Let me start by saying this is not a morbid or sad story; I shared a little background information to get the story flowing.
I remember the day my Papa died. I was in the ninth grade, my parents had split, I was so sick with ear infections in both ears and bad off enough I was sleeping in my dad’s bed so he could hear me if I needed him (he was completely deaf in one ear). I could barely get up and go to the restroom by myself, much less do anything else, hence the help from dad while my mom worked. Dad worked also but he was a farmer and could drop in at anytime during the day to check on me.
One of those days he stopped by and walked into his bedroom. I took one look at him, sat straight up in the bed and asked what was wrong. I was dizzy as all get out because I sat right up but I could see it in his face, his eyes, his whole demeanor. Something bad had happened and he was fixing to tell me. Not even a chance to get prepared for the worst before he said, “Baby, Papa is dead.” Well, that wasn’t good; didn’t get any better when he sat on the bed with me and hugged me as we both cried about our loss. Papa was a hard-working man and had instilled that in all of his children. Regardless of the legacy he left behind, none of that mattered right then as we were still in the shock mode before any type of acceptance came.
Before we go any further, let me explain again; this is not a morbid story or even sad, but a funny one with memories of stories told to me that I will never forget. Yes, I missed Papa tremendously but wow, what a secret life he led!
Papa married Grandma Beat and raised three boys and a girl around the depression years. They knew the meaning of hard work; it wasn’t something they took for granted, it was for survival. Everybody had their own chores and you’d better make sure they were done. One brother chopped firewood every day for the wood cookstove that served up three hot meals a day. Washing, drying, gardening, canning, killing animals for food in winter, cleaning, raising a family, helping the community, being neighbors, the list never ended. There was always something to do or needed to be done. That was life during that time.
Then Grandma Beat was bitten by a Brown Recluse while in the garden one day. Landed her in the hospital and she never made it back home. I was four years old at the time and distinctly remember being in the playpen with her shoes within the days after she died. For some reason, I liked her shoes, not that they fit me or anything. They just fascinated me and my favorite of all the things that could be favorites.
So life went on and Papa soon married someone else. We all loved her and that lasted a while then…well, it ended. Not long after that, he married again and that lasted for quite a few years, up until his death. Man, was that lady a doozie! I think she hated us all! (BIG laugh)! No joke either!
When Papa died, dad told me they (the brothers) had found his truck in the woods up the road (in other words, over yonder). Nothing out of the ordinary at all as everyone rode their trucks in the woods or up in the fields. Years down the road, a little hummingbird in my ear said Papa was not alone. Say what? His WIFE was with him? Couldn’t she have done something for him? Ha! It wasn’t his wife! It was some other lady and they were having a private rendezvous in the woods and, lo and behold, Papa had a heart attack!!
Oh dear, talk about a secret! Well, I jumped right on that one and started talking to my dad. Oh yea, he knew the cat was out of the bag then! So he told me the story. Yep, that’s exactly what happened, right down to the other lady friend that wasn’t his wife! Like I said earlier, wife was NOT nice to any of us.
I thought the buck stopped here and that was the end of the story. Nope, afraid not. Apparently, my sweet Papa was quite the ladies man and had been for only who knows how long. Even Grandma Beat? Lawd, I didn’t even want to go there with that one! Dad told me that Papa had been ‘caught’ by one of his kids on more than one occasion. Oh wow, how funny is that? I loved my Papa but I just couldn’t see him as a ladies man. The mere thought gave me the willies!
Then I find out the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My poor daddy (LOL) had inherited the ‘ladies man’ gene and proceeded to use it to his advantage. Okay. That’s fine. Especially if I don’t know about it. But it’s quite a different story when one of these said ladies want to ‘talk’ to me about my ‘ladies man’ dad! Those are questions I don’t want to hear and answers I don’t even want to think about! Good gosh, it’s my DAD! LOL
Once again, the apple did not fall far from the tree. Although my sibling is adopted and has no biological blood from our father, he is a ‘ladies man’ also. How? Nature versus nurture? I do not know but women literally drop at his feet. He is never one day without a ‘lady’ attached to him and I am always bumfuzzled and discombobulated with that knowledge.
I never have asked about Papa Jesse and how he was with the ladies. I think that might be more information than I want to know about the family tree.
The moral of the story is be very, very easy when you shake the family tree. You never know what might fall out that you don’t want to see.