A storyteller passed away this last Tuesday evening. One I will miss for the rest of my life. This person when pressed, and to be honest, it didn't take a lot of pressing, could spin yarn well into the wee hours of the morning. It is true that this weaver of tales would tell the same story a number of different times in a number of different ways only occasionally matching a previous version, and that most likely by chance. This didn't matter because charm and sincerity made up for it.
I inherited the first part without question. If I ever spun a yarn the same way twice, it was under oath and hence couldn't be called a yarn. I hope I inherited the charm and sincerity to go with it.
You can tell by the title that the storyteller was my aunt Kaye. I'm writing this in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. She will be buried here, next to my uncle, one of the best men I've ever known.
Do any of you blues aficionados recognize Clarksdale, Mississippi? It is the home of Ground Zero Blues Club. One of the owners is Morgan Freeman. And it was the place where legendary blues singer Bessie Smith died in 1937, currently memorialized at the Riverside Hotel as the fourth historic marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
I remember it as the home of my aunt, uncle, and cousins. True, most of the time we all met at my grandparents home in Joiner, Arkansas, but from time to time, we made it down to Clarksdale. One in particular stands out, which I may relate some time. I'll just say now that it involved my father and me escorting my grandmother back to Texas thirty-eight years ago.
Kaye told family histories mostly, things that happened when she was young, or things she heard that happened from people who saw. The flood of the Mississippi River in 1936 is an example. Maybe "histories" isn't a good word. I think that "tales" is a better one.
I had so looked forward to many more years of swapping tales with her and listening to her correct my versions with inaccurate versions, which was fine because my versions weren't that accurate anyway. I'll miss visiting her in Hattiesburg, though I'll still come to visit my cousin from time to time. What seems odd to the point of the surreal is that on my mother's side of the family, I am now the oldest living member. Yikes! Me! Holy shemama!
No new stories will issue forth from anyone born before 1957. So the stories of the family are mine to tell, with only two left to collaborate with.
In a family of storytellers, that's quite a responsibility to carry.
See y'all next week!