AfriGeneas Writers Forum
The Family Tree
Posted here by request:
This true story is written and dedicated to my two sons whom I cherish with ever fiber of my being and to all who read it and cherish the legacy of love shared by family.
"The Family Tree"
I remember that as a child "Memorial Day" was called Decoration Day by those, back home,who lived out in the country. That was because we remembered all the deceased and not just the ones who'd died while in the Service to our country. We lived in Oklahoma City, Mama and I, even before Daddy died.
It had been 5 months since daddy crossed over to his ancestors. I just had my 5th birthday a month earlier. Mama and I drove the 3 hours to the graveyard. It was up U.S. 66 highway and off S.H. 16 from Bristow,OK 6 miles to Slick,OK. I would pretend I was driving while Mama stayed,wisely, behind the wheel during the 3 hour trip. As we approached Polecat Creek we turned onto a rough driveway and slowly drove by Rogers Chapel a country Baptist church which served the small town of Slick and the Tabor cemetery (where daddy was buried) up amongst the blackjack,walnut and pecan trees surrounding it.
We passed that point and drove up the rough and hilly short path to the edge of the grave area and parked. We arrived earlier than most, even the locals. Out, unloading the hoe and rake, Mama and I would walk uphill to where Daddy had been buried the December prior. She still hurt with grief but as Black women would she kept herself together through it all. She hoed the grass out and I, at age 5 years, would try to use the rake to move it out of the way. Mama had told me I was her new "lil' man" so I gave my best effort to help all I could.
Next to Daddy all sorts of his cousins and even his youngest brother was buried down the row from him. But there was a huge oak tree next to the spot mama had chosen for him. Right in the center of the graveyard. A tree with many branches and was full of leaves with great shade and said to be very fruitful in the fall of the year.
Soon many others would arrive and the gathering of Family and friends would begin. Daddys aunts and uncles, cousins and sisters and brothers and their children of all ages and friends who had kin buried there would arrive. Some would bring several washtubs full of ice and cases of soda pop. Someone else would bring a large barrel smoker with which they would begin barbequeing. Another grill would come for hotdogs, hamburgers and other sausages. Others would bring other "fixins" and the celebration of family would begin under the Family Tree. The fellowship would continue for two to three hours while we kids would play much to our hearts content. All the old stories of the family tree would be told of the old homesteads and back in the old land (Georgia-Alabama) from whence Daddy's family had come near around the turn-of-the century riding in a wagon train through Tennessee,Arkansas down into Texas and across Clarksville,TX and turning north at Gainesville,TX to enter OK. Stopping at Byr Wynn,OK (now named Gene Autry,OK) they buried granpa John, Grannys husband and father of my daddy there. Then onto northeast OK where they settled at Slick.
About three pm Mama would call me to her and say we've enjoyed you all but it's time for us to journey home,now. We would hug all our kin and "load up" for departure. We would hollar out best wishes and God's blessings to each other. I would wave until we were out of sight and tell mama that was soooo much fun, Mama. It may not have been for her but she didn't see fit to deny me that event as she knew it would be very important as I now try to complete, and pass on as a legacy to my sons, my "Family Tree".
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