Six generations of love

Kathy Copeland / Community Columnist

Vincent/Harpersville

“Aunt Matt is a sixth-generation aunt,” said Earnest Kidd of Vincent. “My granddaddy is Matt’s brother.” Intrigued, I spent an afternoon with the McConico family to learn more about the family tree.

Mattie Rose McConico is a former Shelby County Schools bus driver who picked up students who attended Vincent Elementary School and Vincent Middle High School.

Aunt Matt’s husband, George Arthur, passed in 2008 but during their married life they created a rich family history with four girls and a boy. The oldest is Rose, and second in line is Yvonne Ceil. Then there is Fernessa, who holds claim that her mother got her name off a soap opera in the 1960s. Aunt Matt did not confirm or deny, but she did chuckle quietly.

As we visited, son-in-law John Hinkle quietly watched, seemingly taking it all in. Family members shared stories amongst themselves, children of all ages were coming and going; and George McConico Jr. arrived. Tall and dressed in fatigues, he removed what appeared to be a military camo cap from his head when he came through the door. Aunt Matt leaned over and said, “He’s number four.”

Knowing Aunt Matt lost her sight due to a stroke approximately six years ago, I leaned over and asked Aunt Matt if her other senses were better since she lost her eyesight. With a chuckle she responded, “My hearing is r-e-e-a-l good.”

When asked why she decided to drive a bus, her reply; “I did it because I wanted to, not because I had to.” Sharing that children on the bus were not especially disciplined she told that, “One day the principal cautioned me about discipline. I told him not to worry, I had a powerful tool, and it was called prayer.”

At that time her youngest of the five children, Nitha Sheria Storey, yelled from the kitchen, “Tell her about singing hymns to the children, mama.” “Oh yes, I sang to those children,” said Aunt Matt. As the discussion continued, Nitha reminded her mother of the School Bus Rodeo and Aunt Matt came alive. She laughed with her whole body, and said, “That was real fun and they gave us a nice meal afterward.”

Discussing her ability to keep an eye on her own children while driving a school bus, Yvonne, a retired sheriff’s lieutenant, chimed in, “Oh, yes, she caught me skipping school.” Yvonne then laughed and said they didn’t get away with much. “Mama made sure we were in school or in church.”

It was apparent the family is grounded in a strong faith and belief in family strength. It was heartwarming to see this 78-year old woman surrounded by so much family. The amount of love in the home was beautiful.

I did not get to meet the little 5-month-old niece that elevated Aunt Matt to sixth generation, but it made me smile when I learned her name: Nevaeh Rose—“heaven” spelled backwards. And finally, there is the one whose name reportedly came from a game show: Nitha Sherin Story.

Kathy Copeland is a community columnist who covers the Vincent/Harpersville area.