September 29, 2018:

The old couple on their anniversary.

She playfully feeds him cake. He strains forward, gray behind his glasses.

Farm clothes. Brown overalls, or maybe they were green before the photo faded.

The tragedies of this family originate with him. He's the one who refused permission for his son to marry the neighbor girl he'd knocked up. She tells me the story this way: "No son of mine will marry a girl who'll have sex before marriage."

Huh.

Well, for Arkansas in 1937, that pretty well fucks her, dunnit?

Of course, the tragedies continue through the son, who accepted that decision when he should have fought like hell. And married her anyway when they reached legal age.

There's so much chaos, so much mayhem and murder that follow as consequences from this single bigoted, hickass, Ozarkian hillbilly decision. Rapes, murders, child abuse. So many families who lost their loved ones.

I never met him. Perhaps he was a decent man, apart from his unconscionable hillbilly provincialism regarding unwed mothers. His wife was a very decent woman to me.

Not that my forgiveness matters, even a little.