With gun rights and gun control being the hot topics of discussion after yet another mass shooting, it reminded me of a story from my mother’s childhood that fortunately did not end in tragedy.
My mother was raised on a farm, and it was not unusual for farm families to own a gun. Typically a rifle or shotgun was kept, sometimes to put down sick animals, or to kill rabid animals or scare off a bobcat. Hunting also was a popular pastime and source of food for the family. While human prowlers weren’t as much of a threat back then, in a remote farmland area, you best be prepared to defend your family. Having a gun was a practical decision in my mother’s family.
One night when my mother was a young girl, she must have gotten up in the middle of the night, or perhaps was sleepwalking, and ended up in a rocking chair in the living room. Family members heard a noise and the gun was retrieved as a precaution. When my mother was discovered, everyone heaved a sigh of relief and had a good chuckle the next morning.
My mother told me that my grandmother was not as amused, as having weapons in the house made her nervous. She worried about what could’ve happened to “little Janie” if my mother had been mistaken for an intruder. But as the matriarch of a large farming family, she understood the purpose for such a weapon and reluctantly accepted its presence in the home.
I’m just as grateful as my grandmother that the story had a happy ending.
I never had the pleasure of knowing Grandma Kyker, my mom’s mother. She sadly died exactly two months before I was born. She’s been described to me as an amazing, sweet, hard-working farm woman with a good sense of humor. She was a nurse, a caregiver and raised a large family of eight kids by working in the fields and creating homemade meals from scratch. My mother was very close to her, and she still talks about her with this awe and adoration that is touching.
Mom waited until later in life to get married. 34 wouldn’t seem that old now, but even though the times were changing in 1971, it still was outside of the norm. It probably was even more peculiar to the traditional farm family that Mom was raised in, where most of her siblings married shortly after high school. Mom had a career, then a short stint in the Navy before she got married.
I believe my dad only met his mother-in-law in person once, as depicted in this 1973 visit to the farm in Tennessee. When Dad talked about that visit, he described how beautiful the land was. Perhaps it reminded him a bit of his grandmother’s place in Northern Ireland. My mom said Dad and Grandma got along famously, bonding over the family’s extensive coin collection. Dad was very close to his own mother so it was no doubt easy for him to like Grandma Kyker. Mom says Grandma took her aside and said, “Be good to that man or he’ll leave you!”
Guess Mom heeded Grandma’s advice as Dad stuck around for 40 years.