Saturday, August 13, 2011

Three little words

My Grandpa Byrd, my mother’s father, had been married in Mississippi to a woman who was part Choctaw. She died in the Spanish Influenza leaving him with two boys, Clyde and Joe, both of whom were handsome and charming but each of whom got into trouble in the way it is easy for handsome and charming young men to do.

My Grandma Byrd, mother’s mother, had been married in Alabama to a soldier who, as near as I can recall, had been stationed at Ft. Leavenworth where he died of the Spanish Influenza. They’d had a baby together who’d also died of the flu.

The two of them, Grandma and Grandpa, had married afterward. I know nothing of any love story between them. I do know that she referred to him as “Byrd,” which is not the greatest sign of Romantic love. Together, in addition to Clyde and Joe, they had Jack, Faye, Ona, and Tommy

My Grampa Sam and my Grandma Lora got married when he was 22 and she was 15. She lied about her age on the marriage license; I’ve got a copy of it. If a 22-year-old ran off with a 15-year-old daughter of mine, I’d have him put in prison. Seriously.


But were it not for these circumstances, tragedies included, lining up, I would not exist.

I am the product of lies and tragedy.

I meditate on this in particular because as I grow older I am becoming judgmental and grumpy. I have certain dearly held beliefs. You shouldn’t lie on your marriage license to get married. You should get your inoculations against the flu. Delay gratification. Spend the interest; invest the principal. Buy low; sell high. Keep right except to pass. Always be specific when you lie.

If you’ve got a rule, I am ready to follow it.

But the rules get broken all the time. The people we love die before their time. People let hearts (or other organs) overrule their heads. Tragedy befalls us either randomly, through design, or through our own bad judgment.

Life goes on. Three little words. I prefer “I love you,” but these three will do.

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