By Beth Crosby
Daylight saving time began Sunday, March 13. But don’t kid yourself. No one is saving time. We’re just burning a little more daylight, as my grandfather used to say.
Granddaddy used to say a lot of curious things. I didn’t know they were strange. They were just his way of speaking. He called me “Boy”. (I’m not a boy.) He called my eldest aunt “Boy”, too. Granddaddy wanted a boy, but God didn’t see fit to give him a son. Granddaddy got four girls, five granddaughters, and three great-granddaughters. And God laughed and laughed. When my mom was born, not many houses had multiple bathrooms. One bathroom, a wife, four daughters, and taking a walk to the “back of the barn”. That was his life.
Sadly, I took my granddaddy for granted. He told great stories about his youth that I couldn’t relate to. I was a city girl ─ still am! He was a farmer, through and through. He had land and cows and chickens and pigs. I loved visiting them on the weekends. We did things no one else in my classroom did ─ riding horses, slipping in muck, plowing with mules, and gathering eggs from the hens. That was THE BEST until we moved from the city to the country near him. Then it wasn’t cool for an eleven-year-old to have experience on the farm anymore. I hit that age where I needed Izod shirts and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans to fit in. Friday night dinners out with Granddaddy and the family and Sunday dinners after church at his house were cramping my otherwise wide-open schedule.
He died when I was 18. Mama made me go see him in the hospital. I’m glad she did. I shared with him that I was accepted into the Honors College at USC. Of course, I was wrapped up in talking and not in listening. He was always proud of me ─ the oldest, the smart one, the college student. I yearned for his approval. He was the primary male influence in my young life, and he taught me about love and respect. He was my one living granddaddy. Gone too soon.
I still reflect on times we spent on that farm ─ at all-night pig-pickings, chicken bogs, and the dinner table. Men behaved differently when ladies and children weren’t around. They drank beer and cursed. And when a kid showed up, the men all mumbled and stood a little straighter. If anyone got sloppy, someone would say, “Wayne, I think Major is ready to go home,” and that was that. The women made the side dishes, like coleslaw and potato salad, even if they didn’t enjoy the crowd, because it made their husband and daddy the happiest he ever was.
Family and friends made Granddaddy’s world complete. He told stories at family reunions and funerals. I always liked hanging out with the men my dad’s and granddaddy’s ages because they told great stories. Now, 35 years later, I don’t remember the details of those stories. And anyone I could ask is gone. But I DO remember vividly the smiles and the laughter ringing out. Thoughts of those times evoke emotions as strong as if I were standing amid those country boys entertaining each other with their tall tales of juke joints, dancing, chasing and being chased by bulls, breaking horses, and serving in the war. Funny, those stories regaled me, and I never heard bad language. Maybe a word slipped out here and there, but it was a different time. Men took off their hats inside and pulled up their pants, tucked in their shirts, and said grace before they ate. Ladies were ladies and amid the gossip, they talked about how to help sick or unfortunate neighbors and friends. Kids played barefoot in the mud, stared down goats and chased the chickens. Ah. Yesteryear. So far gone and yet only a generation past.
What do you want to remember?
You have a history. You might or might not be proud of it. But it makes you who you are now. Record the stories of your life and family that made you laugh hardest. Introduce the people who impacted you most. Describe their hair, dress, manner of speech. Share the stories of your youth. Things are changing so fast! My friends’s children have no idea what an 8-track or a cassette was. My high school yearbook was $15. Compare that to the cost of yearbooks now! My parents paid $3,000 for their first new car. Imagine!
Everything you record doesn’t need to be in the form of a memoir, a journal, or a diary. Pick and choose. But help the kids who are too self-involved and attentive to their phones to have a history they can hearken back to when older. Give them an opportunity to share in what makes you the person they love!
In 10 years, they won’t remember today like you do. So do them a favor. Paint the picture. Laugh. Tell stories. Involve them. Even record yourself telling the best stories so they can hear your voice and your laughter. You both will be glad you did.
And if you are baffled by the vocabulary in this month’s column ─ pig picking, chicken bog, juke joint ─ visit my column next month! I’ll explain.