Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fambly is...

  Late last summer a cousin died suddenly.
Bagpipes echo back from the edge of the woods at interment.
It stormed this day, the multiharmonic "Amazing Grace"
hung as heavily as the storm clouds.
A second cousin.  A half second cousin.
(and that's LeaAnn, too, alongside Powell)
His granddaddy was Daddy's half brother.
Daddy, Uncle Woodrow, and Uncle Sherman 
from left to right

The degree of relationship doesn't matter, and indeed, the fact that the offspring of Uncle Sherman and Aunt Selma are halves never will.  Some misguided folks even in the Deep South would say he was a distant relative.  I disagree.  He was family.
Large family gatherings were not uncommon.

No.  He was fambly.  I like the mispronounced misspelled word, reminiscent of preschool days, chimbleys and libaries.  There's something wholesome, innocent, and sincere about it: fambly.  Say it softly out loud to yourself:  fambly.  See?

The cousin's death brought extended fambly to my home for pre- and post wake meals

some of them to spend the night.

Years apart became quickly uttered dialogue as lives were caught up from here

to here.

We've missed our shared memories of concatenatious lives as fambly.  Fambly is.

It's difficult to find the right words (unusual for me, I know) to tell you what fambly is.  I need to show you.  Be forewarned:  it's a lot of pictures with a melancholy bent and several poignant photos.  If you're in a menopausal PMS mood like I am, grab a handful of kleenex, a glassful of something-or-another to drink, and a source of chocolate.  And get ready to think about your fambly and what they are and mean to you...

When lives become shattered

And storms destroy your shelter, it's fambly that helps you clear the debris and pick up the pieces.
An F3 tornado moved through Leakesville, MS in April, 
two weeks before Alabama was hit so tragically. 

Fambly will take you to Corky's on Poplar after treating you to a manicure.

They'll let you crash at their house almost unannounced.

They'll let you drink their wine and prop your feet up on the only ottoman -- as long as you remember to share it and not hog all the space.

Fambly will bring shrimp to your house

and cook it and drink your beer, in turn.
**giggle** It's a dry county.  You don't actually EVER see the beer...

They cry with you when the nest become empty.
Youngest Fellow at high school graduation.  And Mama.

They laugh at your phobias.
EEEeeeeek!  It's a sorta kinda snake!!!!
Oh.  Soaker hose...

They've set the precedent for work.
Grandma Havard.  Her name was Sabra.  Everybody called her Aunt Sabe.
The old folks tell stories of her twice-widowed life
with youngsters at home, taking in washing and whatever was available
to support her boys.

and literacy.
Grandma Pipkins, reading.  

Fambly is silly
Brothers John and Bill.

and sillier
Sponge Bo, Allison, and sweetie pie Hudson.

and silliest.
Mama hanging on for dear life behind Cousin Ronny

They know the significance of shared moments on the front porch whether sitting in the rocker
Oldest Fellow 

or on the porch swing with a friend.
Youngest and friend.

They sit with you in dark hours
The Turners.
They were neighbors before I was Fambly!

coming across this state to be by your side
Connie, Bill, and a very tired me (LCH bites).

And sometimes two states.
Don Sherman came from Mobile, 
Gene and Suzanne drove from Tallahassee!

They brave the knowing smile of the Christian believer when their hearts and spirits have never been heavier
Niece Kimberly peeks around John's spiritless form
as her sibling John Shannon helps us with the piano.

transporting you where one day, you must also go
I never want to hear my mother's sobs again.  Ever.  Period.

trying to stand between you and what must be,
Bill, Joe, Mike, and Kimberly's husband, Bryan

giving you a perfect example of stoic resolve when the future is different than the way you'd planned and how best to deal with it.
Mama said driving up to her house after burying her son,
"Let me get these clothes changed and these ol' hurting shoes
off.  Mary, put on the coffee water and make
sure everybody's fed. I've got to get to the barn."

Fambly was around a little before you were
 Joe, Mike, Bill, and John
but you're what adds to it
Baby Mayree 
to make it whole.

As long as you hope to remember;
Billy.  The First Grandchild and Nephew
1972 - 1994

As long as you hope;
Hattie Catherine Havard 2011
Photo courtesy of J. Bell Photography

"Fambly" is the subject of the predicate "is."

Fambly is...

Now that you've been smitten by the stunning photograph of the latest Great (niece, that is), go check out the very talented fellow in Austin, Texas.


  1. Mary: Been reading these stories again this morning. And this is one of the best. It contains all the feelings of fambly - uh, Southern Fambly, that is - happy, sad, memories, loved ones, NEW loved ones, hope, tradition, yesterday, today, funerals, births, passages, and yes, tomorrow. You are amazing. You say so well what we all here in the South - feel. Love you, Maryb <3