Sunday, June 5, 2011
We stopped by Hart's chicken on Springhill for a couple of three piece baskets of their tasty fried chicken and fried okra on the side. Ohhh my...I think they must change the oil every day; there never is any old or burnt flavor in their deep fried food. I had asked Mama shouldn't we pick up a piece or two for Aunt Bobbie. She didn't think her little sister needed the grease to add cholesterol to her problems. Aunt Bobbie has cancer. She's a trooper, much like Mama, enduring much to have more time for her church, family, and friends. I love her, for sure, and it's these times when it's just me and Mama visiting her that are among the greatest jewels in the treasure chest of memories.
They're so funny when it's just the two of them and me. The last time we stopped in Aunt Bobbie told me of the worst whipping Mama got in her entire life. They were youngsters and the two of them had been assigned the job of cutting the slabs of hog fat into strips and then chunks to render into lard. Mama got up from the table for something, neither of them could remember what, and when she came back, Aunt Bobbie had the knife she had been using - and wouldn't relinquish it. Mama forcibly took it from her and in the process, sliced open Aunt Bobbie's palm. Aunt Bobbie laughed about Mama's punishment with the strop - apparently reserved for very bad behavior. Mama looked at her little sister with a glare, now 70 years later, and said "You should've given me back my knife..."
It's hard to keep a straight face when those two get to going at each other. I love their story of Grandma's hen that went missing. Grandma went to town for something - an all day event in the 1930's - and the children were hungry. Big sister Alma and brother Herman wrung a chicken's neck, plucked it, cleaned it, and cut it up. Aunt Alma fried it and when they had eaten it all, they buried everything so Grandma wouldn't find them out. They all lied about the whereabouts of the chicken when Grandma asked about it, too!
And then there's the story of Uncle Herman and Aunt Alma flogging around in the creek, pretending to be drowning (in knee deep water) so often that the traumatized two youngest sisters never learned to swim and indeed, are terrified of water. Mama says you can drown in a thimble full of it; Aunt Bobbie says a tablespoon.
Aunt Bobbie's talk was sombre for a few moments. Mama had left the table and out of the blue, Aunt Bobbie says "I still miss Daddy." Their daddy was Robert Prine P., often called Uncle Rob. I told her I had heard he was the kindest, gentlest man most folks knew. She agreed, telling me about how much he loved all of his children individually and as a family. His closest utterance to cussing was "Connnsarnit!" and that would get the little AND big children to skittering, because he didn't raise his voice much either.
Aunt Bobbie was remembering being in bed for two months as a young adult (she said from arthritis, but Mama remembers cellulitis) and their parents had been driven by a brother-in-law to see her. Granddaddy wanted to bring her home to see after her. He told her "I couldn't stand to carry another daughter home in a box, may as well put me in one too..." and there were tears in his eyes as he said it. You can tell Aunt Bobbie has been thinking of her own mortality lately. I've been seriously ill before myself, it comes with the territory. Mama came back to the table and the talk was again about someone they've BOTH become confused about being married to the person that was the brother of that woman that was interested in one of the cousins across Big Creek. I don't know.
Aunt Bobbie says quietly, "Your mother is a little more bent over every time I see her. She's barely getting around."
Mama says quietly, "Bobbie is so feeble. I think she's moving a lot slower than I am. She needs some chickens to take care of."
They are glad to see each other and quickly use a pre-determined amount of time visiting. I would have taken a nap on the couch and let them visit longer because not only did Mama and I have Hart's chicken, but Aunt Bobbie had fixed us lunch as well and Mama said we were going to eat her lunch too and not say ONE word about the chicken. But Mama needed to get back home. These little road trips do wear her down, shake her up, and work her over. The chickens need to be seen about. Cakes were waiting to be put together.
I'm so thankful that the Almighty has blessed me with four older brothers and sons. Most of the time I believe I might have decapitated a sister and/or flogged a daughter to within an inch of her life. I can't help it, I've been surrounded by men my entire life! I've a sister-in-law that's as close to a sister as I believe them to be - sisters, that is. Every now and again, though, I wish I had just one sister that I grew up with to be able to tell awesome tales on each other in another thirty years or so. Pulling out of Aunt Bobbie's driveway, witnessing those sweet octogenarian together, I found myself wishing it more than ever...