What was the name of that cat?
A typical Sunday afternoon when the boys (and my waistline) were smaller, we used to go to my Mom and Dad’s house in Harrisville, A.K.A. “The Country” for lunch, or “dinner” as they sometimes called it. This is a short snippet from one of those afternoons.
June 2, 1987
I don’t remember what we had for lunch that day. Most likely it was something like fried chicken with rice and gravy, corn, peas, butter beans, and cornbread. Possibly fried okra, with fresh tomatoes that Mother had peeled. Dinner at Mother’s was always a feast. Never had a bad tomato there, I don’t think. Good, sweet tomatoes were a must— you just didn’t serve those “store-bought” kind. It would have been a sin. After lunch, we groaned and moved over to the couch and chairs to tell stories and take naps, not necessarily in that order.
“Down there, around Old Westfield, just this side of Pine-Oh-Ler (Pinola), they’s a old cemetery. Wood went to a deacon’s meetin’ an’ when he came back he asked me if I wanted to go over there, and I said yes. So we went. Over there, and over in the corner they’s one a them, you’ve seen them thangs, you know where they bury people above the ground… them… VAULTS!” Mother said, finally recalling the word. “Anyway, we walked over there to it, and Wood said, ‘I believe there used to be a skull sitting on top a that vault’ — so he stuck his head over the top to look down in it, and about that time a ole yeller cat jumped out and brushed right across his face, and he yelled SON of a BITCH!!” she said smiling and laughing at the memory. “And I just FELL out laffin!” Then she and daddy laughed together.
I remember praying for them as dementia slowly took over his mind, that God would let them laugh together again. He granted that prayer more than once.
Daddy, sitting in his favorite recliner under the dim light of a brown hanging lamp, threw his head back as usual and laughed out loud. I know I should have written this kind of thing down more often, but this is one time I did, and am thankful for the clarity of the memory.
“It was real old— about 1730.” Mother said, describing the vault. “The cemetery used to be all growed up, but the historic society’s done cleaned it up, and put up a plaque that says it used to be the county seat and all…”
She paused, looking at nothing in particular, smiling. Then got up and went to the kitchen.
“I had me a GOOD sink of dishwater and when I came over here to sit down, it all leaked out.” Mother said, sort of despairingly at the thought of wasting dishwater. Most people wouldn’t give something like that a second thought. But to her, waste of any kind was almost sinful. This is a woman who reused tinfoil, and those plastic bags that bread comes in.
“Oh well…” She said. She then got up and went to the kitchen and we all fell quiet. Daddy closed his eyes and soon was fast asleep, snoring. I began to write this down before I forgot it, and pretty soon the only sounds were the clank of dishes, water running in the sink, and Daddy lightly snoring. To anyone else, those sounds might be unnoticed; but that day, I recognized it as a glimpse of heaven; it was like a peaceful melody that brought peace and contentment.
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