Monday, June 1, 2015

The George Jones Museum: Nashville, TN

This is George Jones' fault.

While driving to my hotel in Nashville, I passed the George Jones Museum.  I knew I had to make time to visit there no matter what happened.  Because if it wasn't for George Jones, my children wouldn't exist. 

The museum, as it turns out, hasn't opened yet.  I was really disappointed that I wouldn't be able to make the pilgrimage.  Then I found out they were opening that coming weekend - and I would still be in town.  They opened to coincide with the 2nd anniversary of his death.

I wanted to get my dad something from the gift shop but this was a little out of my price range.  I do love the vanity plates.

The only size bottles of White Lightening they have.  A little too much for the suitcase home.  And then to get it to Texas next time I go.

Just right.  Dad modeling his shirt.  I also got him a coffee cup.  An item that will be well used in his house.

And though I was able to make the pilgrimage, I didn't end up going through the museum.  It was $20.  A little more homage than I was prepared to pay.  My dad would have paid twice that.
When I mentioned to a customer that I needed to go to the museum because George was responsible for my children's very existence, she gave me a funny look and I realized that she might think I am saying that George Jones is the father of my children.  He's not, but he is no less responsible.

Here's how it happened.  This is my my version of the story.  Others have their own versions, that is the nature of a story.  So, to those of you who were there, I don't want to hear any comments about the accuracy of my memories, they are mine.  If your memories are different, they are wrong.

My dad was a singer in a band.  His specialty was George Jones music.  I don't actually remember him ever singing a song by anyone else, at least not on stage.  He sang all of the time at home and there he sang songs by other people.  My daughter was about 8 when she said, "Grandpa is a joyful person".  When I asked why she said that, she said it was because he was always singing.

There he is, in the green (or blue, depending on your opinion and screen) shirt in the middle.  The one with the microphone.  

So one June night in 1983 me and my friend Kim went with my parents to watch him sing.  As you can see from the curtain in the background, this was at a VFW Hall.  The guy to the right of my dad, as you look at the photo (white cowboy hat, looking away from the camera, bass player) is Alan.  He will be part of this story in a minute.

My friend Kim looked a little like Lynda Carter, the actress who played Wonder Woman.  She was built like that too.  I was resigned to my role as the ugly friend.  Not one time when I was with Kim had a boy ever noticed me.  I didn't expect this night to be any different.  Plus, in June of 1983 I have just finished the 8th grade.  I am 14 years old.  Dating wasn't a big concern of mine.  I had never been asked on one and had never had a conversation with my parents about when I would be allowed to go in the event that someone ever did ask.

When I went to the ladies room I saw a group of teenagers at a table on that side of the building.  I hadn't really paid attention to them before.  Maybe I was sitting with my back to them?  Not sure, but this was my first time noticing.  And that is all I thought, that it was a large group of older teenagers.  I didn't notice anyone in particular.  But one of them noticed me.

When dad wasn't on stage, he would sometimes dance with me.  When we were exiting the dance floor that night a young man stepped in front of me and said, "Do you want to dance later?".  I said, "Sure" or "Okay".  Something sophisticated like that.  Later, we danced.  His name was David and he was 17, would be 18 in a few weeks.  Because of his July birthday, he had just graduated from high school about a week before.  He is there with his date (he took her home early), his cousin, bass player Alan, and some other kids from his high school.

I don't remember what we talked about while we danced but I do remember the change in his face when he asked how old I was and I told him.  He recovered and not to be that easily deterred, he asks my parents if he can ask me on a date.  Smooth operator, asking the parents.  

AND THEY SAID YES.  Years later my mom would say things like "what will you do when a grown man shows up and asks your 14 year old on a date?" and he would say, "the same thing you should have said, NO."  I was mature for a 14 year old, even my mom will tell you that but still.  14 is 14.  He had a job and an apartment and this is my first date ever.  As for me, he noticed me and not Kim so what wasn't to like?  I would have said yes on that fact alone.

So the next day, a Sunday, he picked me up and we went to his friend's house swimming.  And I got my first kiss.  Something I knew was coming most of the day and was totally dreading.  Not so much today.

That first date/kiss led to this:

David's dad took this picture of us in December of 1985 (written on the back of the photo).  So I am just turning 17.  We have been dating 2 1/2 years already. 

At our wedding in March of 1987.  I am barely 18, he is 21.  I am still in high school, graduating in May.  It was the beginning of Spring Break.  I must have missed that Captain and Tennille song, You Better Shop Around.

This is late 1993 or early 1994 depending on who is having a birthday here.  We have 3 children.  I am 25.  I was 22 when our son, the youngest, was born.  What were you doing when you were 22?

It was hard.  We had the kids young and really close together (22 months and 19 months).  We didn't have a lot of money.  In that last photo we are living in a 2 bedroom apartment while David is going to school at night.  He keeps the kids during the day while I work and I have them at night.  We are only together on weekends.  The kids have no furniture in their room.  They each have a foam chair that folds out to a bed, a pillow and a blanket.  That table was a dumpster dive.  And for those of you that are super observant, that isn't an expensive stand mixer in the background.  Its an antique juice press I got when my grandpa died.  It has no monetary value.  If that wasn't the case, it wouldn't be there.  I won a TV at work during this time and we drove it directly to a pawn shop.

It got harder.  The details aren't important.  This is what's important:

We made it this far.  

In 2013 we left Texas for Montana and we love it here.  And our easiest kid, Karma, is with us.  The others have moved on, all 3 living in different states.  We have 3 grandchildren now.  And David and I are having a great time.  We are on the best part of this adventure.  

And I have two people to thank for that...


And dad.  Thank you for being such a joyful person.

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