Friday, May 1, 2009

Family Business

Hsssssssss chk chk chk chk chk chk hsssssssssss chk chk chk chk chk chk.

I hear the sprinkler as if it’s oscillating white noise. It sounds like my great great aunts whispering about “family business.” They're the poster girls for the saying,” I don’t repeat gossip so listen carefully.”

You would never hear their generation talk about money, sex, death or health problems- especially the “C” word” (cancer). There were so many topics that were absolutely off-limits for discussion, my young mind was left to wonder about many things. One unlikely story about death I recall being retold many times is the tale of the great great uncle who was killed while riding behind a log truck in the Carolina mountains when impaled by a runaway log. Do you think that could be why to this day I’m fearful of driving near a log truck?

Of the five sisters, Minnie, Gypsy, Ruth, Frances and Bill, Gypsy was the most animated storyteller. They all built beach houses in the 1930’s, lined up next to each other like a flock of geese by the bay. For most of my life, we filled Mama Frankie’s house every summer with pallets thrown on the floor and family in every bit of space.

Mornings began with LouLou at the grits pot stirring and stirring; that’s her secret to the best grits in the south. In the late afternoon, everyone in the neighborhood congregated under the canopy of oaks by the bay for extended “visiting”… hours on end of conversation & laughter. Evenings were filled with games and reading if you were lucky enough to land a spot near a lamp. Skinny-dipping in the phosphorescent water was also a favored activity. The small black and white TV was turned on only for occasional news reports.

The blades of grass that managed to poke through from the coaxing of the sprinkler never overtook the dirt paths worn by many little feet.

When I smell the fragrance of salt water and pine trees and hear the sound of crickets, I'm transported to that place and that time.

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. - Thoreau

Cracker Chronicle Observation: This set of great great aunts included a girl named Bill and on my father's side there was a girl named Noah. (Pronounced N0-eee) I guess when they didn't have boys they settled for using a boy's name. Funny in a sad sort of way.


Protege said...

What a beautiful recollection of your childhood. It is indeed mesmerizing how some of the scents in nature can bring us instantly back in time. That is the most wonderful thing with memories, they can be triggered by just a smell or a sound and some of them will come streaming back when we least expect it.
Thank you for always leaving such kind comments at my place.;)
Have a wonderful Friday.

sara said...

i love hearing the stories of your family! what amazing and sweet memories you have!

skoots1mom said...

you reminded me of my great, great aunts..Ila, Ora, Ura, and Era and uncle horace.
love family stories
thx 4 sharing :)

Saleslady371 said...

Now I feel like I really, really know you, my skinny dipping girlfriend. I always wanted to be friends with a free spirit! Ha-ha-ha.

So that's the secret of grits: lots of stirring. My hubby loves them.

Sassy Granny ... said...

Thank you. I could smell the grass and hear the sprinkler, and for a brief time felt like I was actually there.

What lovely memories!


Shelly W said...

I love these memories, Beverly. This one was lovely--the stuff of novels. Do you have one in there??

My ADHD Me said...

You paint a beautiful picture. And I do remember when people didn't talk about cancer and also how everyone thought it was contagious.

The last quote made me think of Johnny Cash--A Boy Named Sue.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I soooo have you beat! My aunt (the firstborn to my grandparents) is named Willy. No kidding.

We had a short hen party with "Willy," her sister and a cousin during our trip to see Wicked and we sat in the hotel lobby and laughed a little too loudly for the thousandth time about the whole story. Funny you should bring it up. At least she doesn't go by Willy though! And still threatens to this day to change her name. :-)

Scribbit said...

What a lovely name--Gypsy!

And the stirring the grits so reminds me of my Arkansas grandfather at breakfast.

Renna said...

What a lovely childhood memory. I'm a bit envious.