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Monday, 13 May 2013

Sometimes It's Best to Keep Your Mouth Shut

By Deb who blogs at Simple Not Easy

This morning I dreamed I was driving a country road beside a river. In the passenger seat was an elderly man. He pointed to a point along the bank and said, "I had a twin brother. He drowned there when we were nine. I'll never forget that."

But once awake I couldn't put a name to him. It's bugged me all day but late in the afternoon I finally remembered.

A week ago, I was trying to document my Aunt Iva's second husband and couldn't. I don't know his full name, when he was born, the year he died or anything else other than that I loved him.

I couldn't even remember exactly what he looked like, until my subconscious found the late 40s early 50s folderin my head and pulled his file.

Mother described Iva's first husband as a scoundrel, a category most men fell into. "Remember," she'd say with an expression hovering between disgust and alarm, "they're all out for one thing."

Since she never explained what the one thing they were out for was, I was left guessing. But she often complained that she couldn't keep a cake or pie in the house for more than a few hours so I thought "the one thing" must be pastry.

Mother and her sister couldn't have been more different. Mother was tiny, dark and ferocious. Being “mothered” by her was like being raised in boot camp.

Iva was fair, round and soft. She was gentle and a cuddler. She'd gather me into her big rocker and rock and kiss me like I was a baby even when I was five and six years old. Since the only touching I got at home was a twice daily scouring with a rough washcloth, Iva's cuddling was like cool water on a thirsty field.

Iva's husband was called J.A. but I called him Poppa. He was 20 years older than Aunt Iva and he was one of the few men Mother approved of. He was a small man with a shock of white hair that stuck out at angles on his head. He wore red plaid shirts and suspenders. He liked little kids and I tagged around after him like a puppy.

Aunt Iva and Poppa had a farm with two big ponds where Poppa raised fish. People paid money to stand on the bank of the pond and catch the fish Poppa raised.

One afternoon my Daddy, Poppa and I went fishing to catch a big snapping turtle that was eating people's fish off their lines.

Poppa baited a stout line and hooks with some perch and dropped them where he knew the turtle lay under the brown water. He soon had the snapper on the line. It had a fish in its mouth and didn't want to let go.

That turtle hung on so stubbornly to the fish that Poppa was able to pull it out of the water far enough so my Daddy could grab the end of it with a big gaff hook on a pole and pull it up on dry land.

That snapping turtle was as big as the steering wheel of my Daddy's Pontiac car.

Poppa walked up the bank backwards pulling the turtle step by step. When the line would start to strain Daddy would help with the gaff. When the turtle finally bit through the fish Poppa stuck a broom handle in front of its face.

The snapper hissed and bit the broom handle and Poppa and Daddy carried it home between them with it biting on the broom handle. It could have let go but it was too mad. Poppa said a snapper wouldn't let go until it thundered. He said he was going to cut its head off with an axe and make turtle soup.

I felt sorry for the turtle even though it was ugly and the meanest thing you could imagine, biting on the broom handle and growling like an old dog. I begged Poppa not to cut off its head but to take it to a pond where there were no people paying for fishing. He said he would do that as soon as I went to bed.

I'm sure the turtle was dispatched as soon as I was asleep. I guess the same principle applies to turtles as to people; sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut and when you are on the losing side of an argument, you should just let go and make as graceful an exit as you can manage.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


That is a great analogy. I had snappers in my lake and one went to cross the road. I tried to steer it away with my bicycle tire, and it bit it! Lucky it didn't deflate.
But great writing, and I will try to remember that, just let go!!

Wonderful pictures you paint with your words. Thank you!

Great story, thanks so much for sharing it.

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