to fear, and their
was wheat berry bread for everybody.
I learned, or re-learned, from my little friend that it is more than okay to
be different, and sometimes swimming against all odds can actually bring you
to a wonderful new place and a tasty discovery. The world needs leaders.
|Escapades of Emily
By Emily Gail Lundy
Does anyone choose to be overweight? Enjoy carrying around extra weight?
Some think overweight people store food and can rely on this stash in times
Well, science has proven the overweight, without being fed, would die faster
than the slender, because hefties have bodies that rely on food and its
intake. Maybe it’s an addiction, such as I have for crescent rolls in a can.
You’d be amazed at the versatility of these babies. You can fool people who
eat from your table with this magic dough in a cobbler or casserole.
Good cooks are not always the fat ones. I am not much of a cook, although I
have some specialties. In my kitchen is food I didn’t buy 15 years ago; I
must keep my cholesterol low and my spouse is a diabetic. I can eat any food
without salt, and who needs pepper? I suppose I’m no true Texan because I
can eat all day (and usually do) without ketchup.
The horror of my younger married days has come true. I outweigh my husband.
Well, in some twisted sense of fairness, he is recovering from surgery and
doing less in activities. So, he has lost 20 pounds and says it will stay
off, which means he’ll also have to buy new clothes!
Then this image would pop into my mind, a harbinger of fat, that in later
life, I would be the big woman beside the skinny, shrinking man. We might be
the same in height, but “little woman” of the house would bring laughter.
With our children, we moved back from West Texas to East Texas, and the
battle of the bulges began. It was fast living, taking children to all their
sports, lessons, birthday parties, and seldom having time to plan meals. I
ate a cinnamon roll on the way to work. My husband went to a DQ and had
something. We each put on 60 pounds that we told ourselves, if we found
time, we could take off at will.
Not so. I sweated away 30 pounds twice as I aged, but always found room to
take it back. Exercise made me hungry, as experts are now admitting, but I
didn’t have to drink a soda and eat Hostess Snowball Cakes, especially pink.
Then I began getting shorter, shrinking – so did my husband. Had I eaten as
he, I would be bigger. He likes late suppers and midnight snacks. Now he’s
lost weight. How do I feel? Betrayed.
The daughter in Kaufman County called, “Mom, aren’t women your age suppose
to start dropping weight from nature? And when did you grow at the top?” I
blame it on hormones and my cache of medicine. Then I said Mother Nature
doesn’t like all people. I added I was trying to avoid more wrinkles. She
said, too far away for me to reach, “Little late for the wrinkle part, isn’t
it?” She will pay, but I probably won’t be around to see it.
Two of the children seem to be taking after me. They are on high blood
pressure medicine and complaining always about some part of the body getting
bigger or changing. The older son said one day, “Well, Mom, you can’t deny
me. I’m getting just like you (except for his red facial hair).” If he knew
what his name would be had he been a daughter, he’d be thankful for his
likeness to me as his only curse.
A speaker recently asked the audience if anyone knew the first question a
woman asks herself upon waking? Of course, no one knew. She said women think
of what they can wear with black slacks that day.
Yes, I have a supply for good reasons. Black makes for neatness, smallness
and does not spot easily. I would wear jeans if I weren’t waistless. I do
wear the elasticized waist kind sometimes, but work hard to keep this
between me and my body.
And I’ve noticed something peculiar about my black slacks lately. The legs
don’t fit right. They have extra room. Either the pants are too old to be in
style, or weight is shifting from the legs to elsewhere, or I’m actually
losing weight in the legs only, another horror I had when younger. The only
positive element of being on the fluffy side is having it evenly
Perhaps you wonder why I don’t find a good scale and weigh, one where no one
can see the outcome. I quit weighing years ago. If I remove my shoes,
jewelry, jacket and do weigh again, it will have to be on a day I’m having a
root canal or repaying for bifocals, because I dropped one lens from the
perfectly good pair in the john and now cannot find the lens-missing frames.
I lie. Doctors I see occasionally do have their attendants make me weigh. I
just close my eyes for the reading and wait for the doctor’s remarks, if