It's very rural. You would think that would be "Boresville", but it wasn't. There were all these family members with funny slow accents who kept insisting I talked too fast and had, well, a funny accent. There were woods or fields everywhere and we could run around and explore everything. There is also the Rough River where we fished and swam and hung out quite a bit. It was always SO STINKING HOT but it seemed everyone had a covered porch and a porch swing (which we managed to break or fall off of nearly every summer... Who? Us? Swinging too high? Never!) and shade trees, and "cold dranks" (That's how my Yankee ears heard it) and fans you could sit in front of and make "WaaWaaWaa" noises while you cooled down.
Kentucky was where I learned about chiggers and ticks. Eww...ticks... It was where I learned about dentures, and moonshine, and outhouses. I learned how to break beans and shell peas. I learned what honeysuckle smells and tastes like. I learned what hard work looks like. I learned about being content with what you have. It's where I got my foundation for what beautiful looks like and what peace feels like.
I was that kid who usually sat quietly, listening to every word the grown ups said. I tried to become invisible when they started talking low, so I wouldn't be told to go play and miss something "good". I was always puzzling out who was kin to whom, which branch of which family had a scandal, or a tragedy, or a miracle in their midst.
I learned about family. I learned about respect for my elders and my heritage. I learned about loyalty and the ties that bind. I learned that adults could laugh so hard telling old stories you thought they might wet their pants one minute and the next minute be teared up remembering someone they loved but was now gone. I learned the importance of the tradition of storytelling. I learned about fierce family love. I learned that even through rough times, family fights, poverty, illness, and death: love triumphs. Love prevails. Mostly. I learned that no family is perfect but that doesn't mean it's not full of good people just doing the best they can with what they've got. I learned that there are two sides to every story and each one has validity in the telling of the whole tale.
I'm 43 now. Last spring, the "Kentucky Cousins" came up here for a visit. My Granny was sick and most, if not all, of us realized this might be the last chance we had to be all together with her. It was a sweet and sad kind of visit. They've visited frequently in recent years and as always, as we sit around in my mother's yard telling stories and catching up, eating together and sipping a "cold drank", I'm somehow transported back to Kentucky. I'm flooded with memories. I can almost smell the honeysuckle. I'm amazed at these marvelous people that I love, and that love me so much.
|This is most of the clan. This is in Kentucky 1980-something.|
|This is one of the more recent "Kentucky Cousin" visits at my mom's house.|
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