Double Firsts and Mamas

My brother Aubrey and I have nine blood-kin first cousins. Growing up, all of them were integral parts of our lives, and we all had a good time together…well…except for when Stevie wouldn’t get his way and would pitch a fit.  Hey…I was the baby of the family after all!

Four of them, though, are our double first cousins…the children born to Marlene (Momma’s sister), who was married to JW (Daddy’s brother).

Aunt Marlene and Uncle JW would bring our double-firsts from Montgomery up to “the country” where the kids spent just about every weekend and every summer in Maplesville.  That went on for years.

The six of us slept either on the floor on pallets (quilts, not wood) or crossways in the bed, played ball in the big patch in front of the house, fussed about who got to sit on top of the ice cream freezer, chased…and ran from…snakes in the old storm pit, walked the quarter mile or so down the railroad behind the house, and whiled away hours playing in the creek that ran under the trestle. And we worked in Daddy’s garden…Lord have mercy did we work in Daddy’s garden.

David, Sissy, Ann, Tim, Aubrey, Steve.

Looking back at all the life that the six of us lived, laughed, loved…and endured…together…shoot, we all might as well have been brothers and sisters. No. Forget that “might as well have been” jazz…we were…and we are.

Think about this…as double first cousins, the six of us have both sets of grandparents in common.

Aubrey’s and my Papa Chandler was their Papa Chandler, and our Papa Will was their Papa Will.

I didn’t mention the women who were our mutual grandmothers because…well…I never met them.

All I knew of them came from the few stories I heard over the years and from the two images that were displayed in our living room…Papa Chandler’s wife in a frame on the buffet and Papa Will’s wife in a frame on the wall.

None of us double firsts were around when Papa Chandler’s wife died in 1942 at the age of 38, two days after giving birth to a son who didn’t live through his birth day. My Uncle “Infant Son” didn’t even get to have a name…every child of God ought to have a name.

Wonder what we would’ve called Papa Chandler’s wife? Mama Chandler? Mama Gracie?

Her Creek skin tone and facial structure were visible in the picture on the buffet and in three of her children…Bobe, Aunt Marlene, and Uncle Buck…not as much with Momma and Aunt Doe.

Growing up, I sometimes wished Papa Chandler’s wife and I had known each other…and loved each other.

David and Sissy were the only double firsts around (both younger than three) when Papa Will’s wife died in 1955 at the age of 49 after losing her battle with breast cancer.

Wonder what we would’ve called Papa Will’s wife? Mama Latham? Mama Lena? I like her middle name…I might have called her Mama Analiza.

Her round face and smiling eyes were visible in the picture on the wall and on all three of her children…Daddy, Aunt Claudia and Uncle JW.

Growing up, I sometimes wished Papa Will’s wife and I had known each other…and loved each other.

Anyway.

Five of us six double firsts are still around…Tim left us a couple years ago.

David, Sissy, Ann, Aubrey, Steve.

But hey…get this…we double firsts know each other…and love each other…so I reckon both of my “Mama” wishes kind of did come true.

 

Steve Latham – April 26, 2017

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