Hello! Who are you, Kentucky? forum: Growing up in Kentucky

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Feb 17, 2010 2:34 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Did you play games, marbles, jump rope, swim in the creek, climb trees? Tell us something uniquely yours that you remember from your childhood in Kentucky.
Apr 29, 2010 1:37 AM CST
Name: Sharon
This is the story of the first death visitation I can remember.

Up the road a little bit from my house was a log cabin, old as the mountains that surrounded it. The people who lived there were old to me, and the old man, Uncle Will, had been bed ridden for years. I used to go with my Granny Ninna to visit them. We'd take them a mess of greens or sometimes beans, but always cornbread. I was the one who carried the cornbread, wrapped in the best kitchen towel made from a feed sack.

They were no kin to me, but in those days, little kids were often taught to call neighbors Aunt and Uncle, it was the respectable thing to do.

One winter word came that Uncle Will was very sick. It was the middle of the night, and we were awakened by Uncle Will's son, Edison, knocking loudly on our back door. They wouldn't let me go with them, my dad and my granny, so I stayed at home with my mother. They said it wasn't fitten that a little girl watch as an old man lay dying. I could not sleep the rest of the night, waiting as I was for his soul to pass over my house on its way to heaven, as I'd been told.

But the night must have passed, and I never saw his soul, because the next morning when I went in for breakfast my granny was stirring up a pot of shucky beans and Mama was baking cornbread.

"Where's my oatmeal?" I asked. I couldn't start a morning with beans and cornbread.

"Uncle Will died last night. We're fixing beans and cornbread for his visiting," said Granny Ninna.

"People eat after they die?" I asked. "Dead people eat?"

"Now you hush up, we'll take you to see Uncle Will tonight when they get him ready."

"Ready for what?" I asked. I'd never seen a dead person before.

"Ready for his funeral," they answered.

So I waited all day, watching the road, not knowing what I was watching for.

That night we got all dressed up, ready to go to the viewing, which wasn't really the funeral, I learned. The funeral would be the next day. I got to carry the cornbread, Granny Ninna carried the shucky beans.

My heart pounded in my chest, and my hands were shaking so hard the crackle of the brown paper bag that held the towel covered cornbread rattled. I was going to see a dead man!

There were people crowded into the front room, and the only light came from the fireplace. From the door I could see the glow of the fire on Uncle Will's face. He was lying on a table, wearing a white shirt and dark pants. His face looked red as the fire.

The people moved aside, forming a walkway into the room, and a path directly to where Uncle Will lay. Somebody took the pot of shucky beans from Granny Ninna's hands, nobody noticed the bag of cornbread I held in mine.

We walked closer to the table where Uncle Will lay. All was quiet in the room, except for the sobs I knew were coming from Aunt Lissie. Granny Ninna held my hand, and In my other hand, I held the cornbread. We got closer to the table.

And even closer, I could see the flames dancing on his face. He just looked like a red faced Uncle Will sleeping. I tugged on Ninna's hand to ask her where Uncle Will's soul was, and if it was still there inside him, but Ninna was paying her condolences to Will's children, Polly Ann and Lonie Mae, so she didn't notice me.

I stared at the only part of Uncle Will I could see at that close range, his nose, glowing red in the light from the fireplace. It sort of took on a life of its own, seeming to twitch with the bounce of the flames. After awhile I heard Ninna say it was time for us to leave.

I was still holding the bag of cornbread.

Ninna turned and started toward the door. I tugged at her hand, but she was murmuring something to Aunt Lissie as she walked past her. By then, the cornbread was all I could think of. That cornbread was supposed to be for Uncle Will.

I turned while Ninna was talking to Aunt Lissie. I slung that bag of cornbread over my shoulder and it landed plop right on Uncle Will's red nose. And stayed there. I was spellbound by the look of that brown paper bag sitting on top of Uncle Will's nose, the firelight dancing on it.

Suddenly I was pulled out the door, just as I heard Aunt Lissie cry out, "Oh Lordy, Lordy, Will!"

I figured I'd finally punched his soul right out of Uncle Will's body because right then, looking up at the sky, I saw a shooting star. That sure must have been his soul on its way across heaven.

Luckily it was some years before I was taken to another funeral.
Apr 29, 2010 1:55 AM CST
Name: Brenda Essig
Rio Dell, CA
Well, this California native about spurted tea through her nostrils thinking about that cornbread landing on a firey nose Rolling on the floor laughing
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Apr 29, 2010 1:59 AM CST
Name: Sharon
So did I just remembering it.
Apr 29, 2010 5:38 AM CST
Name: Sally
East Central Kentucky
What a great story! It is hard for most adults to remember their perspectives and impressions as children.
Living sustainably comes with learning to see the world in a new way.
Apr 29, 2010 8:43 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Thanks Sally....

I remember many things from that time. When you run out of reading material, you might enjoy some of these stories:

Apr 29, 2010 9:11 AM CST
Name: Sally
East Central Kentucky
Although I didn't grow up in Kentucky, I have one memory from something misunderstood in childhood that has lingered and still makes me smile. For some reason I envisioned "random" as being a place somewhere north of Salt Lake City--towards Ogden, Utah. So when I heard the phrase that something "had been selected at random"--I saw people in that place making important decisions. Of course, the building where they did this was the "Random House."
Living sustainably comes with learning to see the world in a new way.
Apr 29, 2010 9:12 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Now that's funny!

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