Fish Tales

The story of one family and how it changes....still a work in progress so please be patient :) thanks

My brothers and I were born and raised in Woodbank, and so was Mama. She was the youngest daughter of the county hospital's head doctor and his wife, Miz Stacy, who spent most of her time organizing church functions and directing the choir. Both my grandparents believed that country life was far superior to city life, and they wished to raise their family in a quiet country nest with old-fashioned conservative values. Grandpop and Gran Stacey had bought a small Woodbank farm soon after they were married, but had leased it out after their children were born and instead chose to occupy a small brick house in town. It's lucky for them that they didn't sell the farm, because an oil contractor offered them a good amount of money to pump oil out of the fields. The money from that, along with Grandpop's salary, was plenty to make payments on the two houses and raise their four children, two boys and two girls.So my grandparents made a good living in Woodbank, and their children grew in a small town, far out of reach from the dangers of the urban world.

One by one, my mother watched as her older siblings grew up and left the nest to make livings for themselves. Uncle George applied to the Air Force Academy right out of high school, and rarely visited home. Mama often talked about her eldest brother, a pilot stationed in Afghanistan, but I had never met him. Uncle Richard, on the other hand, I had. As the second oldest of Mama's siblings, Richard had often felt lost in his brother's shadow. As a result, he had often tried to outdo his brother, and was by far the more outgoing and vivacious of the two. In high school he had studied longer, flirted harder, and teased his younger sisters more mercilessly than George had. He now lived in Seattle where worked as an orthopedic surgeon, making good money, and often returned to Woodbank to see his parents.

Mary Ann was my mother's sister. She was two years older than Mama and was, in some ways, the black sheep of the family. My grandparents rarely talked about Mary Ann. That is, they never talked about her the way they talked about George and Richard, proudly sharing the latest scoop on their sons' sucessful careers to their friends at church barbeques or coctail parties. "Richard won doctor of the year again for his new advances in hip surgery," they'd gush. Or, "George is the top of his class in the academy." Mary Ann was different. When friends asked about her, my grandmother would smile wanly and say, "Oh, Mary. She's just fine. So tell me, dear, have you heard about the church social the Ladies' Aid is hosting next month?"

It wasn't that Mary Ann was bad, Mama explained to me. It's just that her ideas about some things were very different from those of my grandparents. Both my uncles had established themselves financially before they even thought of marriage and had chosen educated, successful women as their partners. Mary Ann graduated high school with honors just like her siblings had. At her parents' request, she had applied to Stamford University, and then promptly declined when she recieved her acceptance letter. At nineteen, she met and married a freelance novelist from Chicago. He dreamed of traveling the earth and writing down everything he saw, and he drew Mary Ann into his adventurous world.  They live somewhere in Guatemala now. I haven't seen her since I was a baby, but she and Mama were very close. The pictures of Aunt Mary Ann that she keeps in the living room show her as a small, pretty young woman with large brown eyes and curling dark hair. She looks a lot like my grandmother did when she was young.

By the time Mama was seventeen, all three of her siblings had chosen different paths and were off in the world. She still lived in town with my grandparents, and had never been farther away from home than the next county over. One day my grandfather lifted his newspaper at the breakfast table and said, "Susan, what do you want to do when you grow up?"

Her answer surprised all three of them. "I want to live on the farm."

And she did.

 

The End

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