Thursday, May 11, 2017

PORCH STORIES:


There are two things I firmly believe about family: children should grow up and out of the house and or parents should grow old peacefully and with joy. All of my children are grown and gone, they stay in touch with me and I keep in touch with them. I understand that when I get old there may be a time in which I cannot make decisions for myself, when that time comes if Chip cannot care for me I trust my children will do the right thing by me.

I have an Aunt who lives on the other side of town, Aunt Jemimia. Her children live in other states but they have made arrangements to make sure the 90 year old matriarch is cared for without intruding on her independence, such as it is. Aunt Jemimia lives alone, being widowed twenty years ago,  in her house which she has been in for over 60 years.

Today was visit day! I special order her favorite candy to take with me whenever I visit: Strawberry licorice string (not the kind in the package), Necco Wafers and a Bit-O-Honey candy bar. No flowers for Aunt Jemimia!  I arrived just as the UPS truck was pulling away.

“Girl! I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!” She exclaimed from her front porch.  I entered the house to see two boxes sitting on her dining room table.

“I know it has been a while.” I smiled

“I know you busy chile’. It’s always good when you can come visit your Aunt Jemimia! You heard from your cousins? Albert sent me some shoes the other day for church, they fit just fine! And I don’t know who keeps sending all this food! I haven’t had to cook in so long I think I might have forgotten how!” my aunt started laughing."

“Is that what is in them boxes? Something from Albert?" My cousins had arranged for traditional southern foods to be shipped to their mother twice times a week to keep her from cooking. A neighbor who was also paid to look in on her a few days a week cooked her food twice a week and the church sent her  a meal at least once a week.

“No, Nettie that’s my computer I got with my credit card! And I think the other one is some towels I ordered.”

“Is Nella still coming by?” Nella was the caregiver, a friend of Aunt Jemimia’s daughter.

“Now don’t go on about her. She has a good heart and she’s trying. One of Nella’s children got sick and so I told her not to come till they get better. I don’t need no germs at my age, she will be here tomorrow I guess.”

“Did Alexandria get you a credit card?” Alexandria oversaw her mothers’ finances.

“No, I gave birth to them I don’t need no permission to do what I want to do. I got them on my own, and wasn’t  hard.  The company gave me a $200 credit limit and I didn’t even use that much. All I have to do is pay $10 a month.”

“You bought a computer for less than $200?”

“No girl, that is my other card. This one gave me a $500 limit.” Reaching for her wallet (in her bra of course) she pulled out three catalog cards.

“Aunt Jemimia, how many credit cards do you have?”

“I have three!” she seemed so proud of the fact that she had credit cards.

I was getting angry, junk mail should be banned from the homes of people on fixed income and those on Social Security. My aunt needed nothing and when she did need something her children bought if for her. Her house was paid for even when it was remodeled the children paid for it, her children paid the property tax as well.

As she began to show me the things she had purchased with her credit cards it became apparent that everything she bought was not worth the money she would eventually give to the company that sold it to her.

Lot’s of people use these companies to buy cute towels and washcloths and other household items that barely last a year if used regularly.  I have discovered people also buy televisions that seem great in the picture but will not allow the viewer to experience high definition television or connect to the internet as the cheapest store bought television can do. Further more returning these products is next to impossible once the shipping container is opened.

For many people, their already bad credit is ruined because the $10 a month they pay for these items becomes $20 a month and then $50 a month. During the holidays everyone’s credit limit is raised as is the minimum payment, that minimum payment usually covers the interest the company charges but not the actual principle (the cost of the item).  Because the amount of credit is extended around the holidays it is an easy way to purchase presents for everyone. Eventually, the individual has to choose between paying one of their regular household expenses or paying the credit card bill for something that does not work- they choose to buy food or keep the lights on, this is how credit is ruined, judgements are made and things get garnished or taken away.

A quick phone call to my cousin Alexandria ended my aunts credit card use. Nella would be instructed to return, if possible, the computer and my aunt would be given a tablet with games on it instead, she did not need a computer.

My aunt and I sat on her front porch for about an hour just talking while she enjoyed a licorice. Apparently, getting the credit card and having things delivered to her house was more important than the stuff itself. When Nella pulled up with her children in tow I got up to leave.

I made a mental note to visit my aunt more often and to have something delivered to her house at least twice a month. The first thing I would do is have her candy delivered to her!  Aunt Jemimia did not want flowers unless she was dead. ---written by Marsha L F Randolph

PORCH STORY-Short Stories, essays and other ramblings presented as told by NETTIE a pseudo-fictional character created by Marsha L F Randolph. The characters created are the figment of the author Marsha L F Randolph’s imagination.  The author, Marsha L F Randolph maintains all rights associated with copyright laws; do not use post / articles without the permission of the author Marsha L F Randolph. All quotes should cite Marsha L F Randolph as the author.
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