I’m a White Potato

Published on 28 March 2023 at 13:44

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona. We moved around a lot when I was little. I know we lived in Mesa, Tempe, and I think Tucson and Scottsdale at some point (although I am not 100% sure of this). I am sure my older sister (you know the one with the elephant memory) remembers. She says we hopped around because rent wasn’t paid so we would have to move. This seems like it would be accurate. I am not sure what all Bob did for an income to support us except for my memory of him cleaning carpets. I remember going to a house that had a slide into the pool while he cleaned the carpet. 


I vaguely remember one apartment we lived in and can almost picture what it looked like. I do recall I liked living there because a church bus would come on Sundays to pick kids up to go to church and they would give us popsicles. I remember another place that had a pool and we would go swimming. There was this teenage boy who liked to throw us in and we would have so much fun. I do not recall either of my parents ever being present during these times. As kids, we were often left to monitor ourselves. Maybe these two apartment locations were the same. I don’t think they were but as I already mentioned I do not have the best memory.


Something I do remember about living in Arizona was riding in the car. These car rides would be to my grandparents house where we would stay sometimes. At one point I lived there for a bit with my older sister. I am not sure but I wonder if these were times when my mom and Bob would fight. All I know is I remember being in the car A LOT and going there.


I didn’t mind though because it meant I got to see my grandpa. I loved my grandpa very much! He was my favorite person in the world. To me he was smart, loving, intelligent  and handsome. I always crawled up onto his lap and he would tell me stories. When I talked he listened, I mean really listened to me. I can remember sitting in his lap, smelling the coffee on his breath, looking into his eyes and feeling completely loved. Sometimes he would have a beer in his hands and he would let me sip the beer off the rim. Grandpa made me feel special and seen. 


My grandma on the other hand I did not like to be around very much. First off, she had a favorite grandchild and that was my older sister. It was very obvious, to me anyway. She also was easily nervous and seemed on edge all the time. I also did not like the way she talked with men that were not my grandpa. I didn’t have the words for what I felt at that age. All I know is I did not like it. I would write her letter and slide them under the bedroom door to her. They would say things like “Leave my grandpa alone!” I am sure there were comments about her being mean as well. These notes would make her cry but for some reason I never felt bad about this. My grandpa of course would have to discipline me. He would come in and talk to me in a gentle and calm voice about how I had hurt grandma’s feelings. He would also say “This hurts me more than it hurts you” and give me a spanking with his yard stick. I do not remember it ever hurting and I never was mad at him for doing it because I knew he had to. Now as an adult I have words for what bothered me about grandma. She flirted with men (and I have found out even slept with some of them) that were not my grandpa. 


My grandpa never once called me Melissa. His claim was that he could not pronounce my name. The truth is he wanted me to be named Maggy Sue and my mom did not go with this name. So, he only ever called me Maggy Sue and the nickname he had for me. I felt so special having a special name that only he called me. See, he did not have this with the other grandkids so it made me feel extra special. I recall one day at school telling my friends I was a “White Potato.” They found it funny and I could not understand why. I loved that my grandpa called me that. Well at least I thought that is what he said. He in fact was calling me a “White Tornado.” Basically he was referring to my stubborn nature and how passionate (or violent depending on your viewpoint) I can get about things.


There are only two times in my life that I can recall “ugly crying” and one of those times was when my grandpa died. By this time we were living in Ohio and I did not get to see him often. I was in high school when he died. It was sudden and unexpected and I felt like the only man who had and ever would love me was gone. I wish I could have seen him one last time. His death made me even more determined to reach the goals he always said I could. I was the first in my family to attend college. At times I felt like giving up on my doctorate, I would remember those special moments sitting on his lap smelling his coffee breath and it would help me to push on.


All I have left of grandpa are a few photos, my memories, and one of his flannel shirts. It is black and white checkered and sadly no longer smells like him. But it is something to hold onto. I wonder if he ever looks down on me and whispers “That’s my Maggy Sue!”

My grandpa and his favorite cake German chocolate (which is mine too)!

Add comment


There are no comments yet.