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There are times when I wish I could travel through time. Not to change it, but just to observe. I often feel that way about witnessing things that have happened in my family history. Ever since I was a little girl I've loved hearing stories at the knee of whomever would share them with me. Though fairy tales were fun, I was more interested in stories that were real. Stories from people's lives. Maybe it's the pure raw emotion you sense when someone is sharing with you from their own past. I can remember as a young child sitting in Grandma & Grandpa's house snuggled up on a lap or sitting at the kitchen table and asking them to "tell me about when you were a little kid." Most of the time my requests were met with excuses about 'nothing interesting to share', or 'being so old they didn't remember'. But every once in a while I would get a gem. A story that opened up a piece of their former self to my awareness. I loved those times. What I wouldn't give to have had a tape recorder or video camera for the times that I was not met with resistance.
I don't know much about the next few years in my Grandmother's life. She's always been very quiet about it. When as a child I would ask probing questions I would get "the look" from one of my parents, or Grandma would change the subject. Some stories are too painful to discuss, and though young hearts want to hear them old hearts don't want to relive them.
She talks about a step-father. That he became "Dad", and that they lived on a farm. Plenty to do and lots of responsibilities even for a young girl. She speaks of having a "plunger" to do the wash with. A large washing tub, with a lid that had a hole. The "plunger" would work much like a butter churn but would wash the clothes instead of make butter! She speaks of hanging the clothes to dry in the hot Oklahoma sun. She speaks of a loving Grandma (mother of her Step Father) that cared for and loved her.
But she doesn't speak often about the big "C". Cancer. And how it made her mother ill. She doesn't like to speak of how she at the age of eight was caregiver to this woman. The same woman who lovingly took care of her, tiny and premature, but was then wasting away inside. She mentions with great hesitation how she could help her mother from the bed to the bathroom, but when it was time to move her back she would have to go out on the porch and wave a white tea towel until her father or one of her older brothers would see to come help put her back to bed. These are the stories that come slower, that bring tears.
But these are the stories that shaped my Grandma. From tiny fighting infant, to eight year old strength. And though they may be hard to speak, they teach us so much about who she is, and how she will handle all that is to come...