Monday, March 14, 2005

stories I don't want forgotten

My mother died in 1991. I still miss her. When I think about her I often remember the stories she used to tell about her parents and brothers. Her stories reflected a time when she was a child herself. Here is one of my favorites:

Coony was a pet coon my mother and her brothers bottle fed. Coony's mother was killed in a successful coon hunt and my grandfather, "Papa," rescued him and brought him home. Coony quickly grew to a large, healthy size and embraced his adoption into the family, appearing to think of himself as another one of the kids. No one prevented him from roaming about the house and yard as he pleased. He played with my mother and her brothers and even followed them to the fields. Papa would let him follow him to the barn each morning to milk and trained him to stand on his back legs and drink milk squirted in his direction.

The trouble began when he got into my grandmother's (Mama) butter churn. She caught him one morning with the lid of the butter churn under one arm, helping himself to the cream. Mama chased him out of the kitchen with her broom promising, "If that coon gets in my cream again we'll have him for supper."

Papa and the kids kept Coony busy for several weeks, steering clear of Mama's kitchen. But as you might expect, this was not to last. One evening everyone was gathering around a beautifully prepared meal for supper. There were new potatoes, corn bread, white beans, fried okra, cooked carrots and tea cakes for dessert. In the center of the table was a scruptious looking meat dish with gravy all around. My mother said, "Papa, I didn't know you had killed a opossum." He said that he hadn't. One by one my mother, her brothers and finally Papa got up and left the inviting meal uneaten.

This simple story taught me some eternal truths: 1) Mama meant what she said. 2) Healthy, edible meat was too valuable to discard, even if it had recently been your pet coon. 3) Stay out of Mama's butter churn.

Be good to yourselves.