Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moss Point Memories

In between the turkey and football of Thanksgiving, I usually take the time to reflect on members of my family that we don’t get to see often enough.

My mother’s parents used to live in Moss Point, Mississippi, a “suburb” of Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast. My Aunt, Uncle, and 2 cousins lived around the corner from them in the same neighborhood. Because my family was usually somewhere on the northeast coast between Washington, DC and Maine, we didn’t get down there as often as we would have liked. One of the first pictures of all of us together was in 1971. The youngest one in the picture is me. Yes, I used to be a blond.

My memories of the too few times we spent there are as thick as the steamy summers on the Gulf Coast. It’s hard to hear cicadas and not be brought back to those evenings with my sister and cousins. We spent our last long summer there in 1981 (I think) while dad was on deployment. It’s funny what you remember about times like that. The doorknob on the front door on my grandparents’ house was in the middle of the door, not on the side. Every few evenings, a truck would roll though the neighborhood belching a fog of mosquito-killing insecticide. Every afternoon, the shrimp boats would return to Pascagoula, and the air would positively reek with the indescribable smell of commercial shrimping. Every lawn had Bermuda grass, which was completely alien to a northerner like me.

My grandfather built a boat he named the JADE, an acronym of the first initials of his 4 grandkids. Living not a mile from the coast, we went out on that boat seemingly every day. In 1974, we got a picture of the 4 of us on the boat.

My grandmother died not too long after that trip in 1981, and my grandfather moved out of the house a year after that. He passed away in 2002. Over the years it’s been harder and harder to get us all together. There were brief holiday trips over the next few years or so, but the 4 grandkids all went their separate ways. One cousin converted to Canadianism (as my sister says) and lives in Vancouver. My other cousin now lives in Asheville, NC. My aunt and uncle are settled into a comfortable retirement in Tupelo, MS. My sister is in Texas, my parents are retired in Northern Virginia, and I’m here in Annapolis.

Last time the 4 of us were together was in the high desert of Oregon in the summer of 2003 for my grandfather’s funeral service.

The old neighborhood in Moss Point was hit pretty hard by Katrina. I doubt either of those houses is still standing.


MMC said...

"converted to Canadianism"
Heh, I like that.

Families. Funny things.
Sometimes, you can't get enough of them. Other times, they will drive you insane. Next thing you know, they start disappearing. And that's when you really realize how much they mean to you.

Celina said...

Thanks for writing this.