Thankful for What You Have to be Thankful For

We were supposed to go to Middendorf SC today to celebrate the holiday with Carole’s maternal side of the family. The first time I met Carole, she told me that her people sprung from the dirt at Middendorf. Turn off SC 1 at the remnants of an old store to reach the farmland that the Catoe’s have occupied and worked since well before the Civil War. Most of the living Catoes of Jean’s, Carole’s mom, generation were born within 200 yards of the little brick church at the front of the acreage. The cemetery between the railroad tracks and the church is populated by Catoe’s from several past generations. There was a time when Carole’s father said he wouldn’t be put to rest in that cemetary with all them Catoes, but I think he’s mellowed and relented that position the last few years.

A gray, windy November day like today set the stage for my first trip to Middendorf. Carole and I had been dating just over a year. She was anxious in all senses of the word to show me off to the extended family. We spent most of the time, except eating, outside, in the side yard of Aunt Delores’ and Uncle Stanley’s (past on) house, directly adjacent to the cemetery. Many of the old men related by marriage, not blood, to the Catoes, loitered out there with us, away from the heat and activity inside the house. Including Duecey, Carole’s dad. My father died on a cold, cloudy November day like that first trip to Middendorf. I guess that why my memory of that visit is dominated by the thoughts of Duecey silently crying as he and Jean walked thru the graves in the cemetery.

DeShawn is sick. That’s why we didn’t go today. For the second time in as many weeks, I had to pick him from school early and take him to the doctor. As of right now, we don’t even have 24 hours of antibiotic in him, so he’s still feeling clammy feverish. Carole’s making Thanksgiving for us here. We’re still functionally stove-less, she’s using the grill I refurb’ed for our Hillarity get-together. Stuffed chicken breast, raw broccoli and carrots, rice and dressing will be followed up with “worms and dirt”, gummy worms in crushed oreos. We’re to use the white-washed table I rescued and some antique high back chairs Carole bought for dining room furnishings in, what DeShawn calls, the “green room”.

Our little Thanksgiving, 2003

Speaking of, the soiree we held in conjuction with Chester’s Hillarity Festival was quite satisfactory. With minimal preparation, Carole, DeShawn, and I entertained a dozen or so invitees. Mostly from our pool of friends and family in Columbia, and my son, Ben, from Charlotte, everybody got a chance or two to visit the festival going on a couple of blocks from the house. The weather was prefect autumn with clear sunny skies, about 68 degrees mid afternoon. We setup a table by putting together a 100 year old door from Carole’s house and a couple of metal saw horses next to the refurb’d grill. I spent every bit of the daylight outside except for the nickel tours of 118 Henry Street. Since most of our contact with friends and family occurs in Charlotte and Columbia, DeShawn was particularly impressed that folks were coming to visit us in Chester.

Ben and Liz, my twins, visiting during the Hillarity Festival

This past weekend, contact with friends and family was in Columbia. Last week was DeShawn’s 4th birthday, so we went to Chuckee Cheese with him on Saturday. Of course, he had a big time, though, my suspicion is that his current illness may have originated there. The little party in Columbia closed a week of small celebrations for him. Prior Saturday, his mommy gave him some presents. Tuesday, his class at school celebrated. Tuesday evening, we had supper with his Uncle Ben, who gave him several presents. Wednesday, his actual birthday, he and I went to the movies.

While in Columbia, I spent some time with Duecey and Jean. Because of helping Carole with her plays, I’d been neglectful in regard to visiting them. We had some high quality time just sitting in their living room, talking. Duecey gave me some old window sashes he’d collected. These windows have become the latest side project at 118 Henry street. I’m going to do some basic repairs and replace the panes with mirror glass. With the sashes turned upside down, the sash lifts will act like coat hooks. Hopefully, the rebirthed windows will find appropriate homes in an entry hall or mudroom somewhere.