Dozens of Cousins


Neither Corwin nor Kelvin could be rounded up for this  cousin picture.  They had other fish to fry.cousinsAunt Essie, like all of my aunts, was a wonder of fertility, if not child-rearing acumen.  She had seven of the meanest boys outside Alcatraz.  Thank God, her reproductive equipment gave out before she managed more.  I thought Mother was just exaggerating when she said they’d all end up in jail or dead before they were thirty.  She was wrong.  Only four of

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Two Roads Part 13

Mama came over Tuesday bringing quinine, usually used for malaria.  “I am worried about you taking these, but you’re in a hard spot.  The druggist told me a pregnant woman of your size ought not to take more than this or it might poison you.  You gotta drink plenty of water to flush this quinine out or your kidneys will quit.  I sure hate to see you take this, but if you do, I’m stayin’ a few days to take keer a’ you. I thought I was gonna die when I took it, but it did git me out of a bad fix.”

Neeley took the quinine with a big glass of water.  In a few minutes, she drank some more.  In a couple of hours, the vomiting started.  Mama kept her drinking as fast as fast as it came up.  Eddie was worried when he came in and found Neeley sick, never having seen her give up to anything.  He and Mama kept watch through the night.  In the morning, Neeley miscarried.  “I was afeared she might be that away, but she never said nothin’. He told Mama.  “I hope she ain’t gonna be too hurt over losin’ this baby.”

“She will grieve but a woman knows some babies just ain’t meant to be.   Neeley is a strong woman.”  Mama tried to comfort Eddie.  “I lost a couple, myself.”

Neeley’s urine turned brown and she ran a fever.  She was barely conscious and they had to force her to drink water.  After about three days, her urine turned yellow and she came back to herself.  “I didn’t know what I’d do if I’d a’lost you, Neeley girl.”

“I’m gonna be alright, Eddie.  I ain’t gonna leave you and my younguns,” she assured him.

The next few months were a golden period.  Eddie’s health was better. The weather was good and the kids were able to get to school more often than not.  They got their spring planting done and some new ground cleared.  They made enough on their cotton for next year’s rent, seed, paid their grocery bill off, and had a bit to tuck in the mattress.  Late in October, Neeley realized she was pregnant again.  This baby would be born in late July.  She’d have a few weeks to recover before harvest.  The boys were old enough to be a good bit of help by now.  Neeley wouldn’t be needed so much with Eddie in good health.  They looked forward to this baby.  Their youngest would be three by the time the little one came.  Neeley, especially, looked forward to this little one, still regretting ending her last pregnancy.