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Family History

This is a true story written in March of 2003 about my great-great grandfather, David Crockett Lockhart (1842-1929), who was quite some man. I heard this story at our family reunion back in 2003 and wanted to expand on it. His wife was Amanda Tennessee (my mamaw, Tennessee Jo’s grandmother) and she was about thirty years younger than him. I’m sure she was an amazing lady.

“God made man because He loves stories.”
-Elie Wiesel
That day she was so tired she couldn’t untie her own apron strings. Her matted blond hair stuck to the sides of her face and hung down her back in a loose bun. It hadn’t been washed in weeks and if he saw her now he probably wouldn’t recognize her. It was the dead of winter, with no running water, and the kids were starting to smell like it. Her dress was worn so thin she could see her elbows through the threadbare cotton when she raised her arms. It was time for supper, but she had no bread, no butter, greens or even potatoes left. They would be hungry soon, but as she slumped down into the peeling, white chair with no cushion, she was broken, lost and helpless. She had spent her last two dollars on Satchie’s medicine, and there was no telling when more would come. Taylor and Trimble had a fever and if the others got sick she would have to find some help. Every night for two months now, after all the work was done, she sat in that same place, felt as if she’d never get up and wondered, “How can I make something from nothing?” And every night she reached back into the deepest corners of her mind, back to what her momma used to teach her as a little girl, and thought of a way to make it better. But not tonight; tonight her thoughts, her eyes were somewhere else.

She remembered the last time he left. It was months ago, when things weren’t so bad. He said he’d be back soon enough, like he always did, but this time with more money and in time for Christmas. She had been raising his three kids from the wife before, and seven more for the past ten years, and somehow, someway, he always made it home just when things were starting to run out, just when she needed his arms, his touch the most. This time, things had been run out for weeks, she was worn down, and so worried she couldn’t sleep. She wondered if she’d ever see him again.

Her daddy, King, warned her about his kind, but when they were married he had owned half the land in Dickenson County, and most people thought of David Crockett Lockhart as some sort of god. Since then he had traded off most of the land, once for a hunting rifle and a dog, and she loved him for his ways. He had fathered babies all through their parts over the years and would try to take care of them the best he could, dropping money here and there whenever he was around. Some people thought he really was some sort of Davy Crockett, on his way to rescue them all from that little town, or whatever they needed to be rescued from. He always had mysterious ways, and at that particular moment, with her eyes somewhere far off, she remembered the last thing he said to her.

“If things ever get tough, so tough that you don’t think you’ll be able to make it another second, just turn to God.”

And so, that night she moved from her peeling white chair and got her bible from the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet. She gathered up the kids around her skirt, and read the verses she had read as a child. Just as she was about to break down and cry—for her babies, her hunger, her sadness, her life—she turned the page and saw a hundred dollar bill fall to the ground.