Old Ken­tucky Home

SHEILA SAN­DER­SON

Room Magazine - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

Fly­ing east from the Ari­zona desert to be with my grand­fa­ther on his hun­dredth birth­day, I look down on the brown life­line of the Mis­sis­sippi and think of his great grand­fa­ther, rounded up by the Con­fed­er­ates in the last days of the war and marched some­where deep down into Ten­nessee be­fore he could get away. He was hav­ing to hide, hav­ing to drink from a bloody horse track, when he fig­ured he might as well die aim­ing for home as in those strange parts, and so be­gan steal­ing his way to the river, then back and forth across it, the last time on horse­back. To make it home. To make it home alive. To build a house still oc­cu­pied by de­scen­dants. To raise a barn and to­bacco and eight chil­dren. To sit humped up and long bearded by the fire­place telling great grand­chil­dren, one of them my grand­fa­ther, about the bloody horse track, his ter­ror of dy­ing some­place off from home. In a full cen­tury, my grand­fa­ther has lived no more than a mile down the road from what he calls his old home place, and though I haven’t lived in that river val­ley for half my life, home is where I go when I go there.

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