Friday, July 06, 2007

Why Remember

It took me a while to understand why it is important to preserve and pass down memories of my grandparents. My younger sister does not have clear memories of them is one reason. I do this is to help her preserve what was a part of her past too. It is also important to me to pass on to my daughter the "roots" of how I became what I am and give her a sense of heritage. That does not explain my desire to share these memories with others, some of whom I know and others that I will never know. By sharing my memories, I hope to remind others of their childhood and be moved to share their memories as well. If we do not, much of value will simply fade away.

Because they were from a simpler time and I had the privilege of experiencing some of the way of life back then, the lessons they taught me were easier to understand, not always at first, but eventually the light would dawn and I would have another piece of the puzzle. I don't know if they were exceptional, or simply a product of their time, but the “Ten Commandments” was practiced at all times in their home. Although I cannot claim to be a Christian, my faith runs deep and my moral code is what was instilled in me simply by watching how they lived.

My grandfather was totally illiterate. Grandma taught him how to sign his name and to write the necessary numbers. He was an extremely honorable man. His word, or his handshake was a stronger bond than any agreement drawn up by lawyers and signed in blood. Many saw him as a stern, unforgiving man; however they did not see how he interacted with family behind the closed doors of his home. He had infinite patience with us children. He would tell us stories in the evenings and rock me in the rocking chair. To this day, I rock sideways in my chair, totally unaware that I am doing so. He took us to the Saturday afternoon matinée whenever it was a jungle story or a western. We sat in the front row as he had cataracts and his hearing was going, but he made the best of the faculties he had.

In his later years, he did a little blacksmithing, a little carpentry and made axe handles, for both left and right-handed men. They all came to buy his axe handles as they were the best to be had. He charged 25 cents each for them. He made us a folding sled, bending the runners and holding it all together with pegs. He planted a small patch of Golden Bantam corn and sold it at the roadside. When the teenagers tried to raid his corn patch, he loaded the shotgun with rock salt, set up platforms throughout the garden, tied tin cans together on top and ran a line to the fences. If anyone climbed the fence, it would trigger all those cans to fall and raise a racket. If they avoided that trap, there were still strings run across the rows that would also trip the tin can alarm. Leaning back in a kitchen chair, hat pulled low over his eyes, he waited for the "two legged raccoons" to show up. He then aimed the shotgun at the noise and fired the load of rock salt. They never tried to raid his corn again.

He never expected charity and would not have accepted it even if it were offered. He believed a man had to make his own way in the world. If you were honest and honorable in all your dealings, and worked your a** off, you could gain the necessities of life and not be beholden to anyone. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself and dedicate your efforts to achieve it. He was proud but not arrogant.

He taught me to be honest, honorable in all my dealings, work hard and treat all with fairness and an even hand.............but you could protect what you worked hard for. You do not climb to success on the backs of others. He also had a great understanding of nature and respect for the wonder of it.

He also had a "bit of a temper" and if he and grandma argued, he often picked up his gun and told her he was going out to shoot himself! After so many years together, scratching out a living on a rocky, infertile farm, raising five children together, grandma knew it for the bluff it was, and would continue to make the evening meal, setting his place at the head of the table as usual, and saying absolutely nothing when he returned and put the gun away. This taught me not to make threats I had no intention of carrying out because it hurt those you love and who love you.

Life was not always serious. We made our own fun. Grandma would read to grandpa in the evenings, or he would listen to the Lone Ranger on the old tube radio. He also entertained us children with all of the Mother Goose and Grimm's Fairy Tales. I believe his memory was so good because of not being able to read.

More about grandpa next time, and I would also like to share my wonderful, loving grandmother, who taught me to love and to share.

2 comments:

jim said...

Well, Zareba, you brought up some old memories with me, about my family and their ways, their things, and their lives. Simpler days, but same times with regard to need for integrity and honesty and work. I especially find the passage about 'not climbing to success on the backs of others' important, I think this act of climbing without regard for those behind or below you, a big part of the worlds' problem today.

I remember my grandmothers very often, the women they were, their ways, their problems physically and economically, and how they had to deal with those....I realize that I could have been more helpful then, but know the deficency was my youth and its' self-centeredness....I am more careful now to forgive those who seemingly fail me, I know that they are not going to always be unknowing and I see them for what they can become. It also helps me be helpful to others NOW, and to try and not fail another.

I really enjoyed that reading, your writing is strong and full and fine as always, hope you keep it coming. Take care and write and visit as often as possible, it is always great to hear from you.

There is great value in these posts, about the past, memory is vital. Keep it up Zareba, see you later M'Lady. Love and Peace to you always.

Zareba said...

I am so glad that I triggered your memeories. I believe we all have them but with time, the triggers fade and with them, the memories. Not all memories are pleasant, not all memories show us in the best light, but all memories have purpose and value.

I trust you will record yours to share as well.

With love and companionship in the search. ...Z