Friday, August 26, 2011



It goes without saying that our grandparents had been unhappy when our mother eloped with a handsome, itinerant widower/preacher who had a large brood of children of his own. It certainly hadn't helped that he was not of their staunch Methodist faith and had introduced her to a foreign, radical, pentecostal way of worship. It was difficult for her to seek shelter back in her parents' home and to relinquish some degree of her independence in the rearing of her four girls. But the malaria had taken its toll, and she had no other choice but to return there. Our Aunt Nina, her older sister, and Uncle George became her caretakers as she recovered her health; the two sisters remained uniquely dedicated to each other for all their lives both living into their 90s.  

And so, we lived with our grandparents for some two-and-a-half years in Pickens, South Carolina in the Mount Bethel Methodist Church community where we attended church.  It was a quite wonderful time for us children.  There were many aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens who alternately made our lives wonderful and miserable.  They delighted in teasing and playing tricks on us.  

Grandpa had a huge old tom turkey who loved to strut his stuff in the backyard.  He owned the whole of the outdoors, getting along pretty well with the rest of the family but, for whatever reason, not me.  Whenever I stepped off the back porch, the chase was on and didn't end until I was chased back onto the porch and escaped with my life into the house.  This provided much laughter at my expense and there was no empathy forthcoming.

The love our large, extended family lavished on us was immense. A gospel singing family, they educated us in music and laughter that would stay with us for a lifetime. They taught us how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get going again when life gave us a tumble. We were well-served with their teachinigs.