Clover

Part III: We bring the storm with us

The next morning arrived quicker than I could dream it up. Mama had been up well into the early morning hours making sure each cardboard box was taped, labeled, and stored neatly in the living room for the movers. Daddy gassed up his truck the day before yesterday, cleaned out the garage, and cooked us the perfect bbq meal last night. I can still taste that chicken — yummy. I slept so hard I couldn’t hear a single thing. I was excited about today; I am excited about today and I just want to hurry up and get on the road.

Daddy says it’ll take about two hours and thirty minutes from here in Summerville to Hopeulikit. At least we don’t have to be on the road for too long. I hate traveling long distances in Daddy’s truck. It’s dependable but it’s old and loud and is a rusty orange color — so, it’s not a looker by any form of the word. Daddy says, “It gets us where we need to go and when and that’s all that matters.”

He has a point but I’d rather be in Mama’s subtle sedan. It’s reliable, good on gas, and Mama always selects the best music stations on the radio. Daddy listens to gospel all day long and not the contemporary or modern kind, either.

No . . . not anything for Clover.

He plays the Georgia Mass Choir, Mississippi Mass Choir, The Winans, The Clark Sisters, The Anointed Pace Sisters, and the list goes on and on and on. Mama sways her head and hums to each song. Sometimes, she even gets emotional. But she has a wider range of music appreciation and that’s what I prefer most.

Daddy says we’re not making any stops so for me to eat, use the bathroom, and put my raincoat in the backseat of the truck with me. Forecast ain’t callin’ for rain but Daddy is usually spot-on when it comes to the weather — better than those fancy dolled-up weather people on the tv. They’re almost always wrong. I do as I’m told and make sure my raincoat is sitting right next to me when we leave.

Mama takes her place in the front seat, next to Daddy. She smiles. A hint of sunlight kisses her cheeks. Daddy smiles back at her. They hold hands for a brief moment. Daddy says a prayer for safe travels and we thank “the Good Lord above” for another day’s waking up — in our right minds. And before you know it, the truck’s radio is blasting Shirley Caesar’s “No Charge” and we’re off to Hopeulikit.

The loud thump-thwack sound of the truck upon ignition is common. I don’t flinch — not one move. I’ve grown so used to this thing happening that it seems second nature. Daddy asks if I’ve made myself comfortable and to him, I respond, “I sure have” and I settle in for what will be an early morning nap. I don’t remember time sailing by so quickly ever before but as soon as I open my eyes, we approached Statesboro, Georgia, and shortly after, Hopeulikit.


It is as if God above anointed my daddy to read the skies. I look up and that same pink burnt storm sky from Summerville greets us. The underbelly of the sky is the most beautiful thing — I wish I could jump straight up and touch it. Just as I was losing myself in my thoughts, the bottom falls out and I hurry to wrap myself inside my raincoat — slapping the hood on my head within seconds.

Mama lifts a huge umbrella to her chest then out to the air and presses a button for it to open. She and Daddy scatter under it before we begin to unload our items from the truck.

The movers pull up moments later. Daddy signals them to start with the bigger items then work their way down to the smaller ones. Two of the men have ponchos on while the other is soaked from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. I wonder, “will he track that mess through our new home or will Daddy advise him to hang tight while the others do what they can before the winds pick up?”

He throws up a trembling hand at Daddy and asks, “Where should we start?” Daddy doesn’t waste any time letting him know, “You can start as long as you and your crew get some plastic laid down in the main areas.”

I watch the men pull out a long roll of plastic and begin rolling from our new foyer, through the hallway, and into our living room and dining room. After that, they’re moving lightning fast, unloading boxes and furniture, and knick-knacks.

Daddy wants to help. He busies himself with the few things we loaded in the truck and I follow behind him to help. Rain is coming down like cats and dogs. I pull the hat of my raincoat tighter and tuck the curls of my hair under it.

One hour later, everything is unloaded and I stand in my new bathroom, peel the clothes from my body, and cough. Mama hears me. I know she’ll want to flood my body with Cod liver oil. Yuck!

I already don’t like Hopeulikit.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob on Medium.

Part I and Part II

Writers: A Challenge

“Family” in Three Words

My baby cousins (Jaidynn & Caison) and me. Two loves of my life. They enjoy making silly faces with me. I mean, what more could a big cousin ask for?

I am blessed to have so many little ones in my life and family members who love, adore, welcome, and enjoy being around me. This pandemic, in its early stages, put a heavy kink into my visiting plans and time spent with those closest to me in distance but now — I venture out just a little bit more. Being around them lifts me up in ways that are almost inexplicable. Many of you are familiar with Caison and Jaidynn and have watched them grow up over the years as I’ve shared stories or poems about them. Jaidynn will be six in August and Caison will be four in October. Time flies by so quickly and on most days, I want to pull it by its ears, settle it in my grasp, and beg it to stop.

So, the challenge? Tell me something about your family or what family means to you or why you rely on your family but do so in just three words.

Here’s mine:

Smiles
that heal.

Writers, it’s your turn . . . Tell me about your family but in just three words. I know you can do this; I’m sure you can do this. I’ll be kicking off this 4th by visiting my mom for a few hours — that’ll be some additional quality “family” time after seeing the little ones yesterday.

Please, bring it!

And of course, there’s music. Sister Sledge, We Are Family (This song makes me feel all the feels. I used to play my mom’s record to death. No regrets.)

YouTube

Originally shared via Medium.

The Lingering Effects of Parental Divorce

It Changes Everything

Big sky. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

He used to call me baby, that was his way, until . . . Until he had to leave. I was twelve. Twelve years old, wondering what I did wrong. No one could tell me. I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults. And as a Southerner, you listen to your elders. You heed their advice.

So, I thought my light had faded — if Daddy wasn’t calling me baby anymore . . . Who else would? Who else should? Was I even still deserving of that term of endearment?

My mom had been piecing together our puzzled lives. We had become the church feature — the company billboard for broken homes. They wanted me to tell the boys. To let my brothers know our family had collapsed. But how could I? I was still trying to figure out who was going to call me baby — still trying to find the reason why he had to leave.

I had an inquisitive mind so naturally, I wanted to know what went wrong and if I was it—the wrong that suddenly swarmed our home . . . was I it?!

I turned to my mom as I so often did during times of distress to perhaps pull the truth out of her . . . “Mom, what did I do?”

In the funk of a lead-ridden home, my words were useless. They did not exist.

I did . . . I did.

I still lived amongst the shadows of decrees and halves—“You’ll get them on this weekend, I’ll get them on that weekend . . .” And so on and furthermore. We were split in two. Halves of a whole. Soon to be halves of a half. Quartered. We had been made into pieces — cracked instantly on direct impact. No one would put us back together again.

I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults.


Time shifted — we all grew up and out of our old selves. When I was nineteen years old, another girl was born. This one, you know very well. When she was sixteen, I realized, you had more years with her. You don’t forget her age. She doesn’t have to remind you. You’ve been to every recital, every honors night school function, and every church-affiliated soirée. I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.

She could turn a corner and find you right there — waiting . . . waiting to hug her. Waiting to hold her. You had been the pillar in her dreams — strong enough for her to lean on — safe enough for her to discard her fears. I wish I had that. That . . . security and assurance. I dream of it to this day but it is not within my reach. That ship has long since sailed — I stand at the dock battered by the untimely waves.

I wandered far away, lost myself in the clouds above my head, searching for the years before the when that stultified my efforts in loving you and scattered all of us away from what was concrete. Nothing has been what I hoped it would be. Growing up without you—salty taste lingers in my mouth, a hint of envy . . . A bit of jealousy.

She had the traditional family unit— nuclear . . . Functional.

I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.


The funny thing is, I say I am grown — I am mature. But truth be known, I still can’t talk about this without breaking down into a tear-consumed toddler who isn’t getting what she wants. And this, I am told, is normal or expected. Divorce. Divorce. Divorce squirms all up in my bones. I twirl the words on my tongue and the tears fall. They fall . . . I wonder if it does the same thing to you—it does not. It cannot.

And maybe, that’s why we’re estranged. That’s why we’re still holding on. No . . . That’s why I’m still holding on to pain and the moment you’ll once again call me baby.


©2016 & 2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

This essay originally began as a narrative poem that had been published in In Two Minds on April 24, 2016. Its revision is now hosted at Age of Empathy via Medium. Thank you for reading.

watching the fallen (revised)

nine-year-old girls aren’t
supposed to walk
in on their mother
losing her mind

they aren’t raised to
bear witness to the fallen
but she watched

and she knew her
mother would never
be the same

this became her gift
learning what to avoid

an adult before
her time

yet still engaged
to a world that
overlooks her and
neglects her efforts

she’s grown but not
mature enough to
understand the ways
of this world

“You can love someone
for years and never
truly know them.”

she thinks this to
herself often
is she giving too much
is she taking too much

who will accept
all of her knowing
she’s been through
hell and back

knowing she’s watched
the fallen and
has tried her
best not to fall too

Summa Cum Laude

A poem for Bless

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, Bless graduated from college, Summa cum laude, and I had the chance to watch it as it streamed live via YouTube. Images used with my kid sister’s permission.

I wanted to be there in person
but I embraced the fact that
a violent virus is still tagging
along on the backs of culprits
and drifting into the lungs of
thousands of human beings on
a daily basis, so I secured
my place in the comfort of
my home as I watched the
youngest of our tribe 
crossover into the “real world.”

What an honor—the tears
that flowed down my face
as her name was called— watching
her stand to wave at the
camera as if to say, “Hello, world!
I’m ready. So, you’d better be,”
transported me back to
every graduation I’ve had
the pleasure to attend.

But this one is different . . .
This one comes with the
glory of knowing a young, black
woman transitioned from teenager
to graduate, obtaining her degree
with the highest distinction”
in Music Education.

What better way to carry on
the legacy of our family
than to do it by gifting others
the beauty of song?

Bless has been far more
than a blessing to us—she’s been
a dream come true for me as
I’ve always envisioned having
a little sister and after gaining
five brothers, she came thundering
through—swiftly carving a place
for herself within our world.

I feel inadequate when
placing words together to
describe her essence—the 
all-knowingness of her very
presence cannot be scribed.
It is something that has 
to be experienced.

And as she grows, our bond 
strengthens and I am no 
longer the big sister who is 
nearly twenty years older than
her, I am merely, “sis”—a woman
with whom she connects
on a higher scale than 
years prior.

I can see seas parting for 
her—making a way 
for her continued steps
as she introduces herself
to the world beyond 
her peripheral view and
I know she is going
to do great things.

I will be here for
each and every 
one of them.


Originally published via Medium.