Travel Buddy

My mother had one sister, Beck.

My Aunt Beck was always a part of my life, we would visit her and her family in Florida for vacations, they would visit us in the mountains for holidays and when she and my mother were together, the love they  shared for one another was infectious.

When I was pondering a move to South Florida, my Aunt Beck was the one who made me realize it would all be OK.

Since she was the one who moved away from the nest at a young age I valued her opinion as much as anyone else.  She told me to follow my dreams, the words of encouragement were the ones who finally made me realize I could still move away and be a vital part of my family from hundreds of miles away.

After I moved, Aunt Beck and Uncle Larry visited a couple of times to make sure I was adjusting to my new surroundings.  I was so proud to show them my life in Florida and when I bought my condo they were my first guests.

My relationship with my Aunt Beck grew even closer once I left God’s Country.  We talked on the phone a lot and after Uncle Larry passed away we became travel buddies.

Whenever I was making a trip home to God’s Country, I would pick her up in north Florida and she would come with me.

The trip to pick Aunt Beck up added an hour to my trip each way, but the memories created as we drove up the highway far outweigh any perceived inconvenience the added miles would create.

Her house was about 20 miles off the interstate, so she would have her neighbor bring her to the interchange, we would meet at McDonald’s and she would jump in the car and we were off.

From the time she got in my car we talked.

We talked about everything.

We laughed and sometimes we cried, but I learned about my family history, we talked about how life happens, we talked about dreams and we talked about what we wanted for those we loved most…….  we just talked.

And the conversation never stopped going up or down the highway towards the mountains that beckoned us both homeward.

We evacuated hurricanes together, we came for birthdays together and one year we came for Christmas together, driving those roads were all more special because Aunt Beck was with me.

When mama’s last days were imminent, I called Aunt Beck before I left West Palm Beach and she was waiting for me at the interstate when I got there.  That was our toughest trip.

She was with us when mama went home to be with the Lord and on the night mama passed, Aunt Beck sat beside her as she made her final journey home.

On the trip back to Florida, we cried more than we talked, but our time together and the wisdom she imparted also gave me peace.

When Sam, Chelsea, Zack and I decided we were going skydiving, in the Spring after mama died, she made that trip too.  She cheered us all the way to the ground.

The only thing Aunt Beck and I ever disagreed about was the route we would take home.

When Uncle Larry was alive, they always drove the back-roads and highways enjoying the sights and sounds of the small towns through Georgia.

I was having nothing to do with those back-roads.  I wanted to get on the Interstate and hit the gas getting home as quickly as possible just stopping for gas, drive-thru burgers and a quick bathroom break.

On our last trip together we took those back-roads through Georgia.  We drove through the small towns that she loved so much and saw she told me new stories about the vistas we saw, the ride was painfully long, but the conversation was magic.

When Aunt Beck passed away, a piece of my heart went with her.  My travel buddy had now gone on her final trek and I was honored to help carry her home.

I think about those conversations on the road often.  I miss her voice, I miss her laugh and I miss her wisdom, but most of all, I simply miss her.

Aunt Beck was my travel buddy, but more than that she was one of my greatest life influences, I look forward to our next journey together.

An Open Letter to CBS, Big Brother and Fly on the Wall Entertainment

Before I begin, let me say upfront, I realize this letter will never be seen by anyone who has the ability to do anything and I realize even in the remote chance it was, my opinions would not change anything…… but hey, I write and these are my opinions….. so….. here goes.

Dear CBS, Big Brother and Fly on the Wall Entertainment,

I a writing to you as a fan of Big Brother, someone who has watched every season since the show began.  Big Brother has been my summertime guilty pleasure for years.

As a fan of the show, I have watched and loved the people year after year.  Kaysar, Jase, Evil Dick, Dr. Will, Marcellas, Cowboy, Jordan and Jeff, Nicole, even Rachel, they have all captured my imagination summer after summer.

Now we come to Big Brother 19 and I have to say, you have missed the boat, BIG TIME!

I’m bored, I don’t even know the characters names and the repetition of summer after summer, same competitions with different colors has just become ho-hum!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Please, please PLEASE, I beg you with every ounce of my being, STOP bringing back past competitors!!!!  Guess what, they had their chance, they lost…. move on!

When I saw Paul, one of the most annoying characters in Big Brother history, come bounding through the door at the beginning of the season, the groan that escaped from my inner disgust still echoes through my living room four weeks later.

If you have former contestants you want to bring back, that’s fine…. do an All-Star Season, I can get behind that, but bringing back past characters who couldn’t get it done the first time is an insult to the other people in the house and the fans who tune in each week.

Here’s an idea for you, if you want to bring back past contestants, have a season of nothing but second place finishers, that is something we the fans would enjoy!

And by the way, if anyone truly believes the decision wasn’t made prior to the seasons start that Paul would receive that gift of almost 1/2 the season with immunity from eviction…. I have some ad space to sell you on a wall Mexico will be paying for on the border!  But I’ll come back to this later!

Let’s talk casting shall we?

When Big Brother began it was promoted as a house filled with strangers competing for an ultimate prize.  Today, the show has been relegated to a cast of characters that we have seen far too many times.

We have the quirky girl.

We have the Asian girl.

We have the girl with big boobs.

We have the hunky silent type guy.

We have the muscle head.

We have the flaming gay guy and btw, there are millions of gay people in America that don’t possess every negative stereotype associated with being gay, find one!

We have the old guy.

We have the black Christian woman.

We have the big guy who is a total train wreck.

And on and on….. here’s an idea….. STOP with the characters and START with bringing in interesting contestants that make for good television.  You used to do it, can you do it again or have you simply put this show on auto-pilot?

In the early days you took video submissions and people applied to be on the show…. today, you scour social media and nightclubs to fill a casting formula you think we want to see.  We don’t!

Earlier I referenced how the competitions have become repetitive.  HELLO!?!?!!?  Can no one in the production department come up with something new?

Putting new graphics and changing a competitions theme doesn’t make it new, it just makes a competition the same one you have been doing for years with a new theme and color scheme.

Last year I liked the Battle Back, it was a nice twist….. that doesn’t mean you needed to do it again this year.  And again, BTW, could those competitions have been designed for anyone but Cody to win?  Hello, he even stood beside the final puzzle and studied the course while the house-guests were finding out who would be his competitor.

The one bright spot of this summer has been the Den of Temptation, but let’s be clear, the producers fingerprints are all over the results.

No way the first temptation wasn’t determined for Paul to win.

You can bet your next paycheck, when Christmas needs to use her POV game card, the contest WILL be one she can compete in with her injury.

Interesting that the person who was Public Enemy number one last week got the power to overrule an eviction and when on the block she knew not to use it.

Please stop scripting what should be a game where everyone has the same chance at winning the prize as the people you deem to be your favorites.

Big Brother, what I am saying here is….. you have grown predictable and that is the last thing you need to be.

For years, we have heard Julie Chen tell us to “expect the unexpected,” maybe she should start telling us to expect the expected, because Big Brother has gotten repetitive and stale.

Fly on the Wall Entertainment, can you shake it up before Season 20 and give the show a reboot?  I certainly hope so.

I’m going to sign off now and hope that by the end of the season I learn the names of the grey haired guy and girl with big boobs, I think it would be nice to know that before the end of the summer, I’m sure they have an interesting story to tell, unfortunately we haven’t seen it.

I’ll keep watching, because I believe in the concept of what Big Brother should be, but if you all can’t come up with anything new, let me know, I’ll be glad to give you some ideas!

Sincerely,

Kendall Rumsey

A Fan

Charmed

(Today’s post is a “re-post” from October 15, 2011.  The story still brings me a sense of peace and the memories these simple charm bracelets represent fill my heart as much today as they did many decades ago.)

 

There are certain possessions that we all have in life that mean much more to us than their value.  Items that “in a fire” you would grab.

Besides Lita, I have a few things I would try to save in case of an emergency…..  the framed baby outfit I wore home from the hospital when I was born, a quilt made from my parents clothes when they were children both of which were Christmas gifts from mama and daddy.

I would try to grab family photos and my “important documents” box, but before any of those other “things” in my life (excluding Lita) I would reach for the charm bracelets.

In my living room, in a special place of honor are two framed charm bracelets, costume jewelry that means more to me than anyone else.  These charm bracelets belonged to mama and ma-ma.

When I was a very young child I used to spend a lot of time with ma-ma and gramps.  We had kind of a routine that included continuous pampering and exploration of my imagination and creative personality.

Ma-ma was the perfect homemaker, she could bake, cook, clean, sew, garden, arrange flowers, craft, she could do it all and she loved having a little one tugging at her apron strings offering to “help.”  I love pulling those apron stings, so we were a perfect pair!

One of my favorite things to do with ma-ma was to have her tell me stories,  stories from the charm bracelet.

Ma-ma’s charm bracelet was gold and from my childhood memory it had what seemed like hundreds of charms.  Each charm held a significance, the sewing machine, the thimble, a head for each child and grandchild, a replica of her brother’s Bronze Star, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Florida;  all remembrances of trips taken through the years.

For a young boy filled with an unquenchable imagination, that bracelet and the stories that were told about each charm could entertain for hours.

Many years later, when ma-ma died, I knew there was one thing I really wanted, I wanted that bracelet.  I hadn’t seen it in years and when I mentioned it no one knew where it was.

Through the days of purging ma-ma’s belongings someone found the charm bracelet and gave it to me.  As an adult, it wasn’t as impressive as it was when I was a child, you could see some of the charms were missing and it was tarnished, but just seeing that bracelet brought back a flood of memories and times spent with my grandmother that I would never be able to replace.

Mama’s bracelet was different.  Mama’s bracelet was silver and only had 5 charms on it… one for daddy, one for Tom, one for Sam, one for me and one for herself.  Four male heads and one female.

On the front of each charm our name and birth date was engraved.  On the back of Tom’s was his death date.

Somewhere through the years mama lost her charm bracelet she would mention it from time to time and how much it meant to her.

One year, when I was about 16, I knew exactly what I wanted to give mama for Christmas.  I had worked all summer and saved some money and knew that this would be the year I was able to give her the special gift.

When we open our Christmas gifts each year, we try and hold one back for the grand finale as we know it is going to be the “special gift” for that year.  This was my first year able to give the “special” gift.

I planned for weeks, I got mama’s gift, I made sure everything was perfect and on Christmas Eve, I proudly put that gift under the tree.

As we unwrapped the gifts my excitement built and for the first time, this year the excitement really wasn’t for what I was receiving, but what I was giving.

When the time finally came and all the gifts but one were opened, I proudly handed mama her beautifully wrapped package.  I sat nervously beside her and as she unwrapped the package, our small family watched in anticipation.

When the package was opened, there it lay a silver charm bracelet, just like the one she had year’s before.  Five heads, each engraved, a simple gift that meant more to my mama and I than any expensive gadget could.  To this day, the most special gift I have ever given anyone.

Mama and I both cried.

Through the years mama wore that bracelet everywhere and she made sure not to lose it.  She added three more heads through the years, Donna, Chelsea and Zack.

When mama passed, there was one thing I wanted.  Before I left Clayton on my way back to Florida after that horrible/wonderful week, I went to mama’s jewelry box and collected the charm bracelet.

Not long after I got my grandmother’s bracelet, I decided to have it framed.  I lived in Atlanta at the time and had a friend who was a framer, he made sure that it got the attention it deserved and did a beautiful job with the presentation.

After mama died it took me almost a year to have her bracelet framed.  It hurt too much to think about finalizing it and putting the bracelet behind glass.

Finally, as the 1 year anniversary of mama’s death approached I took it out and went to my local framer.  I carried ma-ma’s bracelet with me to show the framer what I wanted.

Thankfully, the framer saw the importance of this project and gave it his attention and dedication.  We picked out a frame that complimented ma-ma’s.  After finally, pulling together the strength to take the bracelet to the framer, I waited with nervous anticipation for it to be completed.

When I got the call that my frame was completed, I went to pick it up with excitement.  When I saw the frame opened, again I cried, just like the first time I saw it opened and just like the first time, I knew my mama was right beside me admiring the bracelet as well.

Today those two bracelets sit in a place of honor in my living room.  On a small table, two pieces of costume jewelry that mean the world to me.

(Note – since moving back to God’s Country two years ago, the bracelets still hold a place of honor, in my living room, prominently on my mantle.)

Christmas Playlist……

 

 

Christmas Playlist…. O Holy Night performed by Josh Groban