The Swamp Road Chronicles


"Crown of Feathers"

Dear Swamp Road Chronicles Reader,

I recently encountered an old friend from Kirkersville, which is just west of Swamp Road, he told me some interesting news. His information regarded the passing of a very dear elderly lady I had known. She was named 'Alma' and she had been his neighbor. Alma was truly a saintly woman whose kindness and generosity were well known in the community. She was always willing to help neighbors in need. I was truly sad to hear of her passing.

 

My friend told me that after her funeral her family members had gathered in Alma's bedroom and had carefully disassembled her pillow. Though she slept in a double bed which she had shared with her husband while he was alive, she always slept on the left side of the bed, so there was no doubt about which pillow was hers.

 

Now, you might wonder, "Why would they disassemble the old lady's pillow?" Well, Alma was born in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky, as was I. She was born before TV and in a place where radio waves couldn't reach. Mountain people had a strong tradition of storytelling and a complex and thoroughly accepted system of beliefs. A system handed down through many generations by the Scotch and Irish immigrants who settled those mountains. All things that affect us in this life and the next: life, birth, death, matrimony, farming, animal husbandry, weather, everything had folk wisdom to explain it and to help manage it. Alma and her family were well-versed in those traditions and folk wisdom.

 

If a person had lived an exemplary life and was a forgiven sinner, when they passed on you would sometimes find in their pillow a "Crown of Feathers" where their head had rested. This crown of feathers was an intricately woven disc of feathers, far too complex and delicate to have been woven by human hands. Such "crowns" are generally cherished by family members and kept for generations. They are believed to be a sign from God that the deceased had been met by an angel and escorted directly to heaven. To find such a sign was a great comfort to mourning family members.

 

I remember one night when I was about 11, listening in on a late-night conversation by some family members, when I heard my mother say that her grandmother had left behind a crown of feathers when she passed. It was accepted by all that she had been a saintly woman and had, indeed, gone straight to heaven and the crown was a certain sign.

 

Well, Alma's family solemnly sought a "crown of feathers" to confirm what they already believed. My friend reported that they did, indeed, find a "crown" in Alma's pillow. It was a large, exceptionally exquisite specimen. Her loved ones rejoiced in finding it.

 

May you rest in well-deserved peace, Alma.

 

As submitted by Randal Lenn Hall, June 16, 2023


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