Kevin Alawine is a friend of mine who lives and works in Mississippi. Kevin is Reformed and has two young adult sons. This is a beautiful piece that he wrote recently.
Way back in a forgotten place in the wooded hills of Mississippi there is a maze of winding dirt roads. The way these aged roads crisscross with one winding around and leaving another and then circling back to cross yet another would cause one to think that they were designed by an intoxicated man or a lunatic. But the fact is they were laid out in a dear old time when families respected one another’s boundaries (and also when hill dodging was easier than digging) This was a time when roads were sometimes crooked because men were not. And somehow, for now at least, this hidden little part of the world has managed to elude the tyrannical state’s straight highways and crooked men.
One of these little gravel and dirt, “twist and turns” that can be found there is called, “Alawine Springs Road.” On that road is a one room church built by my great grandfather. No denominational name can be found there, just a sign that reads, “Alawine Springs Church.” We have family reunions at that old church and the building is so small that most people eat and congregate outside because it’s so cramped inside. The road’s name comes from the Alawine families who owned the many acres of land that they purchased after they migrated from South Carolina to Mississippi before the War Between the States. And there was (still is I’m sure and I aim to find it) a water spring, something that was very important to families and their neighbors in those days. No longer ago than the 1940‘s my dad remembers following his mother to the spring as she carried her wash board and clothes basket in front of her to do laundry in the cold spring water. Before they reached the path that led from the single lane dirt road to Alawine Springs they had to walk under the big limb that stretched out from the “hanging tree” and cast it’s eerie shadow all the way across the dirt road. My grandma would assure my daddy that the tales he had heard about the ghosts of dead men who had been hanged from that limb were just made up stories and there were no “haints” hanging around to grab and run away with him. She would sing a hymn as she made him walk behind her to keep him protected from the cold, winter wind.
Tomorrow I will be a pallbearer and we will lay my Aunt Jean to rest in an old graveyard just through the woods about a mile as the crow flies from that old church and the spring and the crooked roads. Her body will be laid next to her beloved husband who died nine years ago and by the way, whom she never stopped loving, my “Uncle Jim.” She will sleep just a few yards away from my little brother, my grandparents on my father’s side and many aunt’s uncles and cousins, as well as some relatives long since passed away of whom I never had the pleasure of meeting. Up the hill at the front of the graveyard, as if he was overseeing generations of his posterity, rests the body of Mr. Andrew Jackson Alawine, my great, great grandfather and his faithful and godly wife, Lucretia J “Wells” Alawine. Andrew fought for the Confederacy in the War of Northern Aggression. Of that I am VERY proud.
Whenever someone speaks the word, “graveyard” we sometimes flinch and think, “Let’s not go there.” But truly, there is a lot of heritage in a graveyard. There is a wonderful lot of heritage in our graveyard for certain. And be aware of our heritage and your own, whoever you may be. You see, nary a Negro or an Asian or a Jew or a Mexican rest’s with my family in our graveyard. And I hope you know, we don’t hate those peoples that I just named. But this is our land and this is our heritage. These are our memories. It was our ancestors who were the Germanic barbarian tribes who gave the Roman empire hell. It was our ancestors who many generations later traveled to America and who eventually found a home in these parts. It was their sweat and blood that made the Southron (yes, I spelled it correctly) united States our home. (And no, we didn’t steal it from the Indians so you can stop believing that myth. Turn off the TV and read a book sometime) It was also these ancestors who prayed for my good fortune, for me and for mine, their future kith and kin, their posterity. My people were concerned for me before I was born and I am very jealous for my people. I am jealous as a man is jealous of his wife. You see, I don’t hate your wife. But I don’t want her either. And I don’t want your hands on my wife. And my ancestors are as alive and as real to me today as when they walked this earth many years ago.
God bless you and your kith and kin,
In the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior,