My mother introduced my brother to Leta Mae about 40 years ago. They were married the next day.  I don’t know them well because I moved away, but I visited them last year.

Leta Mae is the youngest of 13 children who were born in a log cabin in the Ozark Mountains where radio and television waves are often blocked by the high mountains.  Her son from a previous marriage was not talking because she was afraid he wouldn’t learn to speak correctly, so, she was trying to teach him to talk by listening to songs by Sesame Street.  I read a description of loading a log cabin once; fitting 15 people into one room at night takes careful planning and everyone has bitter feelings about being put outside on a cold day. Fortunately, there was also room for Leta’s pig who slept with her.  Her sister Bobbie is the oldest and she became a minister.

Bobbie was beaten by her father for attending church but it didn’t stop her.  She went to college and became a minister and learned to speak French.  She traveled everyplace spreading the word of a loving God.  They sent her to New York and gave her an address; she had to find it all by herself.  When she went back home to visit her family her father called all neighbors from two towns to listen to him witness.  For four hours he confessed to every time he struck his children and drank and was abusive.  He was a changed man and gave thanks to his daughter who showed him a better way.  Bobbie is revered in her family.

Leta Mae has a life she never imagined.  She went on a vacation with the senior center to see the Amish Country.  She takes Zumba classes and oil painting.  All of her relatives, a lot of people, are studying their ancestry. Her painting was on display at the library when I visited. It was a jubilant dancing waterfall in the fall.  They asked her to write something about the class and she said, “painting reminds me of the fall leaves giving color to the ground.”  Now she wants to study writing.  Her most embarrassing confession is that, as a child, she kissed her pig.  (A good number of ladies in fashionable circles are doing that, as adults, around here.)

I met several of her brothers and sisters.  I mentioned to Darrel that the trick to walking around in New York City is to leave your jewelry at home because teenagers will pull it off. Darrel shivered and gasped!  Even though he’s in his late 60’s, I think he could still be a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.  I didn’t mean to scare him.

Bobbie retired and moved back home recently.  She attends my brother’s church, but she doesn’t speak to them at church because she’s clergy. She went to Walmart at 3:00 am and saw a movie about a hostage on TV.  She called 911 and told them Leta Mae was being held hostage.  The ATF showed up at my brother’s door and made everyone go outside at 3:00 am.  After the investigation, they took Bobbie to the hospital and decided she had a loss of kidney function.

My mother told Leta Mae that I was trying to brainwash her into believing in reincarnation because we watched a Disney cartoon about a mermaid when I took her to Oklahoma City.  Leta Mae is afraid to speak to anyone who doesn’t sing the same hymns as those of her church.  I told Leta Mae I thought she would like the book by Stephen King, “On Writing.” My brother bought that book for her. Now, my mother brags about watching cartoons every time I talk to her.

My brother has two Master’s Degrees.  One is in economics and the other is in marketing.  He teaches machine shop.

If you want to go on a wonderful vacation, you should go to Oklahoma City.  You can see the Oklahoma City National Memorial, The Cowboy Museum, The Banjo Museum and the Myriad Botanical Gardens.  Any one of these sites are as fantastic as those in New York City and they are a lot cheaper.  The Cowboy Museum includes paintings from the Hudson River School and has a 5-star restaurant (my rating).

It is hard to explain how walking out into the world takes an act of faith.  It’s confusing, there are scary things, and people sing many different hymns.  I wish it was easier.

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