Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Baptist Pallet


Before the go-down, we lived in a home that could accommodate the masses. With a large and extended family, it had been the plan to have ample space to entertain our kids, grandies, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. Throw parties, charitable events, even rent it out. Plenty of bathrooms, parking and places to sit and visit with family.

It wasn't the first thing I thought of when Bill was diagnosed with AD, but it was certainly in the top five...... "how will I ever keep this up?"

A beautiful, yet private place and everything we thought we needed. It was our retreat and served as a vacation spot for many, but the maintenance and upkeep was daunting. Abruptly closing a business meant shutting down the income stream for both Bill and I. To shed it and 8000 square feet of furnishings was bittersweet, but in the end one of the most liberating things I have ever experienced. There would be no budget in my future for a yard and pool man, year-round painters and carpenters or $3000 a month in utilities alone. Excess.

The cost of Alzheimer's? Everything you ever owned, everything you ever thought you would get, and things you never even thought about.

I rise in the mornings early, quietly making my first cup of coffee. This morning my thoughts took me back to childhood and 'Baptist Pallets' as every inch of space in our little cottage was occupied. I so enjoy creating and delivering duplicitous posts. Fortunately, we haven't always had this life.

Baptist Pallets is an old saying from the southern United States. This was where they let the babies and small children sleep during the evening church service.

As a child, we would visit each set of grandparents every other weekend. To Apple Springs, Texas, we would travel to the farm to tend the cattle, ride the ponies and motorcycles, pick berries, gather eggs, milk the cows and churn butter. At night, Grandmother and Granddaddy Holcombe's tiny house was covered in what she called, Baptist Pallets. Quilts lined every inch of floor space as the older cousins got the beds and us youngins got quilts on the floor.

The next weekend, we would load up on Friday afternoon to go and visit the other side of the family in Calvert, Texas. Gardening, canning, running the dogs for quail, checking the lines for yellow catfish on the Brazos River and searching for antiques and treasures in small shops lining Highway 6. There was always enough room no matter the size of the house, the number of beds and both sets of grandparents had just one (indoor) bathroom.

Same thing, different address ~ at night, we laid out the Baptist Pallets.

Of course, my kids know about this crude sleeping arrangement and think nothing of it. But what they do not understand is the camaraderie and bond formed by kissing cousins. The stories we told, the secrets we shared, the mischief we planned. And lets not forget to mention the group trips to the outhouse with only the light of the moon.

In the here and now, it is hard to plan too much mischief. Supposing plans are made to be broken, we oftentimes just operate off the cuff. Yesterday, there had been no plans for a sleepover, but with Baptist Pallets and a new way of life, anything goes. Sometimes, we just cannot keep appointments we make or make plans that we can keep. Everything around here is subject to change without notice.

WB was aggressive yesterday, struggled with his speech and I was forced to double his medicines. There was too much conversation about the good old days and a call from an old friend had disturbed him. But, when getting him settled down last night and ready for bed he whispered in my ear, "I love it when all the kids are here together."

Last night, Dalt made his famous burgers, Kate made Watergate Salad and I whipped up baked beans and potato salad. Watching movies, reading Kindles and playing with the pups scrubbed all plans of painting last night, but today is another day. It could be a day trip, a movie or.....more Baptist Pallets.

Smiling this morning, I find comfort when reaching back nearly 40 years to share tiny pieces of our past that ultimately make us who we are. The traditions, the experiences, the recipes ~ all of it. 

News of our sleeping arrangements may not be any great surprise to others my age who also grew up in a time and place where nobody was turned away, there was always room at the table, neighbors looked in and families gathered ~ but digging deep keeps it real.

Just Brantley

My name is Rhonda Brantley and my husband, Billy Ray Brantley, suffers from Early Onset Alzheimer's Dementia. This is the best shot we have at documenting daily living.

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