Better get those Red Pops in before it thunders
When I was a little girl, I enjoyed spending time with my Paw Paw during thunderstorms.
Maw Maw liked to go to the grocery store alone from time to time. And she usually decided to go solo whenever there was bad weather. I was a very hyper child so that idea of trying to hang onto to me and a sack of groceries in the rain didn’t appeal to her.
When it was raining, Paw Paw and I would spend the day inside. To me, it was just as fun as riding bikes or playing on the swing set outside.
We would heat up some popcorn or snack on M&Ms. He would let me drink as many soda pops as my heart desired.
I would sneak him a Red Pop drink. Maw Maw never let him have soft drinks because he was a diabetic. So it was our little secret when we were alone.
We would sit in front of the television and watch an animal program. We both enjoyed the animal shows that always had the narrator giving you a play by play of a lion attack or something.
One particular day was no different than any other rainy day. But a rolling thunder began to spread across the land.
Our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Lee, hated bad weather. If it was raining outside, half the time she didn’t realize it. But if she saw a drop of rain or heard a crack of thunder, she began to ring our phone.
After the thunder rolled across the sleepy town of Monticello, Paw Paw tensed up. He knew it was coming.
The phone started ringing off the hook.
“It’s her,” Paw Paw said, sitting the bowl of food on the counter. “I just know it.”
I tried to convince him that maybe it was Mr. Mack. It could be Momma calling from work. It could have been anybody.
But it wasn’t.
“Mr. Jackson,” Mrs. Lee said, over the telephone. “Looks like we got some rain coming in. Could ya’ll come sit with me until it passes?”
Within seconds, Paw Paw was writing a note for Maw Maw. I was gathering a few toys. And we were out the screen door, headed next door.
Paw Paw was in a wheelchair, so I would push him into her driveway while he held onto my Barbie dolls.
Looking back, I bet we were a sight. A paralyzed, grumpy old man with a pipe hanging out of his mouth with two naked Barbie dolls in each hand and a beanpole kid right behind him with a Red Pop smile and bits of popcorn in her hair.
We would have to sit in Mrs. Lee’s living room, which she kept about 90 degrees in the summer time.
“You know Mrs. Lee, when I got to be a man and got us an air conditioner, I always said I would never sweat as much as I did when I was a young one,” Paw Paw said.
Mrs. Lee would just stare at him and not say anything. She would wipe her face with a napkin and ask him if he wanted a powdered doughnut.
After explaining that he was a diabetic, Paw Paw would have to watch she and I devour a whole pack of sweets.
As an adult, I see how good a man Paw Paw really was. Sweating in a small living room with dozens of sugary sweets and “The Golden Girls” playing on the television, he never said one ill word about his situation.
When the rain finally cleared, we would head back home only to find our show was over. The popcorn was cold. Maw Maw had already made it home and was still complaining about unloading the car by herself. And we couldn’t sneak just one more soda pop in before supper.
“Why are there four empty pop cans in this here trash can,” Maw Maw said, picking up a can. “Ya’ll have been sitting here sucking drinks down.”
During the storm chaos to get to Mrs. Lee’s house, we forgot to hide the empty cans.
“I don’t know,” Paw Paw said to me, with a red ring around his top lip. “You wanna go back to Mrs. Lee’s.”