Midnight and Marie

Dear Dad:

This post might just make you cry. I say that because it makes me cry to write it. As you know all too well, two of the greatest people who have ever lived are “Midnight” and Marie (pronounced maw-ree), my grandparents and your parents. They were two of the coolest people I ever had the pleasure of spending time with and even though they lived just a short amount on this earth, their spirit will always be part of me.

So many memories flood me about them. First, there are the memories when Michele and I lived with them for a while. We were so young and I remember it being so much fun. Now that I have kids, I realize how they must have been worn out from it all, but they never once showed it. Grandma kept on as usual, which was a lot of fried cooking and then bingo, bingo, bingo. Grandpa was much of the same, working all day at Westvaco, bringing in his change for our bear bank as he came in, opening up a cold beer (and then two or three) and heading to the dock to fish, crab or catch whatever he could. Life should only be so pure and simple now.

I loved me some grandma. I am convinced, she gave me my incredibly free spirit, compassion and intense competitive spirit. She was a mean son of a bitch in the bingo hall. Her goal was to win, and to win big. And did we score from her win. Every toy I had, ever piece of fake jewelry I owned, EVERYTHING came from Bingo. I remember when she died going through her things, including the lamps made out of Barbie dolls, going “yep, that was a bingo treasure.” Her cooking still has a lasting impression on me. Paula Deen had nothing on her. A stick of butter and a tub of Crisco was a must have in every dish and she fried everything. I think she even fried fried food.

She taught me how to cook and it is no wonder that my first “show and tell” recipe was a grandma special:

STEP ONE: Go to through the backwoods to the Red and White.

STEP TWO: Go to aisle 10, frozen foods. Grab a pizza.

STEP THREE: Go back home and start the over for 375. Cook for 25 minutes. Ta-Dah! Pizza is ready.

I was for real when I turned this in as my favorite family recipe. I can thank Grandma for that (and my absolute love of Bingo).

Grandpa, aka “midnight” as he was called, taught me the total end of the spectrum. He taught me to curse, to smoke and to drink cold beer. Good thing I got rid of two of those habits quickly, but I blame my potty mouth on him. He was my inspiration for loving the creeks, pluff mud and good ol’ Lowcountry seafood. He took us fishing, shrimping, crabbing and more before any of it was cool. He loved the dock and I loved spending hours upon hours with him on it.

One of my other loves I picked up from them is the love of watching TV. They were TV junkies, even if it was black and white and only had three channels. I was addicted to the Price is Right at a young age, and will never forget the hours I would spend “spinning” in their yellow polyester chair treating it like the actual wheel you spun on TV. Every place in the living room had a value and I would cheer hard when my feet stopped at the mirror because it meant 100!

I loved Christmas with their color aluminum trees; loved birthdays at Shoney’s where you got a dollar for every year you were. I loved baths in the tub with Michele and our dolls, and the hours Marie would sit and brush my hair. I loved our toy bins on the porch and the swing in the big oak tree. I loved each and every minute I spent with the two of them.

It was sad to lose grandma at such a young age (I was 7) and then devastating to watch grandpa wither away when I was in middle school. Thank you for making me go to the nursing home all of those years and I only wish I had gone even more. I would have done anything to spend more time with them.

And even though they are gone, I still love to hear the stories. I love how much they loved you after they adopted you. I love how they worked and spent every penny they had to make sure you went to Porter/Porter Gaud and then USC. I love how they took a risk and bought a place in the Isle of Palms when there was no bridge and no other residents. I love how the pretty much adopted Jack and made him feel the love he so deserved. I love how you kept their house and allow us the chance to spend the rest of our lives there. I love how you take me and my family on the boat, in the same water ways they took you to experience some of the things that you experienced. I love Hamlin Creek and I love looking out and knowing that they are there with us and will always be with us. They are and will always be my Midnight and Marie.

Happy Memorial Day,

AP

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