Would love you thoughts?
Like a great wind, tragedy has a way of shaking loose the nuts from a family tree. Laying bear to those once hidden family secrets that were only whispered briefly, then pushed aside. That’s how this began. It was right before Christmas in December 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. My uncle W.C. had just died. William Clifton Barnes, or Uncle W.C. pronounced in your best southern twang as “Dubba C” had passed from a prolonged bout with Alzheimer’s.
Because it was a pandemic, the family was struggling to decide how to conduct a funeral. It was finally decided that they would have an outdoor grave side service. My mother was down for Christmas. The service was scheduled for Monday December 28th and we had to decide if we were going to try and travel from Florida up to Rocky Mount North Carolina. Since my mother was at at-risk age, we finally decided that traveling in airports during the holiday season in a pandemic may not be the smartest move. Therefore, we opted for some family phone calls.
It was during one of those calls that the fateful question was asked that ultimately resulted in this book. My mother, Barbara, or Bobbi Jean to the family, was speaking with Aunt Jean, Dubba C’s sister. Aunt Jean was concerned about Dubba C’s eternal salvation, but felt pretty certain that he would go to heaven. Then Aunt jean asked my mother the fateful question, “Do you think Red Miller went to heaven?”
My mind swirled with curiosity. Who is Red Miller? But more importantly to who he was, was the burning question of why he is he doing to hell? I was told that Red Miller was married to my Aunt Hazel. Now I knew the name Aunt Hazel. She was the tragic Shakespearean character in our family story that is spoken in hushed tones with a desolate shaking of the head. But up until this day, the name Red Miller had never been spoken in my presence. I would learn that Red Miller should be going to hell for what he did to Aunt Hazel’s daughter Ann.
As the author of The Broken Picker Fixer, a book for women that are attracted to the wrong men, I’ve always had a kinship toward Poor Aunt Hazel. In our family, she was the original broken picker. But, this new information sparked my curiosity. I wanted to learn about Aunt Hazel’s life. What happened to Ann. What happened to Aunt Hazel? What were these crazy relationships Aunt Hazel had. Any finally, most importantly, what caused her to die. How exactly did she find herself dying from arsenic poisoning?