Great Grandma Ida Higginbotham ….. She was a Mother of 7 kids, in this order, Ethel, Ada, Effie, Clarence (Doc), Virginia, Harold and Frank Higginbotham. My great-aunts and uncles on my Mom’s side of the family. Virginia Higginbotham was my Mom’s Mom and obviously my Grandma. Virginia Higginbotham got married very young to Robert (Bob) Wilhite and they produced one child together my Mom (Betty Jo Wilhite) in 1941 during the second world war. They were divorced a year after my Mom was born because Bob Wilhite decided that the Higginbotham clan was just too much for him to handle, so he left my Grandma Virginia and was never heard from again. In 1942 my Grandma Virginia met Woodrow Wilson McCoy they married in 1943. For some strange reason my Grandma Virginia decided that with her new husband she needed to start their own family together and asked my Great Grandma Ida to take in my Mom and raise her in Cedar Grove, while she and her new husband moved to Harrodsburg, KY. Confused yet? Just wait… lol Grandma Virginia and Grandpa Woodrow together produced 6 children of their own, in this order, Patricia, Phyllis, Tim, Michael, Richard (Ricky) and Rachael. The last two were twins who died at an early age from rhuematic fever. Aside from that little tidbit of family history…. My Great Grandma Higginbotham was very much a Mother to my Mom. Every Sunday my Grandma and Grandpa McCoy, all my Mom’s siblings and their kids and all my Great Aunt’s and Uncles kids would all pack up from where ever they were and made the trek to the big farm. It was like a family reunion every week. I loved Sunday’s. We would go to church, come home and drive out the rest of our driveway across the railroad tracks to my Great Grandparents farm and have the best times of our lives. Linda, Bruce and I played with our cousins all day, the men sat on the porch and the women were all in the house cooking a feast. Once the meal was ready, the men sat at the table while the women served them dinner first and the kids got their plates and had to eat outside and the women patiently waited on the men to finish eating before they sat down to eat. The women would finish their meals and then get up to clean. It was the same routine we always had. And it was the only day of the week that I actually liked my Great Grandma Higginbotham. I never remember her hugging me or babysitting me (like my Mom said she did). I don’t remember anything except that she was the meanest lady on the earth. I remember the spankings and the one thing that I remember the most was learning to tie my shoes. You see, Grandma Higginbotham did not have patience for children. I’m sure since contraceptives were not out in the early 1900’s that they followed the traditions of big families by having sex and making more farm hands to help Great Grandpa Augustus on our big family farm. She was not a nice woman except on Sunday’s. This one particular Sunday, Great Grandma Ida, My Mom and My Aunt, with a son about 7 or 8 months younger than me named Shannon, were sitting around discussing their kids adventures in school. I was still in kindergarten. Ironically, they came up on the topic of “learning to tie your shoes”. When Grandma Ida found out that Shannon and I could not tie our shoes, she apparently was taken over by Satan. She developed a sneaky little plan to teach me and Shannon how to tie our shoes.
The following Sunday when the whole clan was back in town for the “sunday dinner” routine. Grandma Ida calls me and Shannon out of the swarm of Grandchildren in the yard and brings us into the house. She reaches down to our shoelaces and unties them, then tells us in order for us to play we needed to prove we could tie our shoes. Well apparently Shannon had lucked out on some one on one time with his Dad over the past week and learned how to tie his shoes. Me, on the other hand, DID NOT. Grandma Ida told Shannon to go back outside to play, she grabbed me by my ear and called me every adjective that she could think of. She took me to the stairs in the diningroom. She sat me down on the stairs, leaned over to my ear so that no one else could hear her and said, “Sit here, until you learn how to tie your shoes or else (and she picks up a butcher knife off the table and shows it to me) or else Ima gonna cut your wee wee off.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The sad thing is, I knew she would have done it and not thought twice about it. So I sat there, trying over and over and over. My family and cousins would come into the diningroom and ask me why I was sitting there. Everytime they asked I would think, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna tell everyone what a mean old hateful bitch she was. But as soon as I opened my mouth she would peek around the corner and show me that butcher knife. So instead of me getting to tell everyone that I was being blackmailed to learn how to tie my shoes, she would tell them instead, that it was “silly that Roger didn’t know how to tie his shoe, he’s in kindergarten now, he should be ashamed, so I’m going to make him sit there until he learns how to do it.” I heard this over and over and over that day. And everytime she told it, she left out the part about cutting my wee wee off. I sat there while the men ate dinner, while kids all got their plates, while women took their turn at the table and finally after what seemed like days I got the loop to hold. I got up and I danced and I yelled in my little cute voice for Grandma Ida to come and check my shoes. She came in and told me to “stop prancing like a little girl and let her check them.” Well, during all the dancing time, thinking that I was finally going to get to play with my cousins before the left, I caused them to come untied again. She grabbed my shoulders and slammed my ass back down on the step and said “Do it again!” . I thought “WHAT THE HELL LADY!” I did it once. And I’ll be damned if I remember what I did to it. ” In the meantime, after all the commotion I was causing “screaming like a little girl” everyone in my family was going , “Did he do it?” “Finally?” And Grandma Ida informed them that it was a false alarm and that I would continue to sit on those steps until I got it right and they stayed tied and only in my ear would she whisper “OR I’ll cut your wee wee off”. Luckily while Grandma Higginbotham was busy saying her good-byes to some family members, my Great Uncle Doc snuck into the diningroom and tied my shoes really tight for me, I told him that I was scared because she said she was going to cut my wee wee off. He came up with the perfect plan, he would hide in the closet and listen to her so that I had proof that the BITCH was a mean old lady and that Mom should never leave me alone with her again. I calmly yelled for Grandma Ida to come check them, she came in, tugged on my shoe strings and said “Thank the Lord Child!” I looked at her with my sarcastic little eyes waiting for the “or else ” threat she had been taunting me with all day. It never came. She patted me nicely on the rear end and so me to go say good-bye to my cousins. To this day, no one in my family believes that good ole Great Grandma Higginbotham ever threatened to cut off my wee wee. But she did and she didn’t stop with the shoe tying either. It would turn in to be the biggest threat she would ever hold over my head as a very young child. I thought she was Satan. I disliked her and she was mean to me. A few months later, we were all doing the same Sunday ritual and Great Grandma Ida was sitting in her recliner. She said she felt ill and was out of breathe. I was sitting directly across from her on the couch on the other side of the room. I stared at her as everyone started freaking out. I watched her take her last breathe and exhale it out. I thought to myself “See you later Bitch”. She woke up for a millisecond and said “Who are you?” and froze with her eyes open. Now, obviously we don’t know who she was talking too. But to me with all my not so pleasant memories of her, I know who it was. I never shed a tear at the funeral for Grandma Ida. I was mainly looking forward to the meal at her house after the burial.