They buried Granddaddy in his uniform. The family seemed to be honored by his service.
Shame Granddaddy used to say, “I’d die before I let my boys be dragged off to war like I was.”
In those days they excluded men with qualifying disabilities and homosexuals.
Most of the elders were laughing and reminiscing about what a proud man’s, man’s Granddaddy always was. He was strict on his only daughter, but seemed to have a catering, forgiving guilt trip towards his three son’s.
His friend once said, “Real men are made in the service Thomas. You handicapped those boys from becoming the self sufficient men they could have been but for you sheltering them.”
Granddaddy said, “If anybody is gonna turn my son’s into anything it’s gonna be me!”
I never saw that particular friend come around the house again.
Everybody felt the wrath of Granddaddy’s iron fist at some point; and hated him for it.
Still, you could feel the somber sorrow in the house. They had lost their patriarch.
No one was happier than I was for it all to end.
Momma used to say, “When daddy goes, he’s gonna leave the house to his oldest daughter, and you grown ass, good for nothing male hens, will have to go!”
Momma said my 3 uncles never really left home. They each had children, dysfunctional families and addictions. Uncle John even had a wife. All three of them would end up back home at some point.
Although they loved me, I was sick of my shiftless uncles and my bad cousins around the house all the time.
They all had grey hair by the time their daddy died. I guess over time they’d given up.
I was just about thirteen at the time, so the grown folks jokes and story telling bored me. I finished my chores and walked from the crowned hot kitchen, pass the always busy bathroom, back to the porch again.
I was out there only a minutes when I over heard angry whispers, muffled cursing and males cries.
I stepped back into the darkness to listen.
It was my youngest uncle that appeared to be doing the rationalizing and consoling. His tone quickly turned into anger and rage too. I couldn’t make out everything he was saying, but Uncle Buddy, the eldest cried out, “He had no right!”
Apparently a private war trunk Granddaddy kept hidden had been found.
It contained Granddaddy’s letters and journals that would revealed old and horrific secrets from his freshly honored grave.
I heard Uncle John’s grieving blubbering voice howl through sentence after sentence.
Scribbles of confessions, apologetic prayers to the lord and his sons.
Granddaddy was asking for forgiveness.
My disgust produced bumps of internal ants that covered my body. Granddaddy had been viciously violated by another man.
There were pages ripping, pushing shoving, questioning and scuffling. I could hear my uncles making nasty accusations against Granddaddy.
Something horrible was happening to my uncles.
The baby boy, my Uncle Billy shouted, “Lies!” “Please stop!”
Uncle John continued to read.
” I’m warning you, no more lies Johnny!”
“My daddy was a good man, I’m a good man, Johnny stop reading!”
I peaked around the house, my Uncle Billy was running to the shed. Uncle Johnny continued to read still screaming, shouting and sobbing.
“You both are gonna rot in hell for this, Johnny!”
I thought I better hurry and get mama. I turned to snatched the screen door open. In shocked, mama was standing there with her eyes closed, fists clinched to her head and her face drenched with tears. I was still.
Two shots were fired in the yard.
My two uncles high low pitched moans slowly and simultaneously went silent.