Stories don’t end when you turn off the recorder, or even when you post the podcast.
At the end of my interview with Brenda Ivey, she confessed that she had been hesitant to speak with me. The problem with the hogs had already consumed more than a decade of her life. It had forced her to get involved in civil and political fights that exhausted her and her family (but which also led to the forming of a grassroots organization to fight further hogs farms and destructive development in North Alabama). She had given dozens of interviews to TV stations and newspapers, and she was worn out.
After years of trying everything—even putting dryer sheets on the doorknobs just to try to make it smell somewhat normal—she had finally gotten some relief. This past Christmas, she told me, “I took a breath of that fresh air, and I said, ‘Oh my goodness, this is the first Christmas that I don’t have to smell the hogs and enjoy my Christmas.’ So put the decorations up, no hog smell.”
Just as I was about to leave her house, she admitted that there was another reason she hadn’t wanted to talk. “If [the hogs] come back when you are gone, I am going to think this is a curse,” she said, laughing. “You better not curse me. I swore up and down, when I put it in God’s hands and let it go, I was not going to talk about it anymore. Then when you called and asked me to do this. I thought, ‘do I really wanna do this?’ But my goal in life, my goal always is to help other people and if I can do anything to help anybody, then I have accomplished my goal.”
When the story came out this week, I emailed Brenda. She thanked me for the story, and reported that, unfortunately, the hogs had returned:
“I am however sad to report we got hogs back in last week. Is it a curse because I spoke out once again…or would it have happened anyway? Don’t know, but now we dread our summer once again!”
She wasn’t sure how many hogs were back. “I have seen six loads comes in and am not sure if that is all of them…We have already smelt them—not as bad as it gets, but they are small right now. It will only get worse. They came in last week, and I saw two loads yesterday.”
She went on to absolve me of any guilt:
“Don’t pay attention to me wondering if I hadn’t spoke out would they have returned. It’s definitely not your fault! I’m just devastated! My grandson loves to be outside, and now that will be controlled by the hogs.”
And so, the end of the story changes. It turns out it’s not even possible to out-wait a terrible constitution.
photo credit: jimbowen0306 via photopin cc