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My family tree has a lot of suckers. You know, those shoots that come up here and there from the roots and base. Given the fact that some of my mama's lineage married and remarried like it was a competitive sport, some of my closest "relations" aren't related at all. Take for instance, my Grammy.

Grammy is my mama's mama's third husband's fourth wife.

Take another sip of coffee and let that digest.

My mama's parents married very young and didn't stay married long. My grandmother went on to marry twice more. She was hitched to her final husband -- my mother's step-father with whom she was close -- when I came along.

That marriage also met an early demise. My grandmother moved back to the rice fields to open a liquor store while her husband stayed in town and remarried a much younger lady who we all (save for my grandmother) liked immensely.

So hundreds of smiles captured in photographs of birthdays and summers and Christmases and first cars and late night kitchen table talks were made with kinfolk and with "Grammy" and "PawPaw" and "cousins" of no blood relation a'tall. Never once did they treat me as anything other than their own.

And while my grandmother, mother and her step-father have all passed on, I still have Grammy. Last Saturday, I accompanied her to her 64th high school class reunion. I walked in the room and was surprised to recognize a fella.

"I know you," I said.

"I know you, too," he said, perplexed, "But I ain't neva seen you in a dress before. You're always at the farm sale with your Uncle Ronnie. Why're you here?"

"I'm with Grammy," I said, pointing toward the still-beautiful lady behind me. "Y'all went to school together?"

"We shore did," he laughed, "and got into a fight in seventh grade, all 'cause I popped her bra."

"It had nothing to do with that," Grammy countered in her soft tone. "You were cheating in the ballgame. It was our first and only fight, then we were friends again. I'm still sorry about ripping your T-shirt."

"Wait, YOU fought?" I motioned with my fists. "Like, physically ..."

"Tore each other up," Grammy interrupted.

"Well, I guess I'm glad you won your first and only fight," I said.

"Oh, honey" Grammy smiled, "that wasn't MY first fight. And if you could have seen us, you couldn't have called either of us the winner. We both looked rough."

The 11 classmates who were still living and able to attend out of the original 47 spent the afternoon laughing and sharing stories, and I learned much more about the woman seated beside me.

Folks say those suckers on trees need to be cut off. Nothing good can come from them. And I agree, it doesn't make for an ideal situation, be it in genealogy or botany. But as I sit beneath the canopy of my family tree, every branch casts a cool shade over me -- even those fightin' suckers.

NAN Our Town on 07/12/2018

Print Headline: Suckers come to fight

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