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Daily Archives: May 5, 2010

A letter to Hattie, my sister . . .

Dear Hattie,

Writing to you is a bit awkward for me because I have no way of knowing your age, or even knowing whether you have progressed in age since your death. I believe you have, because I believe that we are all born without sin, just as was Jesus, even without the sins of our mothers and our fathers, and I would like to believe that still-born babies, and those that die shortly after birth as you did, are privileged to ascend to heaven and do ascend, there to grow into adult spirits in order to welcome their parents and other family members on their level when they arrive, not as unknowing infants but as adults and as understanding spiritual beings.

The only thing I know about you is what our mother told me. I know that you lived only one day, but I don’t know what went wrong with your birth, whether you died in the womb or after you were born, nor do I know where you were buried—in west central Alabama, of course, but I don’t know whether you were buried in a cemetery or near the house where you were born—in that day and age many still-born babies and those that lived only a day or so were usually buried on private grounds, often without  ceremony or a marker of any kind. That’s doesn’t mean that those involved were not sorrowed by your death—that’s just the way things were handled in those days, and I’m sure you understand that.

Had you lived you would have been to me another older sister, not a completely good thought—sometimes I felt that I was up to my shoulders in sisters. You are one of seven children born to our mother—five girls and two boys, and I am the younger of your two brothers. You, our brother and our four other sisters were all older than I, so I’ll guess that you have progressed in age accordingly. I have never known where you stand in age in relation to the others.

You could have been our mother’s first born, and that’s very possible—she married our father, a considerably older man, at a very young age, just as did many farm girls during that era and in that area—older men as well as younger men married young girls for different reasons, not the least of which was that they needed a young wife in order to produce lots of children, especially boys, to help out on the farm—some marriages were in essence an economical necessity.

First births were, and still are, often very difficult, while babies born in subsequent births were, and still are, in less danger, and of course you could have been born between  the births of our other siblings. However, this I know for sure—you are definitely older than I because I am the last born, delivered several months after our mother divorced our father—I am also the last one of our family still standing, and reasonably erect—in posture at any rate.

The others are all gone—our mother and our father, you, our brother and all four of our sisters. Oh, and also gone is a stepfather our mother married when I was nine. We understood why he was attracted to her, but we never understood why she was attracted to him. He may have meant security for her, but that’s not the way it turned out—if you’ve been watching the twists and turns their relationship took you’ll understand. The two were married, unmarried, then married again in a relationship that lasted, spasmodically, for a total of 29 years.

Just to bring you up to date—when I was born I had only four siblings—one brother and three sisters. You were dead, of course, and our sister Eulene was only ten years old when she died, the victim of a hit-and-run drunken driver. After she was struck by the auto her body was dragged for a considerable distance. Our mother told me that the drunk was arrested a few miles from the accident scene at a low-water crossing while trying to wash the evidence—our sister’s blood, hair and tissue—from the auto’s undercarriage.

I was only two years old at the time so I know nothing about her other than a few details of her death. She is buried in the cemetery at Pinhook Baptist Church, located in a small rural community in west central Alabama, a few miles south of the city of Vernon, the county seat of Lamar County.

Atop her headstone is a marble carving of a lamb, an apt monument to a young girl taken from this life at such an early age—I know, I know—she fared far better than you did, but that’s life—it has its up and its downs and is rife with inequities.

In addition to our sister Eulene, our mother and our stepfather—well, not your stepfather, but my stepfather—are also buried there. The same cemetery also contains the earthly remains of various relatives on our mother’s side of the family—aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I didn’t know them very well, and some not at all.

I’m writing this because my three daughters—your nieces—want me to tell them everything I can remember about their parents and grandparents, their aunts and uncles and cousins. They have lived most of their adult lives away from those relatives and have never known them very well, and some not at all. They have assigned me a Herculean task, but I’ll do the best I can to comply—I understand their need and longing for more information on those that have gone before.

I apologize for not writing sooner, and I must admit that this letter did not come easily—it did, however, come from the heart. And if some feel that portions of this missive seem flippant, perhaps sacrilegious, the only thing I can say to them is, suck it upit’s in my nature.

I will close on a hopeful thought, one that may not be readily accepted by visitors to this blog. I accept the possibility—mind you, I said possibility, not probability—that souls may move at times between their universe and ours, so given that possibility, I plan to post digital letters on my blog, similar to this one, to our parents, to our brother and to our sisters, and perhaps even to my stepfather, so you might want to stay tuned.

With love from your brother Mike and your three nieces—Debbie, Cindy and Kelley.

Postcript: I found this information in a genealogical report researched and compiled by Jessie’s daughter Vicki, one of your nieces, a lovely lady now living in Montgomery, Alabama. I know now that you were born in 1917 in Fernbank, Alabama, a small town in Lamar County a few miles south of Vernon, the county seat. You were the second child born to our mother, some eighteen months after our older sister, Jessie, was born, and you were buried there in Walnut Grove Cemetery.

Had you lived, you would have been the second oldest of five girls and two boys born to our mother between 1915 and 1932, a period of just seventeen years, an average of three years between births. Remember what I said about farming families and the need for workers?

I would hope that our father was not too disappointed in the ratio of girls to boys—five girls to only two boys. Had it been me I would have been very proud, as witness the fact that I have three daughters and no boys, and I could not be happier with that ratio of girls to boys—of course I’m not a farmer!

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Check out DavisW’s blog . . .

The purpose of this posting is to call the reader’s attention to a fellow blogger, one that analyzes current events and shares his thoughts on them—his motto is A funny every day. Please trust me on this—he really does post every day, and every post is funny—nay, every post qualifies for hilarious. It’s all satire and must be taken with a grain of salt, but it will serve to keep one up to date on current news—one only needs to separate the wheat from the chaff.

A second reason for this posting is a comment I made on his posting of May 4, 2009—yesterday. I pored over that and past postings and deduced how he is able to produce such a prodigious output of words. I communicated my analysis to him by commenting on that posting, and I’ve decided to share that analysis with visitors to my blog.

Click here for a fast ride on DavisW’s roller coaster! This is the posting that prompted my comment.

Click here for DavisW’s home page. Give it a bit of time to load, and then you’ll find today’s posting already published. I would advise that we not attempt to keep up with him—I’m not sure it can be done. We’ll just need to check in occasionally and play catch up.

This is the comment exactly as I submitted it:

I’ve been watching your blog for some time now and I believe I’ve figured it out. You have a string of professional writers, some of them two-fingered typists, working around the clock to create your postings on Word Press, probably in a large room with no dividers similar to an old-time newsroom, with upright Royal typewriters and reams of paper on every desk, with an Ivy League university educated journalist at each desk frenetically pounding on keys and space bars and frantically slapping the return handle for the next line, simultaneously flipping through and perusing rival daily newspapers and pertinent periodicals for suitable subjects for future filings, all the while looking over their shoulders for a fledgling journalist, usually a girl, to enter the room, a room filled to the ceiling and corner to corner with the deafening sounds of clicking and clacking keys and space bars, sounds accompanied by the staccato pounding of copy-boys’ feet as they race around the room picking up finished copy to deliver to the copy editor for review, with the copy editor framed in the doorway of his office constantly haranguing them by shouting, “Come on, people, let’s move it, we go to press in one hour!” and the fledgling enters and trumps them with  finished copy composed in perfect prose pertinent to the latest calamitous event, a story certain to be nominated for a Pulitzer prize, perfect copy completed in a dank basement storage room with no heat and little light, using a typewriter with the E key missing and the return handle broken. I cannot imagine any other system that could possibly explain the tremendous and tumultuous volume of words published on your blog. And to all of this I say, “Keep the pressure on ’em—they’re doing good work!”

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2010 in Uncategorized