Friday, November 19, 2010

Now that's a lot of Bull!

There was a favorite story we asked to hear over and over when sitting at our grandmother's kitchen table with a favorite aunt who'd never married. It was this aunt we'd wait for a little after five o'clock in the summer heat; hoping she'd take us swimming across the road and down to that river with an Indian name. I couldn't really swim. I'd hold on to a big rock and kick while I watched my aunt. She was a beautiful swimmer; voted prettiest girl in her class. She'd methodically tuck her hair into a white plastic swim cap; then stand there-wetting her arms a few times while checking to see where we were; then stir the water a bit with her hands before diving in like Esther Williams. The best part came after the swim. That's when the graham crackers came out. They tasted so good as we made our way back home dodging cow pies. But it was when this aunt told a certain bull story that we became numb in silence around the kitchen table. No matter how many times we heard it we wanted to hear it again.

My mother was the 2nd born of the 6 daughters. Each had their chores to do. My mother's were in the barn beside my grandfather.She'd always tell me she was meant to be the boy helping in the barn for she was named after him. His name was Frank. Her's was Frances which led to an unspoken bond between the two. That near catastrophic bull event happened as she was racing out of the barn one Saturday-trying to get ahead of the cows to open the gate that would take them across the road and into the pasture.In her rush she smacked right into a grazing bull. She never thought anything about it. She was in a hurry to beat the herd.

But on her way back to the barn that grazing bull had her in his sights. He was ready to pay her back for disturbing him. According to our aunt, that bull put his head down and barreled right for my mother who was skipping her way back to finish her chores. I don't remember how many of her sisters or farmhands were around but anyone who was there and saw the impending tragedy about to happen started screaming in an attempt to warn her of that raging machine picking up speed. The chaos of the moment alerted my grandfather who rushed to the front of the barn just as my mother-now aware and sprinting towards the finish line-was about to fly through the doorway. Lunging forth, my grandfather grabbed her; pulled her in; then took a pitch fork and embedded it into the bull's backside. End of the bull and the bull story-no bull!

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