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Alyss

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You Can’t Stop the Bees

My Great-aunt Gatha, in her mail-order,
polyester clothes, works in the garden,
without a hair out of place, sings alto in choir,
studies her Sunday school lesson, though she knows
more about the Bible’s verses, maps, history—
and the road to heaven— than anyone who graduated
from Seminary. She has sayings like, “You can’t stop

the bees from flying around your head, but you can
keep them from building a nest.” And she has all
these old stories, like the time her ma bought her
some new doodads called “knee-socks.” So modest,
she put them on and tried and tried to pull
them over her knees until she stretched

the elastic loose. Ma Alice was so mad she spanked
her! Aunt Gatha was the baby of the family,
not expected to live, they put her in a shoe box.
She came into the world weighing 14 pounds;
funny, seeing how slim and trim she is
now. Unable to have children, she determined
it to be God’s will, and refused to adopt. She had
her hands full tending Ma Alice, anyway, and feeding
Uncle Pete’s voracious appetite. His profession was

body repair at the Chevrolet place in town. After
he retired, he had a heart attack, and would
have lived, but a nurse unplugged him when she
insisted he get up and walk… not a good idea
after open heart surgery. He went into a coma
for a long time, while that incompetent
nurse continued to work on his floor! It sure put

a dent in Aunt Gatha’s Christian heart—
one Uncle Pete wasn’t there to smooth out…
I’m sure she has some pretty unchristian thoughts
fly daily around her head, threatening to build
a nest, but, bless her heart, she just keeps right on
shooing them away.

Wynne Huddleston