Posted by: Rachel | February 1, 2012

And another one gone….

My grandfather’s funeral was today. He was the last of my grandparents which makes me feel old, having no living grandparents anymore. It was a day of great stress for reasons that I won’t go into, just suffice to say there are family issues.

I was never close to my grandfather, actually I wasn’t close to any of my grandparents. Some of my cousins may have had those close relations with them, but for a myriad of reasons, (remember the family issues) I was never one of them. And so while other cousins sit there wiping their tears away at the platitudes of the ‘forstelling’ given by our grandfather I just  think of the farmhouse that I’m sitting in. It’s an Amish funeral and it was held in the house where my father grew up. When my dad was a teenager his parents built a small brick house across the road from the farm and my uncle moved on the farm. But oh that farmhouse holds many memories for me, I remember the big huge dog, Shep, that guarded the front porch. Mostly I think he lay sprawled out sleeping in the sun, but he was big enough to give little boys frightening nightmares*. I remember how there were always lots of scooters there on the front porch, ready for a quick ride in to Daudy’s house. The big green front yard where my cousin gave me and my brothers rides on his back, as if he was a horse. All the buildings, the chicken houses where my dad once gathered eggs, the shop, the tobacco shed, and the equipment shed out back where my grandfather had great big Chicken BBQ feasts for his workers and family and friends.

Those Chicken BBQ feasts used to be so intimidating to me as a little girl. Tons of people, all of Daudy’s workers, Mennonites of all stripes, and all my cousins who were surely a scary bunch on their own. My dad was the youngest of eight boys, and so many of these cousins were much older than me. Not only that, but many of them lived in the same church district and they knew each other very well, often they went to the same school too. Me, I lived elsewhere and like I said, they could be scary and intimidating. They knew what was proper and that Amish girls don’t wear orange** (not in those days anyway), and how possibly the world was going to end soon, and we were all gonna have little microchips implanted in our foreheads. I was just a little girl with big ears getting scared out of my wits by the wealth of information I learned while listening to them.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah the buildings. And then there was the barn. Today as I sat there I had a good view of the barn and let me tell you, that barn is huge. It made me think of the stories I heard about that barn: My uncles tricking their older brother into falling down a booby trap made of hay bales or something insane like that. Let’s not forget Aunt Becky’s house. It’s the other end of the farmhouse where my dad’s Aunt Becky lived. I imagine my dad and uncles must all have tormented her miserably. Dad says she always made him chocolate cake  with caramel frosting for his birthday. I just remember her as a slightly hunched over old lady who always had a smile and sold sweet potato plants.

All of this got me to thinking. I would like to pass on these memories, this heritage, to my children. I’m thinking that I might take pictures of all the places I’ve lived, and the places my parents lived. Then I would write down the memories associated with those places. I enjoy history but I don’t care for the boring stuff, like so and so was born on this day, and they died on this day. I want to know the life behind the dates. I want to know what made them tick, what made them do the things they did, and how it affected those around them. That’s my kind of history.

The last thing I need is another project like this, I’m sure my husband is already imagining it being half-finished ten years from now. But hey, my grandfather made it to 90, so I still have 63 years to go.

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*True story #1: My brother woke up one night screaming that Shep was getting him.

**True story #2: A long time ago my cousins and I were discussing what color dresses we would want and I made the awful mistake of saying I would want a yellow or orange dress. I was informed with much wisdom and despair that Amish girls do NOT wear orange or yellow dresses. Fast forward 20 years and all the trendy Amish girls are wearing orange and yellow dresses.


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