Chinaberry Prelude

Rural farming affords some of the best lessons in life, both painful and loving. Growing up on our Oklahoma farm teaches all of us much. We quickly learn this value of hard work and a loving family. Many of our lessons are taught to us by our elders, many are taught by simply doing, even when we don't quite know what to do.

Farm kids are born to be farmhands. We don't have much time for schooling during Spring and Summer being so busy planting and tending crops. Fall and Winter offer more time to learn from our schoolmarm. Nonetheless we learn this art of surviving life, we grow up quick, we become mature adults before we become teenagers. We learn to work at enjoying life.

Grandma gave birth to twelve babies. Back in the Thirties, she gave birth to twins, they were stillborn. Elders tell us she cried for weeks. An aunt none of us enjoyed coming to know, died of cholera when she was ten. Those same elders tell us grandpa cried for weeks. My momma died of cholera when I was two. All I know of her is what people tell me. Those are hard lessons of life.

An important lesson we learn is becoming married and making babies. Folks around town, our grandparents, all know if a girl ain't married by sixteen and with child, she will probably become a spinster like Mamie J our schoolmarm. Babies are born to be farm workers. This is a lesson of tradition and reality, a lesson I took to heart and struggled to fulfill.

Only a few months before I am born a young boy, all of ten or eleven years old, comes around our farm looking for work and a roof over his head. He is my future husband. Grandma tells me a story, teaches me a lesson of endearing love, "Your boy watches you come out of your momma. I tell him to get out his pocketknife and cut your cord. He does and I hand messy you to him then tell the boy to wash you in our big galvanized tub. He takes you in his arms, his eyes grow big and twinkle, that's when he fell in love with you. Right then I knew the two of you would marry."

My momma dies and this boy I love is told he is my daddy, he is responsible to raise me. Over years our relationship changes many times. Early on, he is my daddy. We become playmates, then best friends and by the time I am about to become a teenager, we are lovers yet to consummate our love which proves a challenging lesson for young girl me. In time we do marry and start a family of our own. Lessons we learn are endless.

Around nine or ten years old, I get after the boy to marry me and make babies. I chase after him something fierce, even get in fights with older girls trying to steal him from me. I am bound determined he will be my husband and father of our children, I love the boy just as fiercely. I never knew he loved me just as much. This was hard on him to make sure I enjoy my freedom to pick and choose a husband. This daddy side of him always remained although he kept this hidden. He is just as bound determined to do me right being my daddy. His is a lesson of deep love and sacrifice to do right in life and, by me.

We share a bedroom and bed since I was two. We do everything together, we work as a team, we laugh with each other and, at times, cry tears together. We side-by-side sit at our supper table, we wash each other in our bath and at night in bed we share our feelings and desires with trust.

I drive the boy crazy with my antics, stunts and schemes to have him make a baby with me, beginning before I could even make a baby. I don't want to end up a spinster and I don't want some girl taking him to make her own. We love each other, we are destined to be husband and wife. Our grandma tells me secret, "Your grandpa and me bound you two together so you would get to know each other and work out your differences before you marry. When your boy held you in his arms the day you were born, the two of you became married for life."