Life, Love, and Leaving in Livingston, Texas

In a previous century my grandfather died

Only weeks after my great uncle.

A few weeks later, my grandmother

Made a quick trip to the grocery store

And returned to find her house in flames.


Having lost her brother, husband, and home

In a matter of weeks, my uncle Skeet

(so known because as a child he was

No bigger than a mosquito or “skeeter")

Tried to comfort his sister.


He was a country preacher with a small congregation

In the Piney Woods of East Texas, and he

Always turned to Jesus, of course, in times like these.

Attempting reassurance, he said, “Ain’t it wonderful, Sis?

This just shows that the Lord always watches over us.

No matter what, Jesus is always by your side.”


He meant, of course, that she was lucky not

To have been burned alive, but I sort of thought

The loss of everything she loved might have

Compensated for the joy of continued existence,

But people say I am just too negative.


In the current century, my grandmother

Eventually died just a few years short of

Becoming a centenarian, so I returned

To Livingston, Texas one last time.


As we gathered at my grandmother’s house

To mourn, one of my aunts complained bitterly,

“Well, we’re gonna have to fire our preacher,

‘Cause he keeps saying the BI-ble says to

Give our money to the poor. They can work for

Their own money like we did!”


 Upon learning that one of her new in-laws

Was Mexican, she demanded, “Well, are ya

Legal? If you’re legal, it’s all right, but we

Don’t need any wetbacks in the family!”


I haven’t returned to Livingston, Texas.



◄ On the Destructive Power of Measureable Learning Objectives

Texas Tornadoes and the Power of Prayer ►


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Randy Horton

Thu 11th Apr 2019 20:14

Hi, Laura. Thanks for the comment. I purposely inverted the usual construction of that phrase. I think my uncle's words were a cold comfort at best. At that moment the pain of loss for her was much greater than the joy of living, even if she didn't correct him. In that sense, the pain more than "compensated" for the being spared death by fire.


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Laura Taylor

Thu 11th Apr 2019 14:01

What Steve said. Enjoyed reading this, chockful of interesting lines, but these:

The loss of everything she loved might have

Compensated for the joy of continued existence

should there be a 'not' after 'have'? I'm confused.

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Randy Horton

Thu 11th Apr 2019 11:53

Thank you so much, Steve.

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