One of the faithful members of my childhood church was our Uncle Homer. His grandparents were born slaves and you could hear echoes of their lives in the language of Uncle Homer. He spoke in a sing-song chant with archaic sayings, either from his grandparents or from the King James Bible.
He was a great believer in the King James Edition. Every few months he would go up to the front of the church and give the same sermon. I loved to hear him talk, and even though I didn’t pay attention to what he said, I memorized it anyways.
“Be ye holy as I am holy” was always the theme. The same verses would get read and the same pitch for forsaking all other bible translations but King James.
He always had a hug, a wink, and a prank for me. Usually trying to trip me.
“How’s my dear one?” he would sing.
He told me once that he had wanted to be a doctor, but his family didn’t have money for school so he took over the pig farm. He loved those pigs. In the winter, he would bring the piglets right into their tiny farm house and pen them up in the kitchen.
He insisted on farming into his 80s. He couldn’t see well enough to drive, but that didn’t stop him. Even driving right into our neighbours’ parked cars didn’t stop him.
On one occasion, he spent several days in the hospital. During that time his wife, also around 80, sold all his pigs. He was heartbroken.
His tiny wife always seemed so colourless next to him. He was rich mahogany, she was pale pewter. He was loud and garrulous. She was quiet and still. He had big ideas, she put in the work behind them.
The only advice she ever gave me was to not trap myself. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but she also told me her options as a young girl were teaching, nursing, or marriage.
I always wondered about her. Did she want to be a singer/dancer like her granddaughter? Or a social worker like her daughter? Was she happy on the farm so far out of town? Who was she?
Would Uncle Homer have loved medicine as much as he loved his pigs? I think he would have been happy anywhere. As long as he had someone to listen to about his favourite bible translation.