Thursday, September 15, 2005

An Afternoon Of Forgotten Stories

Susan Ray, Clayton James, Linda Ann
We sat on the carport in the setting sun and talked about family history. In the background the cicadas sang and stopped in fading waves, and the rooster Big Red would occasionally speak up too.

We talked about being lost and desperate for a week after the Storm, and how good it was for us to be here now, even if homeless.

We talked about the old history. About how Old Pa (they call him Jimmy, my grandfather) got beat by three men in a riverfront bar, beat him down, then kicked him down, kicked him over and over in the head. About how he was in Charity Hospital, still trying to fight for his life, now restrained to a gurney in the hallway, alone. About how my mom, twelve, held his hand as he fought the air, and how her little hand disappeared into his huge, calloused, working hands, fingertips yellowed from smoking, now clenched in fists like bricks, still fighting for his life. About how he asked her to take the cotton ball out of his ear, please take it out of his ear, and how she looked for it, but it was just blood dripping out. And after that he was brain damaged and could never work again, and things got even rougher for the family, and my mom almost cried talking about it, even though it was back in 1959 or so.

We talked about how my Aunt Susan is really my blood cousin. How one of my aunts had gotten pregnant under really hard circumstances, and had to give Susan to my grandmother (Old Ma), and how she was raised as my mom's little sister. So I've always known her as my aunt, but she's really my cousin, which makes my cousins my second cousins. But no, she'll always be Aunt Susan to me.

We talked about so much, so much. My family doesn't have money, but fuck, the stories, the history, the passion, the suffering, the joy, the love. My mom shakes her head and says, softly, "I oughta write a book about our family, before we get forgotten."

And we all nod and frown in agreement while the cicadas start up again.

1 comment:

clayton cubitt said...

Still interested to hear how you're accessing the Internet. You use a cellphone? Best.

posted by: shortyellowskirt on 9/16/2005 11:58:52 AM


I just got back from 3 weeks on holiday away from all media and cell phones and am blown away by what I have seen -- after reading your family's odessy it really brought it home for me -- thank you -- your photos and journal has been an inspiration for me to get involved in anyway I can to help the area recover. Again thank you and bless you and your family.


posted by: malkamus on 9/16/2005 12:06:23 AM


I haven't posted before, but something about this really hit me. Probably just that tragedies, like what you're going through, and what I went through when my "crazy" north carolina grandma passed last year...they bring family together. you relive the stories. you hear the history, the stuff that seems so remote from "real life" in NYC, shouldn't be.

Anyway, god bless you, and your family, from a longtime listener (first time caller).

posted by: samcitycat on 9/15/2005 11:20:56 PM