Southern Legitimacy Statement Drinking out of an outdoor hose and running to the house in time to catch the opening song to my mama’s stories sums up my childhood. My roots are in South Carolina, but since meeting my spouse they’ve grown towards the Western North Carolina mountains and taken ahold there too. I like dogs more than people. I know I’m not alone.
All Women Marry Down and Other Fatherly Advice
June stared into the casket. Daddy was grey like a clouded day. The mortician had swore up and down that he would look like himself. That’s exactly what he had said.
“Your father will look like himself. Just like he’s fallen asleep peacefully.”
Must be how they up sale you. Make you think you can still connect with your loved one somehow.
June could still hear her daddy’s accent when she thought of the advice he would give. The advice that rolled off the man’s tongue like a silk scarf against your skin. Soft and subtle but leaving you with the feeling of its presence long after it was gone.
And now here she was with no one else left. No one who looked like her. No one who sounded like her.
June’s daddy was all she ever had. He was all she ever needed.
The mortician’s eyes bore down on the back of her neck. Curious. Maybe some judgment. She didn’t give one good goddamn. This thought made her smile. More advice from daddy.
He would say, “June bug, don’t you give one good goddamn what other people think you should do. You do what you feel is right.”
Of course, daddy’s advice wasn’t always so clear. He also loved to tell her, “All you need in life is slim hips and influential friends.” Then he would slap his knee and double over in laughter at his own self. Daddy thought he was right funny. He had his moments.
When June turned eighteen, daddy had some advice about relationships.
He’d say, “June bug, all women marry down. Even your mama did.”
This stuck with June. Daddy never talked about mama. And he didn’t double over in laughter at this one.
He would stare at her hard. Almost as if he was making sure this piece of advice stuck. She often wondered if daddy was warning her not to settle for a man like himself.
At twenty, June brought home Joe Boy. Daddy had not been pleased. So, June married him. Of all the times to not listen to daddy’s advice.
Now June stood over daddy all by herself. No Joe Boy. He’d fled not long after the marriage ceremony. Turned out daddy had been right.
So here June was. All by her lonesome. As she leaned over to tell daddy goodbye she whispered, “Don’t worry, daddy. Mama didn’t marry down.”