One grandma died young. Her story is hearsay for my generation. Every story ever told is true, but that does not mean they are factual.
My mother became her nurse at age twelve. She helped the lady of the house to the porch so she could sew in the sun. Her dad called her their little nurse.
Mom's older sister read constantly and wrote stories that I have never read. Perhaps they are lost or preserved by another member of the family.
Each morning she packed her daddy's lunch, an unasked question on her lips the day he dropped a pistol into the lunch box.
The miners were on strike. Grandad walked the picket line, wary of company goons. "Don't let anyone in the house. Those company men are tricky."
Another grandma succumbed to madness when her husband abandoned her with all those kids.
The orphanage kindly welcomed Papa. Two maiden aunts later took him in so he could go to high school.
I wonder how much I should let you see through my disguise. Perhaps I will let in just a little more light.
We may have been poor, but we owned land. The garden fed us all summer. Mason jars of beans, tomatoes, and corn got us through most of the winter, supplemented with rabbit and pheasant from Dad's game pouch.
Trips to the store were occasional, for grits, coffee, sugar, and bacon. Mama's hens provided eggs until the zoning commission said they had to go.
Some nights, I slept in my tent. During the day, I read in its shade. My companion was a hound dog, barely grown from a pup. I named her Babe after Paul Bunyan's blue ox
I read every story I could about that legend of a man.
Paul Bunyan's frying pan was so big two lumberjacks skated across its surface with slabs of bacon strapped to their feet. They greased the pan for the dozens of eggs he cooked and ate for breakfast each morning.
When the blue ox Babe stopped for a drink, the Round River ran dry.
Before I left fundamentalism behind, they dunked me in the water:
Once for the father!
Once for the son!
Once for the Holy Ghost!
I emerged primarily unchanged.