My grandmother, whom we called Nonny, grew up in a family of five sisters and one brother.
My grandmother, whom we called Nonny, grew up in a family of five sisters and one brother. These were the people who helped shape my perspective on life. They were rural, moral, salt-of-the-earth folks who held firm to their beliefs and spent lots of time honing their keen sense of humor.
This snapshot in time starts with the lone brother, J.W., making a trip to the booming city of Amarillo, Texas, to visit his wife who was in the hospital for some tests. Two of his sisters joined him, but drove separately.
For as long as I can remember, Nonny and her sister, Jo Anna, were naggers — not mean or ugly, just a little hard-headed when something wasn't exactly the way they thought it should be. They would tell you about it over and over until you did it their way.
They would drone on about my mustache, the cap I always wore or how many hours I was putting in at the clinic. They would harp on it until it nearly drove me crazy.
J.W. was a farmer/rancher who didn't come to town very often. He was about to leave for the hospital when the sisters noticed several loose items inside his pickup truck. There were some wrenches, a saddle, a few bits, some plow shanks, maybe a saw or two.
That started the nagging.
"J.W., you'd better lock that stuff up before you go to the hospital or someone will steal it. You ain't in Brice, Texas, you know. This is the big city and people will just be aching to take stuff like that," warned Nonny.
That went on for some time until he pulled out of the driveway. I am sure, after growing up with them, J.W. had learned to let the words go into one ear and out the other.
The sisters left a short time later and on arrival found J.W.'s truck in the hospital parking lot. There was an empty space next to it, so they parked there and checked the truck doors. Sure enough, he hadn't locked them, and there was all that stuff just waiting to be pilfered.
Being the crafty women they were, they decided to teach him a lesson. They'd take all those tools and hide them in their car's trunk. He would think twice in the future about leaving all his things unattended in the big city.
I wish I could have seen those two ladies carrying all that stuff. Some of it was heavy, but they managed to move every bit of it.
Then they went up to the hospital room, a sly smirk on their faces, to wait until J.W. returned to his truck. During the visit they would giggle at times for no obvious reason, just waiting for him to learn his lesson about "locking them things up."
About an hour later, one of the sisters looked out the room window at the parking lot below and noticed that J.W.'s pickup truck was missing.
"Why, J.W., I believe someone stole your pickup," Nonny said shakily as she gazed at the empty spot next to her car.
J.W. strolled to the window, looked down and said, "No, they didn't. There's my truck right where I parked it, over there next to the fence."
Only two people in that hospital room felt the full impact of J.W.'s statement.
Their faces went white, and they looked like two little girls about to be sent to the principal's office.
Their trunk now held all the tools from some other country bumpkin's pickup truck, and he was gone. How would they ever find him?
Worse yet, what if he came back with the police and they found all of his things in their car?
I laugh every time I think about that moment.
They even contacted the television station and asked that the incident be put on the 6 o'clock news so that whomever they "robbed" could get his stuff back. But the station declined, so they called the police, explained the entire humiliating event and handed over their haul. We don't know if the owner ever got the items back.
Nonny died on the last day of 2005. She was over 90 and still just as feisty as the day she stole a load of tools from some cowboy.
We miss her deeply.
Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.