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Berdine's Corner

Kicked Him Like a Mule!

by Kenney Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

My Grandfather, Zeddie W. Dennard
and my mother Berdine Dennard


Thank God for the remarkable example my parents set for marriage. I'm not married yet. My father reminds me of this quite often. But I do plan on getting married one day; sooner than later.

We're living in a time when marriage is not looked at the way it was 30-40 years ago. Divorce is at an all time high. Single parent homes are at an all time high. Many women don't accept the same roles and responsibilities as the women years ago did.

I learned from my parents. My mom gladly let my dad run the family. What he said was what went. But that doesn't always mean she liked it. That doesn't mean she didn't at times fall out of character and fight back. Sometimes literally. But in the end, the way they handled things even during those days was an example for me.

I will never forget one example in particular.

My grandfather lived in Buffalo NY. He visited Macon about twice a year. When he was coming, my father got excited. The entire day before and day of my pop would be home dictating orders. "Debbie come out here and vacuum the living room carpet and wax the furniture! Kenney wash the dishes and empty the small trash cans! Roy sweep the floor and mop it! Berdine what you cooking? When you getting started?"

This was a serious event. We were used to it. On the date that I'm recalling though, no one was home but he, my mom and I. I was 13. My sister was and brother were away in college. So all the weight was on my mom and my shoulders; but to make it more complicated, they had been arguing.

I don't remember what my parents had been arguing about but they definitely wasn't on the same page when it was time for my grandfather's arrival. My mom loved my grandfather though so she continued to cook and prepare for him.

Finally, granddaddy arrived. He was in great spirits as normal as he laughed and told stories. We were all genuinely happy to see him. But there was still bad blood between my parents. I wondered if grandad even noticed.

After the food was cooked we all sat down to eat. My grandfather continued to tell us amusing stories. My mom, sitting next to me, smiled but said very little. She was burning up from the earlier argument.

My grandfather must have noticed because he started to try to direct stories toward her. She barely smiled. Finally, my dad must have nudged her a couple times with the his foot under the table to somehow express, "Berdine... not now... please."

Wrong time, wrong woman.

He did it one final time and suddenly, "Blam!!!!" The whole table jumped! The room got silent as me and my grandfather looked at both of their faces trying to read what had just happened. Mom had literally kicked dad under the table. She then got up as my dad sat there looking confused and angry.

I wasn't done eating but I hurriedly cleaned my plate, emptied it and went outside. By the time I got to my neighbors and began to talk, I looked up and my grandad had come out too. He sat on the porch for about an hour while we both could hear my parents arguing loudly.

That was uncharacteristic of my mother but she was that kind of woman.

The funniest thing about the story is when my grandfather got back to Buffalo, although my father says it happened before he got there. He called each of my dad's siblings and told them the story. But he didn't stop there. When he came back to Macon the next year that story was added to his repertoire. Never one to beat around the bush, he finished with, "Then she kicked him! Kicked him like a mule!"

The funniest part of that story was watching my parents facial expressions as he told it. My mom thought it was funny. My dad didn't think so much. My grandfather always finished by saying, "But he took it like a man! He didn't do anything."

There lies the moral to the story. Couples fight. Especially after 20 plus years which was about how long my parents had been married when I was 13. But my dad knew he could have fought my mother and won at that point. He didn't. They could have let that bad blood carry over for weeks. They didn't. It happened. They got over it. They even laughed about it later. They lived. My dad didn't like being the butt of the joke. But sometimes... you're the butt of the joke. He laughed and moved on. "Took it like a man."

...and my mom continued to be the very unique, unpredictable, Berdine Dennard.

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