Saturday, June 20, 2009


My mom (on right) is 82 years old and out of her 6 siblings, only her brother Tom (center) and sister Nell (on left) remain. It’s getting harder for them to visit and be together. They are getting up in age and mom lives the furthest away in Kingston, Tennessee, with Nell near Huntsville, Alabama, and Tom in Florence, Alabama.

Tom is still the most capable of traveling; being around 10 years younger than the other two surviving Williams children, but even visits are becoming more infrequent. So, it is up to me to get mom to Alabama so they can gather and be a family for a little while a couple of times each year.

Nell is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and the other two siblings know that in time she will not remember them. Already she tells stories of their youth that neither of the other two remembers in quite the same way. During last week’s visit, Nell was telling a story of her and mom sitting on their grandmother’s back porch hammering nails when two Indians came out of the house. Mom and Tom do not remember anything about this, but I do remember being told that Grandmother Johnston’s brothers used to come visit her, and they were Indians. So, part of the story may in fact be true.

Great grandmother Johnston was a Morrison of North Alabama and was half if not full bloodied Indian. I’m not sure if she was from the Cherokee Indians of the area or another tribe that lived in the area. We know there were at least some Yuchi Indians around, but since we can’t verify much about the Morrison’s it remains unfounded. Most likely they were Cherokee.

Aunt Nell also was telling a story how great Grandfather Johnston first came upon his future wife, and Indian maiden, standing on the bank of the Tennessee River. The story goes he was very struck by her appearance and, to make a long story short, loaded her up and took her home with him.

That blood line and the Cherokee bloodline from the Mashburn side of the family is proof of my heritage. Maybe that’s why I always wanted to be the Indian when we played cowboys and Indians in the neighborhood. It was in my blood.

Anyway, I am moved to tears when I look at the photo of the three siblings sitting on Uncle Tom’s couch – Nell on the left and mom on the right of their remaining brother Tom. The literally had to be touching each other during the visit, as if they know time is their enemy. To make knowing that time will take each of them, they know that Nell may slip away from them even before she is gone.

In lighter moments, the evening we arrived Tom’s wife Carolyn had prepared BBQ ribs, potato salad, slaw, rolls, and other wonderful things like cheesecake for us. Uncle Lee and Aunt Nell drove down to eat with us and Nell and mom got to talk old times. That evening, Nell seemed to be completely together and they talked and laughed well into the evening. Also eating with us was one of Tom’s daughters, Amy and her beau Ken. I thoroughly enjoyed Stuart…he reminded me of my eye doctor, and seemed just as smart!

The last evening we all went to eat at Walton’s Restaurant near Elgin Crossroads, Alabama, and just a few miles north of Wheeler Dam on Hwy 101. Walton’s serves the best catfish in the North Alabama area and it is a “must” when we go down for a visit. The jalapeño hushpuppies they bring out for an appetizer “are to die for” and you have to force yourself to stop eating them or there will be no room for the catfish! Oh yeah, if you go, you must try the Possum Pie!

Nell and Lee and Tom’s daughter Gina met us there and we had a great time.

I always dread “going home” as mom refers to the trip, but once there I always have a great time. They are wonderful people and Judy and I enjoy being around them. Tom also entertained us with his new Wii and I pulled a “buttock” muscle bowling! You really can get a workout on those things! I also like the cow racing!

So, we made plans to go back in September when there will be a big Indian meet at Spring Park in Tuscumbia, Alabama. I look forward to that very much…maybe there will be some kinfolks there too!


FHB said...

That is a great shot, with yoiur mom leanin' over on her brother like that. I wish my mom had family left. She's the last one now.

I'll never forget the time I realized my dad was loosing touch with reality. I came home from one of those fishing trips in Canada with Bob and we all met at the Outback for dinner. Dad asked me at one point if he'd told me about taking his dad to see my house. Of course, his dad had died in the early 60s. I just looked at him, and then at my mom and sister. It was shocking, but it was years before he died. Thing is, it didn't get too much worse. It was going to though, but he died before it did. We still think he was lucky to go when he did.

And yea, I always wanted to play the Indian too. They were so much cooler.

Les Becker said...

What a beautiful post, Mushy!

"They literally had to be touching each other during the visit, as if they know time is their enemy."

Made me cry...!

Shrinky said...

So much love shines through your writings, Mushy. The three of them look darn sprightly for their age, don't they? And it's wonderful you make the gatherings happen as often as you do.

Suldog said...

Mushy, you write such wonderful bits about family life. I always enjoy reading them, and this was no exception. Very good stuff.

Becky said...

That's a nice photo of the siblings and its fortunate that they can still see each other. I hope my siblings and I are all still getting together when we're in our 70s/80s.

Grandpa-Old Soldier said...

Very touching post. You have a good lookin bunch for sure. I try to get over to Louisiana several time a year to see my Mom. She is 86 and stills lives on her own. Lucky my sister lives near by and is like an old mother hen. Great post.

david mcmahon said...

I hear you loud and clear, Mushy - my mother had Alzheimer's.

And wow, what a bloodline!

Mushy said...

It's good to hear from you all...I don't post often, but I miss you when I don't hear from you guys.

Yes, I'm an ol' cur dog - Irish, Scot, and Cherokee...and I seem to see all of those traits in us.

*Goddess* said...

Mom looks great at 82. She's like my mom...still going strong in her 90's! It's nice to have a family photo of them. My mother was lucky enough to do that, too, recently with her remaining siblings. Thankfully, she still has five! Can't beat those big Catholic!

Sandi McBride said...

What a fantastic family shot...and your beautiful mother...82? Unbelievable...hushpuppies to die for? Yes there are such things! Lovely post...full of heartfelt emotion and family devotion...thanks Mushy!

AirmanMom said...

Your mom is a beautiful lady!
My mom is also 82, and lost another sister a couple months ago. My mom is one of seven, three remain.
How blessed you are to capture these memories!

Cheffie-Mom said...

Your blog is great - I love your header! I came over from authorblog. Congrats on the Post of the Day Award!

Brian Miller said...

beautiful story of family. the jalapeno hush puppies sound amazing too! congrats on the POTD mention!

Mushy said...

Thanks everyone for coming over to visit...and thanks to David for sending you. Please come back!