Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Long Way Around

I've always been stubborn, and it's always been said that it's a true family trait. I come from an old style Appalachian family from the coalfields of West Virginia. Great Grandpa had a bull and a feed store that still stood (and in some form, still stands), when I was a kid. It used to be said that you had to cross the field where Great Grandpa had his bull, to get to the houses from the bus stop, and so the kids would have to hop the fence and run for dear life. So, Great Grandpa would stand outside with a stick, and when the kids would get ready to run through, that bull would start huffin' and beating the ground with it's hoof. Great Grandpa would haul off and smack that bull in the face with that stick. The bull would calm down. It was also said, that the bull was exactly like Great Grandpa as far as personality goes.

I remember, I used to sit on the feed store's steps with my little glass bottle of Coke and a bag of chips, just as my Papaw and my Mom once did. Papaw was a military man, desperate to get away from the coalfields. In some twist of irony, Papaw ended up coming back to the same holler (yes, I know it's actually "hollow", but I type like I talk), and even after we flooded a few years back, he, due to his stubbornness, went back for a few months this past year, and eventually got too sick to take care of himself. He passed away February 13th of this year. His legacy that he left behind in the community is a man who had a filthy mouth, did whatever he wanted, drove too fast on small roads, but then would drive 30 miles under the speed limit on the highway. He was also known as one of the best butchers around, because as the newspaper put it,  "Our butcher was special. It was said he could cut part of his finger off, wrap it quickly, and never get a drop of his blood in the hamburger he was grinding fresh for someone. Sadly, OUR BUTCHER (Don Moore) passed within the past month at about 80. His legacy as the company store butcher with the friendly smile lives on"...He really did cut off his finger as a butcher.

 Papaw and Great Grandpa

My mom, of course, is also stubborn. She grew up a fighter. Essentially beating the living shit out of anyone that deserved it. She once grabbed a boy off a bike when she was a kid, and then proceeded to beat the shit out of him in the middle of the road, because he called her fat. She's never had it easy, and despite the hard times, she's never given up. With her family in mind, she went to school and became an RN and raised both myself and my brother, and then proceeded to help raise my nephews. Now, she is diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiform, which is a brain tumor for those that don't know. She was given 9 months to live...that, however, was about 18 months ago. She continues to fight.


So, it was only natural that I would inherit this as well. For better, or for worse, I was a member of this family, which means I get the good and the bad. Overall, it's both helped and hurt me over the years. Primarily in the respect that I have always seemed to walk my own path. I've always, either by meaning to, or not, taken the rougher road. I've never fully understood it. I've just always taken the longer way around. It's just seemed like the natural thing to do. More than that, it's always seemed to served my folk well in the end.

When I was younger, I don't think I fully understood the importance taking things this way. Why would anyone really ever want to take the hard road? Normally, in today's society, it's promoted that we do things an easier way. My response to taking the easy route is simply that it's not always better. Have you ever wondered why we have that easy way available to us? It's because someone took that hard way first. In the midst of all the overgrowth, holes, and predators, they've put themselves through it, and often times, not for just themselves, but for others to come after.

This is what I've learned from my family. My Papaw cut his finger off, and went right back to work, because it was the right thing to do for his family. My mom struggled in school, just so she could graduate and give us a better life than what we had. As far as my Great Grandpa...well...he was just Great Grandpa. Stubborn and tough. There's many lessons to learn from that. In conclusion, sometimes going the long way around, makes you stronger and wiser, and hopefully you come out at your destination with a story despite the scars and hope despite the bruises. 

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