Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roots


Today I was listening to the news or talk radio, I really don't remember which. They were talking about the economy and politics and in general about how dire everything seems. It really made me miss my grandfather. I wanted to ask him how different things are "now" from "then." I mean, I can't watch the news, read the paper without getting completely stressed out about the political and economic outlook. I would love to talk to him as he lived through the times everyone compares "now" to. I would love to hear his take on it all.

Growing up, we had dinner (lunch) at my grandparents every Sunday with my grandparents (duh!), both uncles and their families. It was an all day affair. We had dinner, washed dishes, played (kids), read the paper (adults), watched TV (adult men as the women and children were never allowed to pick the programming), napped (everyone, especially whatever man had picked the TV programming), played cards and board games, and just basically hung out until supper (when we heated up all the leftovers for lunch). Sometimes, I thought this was extremely boring, sometimes I thought it was the best part of the week - usually on the Sundays that Granny made Carmel cake, chocolate chip cookies or party mix.

Occasionally, everyone would sit around the table after dinner (lunch) and my grandparents would talk about the "old days." Everything from outhouses to snake bites to who was kin to whom to random bits of trivia that didn't seem to matter. I loved these talks. I loved when my Papa would start some story about how they had almost killed him making him drink moonshine when he got bit by a snake as a boy. He "figured" the liquor had done him much more harm than the snake bite ever would have. Sometimes the story would be about the farming in the "old days," or about social etiquette, or how this part of the family or that part had gotten their land and how said land had since been divided up, or the proper names for male and female cows. Occasionally, we would hear stories from WWII and rationing and the like.

I found it all so fascinating. But I was a child and at the time all this information was just stories. I didn't ask a lot of questions. I didn't retain a lot of the details. And now I wish I had. Now I wish I could ask how then compared to now, and honestly, just hear his take on now. It is a shame that when our personal historians are able and willing to tell us our history we are not able and willing to listen and when we are able and willing to listen they are no longer able and willing to share. This is part of the motivation for blogging for me, to capture daily life, so that one day when my kids or grandkids do care there will be something they can turn to (the blog books) to get that knowledge.

I am so thankful that I got to grow up close to family. To learn the sense of belonging that comes with family history and "the homeplace." I can not think of a greater gift to give a child.
Jenn

PS. If I could have political talks with my Papa now they would be interesting, I'm sure, as we would be supporting different parties and philosophies. He'd probably call me "Dummy" at least once, but that would be OK, as he typically meant it as a term of endearment.

2 comments:

friendsmiling said...

I do so miss Sundays. It makes me so sad to think Zander will not remember it. It is already fading from his memory. I was so proud to tell people that our family got together every week, people just don't do that anymore.

Cici said...

Friendsmiling...why so sad? Your son goes to his Grandmother's for lunch on Sunday. See, Jenn, it still must be boring!

I know what you mean. I did not realize that we were creating memories for you kids. Both of you are creating memories for your kids, they are just different.

Jenn, the "alcohol" given to Papa was for something else. It was your 2 Great-Grandfathers that were bitten by copperheads, not your Grandfather.

After our conversation, I wonder what he would have told you about those times as he would have lived through the 20's and 30's in his parents' home, not as having a family to provide for on his own.