Trial by Fire

fireI don’t write much about the history of my father’s side of the family because they simply didn’t have the strong oral tradition that my mother’s family did.  This is such a loss.  My paternal grandmother was abandoned by her mother, raised by her grandmother till she was nine.  She spent the rest of her childhood in the home of an uncle whose wife made her very unwelcome. I spent the night with Maw Maw one time. As we lay talking in her big bed, she told me of her grandmother’s death.

“I jist turned nine years old, ‘bout the age you are now.  Me and Ma had picked some beans in the cool a’the mornin’ an’ I was a’helpin’ ‘er git ‘em ready fer canning.  Ma set down in her rocker to rest jist a minute an’ I was a’playin’ with my kitten.  I was glad she was a’sleepin’ a while since I didn’ want’a mess with them beans no how.  After a spell, I saw Ma’s head was kinda hung to one side an’ spit was a’runnin’ out’a her mouth kinda foamy.  She wouldn’ wake up.  I got up to run over to git Miz Jone’s an’ seen there was a fire between our place an’ hearn.  There warn’t nothin’ to do but run through it the best I could.  Them flames was a’lickin’ at my feet an’ I was jist a’cryin’.  I got Miz Jones, but it ain’t made no difference.  When they got over to see ‘bout Ma, she was dead.  They sent for Uncle Jeb to git’er buried.

I had to go to Uncle Jeb’s, then.  He was awful good to me, but Aunt Lottie was jist hard down.  She whooped on me ever chancet she got, an’ they was plenty.  She made shore I ain’t done no sittin’ aroun’.  I married soon’s I could , jist to git outta her way.”

27 thoughts on “Trial by Fire

  1. How sad Linda…
    But it’s great how you are writing these all down, your way of storytelling makes a reader feel like they were there too!

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    • I am going to make a point to write more posts exploring the history of my father’s side of the father. My relationship with him was difficult. I think it might help me. My sister recently found a picture made of him not long before he died. He looked so happy. I flashed back to that time and remembered having a close and loving relationship for about the last four years of his life before he died at 57. I was so shocked to recall that. I felt my heart melt toward him.

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    • I got into storytelling because I come from a family with a strong oral history. We all tell stories. I have told stories from the time I could talk. I begged my parents and grandparents, my children begged me. It’s as natural is breathing. I am writing them down so they won’t be lost. Linda Bethea.

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  2. Makes me glad for my upbringing.
    I wish I knew more about my mother’s family. I’ve only gotten to my great-great paternal grandmother, since they were poor, there are fewer recordings. My great maternal grandmother was a Seminole, she never even had a last name til she married.
    Still, it’s nice to have that history on one side, even.

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