Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Day of Losses and Gains

This morning I attended my cousin Myra’s funeral. The youngest of my aunt’s three children, she was only two years older than I am. She’s the first in the circle of cousins to die. She’d been sick for a couple of years.

She lived over an hour’s drive away, so I didn’t see her very often—maybe every couple of years our paths crossed at family gatherings.

Her funeral oration was a celebration of her life, given by a minister who’d been her neighbor for decades. His text was “Love thy neighbor,” and he showed all the ways Myra had done that as he told us of the memories he had of her. At several points, he had to stop to cry.

She is out of pain now, and she left her mark on her small part of the world. That’s all any of us can hope to do.

This afternoon, I heard a knock on the back door. When I answered, two guys—about my age—were there. One flashed a U.S. Marshal’s badge to prove his identity and asked if we owned the Brown Farm in Union Hall.

Uh, oh, I thought. Has somebody been moonshining there? Dealing drugs? Running a house of ill-repute? My mind ran wild for about 10 seconds.

Then he explained that he was retired and his grandparents used to live there. He and the other guy were in the area for a family reunion, and they’d really like to see the place.

Hmmm. Turns out these guys—Larry and Keith—were kin to me on the Brown side. Two distant cousins I never knew I had!

And then it gets weird. Larry (the retired marshal) had grown up in Roanoke two streets over from me; we’d gone to the same elementary school and high school, albeit four years apart. We knew some of the same people. Keith had moved east (so had I) and now lived south (so did I for a couple years). For years our paths paralleled but never crossed.

They had fond childhood memories of Shady Rest, the name of the Tom & Cora Brown Farm. They heard we owned it. Could they see it? Sure!



I warned them that the house had fallen into disrepair but the barn was still in good shape.


John went off with them to show them the farm; I followed later in my truck. Maggie, of course, went along with me. Larry recounted some of his childhood memories—getting stung by wasps in the barn, the window of the room he slept in when he visited, etc.

Now, I’ll see the farm in a slightly different way. I can see enthusiastic boys of fifty years ago who loved visiting the place.

I lost one cousin but gained two others.

And another weird thing about today: I received an email chastising me for the “negative energy” my opinions caused in a group. Later today, I received another email (from a different person in a different group) thanking me for giving him my opinion.

And, you know what? Both opinions I gave had pretty much the same tone, purpose, and viewpoint.

Lose some, gain some.

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