Friday, December 4, 2015

My Twenty Words

One of my favorite assignments when I'm teaching culture is to have students think about where they are from, some of the things that make them or their family unique.

I'm pretty sure we all have these things... family traditions or folklore or favorite foods or memories that we can close our eyes and relive again and again.

Tonight, I thought again about what makes me me... about my life as I know it.

I just finished reading Kentucky Boy: My Life in Twenty Words, a memoir by a friend of my Mom's, Jerry Deaton.  My Mom moved to Quicksand Road with her family in her adolescent years, and the neighborhood was close-knit. There were several families who had kids around the same age, and Jerry's aunt Ollie was one  of these.  While Ollie, Opal, and their children and grandchildren are no blood relation to me, I feel as if they are.  Close kin, even. Our histories are interwoven.  When my Grandma died, they were there to mourn with us. As we went through pictures to put in the slide show at the funeral, it was hard to find any from the time my Mom and her siblings were growing up that didn't include some of these neighborhood kids.  Growing up, we had Christmas parties and get-togethers, and while we aren't able to get together nearly as much, my Mom's neighborhood gang still feel like family. (As a matter of fact, my Mom, her four sisters, and one of those neighborhood girls are braving Lexington and doing some Christmas shopping during their annual December weekend right at this moment).

So as I read Jerry's memoir, I felt right at home. As he described his Mamaw Sophie's house, I could close my eyes and picture it.  Every time I go to Buckhorn I look over at that homeplace and think of the fine people I associate with that house.

I laughed out loud as he described the mischief he got in with his cousin Wade.  Wade was probably one of my Grandma's favorite neighborhood kids (him and Tim). 

In one chapter, Jerry described the road from where he lived at on Long's Creek to Jackson. I'm pretty familiar with it, too... part of that road is Hwy 30.  As he went through the landmarks, I smiled as I tried to picture them. I'm sure a lot of it has changed, but the names were familiar.

He mentioned individuals he associated with his childhood. It warmed my heart when he talked of Norma Turner giving him credit at their store. Norma was one of my favorite people ever when I worked at the hospital. She was the most patient unit secretary ever, and it was a sad day for all of us when she passed.

At one point, he talked about how he found himself thinking about how there will always be  a last time that we will be doing something, and how most of the time we never even realize it. While a sobering thought, it is a good reminder to appreciate every moment, to pause and appreciate what is around you.

As I closed the book, I thought of those memories his words had stirred in me.  I thought of my own family get-togethers, with kids piled on couches.  Of swinging on my Grandma's porch swing counting the cars that went by on Quicksand Road. Of cheering in the old football stadium on Friday nights.  Of my school days at LBJ and SMS and BHS, and of stories my Mom has told me about Little Red.

What would be my twenty words?

Family. Cousins. Detective. Pond. Log  Houses. Flowers and mudpies. Fried apple pies. Football. Cheerleading. Reading. Church. School. Creeks. Influences. Music.


(I'd highly recommend this book, by the way. You can check his work out at

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