Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Josephine

Julia or Julie (May 1, 2009)

I happened to know Julia intimately: I was forced to observe her behaviors and sometimes succumb to her will.

Julia is the type of women who are always on alert; she is ultra prude and claims that she has never been on a beach or wore any kinds of swimming trunks.

Julie cannot sit down, relax, or let anyone relax.  She has to worry about everyone and everything.

Julia loves money but never handled money wrote a check or had a bank account: She is thrilled when she sees construction and buildings going up and sounds envious.

Yes, Julia has never set foot in a bank or wrote a check or withdrew money, I think.

Julia is an excellent cook, a talented dress designer (currently you say a fashion designer), and sew clothes to all her sisters, daughters… for every major event.

And loves to remodel the house when she can afford it, a gene that my sister inherited.

She wants her family members (especially the girls and ladies) to look as well dressed and as coquettish as she used to be; a tendency that forces her grandchildren and children to avoid passing by her when they have “sinned” against dignified fashion (like looking pretty nude).

Julia has humongous pride and she would not visit a patient or go to any anniversary when she cannot afford gifts (her unique daughter is taking after her in many ways).

If she receives a gift (and if she cannot afford offering a gift) then she has to rummage through her secret “depot” in one of the closets for a suitable counter gift.

Lately, cooking something for the returned dish is what she could offer. Julia believes that she knows something and has to offer her recommendations and guidance to people of professions, even if they are over sixty.

In 1939, Julia’s mother Eugenia left Lebanon to West Africa in order to join her husband Tanios in Segou (current State of Mali). The four sisters were left alone and joined a boarding school in Beit Chabab.

And the WWII started and they had to skip school for the duration.  The sisters did not attend school for 3 years during the war because all schools closed, although Lebanon was not directly affected.

The eldest sister Josephine was 13 and Julia 11 years old at the time.

Julia’s aunt and her extended family lived across the street. When Josephine eloped (got married “khatifeh“) at the age of 20 the other three sisters were re-interned in a school of Beit Chabab for two years.

The summer before the non-married daughters had to join their parents in Segou, they lived alone a mile away from Beit-Chabab (to what is now called Konetra) so that they don’t emulate their eldest sister in eloping.  In the meanwhile, Eugenia gave birth to many other children and at least three died in child-birth.

Julia once believed that she had scabies “jarab” when she was in a girl school in Beirut and aged 18 years.  Scabies was pretty common and when her between hand fingers  were itching she tried to cure herself secretly.

Julia told me said that “jarab” was very contagious; she secretly spent a whole week in an upper room at her sister Josephine’s who got married recently.  Julia said that nobody in the village knew about her ailment, a convenient assumption for this dreaded disease at the period, and she washed her clothes and bedding almost everyday.

This story came about when an overseas grand daughter called saying that her physician was uncertain about his diagnosis of her catching “jarab”; the diagnosis turned out to be wrong but it generated a secret story that Julia told me.

I really have no idea what Julia learned in school except cutting patrons and learning sewing and fashioning clothes. She always said that she got dizzy when reading.

Julia joined her parents in Africa by sea. The captain of the ship heading toward the port of Marseilles never believed that she’ll make it alive: Julia spent a month in her cabin unable to eat, drink or move because she suffered sea sickness.

Julia was as thin as a stick with a tough will for survival.

Any moving object makes Julia dizzy; heights make Julia dizzy; tree climbing is out of the picture.  Hell for Julia must be a rotating platform; worst, a wobbly, jerky, and seesaw habitat.

In fact, Julia never played games in school or anywhere else.

Physical games, especially for girls, are not dignified. Reading is extremely dizzying to Julia; watching someone reading intently must be giving Julia grounds to believing that the reader is “dizzy” in the head.

Julia married in Africa a handsome, loyal, over generous and devoted husband whom she fell in love in the same town in Lebanon before she travelled to Africa.

George must have sensed that he is marrying a handful of expectations and constraints.  Youth always turns a blind eye to potential troubles because youth can handle anything and never ages.

This valiant couple worked hard in harsh conditions as the sole white people in remote African villages.  They were robbed of every dime several times; once, in the town of Koutiala (Republic of Mali) and what they had saved was gone overnight; Julia was on her last week of pregnancy (of me) and George suffered kidneys problems out of grief.

Right now, when any neighboring house or shop is stolen Julia plays the investigator; everyone is suspect until the culprit is discovered: she does roam her house after every robbery story, checking exits and entrances; mouse and cats should no longer be susceptible to be entering the house.

Those 15 years in Africa must have been the best and most glorious years for this couple. They were the first to purchase an electric generators in the town of Sikasso.

This undaunted couple resumed their joint adventure to above average fortune.

Julia knew how to combine business with charity; she would offer every poor pregnant woman a “trousseau” for the new-born for free. Thus, she retained life-long customers and the competitors could not match her business acumen.

Julia sewed and altered dresses that she ordered by catalog from Paris.

When Julia returned definitely to Lebanon, her unique daughter among the other 2 boys, (well spaced them out in age, an advanced serious family planning), was never seen wearing the same dress twice in any ceremony.

Since two identical dresses take as much time to sew as one, then her niece Joelle was observed as a replicate twin, regardless of whether Joelle liked the dress or the color.

This couple was the first to install a generator for electricity in this remote town.  They transferred their three kids to boarding schools in Lebanon for fear of African diseases  because the eldest son barely survived Typhoid. And the couple would visit them one summer every two years.

Julia spent a month in Paris in 1980 to care for her first grandson William who had an open heart surgery at the age of 16 months.  William had a hole that mixed the blue and red blood in the heart and an artery that was twisted. The hospital offered a makeshift bed for Julia to sleep on for 23 days in William’s emergency room.

Julia also cared for Joanna, her favorite grandchild, for over 6 months when Joanna’s parents were in the USA on military training mission in 1985.

Joanna likes to return the favor and she volunteers to driving Julia to shrines such as Mar Charbel, Mar Rafka, and Harissa of the Virgin Mary; these are occasions for Julia to confess her grave sins for caring too much and doubting occasionally.

Julia spent 6 months in the USA in 1990 when I lived with my sister Raymonde’s family; Victor was then appointed Military Attaché to Lebanon for two years and Julia enjoyed that reprieve from war torn Lebanon and the constant blackmailing of the militias for more money when there was nothing to pay. She had to pawn her few gold rings or necklaces to appease the frightened husband.

Julia recalls that it was the hardest trip ever when she visited in the US: Victor had a terrible backache and she had to carry Victor’s bags which were packed with heavy gifts.

Julia is suffering from arthritis and a whole gamut of blood problems but she forces herself to work hard everyday as means to letting pain forget her.

She has excellent memory of ancient events.  Currently, she barely can recall names and I barely can come to the recall rescue.

Julia is currently prone to letting two casseroles burns and barely save the third: she cannot waste time and has to do several tasks simultaneously.

Julia cannot believe that she aged and has a wrinkled face. All mirrors must be destroyed but Julia would never break anything consciously.

George neither cannot believe that he aged; he just want to be left alone and not be immersed in problems that should not be of his concerns, especially that he is no longer a provider and almost destitute; but to whom are you chanting your psalms George?

George is happy to realize that his hearing is not that sharp and gets terribly frustrated when he has to repeat muted answers to Julia’s unending queries and requests.

Julia barely sleeps at night because in the solitude of the night her brain is working full-time inventing all kind of catastrophic events that might befall on any one of her extended family.

Her dreams are of the cataclysmic kinds, though one individual at a time, one dead person after another parading in succession in her dream.  Apparently, nights are more exhausting for Julia than charged days’ work.

When Julia walks out now she is constantly observing changes in her environment; such as the progress in the construction of the villa next door, the new design for neighbors gardens…

There was a time when Julia walked straight ahead and never deigning to turn her head:  She must have been convinced that she was the center of attention; she stepped out in utter elegance and vigorous gait.

Julia’s nemesis is death: when she gets upset from any member of the family she tends to ward off this fatal enemy by threatening: “This winter would be my last and you all would be delivered from my trouble making”. She has a white fancy gown stowed away for that occasion.  I hope that Julia has let someone on the proper location of the dress.

Julia is the strong type of women. Julia cannot be circumvented.

Julia is every bit on alert, the “mustanfara“, even at 83 years of age.  She is totally broke financially but that would not constitute a valid reason to let down her purpose in life: Keeping everyone on his toes.  Julia is my mother.

Note: Four years after writing this article Julia is unchanged: She is in much pain, more forgetful, and taking all kinds of medication, but Julia is undaunted. I realized that Julia is chatting far more than usual: She is thinking aloud, kind of her thinking keeps the right track if accompanied by words.

Julia wakes up at 6:30 am and begin her day, working non-stop till after 1 pm as her back aches and her fingers are crippled. Her husband, only 3 years older, doesn’t take any medication but his health is deteriorating fast and George is almost bed-ridden.

George is in  care and recovering. Julia refuses to go home to rest even for a couple of hours: She has to stay and sleep in the hospital room of her husband. The nurses tell Julia not to feed George what the hospital does not bring to eat, and I tell Julia not to feed George, and Julia believes she knows George better and what is good for George…

I tell Julia that George enjoys loneliness and would not recover as long as she never leaves his side and keeps chattering. Maybe I am wrong: I was showing George how to ring the nurses for emergencies and George chuckled softly and replied: “Why would I ring anyone when Julia is around?”

Julia is saying: “It was a good tradition to marry a husband at least 5 years older than you: So that the wife can care for him in old age...”. Joanna flew from London for a weekend just to give Julia  a boost. The moment Julia receives a boost, it sounds trouble for the extended family.

Note 2: Julia passed away at age of 92 on January 31, 2020 at 2 pm at the hospital of Beit-Chabab. Except for her heart, her vital organs started to fail. She endured unthinkable pains for an entire week, every minutes of it. She was Not feeling good before she fell in the bathroom trying to undress: there was no one at the time and I found her lying on the floor in great pain.

Josephine (Addendum #6 of auto-biography)

 

Twenty Kitties around Josephine (Nov. 2002)

 

 

I met Josephine at the Zanzibar, a dancing night club; a club in a hole of a University town.  I’m told the town has expanded so much it is almost a city. This is the fate of any town, close to a major city, Oklahoma City. That was about 1988.

 

She was with a couple of her girlfriends; and like them, in their late thirties’ or mid-forty’s. Josephine was pretty, skinny with reddish long, long hair. She was looking surreptitiously at me and I invited her to dance. We danced a lot and crazily. The slow dances turned much slower, tight and erotic.

 

We had a date the next day. Josephine came a little late as it should be. She parked her old, heavy, noisy and yellow American car in front of my apartment complex.

It was my friends’ apartment; one from Tunisia and the other from Morocco. They were on an extended vacation trip.

 

Josephine had had her hair cut short “a la garcon” in the morning, a major let down. I didn’t even express my displeasure or mentioned her new hair style. She was wearing a short, a very white short, and thongs. Her legs were very skinny and her skin was English white/bluish, and pink around the knees.

 

I felt a surge of shame: A lady her age should have a moderate sense of modesty:  People might rightly assume a money transaction in that visit, which was not.

 

Josephine inspected the premise quickly and indicated a room of her liking.

I objected lamely that my friend would have objected and she did not insist.

We went to the living room and she took off her scant cloths. Then, we threw pillows on the gray carpet for bed. Abruptly, Josephine proposed the back intercourse, the shit hole. I recovered my senses reasoning that there is always a first after all.

 

She leaned over a sofa. I enjoyed the view of her smooth, round and pink behind.

That part of hers looked in its twenties in that posture. In the meanwhile, I asked her if she is enjoying it. “Not really, it is as if I need to shit” she said. A serious inquiry was appropriate since she proposed this position. I refrained at the last second to reply, feeling quite sure, that Josephine had idiosyncrasies about Arabs’ preferences.

It was just an inner reflection, though I think it was my duty and a responsibility to expound on the topic and remove any misunderstanding.

 

We moved to our makeshift bed and resumed a long late foreplay. We were tender, affectionate and delicate. She proposed a joint and I admitted that a unique draw is enough for me. I was the wiser to inhaling only once since the performance was fantastic. I had another draw, much later, when the effect subsided. The third performance was even better.

By the by, from one finger I upgraded to my entire fist. Josephine kept a steady crescendo whine for a long time and I got scared. I stopped and asked her if she was feeling all right. That is how naïve and virgin I was in that field.

 

I recall the first time I smoked a joint. I was in a convertible Alfa Romeo with two Lebanese guys. We were heading toward the lake on a summer full moon night.

My friends were having a great time, speeding and listening to “Leila”, a guitar song played by Eric Clapton. They laughed a lot while I had a hell of problems keeping the lids of my red eyes open.

 

I twice experienced smoking a joint in groups, never alone, just “to train my endurance” for a better fit among smokers. Once, my friends had to leave without me to see a movie and dance. When they returned 4 hours later, I was still lying on the sofa, my eyes closed shut, listening to music, trying to differentiate the timbers among the different musical instruments knowing full well that my ignorance in formal music is nil.

 

The third instance was in a park, close by my apartment. I was enjoying an afternoon open concert in a beautiful summer day. I woke up and the park was empty and dark already. I walked my bike home.

 

Once, I visited a gorgeous girl at her apartment.  She used to dance nude at a bar 10 years ago. She asked me if I smoked joints.  I was candid and told her that I can withstand only one puff. We had no further dates.

 

Josephine finished off the joint in a delicious rapture. I discovered the positive side effects of taking one draw: I felt myself a regenerated stud to the satisfying appreciation of Josephine. We had another go at love and I bathed in her glowing face and younger smile. I understood then the saying: “Love makes young”.

 

She had finished a second joint and I inhaled one puff. I inserted a finger, then a second, then a third. As I said previously, Josephine was moaning softly and continuously.  When my entire tiny hand was in her, her moaning rose to an additional octave for a long time and I got scared. I asked her whether she was all right.  She opened her eyes as from a long dream. I felt stupid and regretted cutting short whatever she was experiencing. I also regretted the deficiencies of males in that pleasurable sport.

 

Josephine told me that she is keeping two dozens of cats in her home. She had a name for every cat. She is well versed on the psychological character and behavior of every single cat of hers. I felt curious and asked her when I can visit her. She categorically denied me any visit and I felt totally relieved.

 

I intended not to tell my friends about this visit to the apartment. But the Moroccan guy found out from a girl friend of his. He was pissed off. I exacerbated the situation by gloating that we tried every corner of the apartment, including his bed. My Moroccan friend avoided me then for months. He did not feel handicapped about pissing in the lavatory. I didn’t mind:  I believe they had started treating waste water in the USA.

 

Josephine introduced me to her married son at Zanzibar. It was a planned surprise!  Her son behaved properly and shook my hand.

Josephine invited me to her girlfriends’ house too. She was fluttering around the place chatting and singing.  Josephine was displaying her beau. She sat on my laps, hugged me and kissed me all the while. I felt intimidated and absolutely awkward.  I sat stiff and stoic. I could not join the group in their intimate relationships. I felt that I was a certified self-centered ignoramus.

I was amid lively butterflies, though older and oversized. I am sorry that I failed befriending these ladies, real ones for a change.

 

By then, I had moved with an elder woman who thought that she is still young:  Her son wanted me to sleep there for security  and for emergency reasons.  I had just a room; the woman didn’t entitle to share the kitchen.  I had spent a night at a dancing bar with Josephine and she gave me ride at 4 a.m.  Josephine was drunk; I was not: I could not afford to get drunk.  Josephine wanted to spend the night with me in my room.  I told her that it was not appropriate and that the elder woman would not appreciate extraneous activities in her home.  That is how stupid I was and for a long time.

 

Josephine moved with a black man, a handsome, friendly addict and a drug pusher.  He lived at her home with the kitties around.  Marvin ended up in prison and Josephine had to bail him out. Josephine was alcoholic but she was fighting courageously for her rights to have the most pleasures in this lifetime.

 

Josephine won an even bigger battle: Josephine learned not to discriminate against origins, races or colors.

Habitat

 

            The first semester I could afford to rent an apartment with a roommate.  The second semester I had to move out and join three other roommates.  By the third semester I had to find accommodations with elder ladies who lived alone and wanted someone to sleep in their houses for security and safety reasons; which I did.  An American friend by the name Charles connected me to Frank (a retired engineer) who lived in Houston and whose mother lived alone.           

For two years I shared the homes of elder ladies. One lady was over 80 years and had lost her memory and slept most of the time. Her son Frank lived in Houston and her daughters also lived far away; her eldest daughter was mean and I apprehended her short visits.  A nurse was supposed to come once a day and care for her but she failed in her duty most of the time and I was stuck with the awful smell emanating from her room.  I often reminded Frank and her daughters that their mother is to be moved to specialized centers; they could afford to pay for their mother transfer but I still have no idea why they preferred her to stay at her home.  For a time, the supposed nurse moved in to the basement and lived with her drug addict boyfriend; they were planting marijuana in the basement. The nurse did her best to kick me out so that they get a clear field of action and her boyfriend threatened me.  Frank came from Houston and chased them out of the basement but he did not transfer his mother to a decent location.

The second lady was functional but resented that I sit in the living room or to cook; I was supposed to just come a sleep in my room.  She was tall with long reddish hair and she believed to be attractive.  She would occasionally take only sponge baths.  I wrote a piece on her “She wouldn’t take a full bath”; in was also the time when I met Josephine “Twenty kitties around Josephine”.  Finally, enough was enough and I rented rooms where no old ladies lived.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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