Next month, my Family and I will get together for some food and fun.
Weíre planning a potluck, cookout, fish fry (itís all that) at my grandparentsí house near South Carolina.
My grandparents died almost 30 years ago, but the idea of us getting together at the old homestead is exciting and something, if they were here, they would immensely enjoy.
Itís going to be a big deal.
Why? Because my grandparents had 15 children, 11 of whom are still living. Those children had children, and their children had children.
Itíll be good to gather, not for a funeral, but to celebrate our Family.
Itíll be good to listen to my uncles tease each other, but share common stories of working and of caring for their Families.
Itíll be good to listen to my aunties tease each other, but share common stories of working and of caring for husbands and children.
Eventually, the stories will run the gamut and end with someone bringing up Grandma and Granddaddy. Those of us who remember them, who cherish their memories, who knew and loved them, will tell the young ones who didnít, how blessed we were to have them.
Weíll tell them stories of Grandmaís love for singing, cooking banana pudding and turkey wings and rice.
Weíll tell them how Granddaddy loved fishing and hunting on early Saturday mornings, and how even with 15 children and an increasing number of grandchildren, he taught us to treasure moments of silence and solitude.
The children will hear how Grandma never wore pants or makeup; how she loved quartet music; how she prayed each morning and night, calling each child and grandchild name-by-name. She was our rock. She was the love of our lives.
Granddaddy died only eight, short months after she did, lost without her, wracked by grief, swallowed up, perhaps, by too much silence.
It seems almost like something that never was because so many things have changed in the world.
Today, children donít rake the front yard, hang clothes on the line, reheat leftovers in an oven, pick Carolina produce for snacks and dinner, or write love letters in longhand to grandparents.
Women have learned the value of a good pantsuit, and makeup as the years wash over the face.
Men now go to the market for fresh fish rather than the river.
The TV doesnít stop showing programs at midnight.
Church before courting seems to be from a bygone era.
To tell our children these stories is to continue the oral history of our Family. Itís to give them the footnote of their grandparentsí lives.
But, itís something else, too. Itís tinder for their flames of laughter.
ĎYíall are old,í they say.
Maybe, itís true.
But, we know the price we paid to reach old age.
We respected our elders. We worked hard in school because we remembered the stories our grandparents told us ó of quitting school to take care of Families, of paying cash for homes as they were built because a bank wouldnít issue a loan.
The houses that my great-grandfathers physically built ó both wood ó still stand. The houses that my grandfathers physically built ó one concrete, the other brickó still stand.
The grapevines still deliver their fruit. So do the peach, apple and hickory trees.
The wind still blows down by where we used to hang clothes on the line.
The roses that my grandmother planted in the front yard still bloom.
These memories from yesterday, sustain me today.
Iím still making it because of my grandmotherís prayers.
We all wonít be able to gather next month because military duty has sent some Family members to destinations too far to travel.
But, no matter where we are, or what weíre doing, the homestead eventually calls us all back home.
Iím just glad that this time it wonít be for a funeral, but for an idea that was originated and organized by a cousin on Facebook.