On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 21, 2021:

After a year off for COVID isolation, the Rains County Fair was back last week. The first two nights were so slow in the Exhibits and Vendor Building that I wondered if people were still cocooning at home. But even on the slow days, there were interesting people to watch – and by Saturday night, the crowds were back in force.

The most exciting happening on Tuesday evening was a plumbing problem. “Do you know how to unstop a toilet?” asked a distressed-looking Teri Baker. (In spite of the guaranteed traffic flow, there are disadvantages to having a booth just outside the restrooms.) After asking if there was a plunger, I explained its use briefly – but she still looked as if she might be sick, so I followed her into the men’s room. She grasped the handle of the plunger with one hand as close to the end as possible and stood as far away from the toilet as possible. She placed the rubber cup over the outlet and pressed gingerly. When nothing happened, she pressed again. It bubbled once, and she asked hopefully if she should flush now. I knew it was time for me to step in. I became quite an expert with a toilet plunger during my caregiving years, and after about thirty seconds of vigorous plunging, the clog cleared. Teri was very grateful, and I went back to my booth feeling like a hero.

Wednesday was evening more boring. Closing time approached without a single book having left my booth, and there wasn’t even a plumbing issue to break up the monotony. Finally, at 9:55 a man stopped to chat and left with two books and a tote bag. Never had a $26 sale been so welcome. Thankfully, the rest of the week was more productive.

Every year that I’ve had a booth at the Fair, I’ve been across the aisle from Toni Threadgill, local State Farm agent. As usual, instead of a traditional sales-type operation, her booth offered a place for weary Fair goers to rest and refresh themselves. Half a dozen folding chairs provided a place to take a break while sipping a free cup of strawberry lemonade. One evening, a newlywed couple sat shyly close as they enjoyed a cool drink before proceeding toward the Midway hand in hand. The most popular attraction was a small table and chair set that immediately caught the eye of passing children. One adorable little boy put his stuffed dinosaur in one chair while he enjoyed the other chair which was just his size. Later in the week, a group of older boys used the grouping for a rowdy game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

One thing I always look forward to is pageant night. Sometimes I slip away from the booth for a quick peek at the girls on stage in their finery. This year, since I was alone in my booth, I knew I wouldn’t be able to take a break, but I looked forward to the parade of contestants of all ages as they went into the restroom to change into or out of their evening dresses. This year, though, they never came, and I found out later that a new dressing area has been added behind the stage. I was very disappointed, but I did get to see a few little mutton busters strutting around in their boots, their over-sized belt buckles, and their contestant numbers pinned on their backs.

I usually share a booth with Tennille Case of Tennille’s Cookie Jar, but she was otherwise occupied this year having just successfully completed treatment for cancer and moved on to physical therapy. The highlight of the week was Saturday night when I looked across the building and saw this courageous woman, dressed in a baseball cap and a bright yellow shirt, and wearing a huge smile. She saw me, waved, and headed my way. She gave me a huge hug – after checking to see if the next book in the Tatia series was on the table – and whispered in my ear. “Cancer is stupid,” she said. “We’ll do this next year.” I’m counting on it, my friend!



Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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