It was, "Aunt Beulah and Uncle Jack," to me Daddy always said. I didn't quite understand why everyone else called them Beulah & Jack. All I knew is that for me I had to address them with certain titles. It was related to the ma'am and sir found in most respectful Southern upbringings. Titles given to adults showed that you respected the older, possibly wiser humans of your life. Respect to my fellow humans was important in my raising.
Thank you, Mama and Daddy.
But Beulah, Aunt Beulah in my outer conversations, was simply, wonderfully Beulah in my mind. I loved going to her house when I was about seven or eight years old. She was the first hoarder I ever knew. Way back when they didn't have a TV show to show you what a hoarder was, and I must admit Beulah was never that bad. More organized with it, I'd say. Nobody needed to come and fix her.
Beulah's house was a country child's Disney World. There were mountains of things there. Everything that had ever been made seemed to be stacked upon each other right there in her house. Mamaw and I would stop by to get Beulah's grocery list before we went to town. I think she enjoyed the company.
Mamaw would always be scolding me, Shea, get over here! Stop messing with that! Put that down!
Beulah would just laugh. She seemed to love the fact that I loved her stuff.
I'd stop whatever I was doing and walk over in obedience to my Mamaw, wait a few minutes until those women, who seemed to enjoy each other, got going again with their gossip and then I'd mosey back on into the Magic Kingdom that was Beulah's place. Beulah had created an adventure land of sorts in her home.
Jack, Beulah's husband, was like Beulah in that he always had a smile on his face. He never said much, always taking care of his own boyhood dream. Ya know, the dream of owning your own land with a pond on it and some trees. A little piece of heaven for Jack, and there was always something to do on it.
I think there is always work to be done on your heaven, whatever that is. The secret I think Jack knew is there is no reason not to smile while you are doing your work. I know, I know sometimes life is working on you and there is just no way you're gonna smile. I have at least four t-shirts from that amusement park, but the only way I've ever seen to get back to sailing on an ocean of blue is to start thinking about how beautiful the water is. Jack and Beulah were pretty poor, had worked hard for what they had and neither seemed to be in much shape to make it to the grocery store yet they appeared to be riding some killer wave.
These people, to me as a kid growing up in the South, were happy people. I saw it on their faces and heard it in their laughter. I guess by society's standards they wouldn't be. You never see a commercial with an actress, who looks like Beulah in her moo moo, in her recliner, in a very dimly lit house with stacks and stacks of things surrounding her and a big grin on her face, opening up a Bud Light, taking a huge gulp, looking into the camera and giving a big refreshing Aaaaaaaaaah with a wink.
Beer was never on her grocery list.
Not that I have anything against beer. Rock on, beer! Beulah, as far as I knew, never had a taste for or of it.
This weekend I got a glimpse of what Beulah and Jack had. I went to see my friends, Donnie and Ellen. They shared their bliss with me, a SEC football game, the serenity of living above a lake, looking off a porch in the early morning light, watching as water turns from glass to a slow rolling, glistening fluid. The thoughts of two people you know to respect because you feel love for them. Thank you, Donnie and Ellen, for sharing your space. It was beautiful. I am honored.
When people share their happiness it's as if they've let you in on a secret. It's easy to bitch. There are some sad ass stories out there. I intimately know a few myself. It just seems that all those people I know in those sad ass stories, they got happier again. Even happier the next time 'cause they knew what sad ass was.
Maybe Jack and Beulah lived through the Depression. Surely they didn't realize happiness there or maybe they did.
Monday, are you getting close? What, oh what, are you going to put on my table? A feast, I think.