Here is a story that I heard my mother and her family tell many times.
There was a woman, a widow, living in the community with her son. Two older sons were married and lived nearby, but after her husband died, Mrs. X became extremely dependent on the remaining unmarried son. He helped with the chores and became the “surrogate” husband, making all the decisions for his mother, financial and otherwise.
Mrs. X was an opinionated lady, and illustrated that trait once against my mother’s family.
The time was in the 1920s, before hardly anyone in the area was lucky or rich enough to own a car. One Sunday morning, as Mrs. X and her son were on their way to church services in the wagon. They passed over the creek where my mother’s two brothers and four other teenage boys were playing.
As the wagon passed by the boys, Mrs. X said to her son in a loud voice, “you see those boys there? They are going to Hell because they play in the creek instead of going to church on Sunday.”
But that isn't the end of this little story. It seems that several years passed and Mrs. X’s son found a young lady and, after a period of time, announced to his mother that they were to be married. It was reported that Mrs. X cried and pleaded with her son not to leave her and threatened if he did, she would kill herself.
Naturally, her son did not take the threat seriously. He thought that his mother was just upset at the initial idea of his marriage and would “get over” her anger.
Now the X home was located on the property where the stream known as “First Creek” originates. A spring emerging from the ground forms a pool that becomes a small creek and flows southward, increasing in width and depth as it twists and turns and eventually flows into the Tennessee River.
On the X property, the water is no more than two feet deep. On a certain day, following her threat, Mrs. X made good on her promise. She walked out to the pool of water, lay down and drowned herself. This is the end of what I know about the story.
And the purpose of my telling the story here is nothing more than just being something I've heard all my life. A strange one, definitely, and sad. It touched my family’s life because of Mrs. X was a well-known neighbor and because of her condemnation of my two uncles, who were teenagers at the time.
For some reason, although they are completely different, the Mrs. X story reminds me of Tennyson’s poem, The Lady of Shalott, a classic and a long poem, a few verses of which read:
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot;
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
Are there stories that have been repeated in your family over time? If so, I would love to hear about them.