7/13/09

Remain

Monday~July13, 2009

This one is for my Aunt Elsie, my Grandpa's lovely sister, and my friend...

We walked over hills, following a path of dirt and rocks. We wore flip flops and sandals and watched our steps closely in the minefield of cow pies. We were on a tour, sightseers of our own history.

I could feel my Grandpa there, in the place where he grew up, on this beautiful land where his roots were planted. I could finally see all of the stories he used to tell me of the beauty and simplicity of this place. He would say that my Great Grandma, his mom, would call him in from the yard for dinner. She'd say, "You've got ball in the head!" And he did. Oh, how he loved baseball. Even as his memory left him all those years later, his vacant eyes still lit up with news of a Twins win spoken loudly to his hearing aid.

When he told his stories, he'd talk about two horses, those he used to plow the fields, how old and slow they were. He worked those fields, sowing a crop and growing up. He would talk about this hard work of his childhood always with a smile on his face, remembering and even longing for those days. There was so much love there, he never seemed to focus on the memory of work.

Later, as his mind started to fail, this farm was the place he would go, reaching out for chicken eggs only he could see. The farm, a reprieve from his dementia, the nostalgia a balm for his soul.

Sometimes I worry that as time marches on, his stories will be forgotten, his life just a moment in time that no one recalls. I suppose this is what we fear for anyone we grieve.

But after this visit to the farm where his life began, I know even more of him than I ever have before. Yes, he's gone now, but stories of his family history were being shared with every step on that tour, and I'm so glad I was there, listening carefully and walking the land that he loved so much.

We need to be sure to tell our stories...

This is where the first road came through Chippewa Falls. And over here was the first pipeline, because it was so close to the river...Over that fence is where your Grandpa plowed the field with two horses...

My aunts and uncles and second cousins said things like, "Do you remember how we'd race down that hill? Wow, the hill seemed so big then. Do you remember shooting out here? Here's where Elsie would play church, standing behind her big rock pulpit, acting as pastor, soloist and congregation...yeah, she needed more friends." And we laughed.

The stones at the base of the barn were carefully placed there with my Great Grandpa's hands. They said he chose them from the riverbed, found their sweet spot, and with one tap, cracked them in half. He placed them with their flat side in, and cemented them in their places. I thought of those stones as the people in our family, placed there one by one with such care, cemented in with rarely a crack between us.

I don't know if my Grandpa watched his father work those stones into place, but I do know he was witness to the unfolding generations of his family, and he loved us and cared for us with the careful eye of a mason.

And much like those stones, many of us are all still here, facing the wind and sun and speaking stories of generations. We carry the hard work, the faith, and the love of the very first of us.

So maybe one day, no one will know his name. But his legacy will remain.



And when my life is done
I pray the kingdom come
And take me to Glory

It's living inside me
It was planted like a seed
All to tell a story

I believe when they put me in the ground
There will remain a part of me
Cause I've been searching,
and the joy that I have found
Is living in my family...
it's all that I have sown

-Bebo Norman

28 clicked right here to comment:

C said...

mmmmmm.............. 8.

xo, crock
:)

Kristina P. said...

Beautiful, Heather. I wish my grandpa would have kept a journal or passed along his memories of his family.

Loved your piece on MMB!

Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility said...

That is so sweet!

Keyona said...

That was beautiful.....

Dave said...

:-)

Sheryl said...

again....beautiful!!

love how you tell a story that puts me right there with you. i've been thinking a lot about legacies lately and it sounds as if your grandpa has left a big one.

happy monday and thanks for sharing your memories.

Kimberly said...

Gorgeous tribute...you have SUCH a way with words, you really do.

Angie said...

Girl, you've done it again. Beautiful. I've been thinking so many similar thoughts as we prepare to go to a family reunion this weekend. We need those stories... it's all part of the beautiful larger story of life.

Thank you for sharing.

Kazzy said...

Delicious. Vibrant. Creamy.

I love your way.

Jen said...

this is beautiful. those stories totally need to be told.

Chele said...

Oh goodness! You made me tear up! Everything you said was so beautifully said! My grandpa was my rock (other than Jesus of course) and saint on earth. I miss him soooo much but I do know where he is and it helps to know that! I try to carry those memories forward for my children as well! Many blessings this Monday!

L.T. Elliot said...

Well timed, Heather. Today is my grandfather's birthday! What a beautiful, beautiful tribute. I felt like I was walking there with you, seeing the hills, river, and stones. I love this piece. I love this peace.

Tooj said...

I wished I would have paid more attention and jotted down some of my grandfather's stories. I suppose I still can...he's with us still and telling stories as he's always done, but so much time has escaped me. Maybe I'll do it anyhow...and use it for later...in some way...to share with my children. This was a great story to share with US. Thank you.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

So moving! Such a stunning post, Heather!

Erin said...

That was great. My mom recorded my grandma and her sisters talking about their years growing up in India (their dad was in the British military). My grandma died a few years after that recording, and now it is one of our prized possessions. I love hearing my grandma's voice!

Mrs. Dunbar said...

So beautifully put. You have a way with words and with hearts.

CC said...

That was wonderful.

A week before my grandmother passed away she spent a few hours telling me her story for a video. I gave out copies of the video to all the family. But I wish I were as good of a writer as you to actually make it into a story.

Kristen@nosmallthing said...

Oh, I just loved this.

mama-face said...

So touching. The stones in the barn...oh my goodness. beautiful. Thanks for that. :)

Debbie said...

Oh Heather. So beautiful. We do need to tell our stories. They are vital to our children.

D said...

Loved this. And the photo is awesome!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

There aren't enough story tellers in this world... my kids don't want to read a book at night- they hunger for tales of when I was a little girl, much like I did when I was their age.

You tell a very good story.

Steph

deb said...

this made me cry, the words built on each other until the picture and the poem .
so many posts searched through this morning, needing what I found here, in family stones.

Thank you , thank you.

Christy said...

Very inspirational! Thanks for sharing.

Melissa B. said...

What a lovely story! Today's my first time at Writer's Workshop, and I wrote about Grandpa, too...

http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/2009/07/alices-restaurantand-more.html

Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, loveliness.

Eowyn said...

Beautiful.

I think I'll go write a memory or two. . .

charrette said...

This is so beautiful!

We've taken similar walks through old ancestral homes, in the farmlands that my husband's grandparents settled. I do think it's important to see those places. To feel the dust and the wind and the sun...and to feel and preserve their stories.

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