This morning I spent some time with one of my favorite ancestors. Uncle Jimmy was more than just kinfolk. He was like my second father.
Jimmy was the kindest man you would ever meet. He was the oldest male of nine children born after the eldest, Aunt Patsy. He grew up on a small farm where he learned the necessity of hard work. His father (PawPaw) worked at Parchment prison. There was a barn on the property. When Jimmy was a kid he fell out of the loft. The fall cracked his skull. A trustee working for Pawpaw wrapped his head and probably saved his life. We didn’t know it at the time but, Jimmy always walked like a gorilla with his palms facing backwards, his large shoulders kinda hunched forward, and he would lean as he would walk around the corner, his autopsy revealed he had water on the brain, probably a result of his fall.
The Mullen family was not financially well off and everyone had to help around the farm. They had a few cows (I remember one named “Popeye”), chickens, pigs, and a small fish pond. After high school, Jimmy enlisted in the Air Force. While stationed at Okinawa, he dated Carol (Aunt Dobbie). Dobbie told us that she always had to pay for their dates because Jimmy never had any money. She found out later that he would send his whole paycheck home to support the family. He also said that working for the military made him lazy.
Jimmy died at the young age of 45 due to esophageal cancer (many of the Mullen died of this disease). At his funeral, I could feel the color leave the family. He was more than just the older brother. He was a provider and anchor to which the whole family depended. He was the light that guided them through tough times. He was a happy man that walked around singing “Oops there goes another rubber tree plant” and other little cheerful songs. He taught Sunday school at the United Methodist Church and preached when there wasn’t a preacher. I’m sure he had many faults but I don’t know them and don’t want to know. He was/is a good man.
He has been on my mind lately, so, this morning I fixed him a cup of coffee (He got me started drinking coffee at a young age and I can’t do without it, now). I put milk and sugar in it. It was Folgers but he was a Sanka man. I pulled up his picture on my phone from when he was a young man, lit some incense, and sat down and talked to him like we used to do round his kitchen table. I’ll never forget when he was sent home to die and he visited me in a dream. I rarely ever remember my dreams but this one I will never forget. I was at his house and he wanted everyone to come into the kitchen because he had something to tell us. We all went in a sat down at the table waiting to hear what he wanted to say. He said, “I need to ask y’all something. If there was no such thing as heaven or hell, would you love Jesus anyway? Would you serve Jesus anyway?”
That dream was so profound and it haunts me to this day. I believe he was telling me what he saw on the other side. Now, that I am no longer a Christian but a polytheist on the Nordic persuasion, I believe stronger than ever that he was telling me the truth. So, this morning I thanked him for telling me what is real and what is not and enjoyed my time with him.
Hail, Jimmy Mullen