Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Granddaughter’s Tale

The Granddaughter’s Tale

A friend of mine told me this story from her childhood. She grew up in Oklahoma, but her ancestors were from Mississippi, the Deep South. In fact I dated her cousin, also from Mississippi, a true Southern Belle of French descent with a rich accent. She never spoke of these personalities, but must have known them well.

My friend, let’s call her Caroline, was visiting her relatives in Mississippi as a child. Their grandfather had died in the Great Influenza in 1918, and their grandmother had remarried a full blooded Cherokee Indian, who everyone referred to as Paw-Paw.

Of course when Caroline was a little girl, Paw-Paw was an older man, from a bygone era. A man of few words, he rarely if ever spoke. It happened to be July 4th, and everyone else had gone out, leaving the two of them alone. Paw-Paw decided to do something for her. He was going to drive her into town.

Caroline waited out in front of the house (which I picture as a big white house with pillars) for what seemed like an eternity. At least a half an hour later, Paw-Paw came around front with a carriage and a team of horses, which he had been harnessing up and getting ready.

Without saying a word, they rode into town in the horse drawn carriage. Because it was a holiday, she was worried that everything might be closed. And she was right. Each place they visited was closed. Store owners were taking the day off, and getting ready for the fireworks, much later on that evening.

Despite all these disappointments, Paw-Paw remained silent. Then they turned around, still in silence, and rode back out to the house.

I’m not sure why Caroline told me this story, but it must have left an impression on her. The warm summer day, the carriage ride, the string of disappointments, the silent old Indian, must have all combined to produce an indelible childhood memory.

It had an impact on me as well, so I decided to share it with you.

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