I am the kid of a Catholic father and a Baptist mother. My father and his brothers were raised up under strict Church of Christ rule, but their parents were good people. They did the best they knew how.

My grandfather Haines was raised by his grandparents Henke. They were German Lutheran homesteaders in Oklahoma who knew ranching and beer-making. Grandpa Haines plowed Henke’s fields from the age of 8, drank Henke’s beer from the age of 9. Henke taught Grandpa Haines to pray, albeit privately and in German. (All good Lutherans of the day knew that religion was a personal matter practiced in the mother tongue.) Grandpa Haines’ farm labor and beer-drinking produced a barrel chest, one fit to carry the Browning Automatic Rifle across Italy in the second World War. The praying produced an iron will, one he credited for carrying him home.

My Grandmother Haines grew up the daughter of a Church of Christ shop owner, a real proselytizing kind of fella. He laid a few bricks in the foundation of my family. We still hold scripture, baptism, and the Lord’s supper in high esteem, but I reckon we don’t hold to a whole host of his theological leanings. Still, he was a good man, and he knew how to turn a nickel.

My grandparents on my mother’s side where Episcopalian. The Mouks, George and Carol, are interred in St. Thomas Episcopal on the bayou. It’s a quiet church, small, community based. On Sunday mornings, sometimes the mallards splash down on the bayou backdrop as the bells usher the congregants in. My Grandfather Mouk wouldn’t have missed a Sunday service for the world, especially in his latter days. He’d sing the hymns, voice quavering, loud. My grandfather Mouk held my grandmother Mouk until the cancer did her in. He had an strong will, too, though maybe it was made of different stuff than steel.

I know very little about Grandpa Mouk’s father, other than he didn’t seem much like a faith-bearing man. I could be wrong about that, but it’s the way I’ve always thought of him. His mother, though, was known to have a pragmatic faith. I reckon she might have been Episcopalian, but perhaps she was Catholic, or Presbyterian, or Methodist. In those days, faith was inherited much like a grandfather clock or the family farm. At least, that’s what I’m told. In any event, the Mouk folks laid bricks in my family foundation, too–community, family, the singing of the doxology.

I am the son, grandson, and great-grandson of these pioneers, folks looking to find a little water along the way and hoping to pass down a brick or two of tradition. My cousins are the offspring of these people, too. Some of you might be, but even if your not, your stories are the same.

We’re all cousins, some of us kissing-cousins, even. And it don’t do no good to hate your cousins.

The way I see it, most of us are just looking for a little water along the way, and hoping to stop just long enough to pass something down that’s worth sticking. That’s all.

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