Category Archives: Trialing the Ashes

Transition Day

I sit in something called California Chicken waiting for a salad a couple of blocks from the South Carolina state capital in Columbia, SC.  Carol is about five miles away talking with an administrator in the dance program at Columbia College, which has been in operation since 1852, though you couldn’t tell it from the buildings since it was burnt to the ground a couple of times over the years.  Now it’s all red brick buildings.

I got a somewhat less than terrible night’s sleep.  And we got out of the Charleston hotel about 10 and hit the road for a 2 hour drive to Columbia.  It was an OK drive except for a torrential downpour that became more and more torrential as we approach Columbia.  It got cool enough that I had to put on this light jacket I brought and a pair of Jeans in the male locker room at the all woman college.

The area is unimpressive, sort of uncontrolled California sprawl, strip malls aplenty, but with trees to make it all more green and to hide some of the ugliness of it.  Also the gas stations all have strange names and the gas is at least a buck cheaper a gallon than back in SB

I will eat my salad, if and when it ever gets here, and go back and pick up Carol about 230 ECT and we will start the final leg of this transition day down to Clinton, SC, where the brothers should be assembled by the time we get there.  Right now Dan and Steve are in the air and Teresa and Dave may already be down in Clinton or on their way.


Part 2: having arrived at the Day’s Inn in Clinton, David, Teresa, Brian, Dan, Steve, Carol and me (Nick) all went for pit smoked barbeque at Hickory Hills, 257 Torringon Road, Clinton SC.  Low plain buildings stand in an area surrounded by a high chain link fence.  Nobody seems to know why the fence is there; one person said by way of explanation, “It’s always been there.”  One parks wherever one wishes there being no blacktop or parking spots per se.

One enters and heads straight for the all one can eat bbq buffet.  One picks up a paper plate, the kind with the little ridges to make separate areas on the plate.  One then proceeds to cover the plate with such things as cole slaw, potato salad, hash, white rice, chicken, fried and barbequed, pulled pork to be put between two slices of white bread or just eaten on the side, spare ribs, onion rings and pork rinds.  Plus other unknown things.  One downs the whole assortment with sweet tea, and if one so desires one can polish off the whole affair with soft chocolate ice cream.  Oh, and of course one may go back to the buffet as many times as one likes.  Oh, and corn bread of course, and green beans.  The whole thing costs 8.99; one pays on the way out.

Then one lies down on the ground and never gets up again having gone to pork heaven.

What Folly?

I do not travel well.  Also perhaps the nature of this particular journey—Part 2 of Trailing the Ashes or the Burial of Joan—is stirring up crap low down in the unconscious.  In any case, I was an off again, on again, raving lunatic throughout the day.  The day is not over yet but thankfully at this point Carol and I are still married and talking to each other.  Probably a miracle considering my mood.


We went out driving in our ugly burgundy whatever car from some part of Asia, Korea, I think.  We asked the kid at the front desk where to drive.  He said don’t go to this one place—the Isle of Palms—I think because all you will see is BMW’s.  He recommended another place called Folly Point.  The name should have dissuaded us but we drove there anyway.  It’s an Island.  There is no end of Islands around Charleston. 


This was a place along the order of Pismo Beach in California.  Sort of low down, a bit tacky, really local stuff, I guess you might say.  With beach houses all strung out along the main drag, mostly retails.  I guess some families come there every summer and hang out to vacation a little near the water.


I turned the wrong way at the stop light and drove out towards where a light house was said to be located.  So we start walking down this paved road as the sky gets darker and darker and thunder starts rolling and lightening starts cracking.  We kept on going so we could see the light house.


It is pictured here with the storm gathering above it.


That was fun actually—the storm I mean.  You could drive without air conditioning, with the windows open though all sorts of grit blew in.  Then we got coffee at some place the name of which I forget and we asked the waitress person where to go next and she told us about a couple other islands about 30 minutes away.  So we drove there; but the one we went to was so exclusive you had to have a pass to drive around it.  I do not like the whole idea of gated communities.  So no way was I going in there, especially not in the mood I was in…the sight of all that wealth was sure to get me ranting and raving again.


But on the way there we drove through the James’ Island State Park and it was wonderful and beautifully green, and the rain started coming down at that point to add to the very southern atmosphere, what with highways covered over with trees and moss hanging down.


So aside from ranting and feeling like a lunatic off and on, the drive was a good thing to do today.  With the weather being the most interesting contributing factor.  Who would have thunk it.?


Dave and Teresa drove north on 17 and were just getting back in the Charleston area when I gave them a call upon our rearrival at the King Charles Inn where once again our so-called keys did not work.  Dave seemed in a good mood.  They had eaten at a nice place, and they were in the middle of a downpour as we briefly spoke.

Charleston What Ho

Seems to be about 4 pm ECT here in Charleston.

 We go out, come back and once again our plastic keys don’t work. So Carol gets another set and then they both don’t work. 





 So finally, they are going to get somebody to look at the lock.  The automatic assumption is that the person renting the room is screwing up the lock.  So it has to screw up a dozen times before anyone will look into seeing if there is some problem other than the person renting the room.

 I sound a bit irritated.  I am.  I didn’t sleep terrifically well.  And while as I have previously noted, I am a very regular person constitutionally, travel does muck about with my regularity.  That’s also irritating.

 On the non irritating side, the weather is very mild for this part of the world at this time of year.  Overcast with an occasional shower.  Reminds me of when I was a kid back here; a storm would come up, out of nowhere, black as hell, deposit its load and move quickly on.  Not like Southern California where—when it does rain—it comes in low and sort of broods on top of you for a couple of days before doing its business and moving on   (hmmm..the metaphors I use suggest a bowel preoccupation).

 So Carol and I were out walking down by the water and while we sat there talking with a student from Charleston College who was selling Italian ices, rain comes up, wets the ground and moves on.  Carol wanted she-crab soup so we went to 82 Queen where the she-crab soup is for lunch, and struck up a conversation with a woman sitting across who is a flight attendant and was graduated from the University of Athens and with the waiter who is a few years out of college and spent two years as a Peace Corp Worker in Siberia of all places.  That’s Siberia Russia.

 He thinks there will be a revolution in Russia next year; the people want to go back to some form of socialism and the corruption is beginning to get way too blatant.

 The Italian Ice girl is from Boston, but likes Charleston ok.  She plans also to go abroad after graduating.

 Lots of people going abroad.  If the USA has a brain drain we have had it.  If I were a bright, well heeled young person today I would go abroad also.  The USA is not the wave of the future.

 We took David and Teresa to the airport to pick up their car.  They drove off to visit a plantation and we went back to the hotel to get our luggage that finally arrived.

So now we are in Charleston with our clothes and other stuff and we have a room that’s clean thougsh the keys don’t work.

Not too bad, I guess.


That’s a bad pic of the she-crab soup place at 82 Queen. 

Charleston Ho

Well we made it to Charleston but without our luggage.

We got up at 415 to be at the airport by 515 for a flight to leave at 6 only to be greeted by a line of people and the announcement that our flight had been postponed till 7.  Actually it left at 730.  So we barely made it to our connecting flight in Dallas, but our luggage didn’t make it.

Overall, a terrible trip.  We are on the run way at Dallas getting ready to take off and we are called back to the terminal because they forgot to sign some paper work.  The world is in the control of incompetents.  So we go back and sign the paper work and take off again.  Finally arriving in Charleston at around 5 pm but without our luggage.

There we were greeted by Brother Dave and Sister-in-Law Teresa who had taken the red eye the night before.

We get those plastic keys to our room.  But they don’t work.  So I take them down and get some more.  But those don’t work either.  Finally, the young woman at the desk walks up another set of plastic keys and this time they work.

Brother Dave and Sister in Law Teresa have a really nice room at the corner of the building (The King Charles Inn on Meeting Street), big and roomy with a frig and a micro that Dave found on the web.  Ours is OK but not quite so well appointed.  I think it is almost eleven SC time, but my body still thinks it’s about 8.




We had dinner at this place Carol likes because they have she-crab soup.  It’s a quaint sort of place, with waiters who talk way too much, and it makes me nervous when the so-called entrées top 20 bucks.  It’s a sociological thing.


Dave’s Inn

I managed to find an envelope and a stamp.  Actually a pretty big effort required, and filled out a check for $80 and addressed a letter to Wilson Memorials on Greenville Highway 14 outside of Laurens SC.  The $80 is to get Joan’s departure date (April 10 2007) chiseled in after her entry date on the WB and Joan Tingle Stone in the graveyard of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church in Ora, South Carolina.daysinn


Now I had better get the envelope in the mail.  I would like the dates to be chiseled in when we hold our little graveside ceremony for Joan.  Not having a departure date there would not contribute to a sense of closure.

The day we have set for the occasion, June 16th, a Saturday, the day before father’s day, is still a month off.  But modern travel requires advanced arrangements, especially if one does not wish to get totally screwed with plane fare.  So emails have been flying hither and thither as the California Tingle Boys (more properly California Tingle Old Men) tried to make travel arrangements.

 It appears a veritable horde of Tingles—Brother Dave with sister-in-law Teresa; Nephew Brian, son of Brother Steve; Brother Steve; Brother Dan; along with me and Carol—will be descending around June 15 at the Days Inn in famous Clinton, SC.  I don’t think Clinton is famous; but as a kid in Ora, I remember hearing about a place called Clinton, and so it was sort of famous to me, though as I recollect we never went there even though it was maybe 15 minutes away by car. 

At first I was confused by references to this Day’s Inn.  I didn’t know what they were talking about when they mentioned Days Inn in their emails because I thought it was called Dave’s Inn since the last time we went back there, last June for WB’s burial, Brother Dave stayed in the Day’s Inn.  So while we were back there, I got to calling it, as a joke I guess, Dave’s Inn and I forgot that Dave’s Inn was really Day’s Inn.  I kept googling Dave’s Inn and getting this place in Maine. Once I got that straightened out, things cleared up a bit.

At one point, I got the idea, from a too cursory reading of an email I guess, that Brother Steve was going to take the bus back to SC.  That sounded insane to me. I was preparing an email to strongly discourage him from the land route when I saw another email detailing his attempts—failed at that moment as I recollect—to get a seat on American Airlines.

The Days Inn says it has high speed internet access along with all sorts of other amenities.  But at about 50 bucks a night, one has to wonder.  But I base my idea of motel prices on Santa Barbara, which is the 10th most popular travel or vacation spot in the World.  Ahead of Rome, if you can believe. 


That’s a picture of a bathroom in the Day’s Inn in Clinton, SC.  At least that’s what the web site says; it could be a picture of a bathroom in a Days Inn located anywhere.  I don’t see anything in the picture that indicates its a bathroom in Clinton SC.  It does have one of those little coffee makers.  I wonder where those little packages of coffee I took from the last placed we stayed are. 


Elvis has Left the Building

So I called the Reverand Roper—did I say that—and got him on his cell phone.  He was in his car, driving around somewhere in South Carolina, and found out that Joan’s ashes had arrived back there.  I said we would dig the hole.  The idea of somebody out in that heat, digging a hole for Joan, disturbed me.  But he said somebody back there would do it.  So we will be in Ora on the 16th of June (knock on wood) having spent a few days in Charleston for R and R.  So it looks as if Brother Dave and sister-in-law Teresa, and Nephew Brian, maybe, and Brother Steve, and Carol and I and maybe some relatives from the area will be at the grave site.

I keep thinking about what epitath I might put on Joan’s stone were I to do such a thing and the phrase that keeps popping into my mind is something like:

Dear Lord, she couldn’t help herself.

That doesn’t sound so hot I guess, but, well, it’s the truth.  She really couldn’t.  She was miserable and had a knack for sharing her misery with others.  She really couldn’t do anything about it.

Maybe that’s what happens When Parents Die.  You say to yourself, well, that’s that.  C’est finie.  C’est tout, folks. That’s a wrap.  Elvis has left the building.  The show is over.  Because, when they do finally die, there is no possibility whatsoever that something might happen that might redeem the whole mess (whatever that might be).  Joan and Bill were true to themselves to the bitter end.  So that didn’t happen.  The redemption thing, I mean.

One finds one’s self thinking about them as unavoidable natural disasters, things that befell one.  Stuff that just happened, is all.  And it just couldn’t have been otherwise.  

Freedom lies, Hegel said, in the recognition of necessity.


Joan will have died three weeks ago tomorrow.  I still haven’t got the paper work I need to do from the damn lawyer.  And last night I realized, trying to fall asleep, that I don’t know where her ashes are.  The mortuary was going to mail them.  And I remember having given somebody the address for the Ora Church, and I remember having spoken to Reverend Roper about the sending along the ashes.  But I don’t know if the mortuary mailed them or not.  Damn, it would be a bummer if her ashes got lost in the mail.





We are trying to figure a date when we might all get back there to the little graveyard in Ora, SC.  We are aiming I think for June 10.  Brother Dave can make it then, and it looks as if Brother Steve is going too, and perhaps Nephew Brian, and Brother Dan wants to go I think.  But it’s hard for him to make plans.  He wants to go back to work of course, and he has some sort of meeting with the people at his former work this week.  At the same time his therapy people want him to concentrate only on getting better and not thinking too much about getting back to work.  So it would be awkward for him to go back to work, if that happens, and then say he has to split for a week to go to a funeral.

On top of that, his doctor people are talking more and more about working on the artery that is half open.  And that makes going back to work even more awkward.  Because no sooner would he get back to work than he might have to go to the funeral or have an operation, whichever comes first, and there is no telling at this point how long the recovery from the surgery, if done, would take.

So I had a talk with him about all this yesterday and given the very, very uncertainty of his plans, I said we would just have to aim for June and see how the chips fell and he seemed to go along with that. 

Which reminds me, I need to contact Wilson Memorials and get Joan’s departure date chiseled into the Tingle Stone next to WB.  I seem to be fretting about the etiquette of this though.  I wonder what Emily Post would have to say.  Is it more proper to have the dates already chiseled in at the time of the burial or more appropriate to leave the date blank until after the funeral.  I would hate to make some sort of gross funeral faux pas.

Brother Steve said that Joan’s obituary appeared in the North County Times:

Joan Tingle, 84

ESCONDIDO — Joan Kaller Tingle, 84, died Tuesday, April 10, 2007, in Escondido.

Born May 20, 1922, in Canada she lived in Spring Valley for one year. She was a homemaker.

She is survived by sons William Tingle of Santa Barbara, Stephen Tingle of Escondido, David Tingle of Spring Valley and Dan Tingle of Santa Barbara; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Inurnment will be at Ora Associate Reformed Church, Gray Court, S.C.

Alhiser-Comer Mortuary is handling arrangements.

Joan lived in Spring Valley for a good twenty years.  So that was wrong.  And there is no William Tingle.  I am Nicholas Tingle, even though my name is legally William Nicholas Tingle.  William is WB’s name.  Not mine.

 I hereby declare to whomsoever might be interested that when I die I want Nicholas Tingle only to appear on whatever form of memorial, if there should so chance to be one, (stone or little box) that signifies my final resting place.


That’s Joan in 1936.  Not the person I knew. 



Joan died a week ago today.  Brother Dan had that so-called mini stroke this last Thursday.  This has been one of the longest weeks of my life.


I have been reading a little in a book that says depression is the result of the inability to grieve.  I am not sure that’s what the book is saying exactly; maybe more like one is unable to grieve because one is stuck in grief.

In any case, I thought denial was supposed to come first and anger later on.  Of course, the process model of grief is BS.  But I seem to have skipped directly to the pissed off stage.

I went to bed and couldn’t get to sleep and was suddenly raging pissed off when I remember that damn lawyer has not gotten back to us yet—after three calls and an email—about what, if anything, we are supposed to do to get the trust filed and any final paper work that might need to be done. 

And yesterday I got really pissed when I heard about that massacre at Virginia Tech.  33 students dead, including the killer.  I started in ranting about the fucking incompetents that run the country and the fact that it is possible to buy automatic and semi-automatic weapons in this fucking barbaric country, and so on and so forth till I wore myself out.

The students were sort of stunned—not by me—but the event; some had heard about it and others had not, and they were whispering to each other, and one student said, because I had the web up, go to U-Tube for some action footage, and I said I didn’t want to look at any pictures of the fucking shooting or of students jumping out of windows for fear of their lives.

The parents and friends of those poor students are going to have one damn long week too, I expect.

Jesus H. Tingle

Sometimes I wish my brothers and me had been born in the old west and had been like the Younger brothers riding around on horses, scaring the piss out of folks, and killing somebody now redeemerand again if we felt like it.  I can see us now all scarred up, bearded and gnarly looking spitting this way and that,  all liquored up and scaring old ladies in the street just for the pure nastiness of it. Folks would say, them boys is riding them horses straight to hell.  Those Tingle brothers.

Tingle brothers, though just doesn’t sound right.  Who the hell ever heard of a crew with a name like “Tingle.”  To have been proper outlaws we would have had to change our name.  But there was those 6 Tingle brothers who went off to fight for the confederacy in the Florida Campaign. That’s enough for a whole platoon, isn’t it.  I can imagine those six boney guys sitting around their campfire, beating off mosquitoes spitting this way and that and generally being as surly and uncooperative as possible.

I just hate to think they would have been all gung-ho, with yes sir this and yes sergeant that and yes, I am ready to change into the face of cannon cause God’s at my side and I have seen the glory on my lips.  But come to think of it, that’s pretty twisted too.  A bunch of drooling glassy eyed fanatics going off to meet their maker.

The old man in his last years talked about going to meet his maker.  I am going to meet my maker, he would say.  I thought about that a bit.  It was like he was going to meet his long lost father and his father would recognize and welcome him and take him in his arms and if the old man found the idea comforting, well, OK.  But he didn’t always seem comforted.  Once he started reciting the 23rd Psalm which he had down by heart:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

But when he got to the part about the Lord guiding him down the path of righteous, he changed the words and said but Lord, you are walking too fast.  I can’t keep up.  I can’t keep up. 

I kept thinking what the hell sin did he think he had committed to warrant being left behind like that by his maker.  I don’t think he had been unfaithful to the old lady.  But maybe he felt guilty about those  salacious magazines he kept hidden around the house with names like “Titties” or “Big Ones.”  I got to say those magazines were something, not like the slick jobs they have out now with all those airbrushed young things looking all perky and healthy.  He must have found some backwoods, red-neck outlet cause the women feature in his magazines tended somewhat more towards the humanly grotesque than towards the impossibly perfect. 

I sure hope that’s not why he thought he was going to hell.  But you never know.



Welfare State

In Charleston, we had a bit of talk with our server person.  Turns out she had been in teacher somewhere in Charleston.  She made 22 k to start and after four years of teaching was way up to 24k, and she had a child too.  So she quit teaching because she could make more money as a server person.

aircrThat wasn’t the only reason she quit.  The whole system was horribly backwards.  For example, they didn’t have time to teach all of history so they decided just to drop all the stuff about pre-history so as to avoid any talk of cave men and monkeys.  Also they mixed the special ed kids with learning and emotional problems in with the regular kids and she had no special support.  Sometimes, she said, they would just sit there and cuss her out.  And she concluded, they lived in a “welfare state.”

That was a funny use, I thought, of the term “welfare state.”  Me, I think the US could use more of a welfare state, but not one as she described it, where people live for a generation and more on welfare, get no education, have no prospects and just repeat the cycle.  In Swainsboro, Georgia, the sister of our black friend drove us through their “projects.”  Little brick houses all in a row, people sitting out on their porches, in the heat, infested with drugs, I was told, and drug dealers.  People living in narcoticized poverty and one hundred percent black.

Up in Carolina with my relatives and down in Georgia with our black friend, people talked about jobs, needing them, getting them, moving here and there to get them, and holding onto them.  People moving in with other family while looking for one, and moving out when they found one, and back again when they lost it.  Our black friend’s sister, Paula, has a son who had ambition and joined the army and served in Iraq and came back and couldn’t find work in Swainsboro.  So now he has gone to Florida where Paula’s new husband who has retired and has 13 of his own kids has a house so he can find work.

This is family values territory, and maybe there’s a reason for it.  Because when push comes to shove, all you have is family.  These are the people who might put you up in bad times, or loan you a car, or give you an old one, and when you are in deep trouble give a you a little money, and more important than that really, these are the people you can talk to, who know you and might have a little interest in you, and who you are and what you did that day.

Because nobody else in Swainsboro Georgia could give a flying fuck.