Stories from the holler part III


Erica Wilder Eldridge - Contributing Writer



Thinking back in my mind to all of the things that I have seen and done in my 30 some odd years on this planet (that’s right I am still a lady and not prone to disclose my truthful age), I can recount the stories and the moments in incredible detail. I smile a lot thinking back on my adventures on Greasy Creek and the Pine Mountain area.

Soon after mom and dad adopted me, I started staying with mamaw and papaw whenever mom and dad went to work. Well this one particular day it was cold, and I mean cold, but you know how kids are; they will stay out till the frostbite sets in.

Anyway mamaw’s old calico had a litter of kittens and they were just about the cutest things I had ever laid eyes on. Mamaw was real particular about her kittens until they reached a certain age because she was afraid that the momma cat would move them and she wouldn’t be able to find them.

Mamaw got busy doing something and I snuck off to them kittens that was in a box down at the cabin. I got down there and the momma was gone. Well I stroked the kittens fur and lovingly picked each one up and held it close to me. It was just as I put the last kitten back in the box that I remembered that mamaw had told me that human scent could cause a mother cat to abandon her kittens.

Well then panic set in! What would happen to the poor little kittens if the mother abandoned them? So I thought as logically as you can as a 4-year-old. I looked around and then I spotted it. A 10-gallon galvanized steel bucket that mamaw used during summer to pick beans.

I went to the creek and literally had to break the ice to get the water. I filled that bucket with water and carried it back to edge of the cabin. One by one I carried the meowing kittens out to the waiting bucket of ice cold water and bathed them to remove my scent. I was just scrubbing and dunking them poor little kittens when I heard mamaw say “Erica Lynn what in the world have you done to my kittens?”

I looked up knowing that she used both names when she called on me and it was not going to be good. Proudly I announced that I had removed my scent off of every last kitten. Mamaw said “They look like little drowned rats, hurry help me get them in the house and we’ll warm them up.” About the time we got the kittens to the house the mother showed back up with a mole that I am certain she intended to teach the kittens with. She was meowing incessantly because we had her babies.

Mamaw bathed each one of the kittens in warm water and we wrapped them up in a towel and I sit in front of the stove with them until they dried. We then carried them all back to the kitty box and of course as soon as we put them down the mother started cleaning them again. After the kittens were all safe in the box and their mommy was with them again, mamaw told me she knew I was trying to help, but not to be bathing the kittens anymore.

She never yelled or raved, and even though I knew I had done the wrong thing, she did not rub it in my face or dwell on it. After it was all said and done she made me some chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese, and when papaw came in she told what I had done and he laughed.

I have heard it said that once someone has been gone for a long time that you forget what they look like and sound like. Not me, I remember every line on his face and the sound of his voice still echo in my ears, every ounce of love that he had for me still stirs in my heart.

Me and mamaw often reminisce about my fiascos, and laugh. To this day when the chips are down and the day has weighed heavy in the adult world I can call on mamaw and I am once again that 4-year-old little girl wrapped up in her skirt tale seeking some sort of knowledge that she has to share. Farewell for now until we meet again for another story from the holler.

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Erica Wilder Eldridge

Contributing Writer

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