Friday, March 30, 2012
MY AUNTS, MY UNCLE, & MY DAD
Uncle Grady and my Dad, Cecil were surrounded by female siblings. Because Lou Etta was the oldest, she was called "Sis" by all. She was much like a second mother to all of her brothers and sisters. She was a very good mother, too.
During one of our visits to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Sis gave the Cecil Kilgore family a beautiful Samoyed puppy. We named the dog, Snowball because it looked like a snowball--white, round, and soft. The dog grew into a beautiful animal and enriched our lives. We were heart-broken when Snowball was killed as a result of chasing a car down the road in front of Granny Kilgore's house. Sis's generosity and the love of a dog, gave us many playful and precious childhood experiences that I will never forget.
Aunt Dolly was always a gracious host and a wonderful cook. Not long after my wife, Pat and I married, we met up with Mother, Daddy, Ricky and Rebecca at Aunt Dolly's house. Pat and I had just come from a big dinner and were not very hungry at all. Dolly was insistent that she prepare some food for the family, and of course, us too. She fixed hotdogs with all the trimmings. I forced one hotdog down. My wife being resourceful took the hotdogs, wrapped them in a napkin, and placed them in her purse. Aunt Dolly didn't know and we thought it quite humorous.
Aunt Ruby lived in the big city which I wrote about in a previous blog post. There was a time when Uncle Johnny and Aunt Ruby decided to move. They moved to Crestwood in another part of Birmingham, but further from the city center. I can recall Aunt Ruby telling us about the swimming pool in her backyard. Not ever seeing the pool, the backyard, nor the house itself, I imagined a "Hollywood pool" setting. At some later point, we did visit their new home and to my surprise, there was the swimming pool--a Walmart wading pool for little kids.
Aunt Lois was a home body who made her home warm and inviting. I can recall the day that her home burned to the ground, and nothing was savaged except a big family Bible which came out of the ashes.
It was a sad day, but the Bible was a sign of God's providence. Friends and neighbors assisted, and the home was built back bigger and better. I can recall all the animals around that "bigger and better house," especially the guinea hens and the tame turkeys freely roaming the backyard around the old well. There was always something going on around Aunt Lois' house, and most of the time it involved her kitchen stove and sitting around the big dinner table.
Aunt Ruth loved to laugh. She always had a joke to tell because she enjoyed the funny things in life. I can recall when Aunt Ruth and Ted first moved to Guntersville, Alabama they lived in a house located on a high cliff overlooking the road that went to the Guntersville State Park. There was no yard, just a dropoff. It was safer in the house than outside. Ruth cooked us a wonderful dinner during the visit. There was one catch to the menu--She and mother attempted to tell us children that the meat was country fried steak smoldered in gravy. I took one bite and spit it out. It was liver!
Aunt Lorene was the baby of the family. She lived in Birmingham during my teenage years and then she and the family moved to Miami, Florida. My dad let me visit Aunt Lorene's home in Eastlake for an entire week one summer. I experienced a real "Hollywood" swimming pool--the Cascade Plunge. That was the biggest swimming pool I had ever seen. It was like something you only saw in the movies. There were people everywhere. The experience was definitely different from swimming in creeks and water holes of Winston County.
My "one moment memories" of the Kilgore sisters move on now to the two boys--Grady and my dad, Cecil. Grady was a working man. My dad was a working man. Both men, the oldest and the youngest, had very similar traits. The one exception is that Grady also knew how to relax. My dad's relaxation was working.
My "one moment memory" of Grady is his staying away from home to work on the railroad and when he got home there were cores to do around the house. I recall his plowing the field with his old mule. He liked to share the chocolate cakes that his wife, Nettie made for the family.
My Dad's memory is quite different than what you would know and expect of him. There was a time when we did not go to church on Sunday nights. One Sunday night, my brother, Mike, and I begged Daddy to take us to church, but to no avail. I had a little pedal car at the time, so we told our parents that we would just go to church any way and we would go in the pedal car. It didn't matter to us that it was nighttime and it was very dark outside. We were probably 5 and 7 years old at the time.
Daddy told us to go ahead, and so we did! I would pedal a while and Mike would be behind the little car pushing. Then Mike would pedal while I pushed. As we were approaching Granny Kilgore's house, Mike and I saw a faint figure down the road ahead of us. We could not make the figure out, but it was making some scary sounds. Instead of running away, we pressed on down the road, pushing and pedaling. We soon saw the figure clearly--a ghost, white sheet and all. We just pedaled faster and pushed harder, hoping to quickly pass the ghost so we could get to church. The ghost, seeing that we were not changing course, took the white sheet off, and said, "Come on, boys! Let's go back home." It was Daddy. We turned the little car around and headed home, relieved that the ghost was friendly, but disappointed that we had not been able to get to church!
In summary, our life has been enriched through the visits and the meals shared around the tables of the John and Sarah Kilgore children--my aunts, my uncle, and my dad. I have been blessed to have such a family.