Elwood the Great & Arkansas

I’ve been dreading this day since I was little. Uncle Elwood was and probably will always be my favorite uncle. It wasn’t that he played games with me or taught me funny songs. I don’t know what it was about him but I loved every time I got to see him. He was always mismatched – and I mean severly. Stripes on stripes, Dickies full-length jumpsuits…he wore it all.

When I was in elementary school in Omaha, Papa, Claxton, and Elwood (the Smiths were very fearful of generic names) all came to pheasant hunt. When I was going to bed one night, I asked my mom if I could take Uncle Elwood to show-and-tell at school the next day. Most kids brought ant farms or gerbils…I wanted to bring my 80-something year old great uncle because he was that special to me.

So the day finally came when my mom called and told me that he’d had a stroke and died. I wasn’t devastated or even really that sad. He was 94 for goodness sake! I don’t blame the man for going to hang out with Jesus, Mother Teresa, and anyone else he finds to party with. It’s just a sad realization that the Smith family reunions I dreaded going to as a kid won’t be around much longer. Unless you have been before you just can’t imagine Aunt Polly’s canned pickles, the random junk my great aunts bring to sell in the family auction, or the acapella gospel hymns we sit around singing for hours. I’m looking forward to this year because I think I have a better appreciation foe the uniqueness of my family. I know Uncle Elwood will be kickin it in heaven singing right along with us.

At any rate, Taylor and I decided to get our dog and gear and head to Pocahontas for the funeral. You know you’re close to memphis when a disgruntled, ghetto Taco Bell employee is yelling in jibberish getting frustrated that you can’t decode it. You know you’re in Arkansas, however, when an old beat up Chevy pick-up rolls down it’s windows from the drive-through and a semi-toothed woman inquires about your dog. Better yet, Toothy gets out of the car, pets our dog, and then asks, “you gon’ get any pups outa ’em?” I wanted to say, “Ma’am, even if he can somehow reproduce again, I highly doubt that we will subject his offspring to a life of backwoods beer pong and ‘coon hunting.”

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