Billie

bill at 5 yrs 001
Billie Waller, 5 years old, 1920

My father would have been ninety-nine years old today.

In September, he’ll have been gone for thirty-one years.

It’s easier to imagine him as the child in this picture

than to imagine him at ninety-nine.

Of two things, however, I’m certain:

If here were here today,

his blue eyes would still be twinkling,

and

 he would still be making us laugh.

###

When I was a child, my three cousins looked like my mother,

and my grandmother, and my aunts,

but I didn’t look like anyone.

I felt like an outsider and decided I’d been adopted,

although old photographs and witness testimony indicated otherwise.

It was years before I realized I looked like someone after all.

Kathy Waller, 8 years old, 1960
Kathy Waller, 8 years old, 1960

Memorial Day 2013: All My Boys

Marshall Barrow, Mary Veazey Barrow Worden, Barbara Barrow, Bertha Arnold, Betty Barrow, Mary Phereby Veazey Barrow, Crystal Barrow (Waller)
Marshall Lyle Barrow, Mary Veazey Barrow Worden, Barbara Barrow, Bertha Arnold, Betty Lyle Barrow, Mary Phereby Veazey Barrow*, Crystal Barrow (Waller), ca. 1935

My grandparents, Mary and Marshall Barrow, had four children. My grandfather had been certain that each prospective baby would be a boy, but he ended up instead with four daughters.

One evening shortly before his death in the spring of 1940, he was lying in bed, listening to a radio broadcast of news of war in Europe. He knew the United States would eventually be drawn into the fighting.

Turning to my grandmother, he said, “I’ve lived to see the day when I’m grateful that all my boys are girls.”

*****

*My aunt Barbara found this photograph with my grandmother’s face cut out, so she pasted one in from another photo.