…. and her name is Cotten

    BobLee
    September02/ 2014

    Blondie will always be a Midwestern girl at her core.  Going on 30 years she still studies Southern Culture like scientists watching lab rats.  “Why are pretty Southern girls named after commodities?” is a typical question I get asked.

    I have a she-cuzzin in New Bern named “Sugar” and a high school classmate named “Cotten” prompting her question.   “Cotten” is a family name hence the “e” rather than “o”.    I’m not sure if names fit people or people fit names.  “Cotton Skinner” sounds like a statuesque blond with a super-charged personality…. or a heroine in a Pat Conroy novel?  Doesn’t it?

    Opening day of high school my junior year there was a Big Rumor afoot.  A new girl had moved in “from Greenville”….. and her name is Cotten.

    Greenville is only 25 miles away but small town America was pretty provincial back then.  “From Greenville” might as well have been “from Vermont”.

    Unless you live near a military base, “new kids in school” are a pretty big deal.  We got two of’em that year – Cotton from Greenville and Luci Turner from Pink Hill.   I’m not sure the term “hot” meant then what it means now but both of’em were.  Hubba hubba.

    Never having been a girl, I only know what I’ve been told but I hear they can be pretty cliquish as far as welcoming new girls into their social circle, especially really pretty ones.   Competition and all that don’t you know.  You knew right from the get-go that Cotten Skinner was sumthin’ special.   She fit right in from Day One at least from what us boys could tell.   Cotten (Skinner) Parrott had “it”.

    I made “one of those trips back home” today. ….. Fifty years ago Greenville’s loss was Kinston’s gain….. Today our loss was Heaven’s gain.

    I got a short email Friday from Titus.  Cotten Parrott died 15 minutes ago.   THUD!  Huh?  Did she have cancer?  Car accident?  What’s the deal?  Over the next few hours the questions were answered.  Septic poisoning following a recent surgery…. and Cotten was gone.   DAMN!

    Come on God…. not Cotten!   I have a long list of folks this world could do without.  Cotten is not on any such list.   What in the world will Hubert do?

    St Mary’s Episcopal was packed, with overflow in the fellowship hall.  “They” say regardless of how one lives one’s life, the turnout for one’s funeral will totally depend on …… the weather.   It was a beautiful day for honoring a beautiful lady.

    Hubert wore a seersucker jacket, khakis, and weejuns with no socks…. which was so perfect.  The post-service reception had FOUR deviled egg platters.   All that was missing was The Embers in the choir loft singing Carolina Girls.

    Folks bemoan the state of the world.  That’s because:  Only “good people” die. 

    When’s the last time you heard of some no-account sumbitch dying?  Death has a way of washing away all the mediocrity and low-down no-accountness in even the most mediocre and no-account.

    When we lost Cotten we DID lose a mighty fine one.   Our society teeters on self-destruction.  We just can’t lose the really really good ones…. like Cotten.

    I am blessed to have known more good folks than a guy has any right to expect to know.  Growing up in a small town “back in those days” offered that opportunity.   If you grew up in one, you know what I mean.

    I coined a phrase a few years ago – Extraordinary Ordinary Men (and Women).  “They” don’t run for public office…. or win Olympic medals….. or live in big houses up on a hill.   They just live among us and just by knowing them our lives are enriched.

    If you were in a crowded room, it wasn’t long before you knew Cotten was in the room.   Cotten didn’t giggle.  Cotten laughed.  She had a charming presence about her that drew you to her for a hug and a laugh.  It’s a rare quality that one just “has”.  I’ll say Cotten was “brassy” IF you know I consider “brassy” a terrific quality in a Southern Lady.   I don’t know that she ever told me “a dirty joke”…. but I betcha Cotten knew some good ones.

    I only saw Cotten & Hubert now and then at reunions and such over 50 years.  When we sold off my mom’s estate Hubert bought her refrigerator for his place at the beach.   I was never in their home and they’ve never been in mine but “I know’em” well enough to be awfully glad I do.

    Others can/will wax more eloquently about Cotten the wife, mother, neighbor et al.   I just remember her as that new girl from Greenville….

    Heaven’s Garden has a new Steel Magnolia.…. and her name is Cotten.
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    BobLee

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