My Pertty Little Tucker Category

“No, Diane, I don’t want to go to that grocery store. Let’s go to the one near the church,” said Mama.
“Why? Are they having a sale?”
“No, not that I know of, I just like it better.” Giving me her I know best look, Mama continued, ”they have a guard at the front door with a gun.”
“A gun?” I asked.
“Yes, a loaded gun…”
“How do you know that – that it’s loaded?”
“I asked the guard himself, and he said so. I feel much safer with him there – with that gun.”
“Do you really think you are safer there?”
“Oh yes, the other grocery store has a guard, but he doesn’t carry a gun.”
“Let me see that list,” after looking over her list I suggested, “You know, we don’t need to go to either grocery store. Let’s go to Walmart. You can get everything on this list, and we can look around at other stuff while we are there.”
“Well, alright, I guess…” Mama gave in reluctantly.

We pulled into the Walmart parking lot. Mama handed me her handicap sticker to hang on the rear-view mirror. Mama then slowly made her way out of the car and took her cane in hand. I helped my asthmatic-arthritic-aged mother across the drive-way to the front door as she took a stroll down memory lane.
“This used to be the old Cofer home-place. Why, I used to roller skate with Betty Ann in the foy-ya of that big house. I guess it was the only house in Tucker back then with a foy-ya. That’s where I learned that word. Now—-it’s Walmart. My, my how things have changed,” said Mama, “I’ve eaten a many a peanut butter jelly sandwich at the bottom of that big stairway – in the foy-ya. Now, it’s gone, my, my.”
“Mama, you’re not breathing well today. Do you want me to get the stuff while you wait here on the bench?”
“No, just give me one of those buggies. I’ll lean on it while I push. I’ll be alright then,” said Mama. Shaking her head in disbelief Mama continued, “I haven’t been in this place since the police stormed it and shot that man dead.”
“No, Mama, the police didn’t shoot him. The news said the man shot himself.”
“Oh, that’s right. Excuse me. I haven’t been in this place since the police stormed the building and that man shot himself dead!” Mama pushed her buggy as she spoke pleasantly to the Walmart greeter. Suddenly she stopped and pointed to the restroom sign. “And right there is where a man came out of the restroom only to find the police had the drop on him – with loaded guns! All aimed at him!”
“The man who died?”
“No, just a regular guy – innocent.” Mama shook her head in dismay, “It was a good thing the gentleman had just relieved himself.”

Our Walmart outing proved to be too much for Mama today. She abandoned me at the check-out counter and found her way to the once rejected bench near the front door. We sat there together for about twenty minutes as she sipped on her Dr. Pepper. She was ready to go and again reached for the buggy to lean on. I ran ahead to open the trunk of the car, only to see Mama swoon. I ran back to help her into the car and quickly placed her groceries on the back car-seat – forgetting about the unlocked trunk.
“I’m worried about you, Mama.”
“Oh, I’m alright. I just need some air,” Mama said as she turned the AC vents toward her face, “Just turn it up full force.”

I turned up the air and waited until Mama gave me the hand signal to carry on. I cranked up my Camry and gingerly backed out of the parking space and joined the long line of traffic leading to Lawrenceville Highway. Just as I stepped on the gas, ready to take off, the trunk of my car flew open.
“What in the world?” cried Mama.
“Uh oh,” I slammed on the brakes. “I forgot I opened the trunk. I’ll fix it,” I said as I quickly jumped out of the car and waved at the anxious couple behind to pass us. The driver, a very angry man laid down on his horn and squalled tires as he swirled around us in a big fancy silver truck. His female companion shouted obscenities at us as they passed by. Quickly, I jumped back into my car a little shaken. “Can you believe that?”
“Are you alright Diane? So rude…”
“Yes, I’m okay. People are just in a big hurry these days, Mama.”

Obviously upset, Mama leaned toward the AC vents struggling for air as her voice trembled, “Years ago, why, a man would have pulled over and asked if he could help, but not now. Not these days. No sirree – not these days. And did you hear the words coming out of that woman’s mouth? A pretty woman too – I just don’t understand it. I don’t know what’s happened to my pertty little Tucker.”

Sometime later, Saturday night, I set my alarm clock to get up early – early enough to drive from Forsyth County to make it to church in Tucker. Sometimes I wonder why I drive so far. I pass dozens of perfectly good churches along the way. I hurry in Pleasant Hill Baptist- late again – the singing already started – to sit next to my ninety year old aunt, Sarah. No worry, I know exactly where to find her – third pew from the front right side, corner of that pew, near the window. She quickly slides deeper into her corner to make room, as another elderly woman reluctantly slides the opposite way.
“Here, you sit here next to Sarah. She’d have a fit if you don’t sit next to her,” said the woman. “You know, I’ve known Sarah all my life. She’s a dear friend.”
“Really? Did you know my father?”
The woman looked startled, “Who’s your father?”
“Tom Story, Sarah’s brother.”
“All my life! Knew him and loved him! I’m Mary Massey, Paul’s wife. I lived up on Chamblee Tucker Road for years. And how I loved Tom Story – and loathed the day he left this world.” Mary reached across me to get Aunt Sarah’s attention, “Sarah, I just figured out who this girl is!”
“That’s Tom’s girl, Donnie, my baby brother’s second daughter,” proudly replied Sarah as she pointed to the page number of the hymn being sung. Mary and I got the message and quickly found the song and joined in – “this is my story, this is my song…”
How wonderful to be here. The trip is truly worth it. There is no other place in the whole wide world where I can have this conversation. It’s still “pertty” little Tucker to me.