If I could write a book, that would be the title. It’s one of the songs that my family used to sing when we got together. We used to call them “sings.” I guess you could call them jam sessions to use a more modern term. My Uncle played the sax but not very well. Uncle Bill played the banjo very well, having been self taught. One of Mom’s sisters Aunt Mayvis or Esther would be on piano or organ, and singing Alto, and my Dad would play what we used to call the “gut bucket,” also known as the “washtub bass.” (As barefoot Larry illustrates above) He played his alternating two notes right on time. My Mom would do lead soprano and Aunt Lois and all of us kids would round out vocals, when we weren’t holding our ears in mock horror.
Those choruses roll over in my mind and I love hearing them. They are part of the fabric of my being. Uncle Bill and Aunt Esther have been gone several years now. Aunt Mayvis is sorting through my Uncle’s things now, since he won’t be coming home again. Aunt Lois has been alone for years now, and my cousin was home last weekend helping her out at the house. My Mom and Dad, thankfully are going strong.
But we are all getting closer and closer to “that time.” Even me. It gives me pause.
It also gives me strength to honor all their memories by taking care of myself…..living well….and keeping their stories alive.
I want my niece to know what kind of people she comes from, how strong they were and how proud I am of them all. For their stories are all of our stories. Their lives were marked with sacrifice and hardship and they never gave up. They were thinking of the future, theirs and ours.
So every now and again I resurrect the stories here…..to honor them.
I find myself wishing I could have been there when my Aunt and Uncle and two friends all got perms when they came to California in the late 1930’s in their old Ford piled with everything they could put on top. The relatives thoughtfully had a place ready for them to live……in the chicken coop. But they didn’t know that then.
Or seen my Grandmother and Grandfather rescue the baby chicks that didn’t drown in the rainstorm, bringing them in by the wood stove to dry.
I think I can almost see them looking back as they left their farm behind in North Dakota to move to California…. I know they shed many tears for the little girl they left behind, her small 2 year old body marked with a lamb on the stone……and all their animal friends, each one of whom were named. They were their working partners through several harsh winters.
And I wish I could have seen my Mom win my Dad back after they had a fight in high school, she in her black dress and gold lame shoes, singing a love song on stage at the school talent show. She and my Dad reconciled that night.
I remember them all today. Their lives encourage me to take care of myself and do my best to make them proud, and to cherish every year God gives me, and to never ever give up.
Always keeping their stories living, breathing, with me.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1