Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Letter

Yesterday evening was grass cutting time at mother's. It was my husband's time to mow, so we drove on down and began our duties. As he began mowing, the lawnmower had a weird feel to it. Eventually, the troublemaker showed it's ugly head, the steering drag link broke. With a faithful attempt to finish by rigging the link every few seconds, mother and I sat on the porch wondering when the next fix would be the last.

Mother can get pretty worrisome when something around her place tears up. As I sat there listening to her fears of how would we go about getting the mower repaired and who would we get to do the honors, I became a little rattled. If you've ever listened to a person with dementia talk, you can soon lose your thought process and quickly become unnerved. I tried my best to assure mother that my husband would order the part and fix the mower himself. This seemed to comfort her and we left.

This evening, we returned. With new part in hand, and a readiness to repair the mower, my husband began his work. Mother greeted us and had forgotten all about the mower breaking, not to mention that we had even been there cutting grass the evening prior.

She and I agreed that it was just too hot for porch sitting, so we meandered to the living room for a quick chat. Mother began talking about the people who worked on her daddy's farm when she was a little girl on Skyuka road in Columbus, North Carolina and how hot it was in some of those summer days while they worked the field. She recalled a couple who lived in a cottage called the "Carruth Cabin," which her daddy kept for his fieldworkers somewhere behind her home place. Their names were Hugh and Leler (Lela) Davis. Back in those days, most of the time, the people would pronounce someone's name which ended in an "a" with an "er." I refer to this as "country vernacular."

Mother's stepmother's name was "Normer" (Norma) and tonight she wanted to talk about her. Mother's daddy married his second bride, "Normer" when mother was around five years old. "Normer" was really the only mother she ever knew. When she was about ten years old, she and her family traveled to Lake Toxaway to visit "Normer's" kin folk. As soon as they arrived, mother spied a handsome young boy around 3 years her senior. "He was the cutest thing she had ever laid eyes on, and his name was Willy Aiken" she told. Ever so often, Willy's family would either come to visit them on Skyuka road or they would travel up there. Either way, mother remained sweethearts with Willy throughout the years. When Willy became old enough to enlist, he did just that. Mother said goodbye to her first love and vowed to wait for him.

It wasn't long until her affections were aimed at another young man, my father, Bryson Gibson. Mother had not forgotten her first love Willy, but was lonely and as a maturing young woman, thought that time was passing her by. So when she was a ripe old age of one month shy of being eighteen, she agreed to marry my dad. Now my dad was a serviceman as well, but he had already finished his duty and was ready to settle down with a beautiful bride.

The day had arrived when mother and daddy were to be married. Willy had a first cousin named "Allenby" who had been writing letters to him and filling him in on all the heartbreaking news of the pending marriage. On the very day that mother was to wed daddy a letter came in the mail. Mother's stepmom, Normer placed the letter on the mantel and never said a word until mother started to walk out the door on her way to marry. Just like in the movies, as the door slammed shut, Normer remembered the letter and ran out to give it to her. Mother met her half way and tore open the envelope. As she walked to the car, she read the words of a man who was losing his first love to another man. "I hope this letter is not to late, please what ever you do, don't marry Bryson!" the letter read, "wait for me, it won't be long now, 'til we can be together again." Mother's eyes swelled with tears as she placed the letter in her purse, only to tell Bryson that she was a little homesick.

Judge Davenport of Spartanburg, SC, did the honors as Bryson Gibson and Margie Williams were wed on Nov. 28th, 1946.

It just so happens that my daughter-in-law is related someway to Willy's family. I have questioned them before to see if he is living. They had told me of his first wife passing and he remarried but I can't for the life of me remember if he is alive today. Whatever his plight, my mother Margie will always be, his first love.

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