Gut Rumbles

November 19, 2007

I've never seen it

Originally published December 15, 2004

A small cemetary rests somewhere on the side of a hill in eastern Kentucky, and it is dotted with small, white tombstones, some of which are so old and weathered that the carving is difficult to read anymore. My Uncle George went there a few years ago and took a video of the place.

A lot of my family is buried in that ground.

The stones read, "Baby Jacob," born 10/11/22, died 10/13/22. "Our beloved Clara," born 2/25/06, died 6/14/08. "Davy," born 11/21/03, died 11/21/03. Bejus! I watched that video and I wept. My grandma came from a family of fifteen children, but only 13 survived to reach adulthood. The same was true all over the family. Dying young was common in those days, and childbirth was a risky proposition.

Too many people don't appreciate how good we have life today. My grandma still jokes that when my mama was born, the midwife who delivered her charged two live chickens and a dozen eggs for the job. "I think I rooked her," she still says. "Those were the two worst chickens I had." My uncles still tell my mama, "You shut up! You ain't worth no more than two chickens and a dozen eggs."

Yeah, we sit around and laugh at those things today. But there is a tear in every laugh. How many smart hillbillies who could have clawed their way out of those hills and made something out of life lie buried there without ever having the chance to prove what they could do? Nobody will ever know.

Maybe that's why I have little patience for the professional whiners of the world. Got-dam, people! You think life is rough NOW? You couldn't have cut the mustard back then.

You are pathetic.

I've never visited that cemetary, but I intend to go next summer. My roots are buried there.

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