Her Own Woman

“Cream Puff used to be small enough to fit in your pocket,” says Wanda. “Used to let him sleep in my bed and everything. Thought he’d stay that small.”

“I’m just an old woman who raises pigs,” said Miss Wanda. “You’d be crazy to wanna write about me.”

Maybe I am crazy. But right now, I am on Miss Wanda’s sprawling farm in Central Alabama, and there are pigs everywhere, roaming, making deposits.

One pig—named Twiggy—is brushing against my leg like a lovesick house cat. She is sniffing my hand. Twiggy weighs more than a commercial washing machine.

“Twiggy loves cookies,” Miss Wanda tells me. “She thinks you have cookies in your hand.”

Miss Wanda is seventy-six, and a pig lover. Her love affair with pigs started innocently just like any hobby. She bought a pig that was supposed to be a “teacup pig,” from a breeder in Georgia.

They named the tiny pig “Cream Puff.”

“Cream Puff used to be small enough to fit in your pocket,” says Wanda. “Used to let him sleep in my bed and everything. Thought he’d stay that small.”

But Cream Puff kept eating his Wheaties, and soon he was about the size of a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys.

Miss Wanda explains: “I found out there ain’t no such thing as a ‘teacup pig.’ People oughta know that going into their first pig purchase.”

Check.

Cream Puff turned out to be a big old boy. He eats eight pounds of feed each day and frequently makes six-pound contributions to the Barnyard of Life.

Miss Wanda is her own woman. She is a vegetarian, a musician, a quilter, and a dedicated granny. And she loves pigs.

Wanda takes me into her home. It’s a place that smells like cinnamon and fresh bread. There is sheet music everywhere, and fabric bolts, and porcelain figurines.

She removes a violin from an old case. She plays “Flop Eared Mule,” and “Amazing Grace.”

She holds the fiddle low on her arm. Her fingers are arthritic. Her spirit is not.

Her father taught her to play. Long ago, he was a millworker, a farmer. She remembers watching him play his fiddle in the kitchen while her mother cooked supper.

She was close to him. After her mother had a horrible nervous breakdown, he raised her.

When she got older, she met a man in the military. She married him. He carried her all over the world—Japan, Germany, Florida.

“He was abusive,” she says. “First time he smacked me, he blamed it on whiskey. The second time, he was sober.”

One night, he lost his mind and tried to kill her. She left him, and took her ten-year-old daughter with her. She came here.

She arrived at two in the morning. Her father met her on the porch. And it was here that they had a good life. Her father played his fiddle for his beautiful girls until he passed.

So that’s her story. She raised her daughter here, by herself. And she is still here because she loves it.

“After my daughter got married,” she adds. “Things started to get pretty lonely.”

So she bought a pig.

And pigs became her friends. They’re too big to come indoors like dogs. But you ought to see their snouts light up when she comes around.

“My daughter thinks I’ve lost my mind,” she says. “But after years of trying to be somebody I’m not, I’ve finally learned to be me. Maybe I am crazy. I don’t know.”

She looked up her ex-husband on Facebook a few years ago. She emailed him for the first time in thirty years. It was something she wanted to do.

She flew to California to forgive him in a Mexican restaurant over a margarita.

“Ten years ago, I coulda never done that. I think I’m finally done healing inside. Healing takes time.”

Our meeting is over. She hugs me and bids me farewell. She sends me away with vegan chocolate chip cookies. Twiggy is waiting beside my truck in case I’d like to donate my cookies to a needy hog.

Before I leave, she says: “You ain’t REALLY gonna write about some old woman with pet pigs, are you?”

I might, Miss Wanda. I just might.

30 comments

  1. Keith Turk. Enterprise al - August 9, 2018 9:02 am

    I just started following this a few weeks ago… it works… noting fancy… it just works

    Reply
  2. GaryD - August 9, 2018 9:33 am

    Well, you did write about her. I’m glad. You won’t find this kind of story on network tv. Thanks, Sean. And thanks for people like Miss Wanda.

    Reply
  3. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - August 9, 2018 10:43 am

    Healing does take a very long time, sometimes it takes forever.

    Reply
  4. Jane Wood - August 9, 2018 10:47 am

    Did you donate those vegan chocolate chip cookies to Twiggy? Thanks for introducing us to Miss Wanda.

    Reply
  5. Connie - August 9, 2018 11:10 am

    Loved it! You get my motor going and my heart opened up every morning!🌝

    Reply
  6. janiesjottings - August 9, 2018 12:02 pm

    Thank’s for sharing Miss. Wanda’s story and all your other stories about real people who lead real lives. Funny how the best of humanity feels like their story isn’t interesting. I’m sure glad you know better!

    Reply
  7. Joy - August 9, 2018 12:16 pm

    As always I enjoyed your story today…and just wish we had more people like Miss Wanda and you. Never had a pig for a pet, but I did get pretty good at calling the pigs in.
    Thank you Sean…and thank you Miss Wanda.

    Reply
  8. Bobbie H - August 9, 2018 12:40 pm

    Love this…..but then, I pretty much love all your “posts”….thank you, Sean for caring about the unseen hero.

    Reply
  9. Arlene - August 9, 2018 12:46 pm

    Loved the story!

    Reply
  10. Carol - August 9, 2018 1:20 pm

    I’m glad you did!!
    She’s a jewel! Thank you Sean , you have the best friends!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  11. Steve Michaels - August 9, 2018 2:08 pm

    “But after years of trying to be somebody I’m not, I’ve finally learned to be me.” A lesson made for the learnin’.

    Reply
  12. Karen Murphy - August 9, 2018 2:15 pm

    I’ve finally learned to be me. Thank you for telling us about this beautiful life. Love her. And you.

    Reply
  13. Jack Darnell - August 9, 2018 2:31 pm

    I just lost a sister, spread her ashes yesterday, She loved pigs and never owned one, but hundreds of pictures, porcelain ones, brass ones, paper ones and it does not stop!!!! She never knew why she loved pigs….

    Reply
  14. Edna B. - August 9, 2018 2:45 pm

    Thank you for introducing us to Miss Wanda and her piggies. You sure know how to start my day with a smile. Thank you. You have a wonderful day Sean. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  15. theholtgirls - August 9, 2018 2:54 pm

    Jack, Some women never figure out how to answer “Why?” We just love. I’m sorry about the loss of your sister. Thank you for writing about her. When I see pig paraphernalia, I will think of Miss Wanda and your sister.

    Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  16. Barbara Pope - August 9, 2018 3:07 pm

    Survival is relative and circumstantial–sounds like a win-win!

    Reply
  17. Haskel JP - August 9, 2018 3:36 pm

    May God help you if Ms. Wanda ever reads your blog and finds out how much you enjoy a succulent smoked pork sandwich.

    Reply
  18. Sandy Rose - August 9, 2018 3:48 pm

    Thank you for the inspiration.

    Reply
  19. Susan Swiderski - August 9, 2018 4:18 pm

    Yeah… you just might. (And I’m glad you did!)

    Reply
  20. Sandi in FL. - August 9, 2018 5:30 pm

    What a delightful human interest story! I do hope that Miss Wanda reads it andenjoys it, too!

    Reply
  21. DM - August 9, 2018 6:01 pm

    smile…..Miss Wanda you learned more than half the battle. Healing first,
    forgiveness always. You and the piggies “rock”.

    Reply
  22. Jack Quanstrum - August 9, 2018 6:29 pm

    Your story put a smile on my face. Thank you.

    Reply
  23. Arlene - August 9, 2018 6:49 pm

    Great story. Happy she left an abusesive husband. Good for you!

    Reply
  24. Kathy Bergloff - August 9, 2018 10:04 pm

    Sean, I have to ask if you meant the town of Central, AL, or if you meant the central area of AL. I ask because my mother was born in the tiny town of Central, and my grandparents lived there until their deaths. My grandfather owned the country store and started the first church there. The cemetery behind the church is full of my ancestors. The last time I was there, I would guess the population to be less than 500. Sure would appreciate hearing back from you.

    Reply
  25. Tara Simon - August 9, 2018 11:11 pm

    Miss Wanda, if you’re reading this- you sound amazing and lovely. But most of all, you sound strong. Crazy? For pigs, maybe- but you’re not at all crazy, at least as far as this human is concerned! 🐷

    Reply
  26. Sue Cronkite - August 9, 2018 11:41 pm

    Way to go, Miss Wanda!!!

    Reply
  27. Linda Parker - August 10, 2018 1:34 am

    LOVE it….and good for her. Be who you are-wonderful and strong. Bless her!
    and the pigs too.

    Reply
  28. Nancy Powell - August 10, 2018 3:12 am

    I think Miss Wanda is an amazing lady! She loves what she loves, and has a kind heart! I love pigs too! God Bless her and all her big ole critters!

    Reply
  29. Gale Smith - August 10, 2018 3:24 am

    Wanda is quite a gal….I bet we would be great friends if we lived closer to each other. I had a pet pig once…..a red Dew Rock, and my Dad sold her when she weighed over 200 lbs and could no longer be kept in town. My brother and I quit eating pork for years. I can’t take care of an animal and name it, and then be expected to eat it….no way.

    Reply
  30. Linda perry - August 14, 2018 3:06 pm

    Just enjoy your adventures so very much, makes my heart feel so good ,,

    Reply

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