Peeved in Pennsylvania

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dear Rex:

I need someone with whom I can share, for I have kept this inside for too long. I hope you can help.

In 1935 my grandfather started farming the “Spivey farm” across the road from us. Old man Will Spivey owned it before the depression and managed to hold on to it afterwards. Grandad spent days getting that farm into shape. He grubbed up the wiregrass and fixed the tile. He planted cover crop every year to hold the topsoil and limed it if needed. He took care of it like his own and always paid the rent on time. It was just understood that when Grandad died, my dad would take it over. Nothing was written down because that’s the way it was done back then.

Right after Grandad’s funeral, no sooner had they finished throwing dirt on the casket than Ernie Sessoms from up the road visited Mr. Spivey and convinced him to rent the farm to him. That was 1963. My dad was furious, but it was nothing he could do except avoid Mr. Sessoms as much as possible. I heard dad call him many other names I can’t repeat.

Dad died in ’94 and Sessoms had the nerve to show up at the funeral. He shook my hand but I didn’t say a thing back to him. I plan to stand my ground like my father and not back down to such a neighbor as this. I might have to sit in church with him and even attend the same farmer’s meetings, but that doesn’t mean I’m required to act as if nothing has happened.

In light of all this, he and I have been asked to serve on the Grounds and Beautification Committee at our church. It will just be the two of us. Considering all that has happened, do you think I should decline?

— Peeved in Pennsylvania

Dear Peeved,

If you do not decline, you will be missing a golden opportunity to keep this strained relationship going for at least one more generation.

And though you didn’t ask, I would also suggest that by no means should you talk to Mr. Sessoms, for no communication has a wonderful way of building even greater walls.

In addition to all this, it is very possible your children will learn much from you as to how to handle these things, and possibly advance the cause even further. After all, it was Mr. Sessoms that wronged you, therefore he should make the first move. So stand your ground. And what better place to stand your ground than in the church?