Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ava's Man Was a Hero

Charlie Bundrum drank too much and he fought too much. When confronted by the law, he didn't often go peacefully and many a young Alabama lawman suffered through a rite of passage of having to subdue Charlie Bundrum before taking him in. But Charlie was a good man, one of those strong depression-era men that came out of the South to leave his mark on generations to follow him.

Rick Bragg never knew his grandfather, Charlie Bundrum, who died in 1958 at age 51 before Bragg was born. But Bragg managed to learn more about his grandfather than most men will ever know about their own and in Ava's Man he shares his grandfather with the world. First, and foremost, Charlie Bundrum was a family man. He had a fiercely tender love for his children and he was willing to do whatever it took to protect them from harm. His children, especially his girls, responded with the kind of love that all good fathers wish for themselves. Rick Bragg, in fact, discovered that their love was so deep and so heartfelt that they could hardly stand to talk about the man who spent his life working so hard for their survival. It was easier to keep that love in their hearts rather than to feel the pain of loss that they felt when Charlie was discussed.

Charlie Bundrum lived for his family and they, in turn, learned the proper way to live life from Charlie. He taught them of love and of loyalty to family, but when he "adopted" a strange little river man who was being physically abused by bullies and brought that man into his family home for several years, he taught them that charity is more than a word heard inside a church on Sunday mornings. Charlie was a powerful man who liked his "likker," but nothing made him happier than to be surrounded by his grandchildren, as many of them as possible in his arms at one time.

Ava's Man finishes the story that Bragg began with All Over but the Shoutin', the story of how his mother worked so hard to raise him and his brothers under difficult conditions. Now we know where his mother found the strength to accomplish that and why Bragg feels such a strong love for his family. Don't miss either of these books.

Rated at: 5.0

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