My Southern Family

My maternal grandfather was born into the Deep South. The South of Zelda Sayre. The Deep South that existed in the early 20th Century. He was born in either 1910 or 1911. He used to lie about his age a tiny bit and no one knew for certain if it was 1911 or 1910. Ha!

But, it was the south of a romance novel. A novel with men who smoked from a pipe with tobacco and drank lemonade on rocking chairs. Real cherry soda.

Of course, after the devastating Civil War the south was never the same. And as Zelda once told Scott, “To understand me you must understand the south.” (I can’t find the exact quotation but I know it was this or very close to it. I’ll keep looking.)

And I don’t think that part of my family was racist actually. Not all southerners were racist. Or are… People want to oversimplify things to boil them down for easy, unbothered annihilation. Self sabotage. But people are complicated. History is chaos. Still with good and evil but sometimes chaotically so… It should go without saying that this is just my opinion, but I’ll hasten to add that anyway. Their ancestors from the century before were more like the austere and perhaps slightly prim, “Puritanical” and noble version of characters from “Gone With The Wind” (yes, I know who the actual Puritans were and that’s why I put it in quotation marks for the imagination impaired). They were the “Whistler’s Mother” version. *laugh* My grandfather, despite the forced humility of his childhood didn’t have a thick accent. A humility he sought to remedy his whole life. But a lot of his family is at least somewhat elegant and genteel and as I’ve said before his particular line of the family had more tragedy than the rest it seems.

It’s a Deep South not in popular culture today. Time moved culture somewhere else. His south is mostly dead, transplanted or very quiet. When I try to describe that family don’t picture a normal southerner of today. It’s just different. Maybe pieces still remain and people still remember but I suspect it’s very changed. I’m sure some people reading this will take that pejoratively, but… *shrug*

I wish I knew more about the current south. My husband is from the New England area and that’s familiar enough to me. But I’m intrigued by the south of my generation. One of my good friends from college was from Georgia and I recall noticing that she was a little freer with her emotions in very subtle ways than I was or the other students from “The North” were. I’ve heard and read that observation about the south of the past too. And of course Mr. Navy was from the south as well. His parents were both (medical) doctors and I think he’d had a pretty suburban life, but he was southern even if he had only a minuscule trace of an accent and seemed familiar in some vague way. I know it’s different but it’d be interesting to find out more about what the south has become or is.

Anyway, I just wish I’d stopped and slowed down. Been at peace with the chaos. Listened. Trusted my inner voice to know more about what I need as a person than the well-intentioned but incorrect advice some provided. Some didn’t.

Oh well. At least I can go forward knowing the little bit more that I hopefully have figured out now.

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