A Sadist With a Sense of Humor
Stories about my Mamaw. A gift to my cousin Lori, who only met her once that she remembers. Set in the hillbilly hollows of Eastern Kentucky. Part of Lori’s and my collective heritage probably includes DNA from both the Hatfields and McCoys. That’s just how things roll around those parts. To read the series from the beginning, click here.
The last time my Uncle Billy was healthy, he took me on a tour of his houseplant garden. Ferns and cacti and waxy leafed things grew everywhere I looked.
This. It is your heritage. Plants and stuff. You have them, right?
I totally had house plants. Violets. Cacti. Ficus trees. Wandering through Uncle Billy’s Houseplant Paradise was like finding my people. He told me a story, a little snippet of history that helped me understand myself.
I decided to end my marriage. It was wrong. A sin. Giving up on what was meant to be. I came home from work early. Crying. The tears so thick I couldn’t see. My watery eyes scanned the landscape and lighted.
On a weed. A group of weeds. Outside the indoor garden I made. In my shoulder-padded suit, I ambled through the grass. Stooped. Pulled a weed. Several. As many as I could grasp without sweating.
And I remembered. My Uncle Billy telling me how he did that. My Mamaw, stooped under the big peony bush in her front yard, pulling one weed and then two. Walking along the creek bank, her fingers grasping like tweezers. Visiting a graveyard on the back side of a mountain, her eager fingers taking weeds, patting moss, making everything whole.
My genetic code seeped through my fingers to make my life full, when love left me bereft. I cannot see a weed today and fail to be thankful for them both. Father. Son. Mother. Uncle.
Mamaw. She gave me a tick. Pulling weeds in work wear. She bestowed it to my uncle. And, he had a daughter. I wonder. Does she have the tick, too? A sadist with a sense of weed pulling humor?