Haint That Somethin’?

One day not so long ago, I attempted to take a selfie with my Mom and she said, “Oh no! Please don’t! I look like a haint!”

I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only one here who had to look that up.

Evidently, a haint is something people in the old South were particularly worried about. They’re described as “restless spirits of the dead who, for whatever reason, have not moved on from their physical world.” There is a color of paint called “Haint Blue” that was used to paint the ceilings of the porches back then in order to keep these spirits from taking or influencing the homeowners. The word haint is an alternative spelling of haunt, which was historically used in African-American vernacular to refer to a ghost or, in the Hoodoo belief, a witch-like creature seeking to chase victims to their death by exhaustion.

Mom was quite a bit older than her contemporaries when she had me. I thought having parents as old as mine was perfectly normal until the day a classmate asked, “Is that your Grandma?”

I’m taught something about the past every time I visit with them. More often than not, they recount to me how different a place the world was back then. They marvel at the simplicity of life before technology and get that faraway look in their eyes as if they’re back there once again remembering it all.

I bought my parents the Amazon Echo spot on Amazon Prime Day. I thought they’d get a kick out of being able to see me when we spoke on the phone. Dad, who is much more tech-savvy than Mom, couldn’t wait until I got home and set mine up. He was already FaceTiming me on my phone from his Spot while I was getting set up.

I set up their Spot in the kitchen because they spend a great deal of time there. However, because of the angle, I found that when we spoke, I would end up talking to a lot of shoulders and necks. One day I tried to explain where the little camera was and how they could see what was being transmitted to me.

I got this…

 

It was hard enough to help them make the switch from film to digital. Now Mom’s none too pleased that every phone has a built-in camera. She’s also baffled by the phenomenon of texting vs. calling.

I know I shouldn’t, but I sneak photos of her all the time, pretending to show her something on my phone. She even got a kick out of the Snapchat filters. The way I see it, I want to take as many photos of her and my Dad as possible because one day they won’t be with me any more. These digital memories will make me smile. They won’t be nearly enough, but they’re something.

And we’ve both learned something new today. I consider that a win.

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Doris Day & The Secret Perils of Children’s Books

Last night my parents took me to dinner for my birthday. We do this every year and they always ask if it can be early since I usually have a lot of activities planned with my friends on the actual day. This year we’re planning to do Goat Yoga.

After dinner, we went back to my parents’ house and they began regaling me with stories from my childhood. My parents are some of the greatest people on the planet. Dad is one of those “salt of the earth” guys who can build a house from the ground up… and has. He’s a retired fireman who goes to lunch every week with his friends who call themselves the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). He comes from a family of twelve in which he was the seventh and last son.

Mom is a retired government worker who spent a lot of time crunching numbers for the US Geological Survey, Department of Agriculture and various other government agencies. She’s one of those people who did exactly what she was told and never sought whatever lingered “outside the box.” She’ll fight you for a slice of cake or cream-filled doughnut and she’ll talk your ears off, sometimes repeating herself.

One day when Dad was picking Mom up from work, he took me to the mall beforehand. When we walked by K&K Toys, I saw a stuffed Saint Bernard complete with plastic brandy keg. I was a toddler, so he was GIGANTIC in relation to me, and is still the largest stuffed animal I’ve owned. I proceeded to wrap my arms around his neck and sit on the floor with him. When he saw that, Dad purchased him and on we went to pick up Mom with this “new pet” that dwarfed me. Mom didn’t quite know what to think.

Evidently, I had a habit of doing things like that. This is how my parents came to acquire Doris Day. Doris Day is a statue of a female Buddha. When my parents were out shopping for furniture to put in their new house, I wandered off and found this statue, wrapped my arms around it and exclaimed “DORIS DAY!” At the time, there was a TV show that starred Doris Day. In it she wore her hair on top of her head, much like the statue. Although the statue in no way actually resembled her, my parents thought that was so cute and funny that they purchased it. It is still in their formal dining room to this day.

Doris Day
Doris Day

Also in the formal dining room sits a doll that my Dad brought back from Korea. One of Mom’s co-workers had asked if he could bring back a doll for her child. Not truly comprehending that she wanted a toy baby doll, he came home with this…

The Scary Geisha Doll
The Scary Geisha Doll

For most of my childhood, this doll sat in my Mom’s sewing room. I didn’t think anything of it and hardly noticed it until…

As part of a program to encourage kids to read, we were given a catalog from which we could order books that we liked. Mom would give me the catalog and I would select a few books. For some reason, I chose a book that haunted me most of my formative years. It featured a Geisha who would grow long nails and kill people. The book was illustrated vibrantly and written for children (which is surprising given the whole death & killing thing). I have no idea what the name of the book was, but I clearly remember thinking after I’d read it that Mom’s doll was going to come to life, her fingernails would grow long and she’d kill us all. This “phase” in my life probably lasted a whole lot longer than it should.

Last night after seeing the doll again when I was checking out Doris Day, I told my parents. They were shocked. Mom thought she remembered the book, but had no idea the graphic content it contained. She also had no idea that I wasn’t fond of the doll and never wanted to be in the same room as it. Dad just chuckled.