One of my new life missions is to collect oral histories of my family. I was able to do a small amount of that this past weekend, while visiting Oklahoma for my Nanny’s 80th birthday. I could listen to my Nanny talk all day, about anything. Her life has been extraordinary and I hate the bitter thought that it won’t last forever. And maybe it’s her age and wisdom, but her story telling style is drastically different from mine. I overdramatize everything and riddle the world with too many unneeded jokes. Nanny, on the other hand… well, this is my Nanny.
I was delivered by a midwife. Yes, I was. My brother and I both. She was an old black lady. Old, old, black lady. She delivered us and had been raising us when my family decided to move. She told my daddy, said, “Mr. Lon, I think if you move away and take those babies away from me I’ll just die.” And when we moved, we loaded everything and us into a wagon– now, see how old I am here– and we drove away. You know that midwife was sitting there on the porch in a rocking chair when we drove away, and she sat right in that chair and had a heart attack and died. Yes. She did. They ruled it a heart attack but my daddy always said, said he always knew, he broke her heart when he took those babies, me and my brother Creepy. Creepy, my precious brother. He’s dead now too.