The relationship between Hank Williams Sr. and his wife, Audrey is the stuff of legend. I know only parts, some word of mouth, family gossip having been involved with his second wife, Billie Jean, but something came up today that brought all of this to mind.
I’m not going to cast allusions upon anyone, especially Miss Audrey because for one I’m really just a face in the crowd and for another Hank Jr. is a big old boy and will whip my ass, so let’s just say Hank Sr. and Audrey could’ve done with a little marriage counseling, ok?
Going forward, a close friend of mine went through an experience recently. The Good Book says that a man should leave his parents and cleave unto his wife. Well, the wife leaves her parents, too, and takes her cleavage over to her husband. Now “honor thy father and mother notwithstanding, this means turning away from the home wherein they grew up. This means breaking bonds.
That’s why people cry at weddings. Something died. Daddy’s little girl is not daddy’s little girl anymore. Son is not a son, he’s a husband. And even if they all give lip service to this extended family crap that’s what it really is; crap!
When sons and daughters start cleaving they leave the past behind. Technically mom and dad are still there. Technically. But in point of fact the bonds of matrimony erase the bonds of parenthood. And ne’er the two will meet. The sudden realization of this can be devastating. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve had a wonderful family. That’s why I’m sitting here alone on Easter with a one eyed cat and a glass of Black Velvet. Because I’m so loved!
The kids don’t have to do much. In fact, nothing at all works quite well. When you’re not even worth an insult that indicates pretty much where you stand on the food chain. And it will hurt! You can lose a pet, a friend, even a wife, hell, I’ve lost six, but when your kids walk away they take a piece of you. And when they cross you out of your life it can be inconsolable.
My friend felt this. I gave him the only advice I had. I told him , “Write!” “Write?” you may ask. What in the hell kind of advice is that? In my life I’ve written several books, thousands of articles, short stories and songs, and you wanna know why? Pain! If I could just put it down on paper then perhaps I could understand it. Perhaps move on.
When I lost Mary Ellen in ’81 I got in my truck and drove way out into the desert. I got out of the truck, and walked until I was exhausted. And I sat down to die. As I sat there some words came to me.
Rodgers taught me train songs
And Williams taught me blues
Don Curry taught me how to sing
The pain out of my soul
But someone had to put it there
So I left that to you
Now singing out the pain’s
About the best thing that I do
I pondered for a moment. The words took the pain. I got up, and walked back to my truck, and I’ve been writing ever since. The story has it that Old Hank had a hurt back. Audrey wanted to go out, but he was bedridden. An argument ensued, and she left. Hank was left alone, and in pain, both mental and physical. Apparently he, too, had discovered the remedy. So, he began to write . . .The Butcher Shop