Four Observations (Plus One) from “Out from Collins”
Last week, my family gathered for the sad occasion of my Aunt Evelyn’s funeral. The location was of the service was Collins, Mississippi, and then “out from Collins” at the cemetery just up the road from my aunt and uncle’s home.
Aunt Evelyn was my Uncle Hob’s wife. Perhaps you know Uncle Hob (Hob Nob) from my first book, Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales). He’s the second-most-asked-about true-to-life character, right after my sister Wilagene and just in front of my cousin John Earl. (Just a note to any would-be Southern writers: If you have an Uncle Hob, a sister named Wilagene, a cousin John Earl, or an Aint Bubba and you don’t mention them in your writing, you just ain’t tryin’.)
When I was attending college at the University of Southern Mississippi, I would head up to my uncle and aunt’s home out from Collins to visit and fish in their pond every once in a while. Since I graduated from college and moved to north Mississippi, I haven’t make it out to “out from Collins” except for a spur-of-the-moment trip down from my parents’ house in Star several Christmases ago.
With no disrespect toward the reason for our visit, I would like to share four observations from my Aunt Evelyn’s funeral:
Observation #1: My dad and his brother have an enviable bond.
Whenever Dad and Uncle Hob would introduce one another at Aunt Evelyn’s visitation, it was always as my twin brother. Never just brother. Come to think of it, they’ve always introduced each other that way. I don’t know if all twins have that type of bond, but we noticed last week how special their 77-plus-year connection is.
Observation #2: Thrift (and integrity) evidently runs in the family.
Uncle Hob told me I needed me to hurry up and write another book (Done–coming soon) because he had already read most of the stories in the first one four or five times. He also stated matter-of-factly, “I’m not going to buy it.” He clarified later, letting me know that he wasn’t going to steal a book; he was just going to borrow someone else’s after he or she bought it.
(We’ll make sure you get a book, Uncle Hob. For free. Update: Uncle Hob has a copy of Stories from the Roller Coaster. For free.)
Observation #3: We’ve become that family.
Yep, that family that sees each other at funerals and has good intentions to see each other more often. This was the first time all eight of the first cousins on the Ainsworth side had been together at one time since Granny’s funeral 16 years ago. I don’t think any of us thought it unusual that we asked my brother-in-law Charlie to take a photo of us at the cemetery before we went our separate ways.
That’s Susan, Beth, and Wilagene up front and Sonny, me (Al), Lu Ann, Thom, and Andy in the back. This was the third take of the photo because of Observation #4….
Observation #4: My dad doesn’t even have to try to be humorous. He just steps into funny.
After a couple of takes, Charlie noticed something odd about the photo of the eight first cousins. A photo bomber. Call him the unintentional photo bomber. My dad—just hanging out.
One more observation of which I was reminded of at my Aunt Evelyn’s funeral: They may be stretched from Tulsa to New Orleans to Mobile to Brandon to Seminary to Star to out from Collins now, but they’re my family. And I love ’em, no matter where they are.
Thanks for reading.
For the next generation,