The gathering has commenced for my father’s 90th birthday, but we did have time for a quiet lunch of catfish and appropriate fixings before I headed to the airport to collect my sister and her husband. My brother and his wife drove up to arrive at virtually the same moment. This is the first time in many years – in fact, perhaps since my mother’s funeral, that all three of us have been at the table with Daddy. There have often been 2 of the 3, but not all together. It was chattering dinner as to be expected.
The extended families of my stepmother who mostly live in the area will pour in this afternoon for cake and that will swell the crowd to around thirty, although probably not everyone at one time. I believe that my two uncles will choose to come at a later date when it will be calmer. Telephone calls came in all day on Thursday and cards line the shelf of the hutch in the kitchen.
As expected, we are gleaning a few stories that I hadn’t heard before – my grandfather spent some time as a commercial fisherman on the rivers there in Southern Arkansas. By the way, for those who assume that Arkansas is only the Ozarks, Southeast Arkansas is a large rice producer. Yes, flat and wet. My grandfather leased much of his land for this as well as cotton. The big garden and chickens were mostly for family use and the hogs and cattle were minimal sales combined with freezing meat for family use. There is a reason that none of the four boys wanted to inherit the family farm. My father did choose forestry, but tree farming of pine seedlings was a small portion of his career and that was far removed from the days of hoeing cotton.