I called my aunt just to say hello and catch up. We talked about the weather and then about my 102 year old great aunt not-so-shockingly being in the hospital again and then about my uncle preparing for the unfortunate colonoscopy he's having tomorrow - and if you have had one, you understand "preparing." These are all common topics when talking to my family back home in rural South Georgia.
After the updates, she asked what I was doing. I told her I was in a 4 day, all day writing workshop, so not much detail to report. When I asked what else was new before hanging up the phone, and she casually said "well, you know, I called your Mama yesterday." (This was unusual bcs they generally don't talk just for nothing - these two need to actually have something practical to do, to organize or to answer or else they just visit in person. Yesterday was an answer problem.)
"I just wanted to know where Scott's leg is buried."
"Unh-huh," was all I could muster.
(Scott is my uncle - she said so without the "uncle" part bcs he's the youngest of 9 and as the oldest of 34 grandchildren "Uncle Scott" and I are only 3 or 4 years apart.)
I gathered myself. "What do you mean: where is his leg buried? They buried it? And, is he looking for it? I ..."
She stopped me. "Yes, they buried his leg, and no, he's not looking for it. I am. When Daddy died, there were all these confusions about burial plots. Uncle AT's plot was four but because he died so early, they just moved him over there with Muddy Bess, and then when Uncle Randy died, they moved him out of his plots bcs nobody else had died and they didn't want to disturb that area."
"Ok - but what does that have to do with Scott's leg?" I asked.
"Well, I only have so many spaces left for the family. Kate wanted to make sure there was space for her family."
"She's 28." I protested.
"I get that, AND, somebody's got to plan for where to fit everybody."
"Well I"m being cremated."
"Yes, I know, and so are Uncle Murray and I - but we still want a marker, and I want you to have one if you want it."
"So, you want to know... wait, what's this got to do with Scott?" I asked again.
"I'd heard Rooster buried the leg, but nobody would confirm it much less tell me where it was... It turns out your Mama and Uncle Jim knew Rooster had it buried, but neither of them knows WHERE she buried it - only that it was in the allotted family acreage."
"Ok, so what are you gonna do?"
"The preacher is going by to pick up the old retired care taker and bring him around - gonna see if he might remember where it is. We figure he's the most likely one to have done the actual burying." Aunt Deanie answered - almost exasperated - as if this were the only and perfectly logical solution.
"So she just stuck it in the ground - like planting a seed or something? No ceremony? No marker? Nothing?"
"I guess not. I just don't want to bury somebody on top of it - or worse have it appear in the dirt pile at a graveside service."
"Ok. Well, I'm gonna finish up lunch for Uncle Murray. We love you!"
"I love y'all. Bye, Aunt Deanie."
It was just a regular, normal, routine call to catch up...