I don’t know what triggered my memory of this story, but I am at my desk, bubbling with laughter.
When we first lived in Sigourney, my mother’s father moved into a one-bedroom Quonset hut home just down the alley a ways. Poor Mac was an absolutely brilliant man whose loss of eyesight had really messed with his world. He could no longer drive, he couldn’t read, he was pretty miserable.
Mac was a character. He wasn’t terribly comfortable with us kids, but he loved his daughter and some of his greatest fun came from stirring his son-in-law up. He could get Dad going and sit back and laugh for hours at the fun. When we lived in Morning Sun, Mac came back from a trip to Hawaii with slides. The only place to show them was on the large white shade that pulled down over our front window. All of a sudden, Dad gasped, jumped up, ran outside and then back in. Mac was showing the entire community his pictures of naked women on the beaches of Hawaii. He knew exactly what he’d done and took great pleasure in stirring up the preacher.
Mac smoked, drank heavily and … oh, by the way, loved women. A lot.
He was a terrible alcoholic – both of Mom’s parents were, as a matter of fact. The local liquor store in Sigourney was glad to deliver alcohol to him, until Mom figured out what was happening and threatened someone somewhere. I suppose that hearing from the Methodist preacher’s wife isn’t a great thing to have happen. They quit delivering.
When he lived in Iowa City, he met a … pimp. Let’s just call it what it was. Well, his eyesight got so bad that he could no longer live on his own and we moved him closer to us. Oh, what a riot that was. We kids (mostly Carol and Jamie) made extra money by cleaning his little house. It was horrible. Smelled so bad from the smoke … and he was a pig. He never washed a dish or picked anything up. The man either had a wife to do that or he had paid people to clean up after him.
Anyway, one day, Carol answered a knock at our back door. You know … the parsonage? Where the Methodist minister lived with his very young, very nice family? As Carol tells it, this absolutely beautiful woman was standing there, asking for Mac – apparently she was lost and didn’t know which house he lived in. She had a lot of makeup on, dressed in flashy clothes and surprised a very young girl. Carol called for Mom, who knew immediately what was going on and threatened this woman with arrest if she didn’t get back in her car and drive back to whatever hole she’d come out from under. Mom also made her understand that if this pimp (and would you believe that Mom knew his name? I’ve forgotten it now, but it seemed so strange to me that he was a normal guy with a normal name) sent any more women to Sigourney, she would make sure her friends in the police force dealt with him as well.
Margie Greenwood on a rampage was not something most outsiders saw. The woman was scared enough to run for her life. And poor Mac … well, he was lonely that day.
Mom was horrified that this had happened in the middle of the day in a small town in Iowa, to her of all people! She couldn’t tell anyone that her father was bringing hookers in from Iowa City. I suspect that there were plenty of people in town that didn’t even know her father lived there. And I also know that all Mom could imagine was this woman knocking on the door of one of our neighbor’s homes. How would she ever explain that?
To this day, I howl with laughter at the horror in her tone as she told Dad what had happened. Of course he thought it was pretty funny. Especially since he didn’t have to deal with it, it wasn’t his father … and the woman was gone.
Mac lived through five heart attacks. After his last one, Mom begged him to quit smoking. He finally said to her, “Margie, you’ve taken away my liquor and my women, will you please leave me one last vice?” She patted his hand in that hospital bed and told him that she wasn’t happy about it, but that made sense to her.
I love the stories that exist within our family. Some of them are awful and embarrassing and others are adorable and fun, but they are all part of the texture that makes up who we are and where we have come from. But in our family, there will always be a story around that day in Sigourney, when a hooker showed up at the back door of the preacher’s house.
Okay, then there was that time when Dad was in Des Moines at a meeting at the United Methodist Conference Headquarters. He got into the Volkswagen to come home and all of a sudden, a very attractive young woman, all made up and dressed in clothes too tight to do anything but stand or sit, opened the passenger door and sat down beside him. When he asked what she wanted, she asked what he wanted. Yeah. I think he was glad no one he knew was around to see that happen! (Oh, and he asked her to please get out and get on her way.)
As for the book’s progress, I’m getting there. So close! After writing, I will take it through one heavy edit, send it off to my Beta Readers / Editors and then bring it back in for two-three more runs at proofreading and editing. That’s a large part of the fun of these books for me and when I completely fall in love with the stories. While my Beta Readers have the book, though, I’ll be able to think about some of these short stories. Right now, it’s all I can do to process on Polly and her cadre of friends.