Archive for Family

The Tow-Head Gang

tow-head gang

A rare photo of the little known Tow-Head Gang in the early years. The gang was last seen looking out the back window of a red and white ’57 Ford Fairlane, as it sped west on a rural Texas Panhandle road. Rumor has it they settled in Buckeye, Arizona where they lived a quiet–though somewhat tumultuous–life before dispersing sometime in the late ’60s. You can read more about them in the book, “Just A Boy”, written by the surly, yet loveable, leader of the group, Charles. He’s the bad-looking hombre on the right.

CharlesLMashburn.com

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No Place Was Home

I discovered too late—it seems only moments ago—that there is a troubling downside to the wandering life I’ve led, where no place was truly home. A life that—in the end—leaves one feeling very much alone and truly homeless. For a tree cannot grow strong branches—branches being the friendships we develop in our lives—when it is constantly removing and leaving them behind. A tree, in fact, cannot be strong when it is constantly uprooted and asked to grow and flourish in a new place. Limbs die, and though they are replaced with new growth, the new ones seem never to be strong, easily broken, and in truth, receive not enough nurturing or care to ever survive. Which is of no consequence when the tree is surely to be moved again. Even the roots—the things that are family—grow weak from the constant transplanting. And so… the oft-moved tree is destined to be alone, supported and kept alive by the tap-root, which is self, and is enough to nourish existence, but in the end merely allows survival, not fruitful life.

neighbor's tree (2) quote

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I Can’t Stop the Bleeding

At that moment I was twelve going on twenty. I’d jumped so far forward in life my head was spinning but, in a strange way, it was all starting to make sense. But it was making sense in a way that made no sense at all. As I looked across the table at my mom, her tears dripping onto the Formica-topped kitchen table, I wondered about love, I wondered about God, I wondered what life was all about. And as all these things raced around in my mind, they began to form the new me—the soon-to-be-a-man me. I suddenly realized, and I admit a tinge of fear accompanied the thought, that I had to—somehow—protect my mom, my brothers, and my sister. From my dad.

~~~~~

The above is an excerpt from a book I began writing last November. I abruptly stopped writing the book, due to a very unexpected circumstance. Most of you are aware of what happened but if not, you can read my post, The World Stopped Turning, for the details. But there’s more to it than that. I simply didn’t, and still don’t, know if I can write the rest of this story.

But, a few days ago, I began reading a book, not by but about, Ernest Hemingway. As I read it, I was inspired, not by his talent, or his person, but by his pain. He was a tormented man, and he was not afraid to display his frailty to the world. He said this about writing:clouds and mountains HemingwayI’m certainly no Hemingway, but I bleed, and I cannot stop the bleeding. I’ll let you know when the book is finished.

Just A Boy

 

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The New Normal

My friend, Diana Preston, recently used the phrase “new normal” regarding life after her battle with cancer and life after my wife, Sherry’s, recent medical emergency. I didn’t like it. Another friend used it a few days later, then Diana said it again in a comment to one of my posts about Sherry’s road to recovery. The post is entitled, “The Same Thing… Only Different.” HA! Imagine my surprise when it hit me that “the new normal” was indeed, the same thing only different. The following is Diana’s comment, and my response:

Diana said

February 2, 2019 @ 8:33 am · Edit

I have a new normal after cancer. I think it’s true you can’t totally go back … as a person is changed after such an event…. As life is even more priceless… I have become more thankful…

charlesmashburn said

February 2, 2019 @ 8:47 am · Edit

I agree, Diana. Things like cancer and traumatic events change us–sometimes in an instant–and our lives will sometimes be altered forever. But I also believe the new normal can be an even better normal than the previous one. An example being your words, “I have become more thankful.” Sometimes the calamities of life bring us to a fuller appreciation of it, and we’re able to focus on our blessings. I’ve also learned that when we are on the outside watching our loved ones go through these things, we too are changed. We learn to appreciate the blessings of the friends and family we’ve been given to share our lives with, and we see them as the precious and valuable gifts they are.

~~~~~~~~

Yes, life throws us fastballs, curves and change-ups. The key is to know nothing can be thrown at us that we cannot handle. We might have to take a pitch or two, and we might sometimes swing and miss, but we must never give up.  We should dig in and get ready to knock the next pitch out of the park. And, hey, if your new normal is a single… nothing wrong with that. You’re on base and in the game. Maybe one of your friends/teammates/loved ones will knock it out of the park and you’ll both score.

wherever you are

 

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Thank You, God, For Her

In the spring of 1995, I was just winding down from a period in my life when I had severely tested the boundaries between right and wrong. I look back on those days and wonder how I survived, much less became the somewhat decent man I am. I credit God for both, but he has a co-star in the latter; He sent a beautiful lady—an angel, I believe—to show me what love is all about.

I wrote the following, rather clumsy, amateurish poem a few days before the first anniversary of the day I met Sherry, and today, almost 24 years after that first meeting, the words I wrote are truer than ever. Except that is, I can truly say I no longer worry about her, because I know God will always bring her home safely to me; and I no longer have to hope it’s her, because now, I know it’s her.

Sherry will be home soon, and at the end of what’s been more than three of the most trying weeks of our lives, I know when she walks through that door I’ll say, “Thank you, God, for her.”  

God, I Hope That’s Her

 I remember when we met

It seems like only yesterday

You walked into my life

I knew I wanted you to stay

 

And it still makes me smile

Every time I picture you

As you walked up to me

In that pretty dress of blue

 

I spent my whole life searching

And wondering where you were

And the first time that I saw you

I whispered, “God, I hope that’s her

 

grin-big-earsOur love grew so fast

We couldn’t stand to be apart

We were meant to be together

We knew it from the start

 

I wanted to be with you

Every minute of every day

Every time you left me

I wanted you to stay

 

I thought about you all the time

And I wondered where you were

Every time the phone would ring

I whispered, “God, I hope that’s her

 

I promise that I’ll love you

For the rest of my life

I want you with me always

I’m so happy you’re my wife

 

Now, when you’re not at home

And it starts getting late

I sometimes start to worry

I walk the floor and wait

 

I tell myself, when you get home

I’ll ask you where you were

And every time I hear a car

I whisper, “God, I hope that’s her

 

Copyright © 1996 C. Mashburn

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Me & Tater Salad

My first wife, Evelyn, brought it up in a Facebook comment yesterday, so I thought I might as well share it with y’all along with another related story.

It was Thanksgiving—I’m going to guess 1970—and we were living with my maternal grandparents, Ma and Pa, in Moab, Utah. Ma had invited her friend, Edith to Thanksgiving dinner, and Edith brought potato salad. Well, I didn’t care for potato salad, and thought nothing of not putting any on my plate. Edith, however, noticed it right away, and thinking she’d help me out, handed the bowl to me and said, “Charlie, you didn’t get any of my potato salad.”

I said, “Thanks, I don’t want any.”

“Oh,” she said, obviously hurt that I didn’t want any of her potato salad.

A few minutes later, she said, “Charlie. Are you sure you don’t want any of my potato salad?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “I don’t care for potato salad. But, thank you.”

I think this is where it became a challenge for her. “I think you’d like my potato salad. It’s very good”

She got a raised eyebrow from me with that comment. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw Pa grin at me, then quickly look back at his plate.

edith bunkerI looked across the table at Edith. The hurt expression was gone, and a glare had taken its place. This was not going to end well.

She put one hand on the bowl of potato salad and said, “You should at least taste my potato salad. It’s really good, and I just know you’ll like it.”

I put on my best smile, and said, “Lady! I don’t want any GUFFING potato salad! (I did not say guffing.)

Pa busted out laughing. Ma gasped, put her hand over her heart, then shot Pa a glare that could curdle gravy. Poor Edith was in shock. Evelyn, attempting to save the day, said, “I’ll have some! It’s good!” Me, I went back to eating my turkey and dressing.

I was wrong. It ended just fine. Not another word was said about that stupid potato salad. By the way, in later years, I developed a taste for potato salad. I love the stuff!

~~~~

Several years later, I was single, and visiting Pa, who had retired and moved back to Fritch, Texas. It was the early eighties, Ma had passed in the late seventies, and Bunk (Pa’s nickname) was baching it too. Evelyn had gotten tired of following me all over the country (I was –still am, I guess—a gypsy of sorts.) And so, we went our separate ways. Well, I went, she stayed put.

Any way Bunk and I went down to what was, I believe, the only bar in Fritch, where we played some pool and drank a few beers. It was late, maybe about eleven o’clock, when this drunk guy came busting in, looking like he wanted to fight, and not caring with who.

The guy was a couple inches taller than me and outweighed me by probably sixty-seventy pounds. He stood in the doorway, glaring as he looked around the room and, since the only other person in the place was the old guy behind the bar (Pa was in the men’s room), his glare landed on me. I smiled politely as the big guy lumbered toward me but kept a firm grip on my pool cue. You know, in case he didn’t want to be friends.

First thing he said was, “You know who I am?” He had a funny way of saying things, so I thought he was joking. I grinned at him.

I heard the men’s room door open, and Pa laughed out loud then said, “Tater Salad!” The big guy looked past me, his face lit up, and he shouted, “Bunk!”

I said, “Tater Salad?”

The big guy ignored me and as he strolled toward Bunk, said, “Just the man I want to talk to.”

“Tater Salad?” The guy still ignored me.

“Well,” Bunk said, shaking the big guy’s hand, “Buy me and my grandson a drink, and we’ll talk all you want.”

The guy glanced at me, grinned, then yelled over his shoulder, “Boo-Boo, Give us three Crown and Coke!”

“Don’t call me Boo-Boo, Tater Salad, or you’ll be drinking through a straw for ‘bout a month.”

They all laughed—Bunk, Tater Salad, and Boo-Boo. I said, “Tater Salad?”

We climbed aboard stools at the bar and Pa said, “What’s up, Ron?”

I said, “Ron?”

“I’m fixin’ to go into stand-up comedy, Bunk. And I got some ideas for routines, but I figure you must have some I can use, too. Can’t nobody tell a story like Bunk Stringer.”

So, Bunk told him some of his best stories, and Ron “Tater Salad” White soaked ‘em up.

When Bunk had about run out of material, I looked around him at “Ron” and said, “Tater Salad?”

ron whiteHe grinned a drunk-on-his-butt grin and half snarled, half laughed, “You just ain’t gonna let that go, are ya? Ah-right, here’s how it goes.”

He told me the story about being drunk and getting arrested for driving on a sidewalk in Fritch. The cops knew who he was so when they asked him his name, he—being the smart aleck he was—said, “They call me Tater Salad.” And, a legend was born.

When he finished, Bunk laughed and elbowed me. “Charlie, tell him your tater salad story!” And so, I did. Ron got a big kick out of it and said he might use it in one of his routines when he hit the big time. He never did. Use it that is. He hit the big time, big time. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

~~~~~~~

Please check out my remodeled website and my latest books:

Just A Boy ~ A childhood memoir

Just a Man ~ A book of encouragement

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My First Video!

A cute little ad for “JUST A BOY“, put together by the publisher. I need to learn how to make one!

Available in paperback or e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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