The day after I arrived in Texas, my sister and I drove over to Beaumont to pick up my brother and his family, and we head off to the great state of Louisiana. Now you just might be asking yourself, "If he just got to Texas, why would be heading off to Louisiana?", well I will tell you.
My Mom was born Texas but she grew up in Louisiana for the most part. For many years
she and my Grandparents lived in Oakdale, Louisiana, and that is where we were heading to that day. You see, there is only one relative left from my Mom's generation. Someone who grew up with my Mom and can still remember all the "old ones" that have died on gone on to Glory.
Someone who knew my Grandparents, and great Aunts and Uncles, the very ones we pay our respects to when we go by the old cemetary. That one lone survivor is our Cousin Rena May.
All my life we have gone back to Oakdale to visit Cousin Rena Mae and her family. She and her husband, Ivy, grew up with my Mom and her sisters. I did not know till very recently that before Cousins Rena Mae met her husband Ivy, he and my Mom were boyfriend/girlfriend.
But that is way more than you probably want to know. Needless to say, it didn't last between
Mom and Ivy. He and Rena Mae were married over 50 years before he died a few year ago.
So since I was home, we decided the three of us should make one more trip over to see her.
It is only a three hour trip over to see her, well it is probably shorter but we were all laughing and talking and it turned into a three hour trip. My sister had written to her a few weeks before and asked if it was ok if we come and she shot a letter right back telling my sister to please come and she would cook us chicken and dumplings. Now I do not know if you have ever had HOMEMADE chicken and dumplings, I mean made from scratch, nothing pre-bought except the ingredients. but let me tell you, I would drive more than three hours to get that!
We actually arrive a little later than we had planned. We pulled into Oakdale, which is a VERY small town and we found the road to go to Cousin Rena Mae's. We drove down this narrow road that was once a very busy road in its day. The old sawmill was located on this road and if you
look through the trees and over grown brush you can still the old sawmill building that are overgrown in the woods. As the road got narrower we knew we were close to her house, and as we made the bend in the road we could see her sitting on the poarch waiting for us. Now I should let you know, Cousin Rena Mae is around 90 or 91.
She got all excited as we get out of the car and all hug and kiss and she hurries us into the kitchen to eat, she don't want it getting cold!!
So there we were, all sitting around the table eating HOMEMADE chicken and dumplings (that were to die for!), macaronie and cheese and HOME MADE corn bread. Now I will even start to tell you about how much I LOVE homemade cornbread. It's a little piece of Heaven, let me tell you. We were all stuffed to the gills and then, she brought out the HOMEMADE peach cobbler.
It was amazing.
So she takes us up some cobbler and we are just starting to eat it when my brother's little boy wanted to go outside and play. She Nancy, my brother's wife, took him outside to play.
Well here were are eating our cobbler and as soon as Nancy leaves the room, Cousins Rena Mae turns to us and says " I am so glad she left I need to talk to you kids", well we all looked at her and the next words she said was " I need to tell you your Mother was adopted. She really belongs to your Grannie Yielding sister, Stella. Stella did not know who the father was ( we found out later Stella got around alot, and not in a good way. She had several children by different guys and gave them all away.) and after she had her she gave her to her sister (my grandmother) to raise as her own." Well I am not sure who was more shocked, but when I looked over to where my brother was he still had his fork halfway between his cobbler bowl and his mouth.
THEN, she turns to me like she had said nothing and said "Jaymes, would you like some ice
cream on your cobbler?" Somehow I got the word out "Sure". We all just kinda sat there for a minute and finally my sister started asking her a few questions about what he had just laid on us.
According to Cousin Rena Mae, my Mom did not know anything about this. Cousin Rena Mae's Mother was Bessie, who was also a sister to Nancy(my grandmother) and Stella. Cousin Rena Mae said everyone was sworn to secretcy about it when it happen. Her mother told her and she said she just had to let us know before she died. ( We all decided later that as far as we were concerned she could have just taken it to the grave with her).
Shortly after that more relatives started coming in and we did not get to talk about it anymore.
Later as we drove away, we were all quiet, my sister finally said "Well guys how do you fell about this little turn of events?" We really did not know what to say and then we all started
running back through all the stories we had been told all our lives about when Mom was born and about her life growing up. To be honest, we were pretty shell schocked. We did not know what to think. So, over the next few days, we all three contacted all the older cousins who were younger than Mom and asked them about it. They all said they had never heard anything like that and they all agreed with us that if it were true, knowing Mom's older sister, none of them would have ever been able to keep it a secret, Hell none of of them had ever been able to keep a secret about anything. (Just to let you know, my Mom came from a large family and her oldest sister was 20 years older then her)
So here is the conclusion we all three came to: If she was indeed the daughter of Stella and adopted by my Grandparents, it changes nothing, everyone involved is dead. In my Mom's world, my Grandparents were her real parents and all her sisters and brothers were her family, so that is all that truly matters. We do know that Stella died in a State Hospital when she was in her 60's but we do not know where she is buried. We are going to do our best to find where she is buried and make sure she has a nice headstone, and leave it at that.
I am really not sure if I will ever eat peach cobbler again.