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January 1, 2019 By Tom McKinney

Relatives I’ll Never Forget

My parents divorced when I was five, so my mother and I went to live with her mother who owned a rooming and boarding house. My mother was one of eight daughters, and at least four of her sisters invited me to spend nights with them many times.

My maternal grandmother, Atarah, had a severe case of asthma. When my mother, who was a nurse, came home from work, she gave her a shot in her vein. One day, my mother was late, and my grandmother insisted that I give her the shot. From that time on she preferred having me do the shot, saying my mother was too rough. I was nine or ten at the time.

During the depression years, my grandmother believed that jobless men should be fed when they came to the door. They would offer to work for her, but she had no need for it and would feed them anyway. I feel that I observed a very good trait in her which has remained with me during my lifetime.

Cousin Tom Epps, five years older than me, and Uncle Joe thought I should learn to swim so they took me to a creek, picked me up and threw me in. This was my first experience “dog paddling.” They also took me berry picking up the railroad tracks. Once, when I went around a blackberry bush, I came eye to eye with a bear. I dropped my pail and the three of us left the bear to the berries and our buckets.

Tom’s parents, Uncle G.W. (yes, George Washington) and Aunt Josie, took me to Daytona Beach with their family on two different occasions. Uncle G.W. is the one who took me to Atlanta to watch the Dodgers and Yankees play exhibition games. My paternal grandmother, Daisy, lived in Alabama and made me feel like I was her favorite. I have concluded that she was the favorite granddaughter and I was the favorite grandson.

Two uncles, Joe and Lee, played piano by ear and I asked them to teach me, but they said they couldn’t since I couldn’t read music. I begged my mother to let me take piano lessons, but the piano teacher got married that summer and moved away. I never did take piano lessons and I love music.

My parents were both well regarded by peers in their chosen fields. This led me to do my best and have a passion to excel. My mother believed that a good education and hard work would enable me to earn a good living. She procured a scholarship for me to attend an excellent local prep school. After graduation, I attended the University of Georgia and graduated with a degree in journalism.

In closing, I would say I was fortunate to have so many family members take an interest in me — especially my mother. I remember them with gratitude and fondness.

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