STONE AND CANVAS©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
#32 Let Me Out‘a Here©
Somehow I, with my gentle family, managed to subdue G.B. to an amazing degree — in their presence. I once told him, “I know you’re sweet and you do not mean the hateful things you say to people. But my family has never heard anyone burst loose and holler at friends and people they love, the way you do. If they actually saw you explode in front of them or at them, they’d go home, be sad and worry about me for the rest of their lives. That would steal laughter from me and without laughter . . . .” The thought of my family hurt and sad gave me courage, and I added, “I would hate you.”
As a result, in the presence of my family, G.B. quietly left the room when stirred to impatience or rage. He was a sweet, gentle father, grandfather to my family and with my mother he was sincerely admiring of her business acumen so devoted and restrained with her. He opened wide his heart, his house, and the Pepsi closet.
The relationship with Nana my youngest child was however more convoluted. Being the youngest she was free to visit and spend much more time with us than any other of our six children. On her frequent visits to our home, she traveled with us, worked with us, loved Arizona and all the earthly things we loved. She was intrigued by the interesting characters she met with us and G.B. loved and admired her but young as she was, he was impressed and somewhat intimated by her common sense and efficiency.
When Nana arrived to “protect” me from G.B.’s unusually eccentric, post-inferno, infernal attitude, he watched her care for Morgan, scrub the burns, drive me through snow to the hospital, cook tempting meals for me, sense my mood, thoughts and need of the moment, and he was content, knowing that she gave me her strength and courage and filled me with her love and enthusiasm. Besides maybe she could help with the payroll and . . . .
Nana helped me to see the funny side of G.B.’s mood. She shared talk and laughter with Lorraine, Shirley and me — yet eased G.B.’s thoughts and stresses.
Gary and Nana were committed to a critical business appointment in Canada one month after the explosion. I began to see that deadline approaching and felt panic at any mention of her leaving. Weak as I was, the thought of her going was beginning to dissolve whatever strength had returned. I did not know what to do. I want to go home! But I can’t go with Nana flying —no way will I put my poor sweet feet into an airplane and then go down in flames.
I wanted to be loved and feel the doting compassion of my mother and children. Instead — I could not walk and I was going to be left alone again with G.B. — and at that point I was not even sure that I ever wanted to look at him ever again.
I was crying when Nana walked into the room, “What’s the matter — bandages too tight?
“Nooooo. I want to go home.” I wailed.
“You are. I’m not going to leave you here! I just haven’t figured out how to do it. First I have to talk to your doctor, to see if he can trust me to care for you en route.”
“I don’t want to go on an airplane.”
“Neither do I! After that flight I never want to fly again — unless it’s a life and death emergency.”
“If we sneak off in the car he’ll send the yard men or the Sheriff to bring us back.”
“Don’t worry I won’t leave you no matter what.”
At that moment the door slid open and G.B. — oblivious to our conspiracy asked, “What’re y’all cryin’ fer Sweetheart? Y’all sad to thank of Nana a-goin?” At that I burst into sobs.
To Nana’s and my astonishment G.B. said — knowing I would not fly. “Why don’t y’all an’ Morgan, take her home on the plane with y fer Christmas. Mom an’ Wendy an’ Lee an’ Gary would love to see ‘er.”
My first thought, terrifying as it was. Was to ask him to come along so we could drive in the car. But Nana being quicker and smarter than me replied. “Oh G.B. that would be wonderful! They’d love to see her and have her for Christmas, except she is afraid to fly — so we’ll take the car.”
In one sentence she had cut us loose. When his gesture backfired he was doubly startled to realize he was about to loose his car as well as his wife. Nana added a sweet and sincere “Thank you G.B.” Before he could change his mind, it was settled.
I had another sample of her developing organizational skills as she arranged a release with the doctor, and medication, daily destinations, driving times, motel handicapped room reservations. She even had motel managers set to boil water thirty minutes before her estimated time of arrival.
Finally she told me to pack. An hour later she found me crying in Rozinante at the clothes closet, “I don’t know what to taaaaake.” I did not have the strength to decide what I needed to pack —how would I have ever coped alone with G.B.?