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Granny Mayweather

January 18, 2010

Something silly that I scribbled earlier today, and thought I’d throw online. Genesis of the idea came from the South Georgia flooding that happened in the mid-90’s; Brad’s family was from that area, and this general concept came from conversations we had, and, to be honest, my own thoughts about “resting in peace”. I’ve relocated it to an Appalachian accent because, seriously, the only people who are interested by South Georgians are actually *in* South Georgia. . . I prefer a mountain personality any day. The shadows in the hollows just seem to make people a little quirkier, and altogether more interesting.

Granny Mayweather and The Flood

If you ask folks up along Suches way, they’ll tell you straight:   there’s never been one the like of Granny Mayweather.  Gran must have been about three hundred and seventy-four by the time I came along, so mostly I just grew up hearing stories about her in her hey-day.  You might have heard a few, too, ‘cause they have a way of getting brought up on those days when dinner’s over, the pie is on the table, the adults are lingering over lukewarm cups of coffee, and sentences get to where they all start with “Do you remember. . . “ 

 In my head, Granny stories always have those “and” names you see sometimes, like Granny Mayweather and The Rodeo, Granny Mayweather and The Flying Machine, or Granny Mayweather and The Tornado of Horned-Owl Hollow.  I never quite believed them, myself.  I’d sit there and I’d watch that old lady, sitting quiet in her chair in the corner of my aunt’s house, and I’d have just about decided Uncle Nathan and Uncle Andrew were making things up (those two never did meet a tall tale they couldn’t grow by about three inches).  About the time I figured I’d settled that in my mind, though, she’d look over at me all sidelong, and grin a long, slow, wicked grin, and wink at me like she knew just what I was thinking, and sure enough, I’d be back to where I’d started from.

I guess Granny died when I was about ten.  I remember them reading the will up at Uncle Andrew’s house. All of us cousins were supposed to stay in the kitchen, out of the way of the grown-ups who had busy things that needed taking care of.  I’d slid up along the hallway to listen in, got there just in time to hear my aunt–her name was Adeline, but we always called her Aunt Didi, and she was the sweetest, most church-going, most kind-hearted woman I knew–stand up halfway through and declare, “Well, I will be damned.”  I skulked outside that door for a good ten minutes waiting for someone to say what was going on, but mostly I think I was just waiting to see if she’d curse again.

Y’know, to this day I’ll still hear Didi in my head when things have gone just a step or two past the point of loop-de-loop insanity, to where that’s about all there is left to be said. I’ve also always thought it would have suited Gran to know she’d driven that sainted lady to swear, and then I think maybe I’ve got a bit of that long, slow, sidelong grin in me, too.

Anyway, I grew up, went to college, and got on with starting my life, the way you do.  I’d occasionally pull out Granny Mayweather stories to amuse my more metropolitan friends, but to be honest, I didn’t pay much more attention to her until we had those floods last spring. I don’t remember exactly what was in the Corps of Engineers’ report, but something went wrong somewhere upstream, and the river couldn’t hold the extra volume coming down from the state line, and in two days about half the county went underwater.  News choppers from Atlanta circled around showing the roads washed out and the buildings washed away.  The governor declared a state of emergency, and folks started doing the kinds of things people do:  opening shelters in gyms and churches, taking in families that needed it, bagging up old clothes, and putting an awful lot of broccoli-rice casseroles in to bake.

It was an awful mess, and I went home to help where I could, expecting to see the dirt and grime and heartache and destruction that I saw, but I sure as hell never expected to walk away with my own Granny Mayweather story.

Like I said, I knew there was something strange going on when we buried her, but if I ever heard exactly what, I’d forgotten it along with my high school locker combination and how to fold a paper crane.  On that Tuesday afternoon, though, pulling supplies off the back of a truck in the Speedy-Q parking lot, and watching Main Street doing one mean impersonation of white-water rapids, the details I didn’t know I remembered sure came back in a hurry.

It was my father saw it first, and I heard him straighten up next to me with his own, “well, I will be damned.”  I dropped a five-gallon can of mayonnaise and managed to get my head up in time to see Granny herself riding down the water.

 We knew right off what it meant, of course—flooding had hit the Mount Bethel graveyard (we found out later the sandbags managed to protected the church itself), and a lot of people’s loved ones had been disturbed in their peaceful repose.

 I know there’s some that hold it was a great tragedy, and I can see how it is, but I also come from Mayweather stock, and somehow I just can’t make myself take it to heart.

 We all saw Granny that day, lid off, sitting up straight, hat and gloves on, and that black patent purse on her lap.  And didn’t she look for all the world like she was right pleased to be going out visiting?

 Now, do you really think that Granny would have been put to rest like that unless she had it in mind to look her best if she got the chance to see us again?

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