My sweet grandmother left this earth six years ago today.
I saw a graphic that Ancestry.com posed earlier that started a conversation in the comment chain about oral history and narrative. What I do as a family historian is tell a human story. Every tiny baby born into a family and every old person that dies is part of that human story. And our interactions with each other connect us - one family tree connecting with another. It's really beautiful.
This time of year is never easy for any of the members of my family, who loved my grandmother so very much. I think this year might be a little harder than the others because my grandfather is now in the hospital with health problems of his own.
With this post I wanted to really talk a little bit about her story. I've already made a short video about her life (which we show at her funeral and has been listed before on this site as a blog post). So, with this post I'm going to tell two of my favorite stories about my grandmother so that whoever is reading this post can remember her life with me.
My second favorite memory of her involves the church garden. It isn't there anymore. When I was little we were all very involved in church. On Sunday mornings my sister and I would leave Sunday School and run into the Fellowship Hall where the adults were just finishing up their own lessons. My grandparents would be there, drinking coffee and visiting (I can still smell the coffee when I think about this story and see them in my mind's eye in their Sunday clothes...a room full of people I loved, a lot of them aren't living anymore). During the week, my grandparents helped to keep the garden at the church. There was a small garden to the right of the building (it's now got a new building over that spot). Grandma and Grandma kept the weeds low and the wildflowers high. I remember them loading the trunk of their old Buick full of gardening tools and taking us grandkids with them to work at the church. It's a simple memory, but it is one of my favorites.
It's been six years and I still miss the way she would hug - strongly hugging you and and rubbing your back. I can still hear her giggle (and every now and then when I laugh it comes out of my mouth). A lot has changed in six years, but that's the way that life is. Time just keeps marching on. It's up to us, the family story tellers, to keep our loved ones legacies alive.