She’s coming next week,
the new girlfriend,
and though i’m eager to meet Her,
i worry i’ll embarrass
my son
when She sees
an overweight,
out of shape
redhead from a bottle.
a woman who has
pretty teeth
(thanks, mom)
but too many chins
and a face that
resembles her
daddy’s side of the family.

i know nothing about Her
save her name.
that’s unusual,
but He tells me He wants
me to meet Her
with fresh eyes.

does She like to read
and if so, what?
does she paint?

does She
laugh easily and often?

does She enjoy long
philosophical talks
that go into the
dark:thirty hours?

does She cheat at canasta?
shop off the list?

will She be territorial?
will i feel the need to
ask Her permission to
spend time with my son alone?

will He make apologies
dressed as
on their way back to colorado?
there was a time
when i lived to
embarrass Him,
but He’s not in
high school any more.

i remember the first
time i took my husband
to my grandparents’ house.
it was as though i were
visiting for the first time, too.
seeing the concrete block steps,
the small, rickety handrail.
the rusty screen door,
the mesh full of holes that
allowed flies to traipse
in and out of that kitchen
at will.
the gold ceramic fish
with three different-sized
bubbles that decorated
the single bathroom.

it was the first time i noticed
that their feather bed
with the vinyl-covered headboard
was in their den,
the room that housed
not only their bed
but two rocking chairs, a space heater,
grandmother’s treadle sewing machine,
the dresser,
home of necessary toiletries
and fabric scraps,
the telephone on the wall,
and the television
that all but dialed itself
to live atlanta wrestling
every saturday night.

it was the first time i saw
that the combination
was illuminated by a
single bare bulb
hanging down from the ceiling.

i wasn’t at all embarrassed,
just surprised that
i’d never really
seen these things before.
that the place where i’d spent so much
of my life
was new to me
on that day.


  1. writemuch

    Oh, Jeanne, this is wonderful. there is magic when we look at our ordinary life anew, especially through the eyes of folks whom we sense may have a role in that life to come.

    • whollyjeanne

      Susan, you are so right. I tell you what: I wish I had that bare bulb hanging down from a 3′ cord with me today. Maybe even the dime store gold fish with her bubbles.

  2. jo miller

    I know in this head of mine , that it will all go well–do not even know you or your family in person.  do know that you, your charm & your family’s welcome==It’s charm & freely given love, will begin a great process  maybe the homecoming meal at the famed pizza joint.
    I know your son is excited.  I know that you will nor let him down.

    and heck, if even the worst disaster happened, which I have a feeling it won’t – I do have a strength this way 🙂
    you could weave an amazing tale.

    Rnjoy,Delight,Rejoice that your son can come home & wants to show y’all off!

    • whollyjeanne

      Jo, every time I get nervous, I’m gonna’ think of you and your kind, supportive words. And you’re absolutely right: either way, I’m gonna’ have some stories to share! xo

  3. Brenda Lynch

    I think you were at me Grandparents house–are you glad we have the most interesting of backgrounds–Southern–Last night my Grandson and I shelled peas (even made a litle competition out of it) I told him “when you brin a girl here I’m gonna ask her if she has ever shelled peas with her Grandmother-and if she says no, you will have to bring someone else–I even saw a slight smile at the corner of those ever so quiet lips– sweet boy!!  That’s so much for your writing–I enjoy them so much!

    • whollyjeanne

      Ha – I love that, Brenda. And I can just see that slight smile and your words imprinting on his heart. I can’t count high enough to tell you how many summer days I spent on Grandmother Ballard’s front porch shelling peas and butterbeans of shucking corn. We’d also count the cars, and though it’s hard to believe it, some particularly busy days, we’d get up to 5 cars passing her house in a 4-hour time period!

      • Brenda Lynch

        We counted cars too at my Grandmother’s. shucked and shelled too-Glad I got old enough and smart enough to appreciate those times!

        • whollyjeanne

          I tell you what, Brenda. There’s not much I wouldn’t give to have just one more of those summer days on the front porch.

  4. writemuch

    oh, and how can she help but see YOU!

    • whollyjeanne

      from your fingertips, susan . . .

  5. Julie Daley

    Dear Jeanne,
    It never ceases to amaze me how you weave words so gorgeously. Just be you…that will give her the ‘okay’ to just be her. Easy, peasey…like a sunday morning…

    • whollyjeanne

      Awww, thank you Jewels – for the review and for the recommendation. excellent advice. xo

  6. Anonymous

    The way I see it, She is one lucky woman to be spending time in your beautiful in-person presence.  Second only in luck to those of us who read your beautiful online presence.

  7. emma

    oh my goodness, good luck! i am nervous for you, because your words so brilliant captured that energy, but then i’m not nervous at all because i know how amazing you are and how much you love your son so i can’t imagine the moments ahead being anything but magical. i look forward to hearing about them, nonetheless! xo

  8. Alana

    I hope it’s wonderful. She’s a lucky lady.

  9. Anonymous

    She is going to adore you. She is lucky to have such an amazing person to meet … and I bet you she will be more preoccupied with making a good impression on you! 🙂

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Sugar. It’s tricky, this.

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