What She Would Have Said

June 13, 2011

This photo of a solemn little woman was sent to me by a cousin. “This is Granny Hyde,” she said. I sit and look at this face and it just bothers me to death because I keep expecting her to say something to me. And I regret that I can only imagine her secret. Because knowing the Hyde’s, I bet it’s a doozy. The kind of thing I’d write about. Probably why she keeps her mouth shut.

In my family, if you sit around long enough, the women will start to talk. Stay at the table after the eating is done and the men will wander off to stand in the back yard. There’s a familiar repertoire that we stick to, beginning with what our kids are up to, running on to the health of our parents, then ourselves, a few jokes at the expense of our husbands and brothers, but nothing we haven’t heard before. If you’re visiting, we’ll make sure to laugh a little louder.

Clean up the dishes and by then we’re telling our childbirth horror stories like we’re comparing war wounds. Wander out into the flower beds and you’ll get news of the community. Gossip makes a garden grow, didn’t you know?

By then, the sweat will start to tickle the back of your neck and if you’re lucky, you’ll settle on a porch some place with a rocking chair or a glider and a glass of something cold and sweet.

And this is where you get your money’s worth. Where you want to be more than any other place on earth, if you’re like me. You won’t believe what will happen.

No apologies. No censoring. You’ll hear girlhood dreams. Settle back for yarns of young love, heartbreak, sorrow – and maybe where she buried him if she’s got something good in her tea. You’ll get ghost stories, the good kind about babies that still cry or soldiers that are still trying to find home or old dogs that come running across fields years after they’ve gone to the happy hunting grounds. You’ll hear about midnight moonshine runs and gypsies and Cherokee Indian gold buried on a creek bank and never found again.

And trust me, you will believe every word of it. Later, you’ll go and look at yourself in the mirror and it will be the stories that stare back at you, because without even knowing it, somehow they’ve always been your own.

I wonder, did you ever listen? What stories do you hear? What stories will you tell?

22 Responses to “What She Would Have Said”

  1. THis is wonderful! and beautifully written . . . and more, I want to be at that table, on that porch. I never had that, and this is the kind of rich writing about family that I’d love to be able to do -…. love this.

  2. This is wonderful, Kim. I got goosebumps picturing the old dog running across the field! I’m really looking forward to reading more of your stories.

  3. Yay! You have a blog! Excited to visit here often.:)

    Love the picture-you just have to wonder why all the sour faces. No one ever smiles in them.

    • Thanks! And as for the scowl…well, that’s for ANOTHER blog. I love your tweets and blogs, Hallie, and the novel is going to be terrific! My WIP is heavy magical realism and historical fiction. I think we both looove the Intrigue. xxoo

  4. This is great. Can we trade families? Mine definitely are not that interesting and tell nowhere NEAR the stories yours do. But you make such a great point: that we must ALWAYS be listening, ready for the story to present itself. Like Kathryn, I want to be on that porch, too.

  5. Wonderful blog post. I was missing home, and here I find a little piece here on your blog. I’ll drink something cold and sweet and swap stories with you any time!

    • Sally, I’m sorry you’re homesick. Where are you? Or, if you’re like me, home is WHAT you miss, not necessarily WHERE anymore.
      And I’ll take you up on the invite! I’d love to hear your stories. Your wit always cracks me up.

  6. carole lawton said

    Are you sure you aren’t one of my nieces or cousins, Kim? We shared those very same stories Sunday at an Aunt’s “homegoing” way out in the country complete with sweet tea and funeral home fans. I loved this writing of yours and look forward to more.

  7. hopeclark said

    Absolutely beautiful and so true. In mine, we do that, but the guys stick around to listen to the women, even knowing they’ll take a verbal hit or two about men. And the matriarch, my mother, always has to say, “it was the weirdest thing I ever saw” or “she was the prettiest thing I ever saw.” Everything is something-est “she ever saw”.

    You’re an amazing writer, Kimberly. I look forward to your book.

    Hope Clark

    • You’re too generous, Hope. I couldn’t be happier to know anybody than I am to know you. Thank you so much for your nurturing support. Can’t wait for our paths to cross in person!

  8. Kim Samsin said

    Oh, I loved this. And of COURSE I listened! Our system was different–the porch was definitely a child-friendly zone, so nothing good was ever discussed there, but if you were small enough, you could hide under the kitchen table during leftover-packing and dishwashing, and that’s where I learned the most. Always wondered how boring it would be to hang out with the menfolk….

  9. Beautiful! Am eagerly awaiting your future posts. Congratulations on taking the leap and starting your blog. The internet will be better for it!

  10. I’ve always wanted a house with a porch for this reason. There are two good places to share a story. Kitchen table and porch. I’m still hearing new old stories from my family. I look forward to hearing stories from yours.

  11. This is great — and I’m pretty darn envious of your family! It sounds like a wonderful way to hear stories — without apologies or censorship. Wow. You are very very lucky!

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