And Now There Are Eight

All I knew is that when they packed up the creamy white Century Buick with boxes and grocery sacks and food for a picnic on the road and all seven of them loaded up and headed “way back up North” to where they lived”, I was on my own to generate my own fun! The summer sun went behind the clouds. The days were long and dreary, until I adjusted and got into a rhythm of my own creativity.

I am surrounded by wonderful men. My husband, my sons, my grandsons, my daddy, my father-in-law, my brothers and brother-in-laws…nephews, great-nephews, great great nephews, uncles, cousins and granddads, one whom I never knew…they are just really good good good men. I’ve been blessed with the best.

And Carlton was always there.

Now, I really don’t know how old I was when I realized that it was not considered “NORMAL” to have a brother, who had a wife and a quiver full of children when you’re born or you’re only 4 months old or something mind boggling like that.

You know…a passel of built in playmates right from the start.

Some siblings ARE playmates. My siblings PROVIDED playmates. But I digress.

I might have mentioned once, that I’m the youngest of ten and life for me has always included Carlton and Lilly and their 5 children. They are in my earliest memories…as are my other siblings with children.

Here is a precious story about Carlton when he was just a tiny lad. He was always watching out for the welfare of others.

Carlton is my eldest brother. When I was a child, early in May each year, I started counting down the days for school in the North to be over for the summer. When we all started to school it really interrupted our play time during the rest of the year, because SCHOOL interrupted traveling long distances.

So I HAD to wait for summer.

I considered it such an odd thing for their school to go later than our school year did in Arkansas. But finally his family of seven would arrive deep in those Ozark Mountain hills of Arkansas, usually in the wee morning hours of early June. I could hear the sleepy shuffle of tired travelers coming in to the house to spend the rest of the night on quilts already prepared to just lay down and go right back to sleep.

But when the sun rose bright to the aroma of scrambled eggs and sausage and biscuits with butter and honey, I once again had playmates, ready to take on the day’s adventures.

And Carlton was always there.

And life was grand.

And Carlton was always there.

That’s just how it is when you have ready made nieces and nephews from several siblings.

And life was grand.

We played in the creek

and carried tap water out of the house in quart jars to mix the red dirt into clay with sticks so we could build red clay cities in the front yard, that baked in the hot summer sun.

And THAT ruined our clothes.

And we perched on the rock wall of the flower bed and performed great dramatic productions in the evening for all who were present

until it was time to catch “light-nin bugs” .

And Carlton was always there.

And we could snap a bushel of green beans for Mother faster than you could spell hippopotamus.

And we pulled weeds out of the garden

and dropped potato bugs into a bucket of kerosene in an attempt to prevent the potato plants from being nibbled right to the stem.

and picked rocks out of the garden (by the bushel…or truck load)


And Carlton was always there.

I don’t remember realizing he was my brother…HE JUST WAS, and it included all the others, the complete package of Carlton, my brother.

And life was grand…

And Carlton was always there…

…until he wasn’t…

and now there are eight.

Carlton Kelly Easley

December 25, 1937 – December 4, 2020

I love you forever and always.

Thank you for setting a wonderful example for all of us, of a life lived well.

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    1. Leslie, thank you so much for your sweet words of condolence. Yes, my memories are so very precious and I know that he is in his heavenly home now and that brings great comfort also.

  1. Rachel, so sorry for such a big loss. I know your heart is heavy but he sounded like a wonderful man! Praying God wraps His arms around you when you feel the loss. God Bless. Kathy Springman

  2. I’m so sorry Rachel. I’m sending prayers for your comfort. Your essay is a beautiful tribute to your brother. Thank you for sharing.

      1. What wonderful memories we get to treasure and share! (I kinda giggled when you talked about the drama productions ‘cuz I could hear Carlene saying “if you don’t cooperate we don’t have the play!”) And I thought you surely must be magical because you had a pet horny toad on a string! Thank you for the memories -you were and are a FABULOUS Aunt!!

        1. Aahhh!! Naomi, I love you. Yes! I chuckled thinking about Carlene saying that too. I WAAAAASSS magical. Th????. I single handedly introduced horney toads to NW Arkansas by transporting so many babies from Granny and Papa’s in Oklahoma… at least that’s what Mother thought. ?

  3. Thank you for this beautiful memory. I have known Carlton for the last 30: years. He will always be my Pastor and friend in my heart. He and Lily were like 2nd parents to me. Praise God for the beautiful reunion they are having ❤️

    1. Elaine, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful sentiment with me. I pray you feel God’s comfort during this time of profound loss.

  4. I am so very sorry for your loss. You have written a beautiful tribute to your brother sharing your memories of those precious times. I will pray for your wonderful memories along with your faith in God to sustain and comfort you.

  5. Rachel
    Sweet words, both good and true.
    For me as well, he has always been and I grieve and celebrate with you and family.
    Tim and Jen Stouffer and family

    1. Tim, thank you so much for your kind words. I know Carlton’s family loves you and Jeremy always spoke of you so fondly.

  6. Rachel this is such a beautiful tribute to Carlton you have such a wonderful way with words and your expressions. I’m so glad you could go to the funeral today and share your thoughts in person with the family I know it meant a lot to them and all of us. Keep up the great work I love you Keith

    1. Thank you so much. It was a very touching service. I love you. Thank you for your kind words and always encouraging me.

  7. I always enjoy your writing — you are the best! So sorry about your brother — please take time to grieve with your special memories.

    1. Sally, bless your sweet heart for commenting. I have always admired you and I appreciate your kind words. One thing I’ve realized that I’m not very good at is grieving. I bottle it up, I think. I appreciate your words.

  8. So sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved brother. Prayers for you and your entire family for your loss.

  9. Thinking of you. Loss is always so hard but even harder around the holidays. My mom had a brother 11 years older. She went on all his dates with him! Now, at 93, she talks and reminisces about him most.

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