Sister baby got sick and died that year. She was the sweetest thing, born after Buddy but before me. She died a couple of years before I was born, but I know what I’ve been told…. She must have been 3 years old when she got the dysentery. Us boys never got sick – we got cut up and bruised, but not ever sick – but Sister Baby, she was SICK. Mama couldn’t get her to eat or drink anything – for almost a week, she’d soak a towel in milk or water and try to make her suck on it, but she wouldn’t. Everybody heard about it. The black lady who worked for Aunt Tank told Mama to take Sister to the blackberry patch and let her eat blackberries. That’s what they were doing with their baby – who had the dysentery too.
Mama would have none of that – she wouldn’t take her baby out and feed her blackberries – because that was just an old wive’s tale.
But then sister baby died. She just stopped breathing and died. Old people died, not babies. It tore everybody up. Then they heard that the little colored girl got well. Mama was really upset then – wailing that she should have listened, should have gone to the blackberry patch and let her eat. Why didn’t she?
The next day, Papa took Sister Baby, hooked up the mule and took the carriage to town. He was supposed to get her a casket, but he didn’t come home that night. He didn’t come home the next day either. On the second day, Mama and the older boys went out looking for Papa. It took them the better part of a day but they found the carriage, with Sister Baby still wrapped up and laying in the back – worse for the 3 days in the carriage. That’s when it really hit the fan.
They found the carriage in front of a liquor house. Mama went in and got Papa and I really don’t know what happened then. I know they buried Sister Baby down at Aunt Tanks’s cemetery. Papa never talked much about Sister Baby, but Mama did. I think she wanted another girl, especially after she had three of us boys in a row.
(Note: This is the truth as told to me story of Mary, the sister who was indeed born between Buddy and Ben)
© 2019 Susan Bulloch
Categories: Dad's Stories
I write. I fix computers. I feed cats.