The leading cause of death in the South is "becoming swole up".
A number of factors are at play here.
First, it covers so many ills. It prevents alot of unnecessary details at the funeral home when long lost cousin Phyllis comes in, expresses her condolences, and starts playing twenty questions.
It really isn't any of Phyllis' business that Aunt Lulu had not been able to shake them nervous pills since that squirrel caught on fire in her chimbley years ago. Nervous pills and a nip of bourbon were good medicine for Aunt Lulu for years. And this also kept Uncle Horace from jumping off the corner of the roof as he so often has discussed.
The Southern diet has also been known to cause more than a few to become swole up.
Sorghum syrup over a couple of cathead biscuits to top off three over easy with sausage and grease gravy is a proper breakfast. In a hurry, it's a dozen warm Krispy Kremes with sweet milk (you might know that as whole milk if you aren't native to these parts).
Pecan pie has been called the most dangerous thing to a man's heart on earth. (Whoever said that never met my ex.) It becomes even more dangerous with large chocolate bits in it. And real whupped cream, with a little bourbon mixed in for flavor.
And if the word pecan comes out of your mouth sounding like pekin (as in Pekin, Illinois, the home of the late great Senator Everett Dirksen and formerly the Pekin Chinks until the political correctness police made 'em change it to Dragons) you've never had pecan pie.
Or if the word pecan comes out of your mouth sounding like pee-can (as in, "Hey Lardass, pass the pee-can over here. I've got to go and I ain't getting outside this tent with that rattler out there), you've never had pecan pie.
Cheap beer has also contributed to this issue, and another good reason for the catch all, "swole up and died".
I mean really, who needs to know that your brother drank a case of PBR a day since he got laid off at the rendering plant.
Tobacco is another issue that nobody wants to talk about. We all smoke. Very few admit it, especially the Baptists. (As my friend Hardtail says, if you rounded up all the Baptists who DON'T drink alcohol and smoke cigarretes, he could hold church for 'em in his closet.)
This is part of a covenant signed in the 1800's. Nawth Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Jawja grow most of the good leaf. It is the money crop. It has fueled the Southern banks. It's part of how we keep the South the South.
Now, I know Kentucky was a split state in The Great War. But, they are still part of the South. Even if they do eat mutton and call it barbecue.
And by the way, The Great War was not about slavery or states rights. As Lewis Grizzard noted, it was a chivalrous display of courage by Southern men to prevent our beautiful Southern beaches from being spoiled by the sight of Yankee men in black socks and sandals walking along the surf. We did pretty good. But we eventually did have to give up the Southern half of Florida. (Oh yeah, North Florida is as hard South as you could ever hope to find. Go to Lake City for some of the finest dogfighting in the nation.)
Oh, sweet tea, Coke for breakfast, and poor role models may also lead to this end. When watchin' rasslers throw each other around the ring while you're eating crumbled cornbread in buttermilk with a green onion on the side, you might come convinced that Dusty Rhodes is the athlete you most want to be like.
Anyway, think I'm gonna go over to the funeral parlor and see who's passed away this week. The South is full of professional mourners. You know, they attend every funeral in town whether they ever met the deceased or not. It get's 'em out of work, it's a source of good gossip, and Bojangles drive-thru is right next door.