The side porch of my great grandparents house had a large screened in porch that looked out over the carport. The house sat between the two main roads in their small, rural Kentucky county. Many hours were spent on the porch watching cars head to one town or the other. This county had more cows than people and enough corn and soy beans were grown to feed small countries. During my childhood summers as we drove to town, I would pretend that I was floating on a thin asphalt river through a green canyon of corn reaching towards the sky.
My great aunt continued to live in that house well into her nineties. She was a formidable woman who suffered no fools and seemed to never lack confidence or know how. Her word was the end all, be all. She worked hard and saved. By her retirement years she was wealthy, but she never showed her affluence in obvious outward ways. She was generous with some, but not those looking for a handout or who did not follow her rules. If she loved you, she loved with her entire being. If you fell short or crossed her, you would feel the full force of “hell have no fury like a woman scorned.” She was one of the greatest influences in my life.
The family, my grandparents, great grandparents and great aunt, were “no dogs in the house” people. That all changed once Great Aunt had the house all to herself. She began keeping a dachshund. I don’t remember how many there ended up being, or what all of them were named, but each one became the recipient of the full force of her nurturing and love. Each one ended up so fat that its belly barely cleared the floor. The last one was Prissy.
Each morning Great Aunt would make two cups of coffee, one in a regular sized cup for her and one in a small cup for Prissy. Each cup received an appropriate sized scoop of ice cream. Both cups were taken to the screened in porch. While Prissy napped, Great Aunt would read the paper and watch who was going where from the privacy of her perch on the screened in porch. When visiting I would receive a running commentary on each passing car and each obit in the day’s paper.
Great Aunt left us in her 99th year. She was buried by her parents, brother and niece.
As children Great Aunt would entertain my siblings and I by taking us to a park that sat on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River with Missouri the other side. We wold eat frozen custard and watch the barges come down the river.
After the post funeral lunch, my siblings and I decided to go to the park and watch the barges. My sister’s kids were with us, so it felt important to pass stories about the people in those graves. As the cemetery was on the way to the park, we stopped to see the filled in the grave.
There was a small marker at Great Aunts feet. It said Prissy.