July 07, 2014

Days Gone By

For the last eight years, we have come up to see my Aunt and Uncle and then driven over to a little town called Crossville, AL. In Crossville are distant cousins, cousins found through the internet and DNA testing.

My male cousin, who is 90, shares the same revolutionary patriot as my father, but not until great great grandfathers. We come from different grandchildren of the Patriot.

It is odd to see this cousin with my Dad. It is my Dad who found him and established this relationship. There are so many similarities, it is uncanny.

They are one genetic marker away in the DNA testing and... let me see if I can get this to make sense... with so many similarities, yet they're not sharing a genetic ancestor until the child of our Patriot, I have to think that my father and this cousin are probably the ones that resemble our Patriot the most.

Over 200 years later, I could be so very wrong, but I suspect they probably look like our John Crumley.

My two younger boys and I made our way to my cousin's house today for our annual visit with him and his wife. Along with my Aunt, we made our way through the Alabama towns to Crossville.

This trip was different, however. This trip was different because our cousin's wife of 69 years died 10 days ago.

We would only see him and not her.

I've posted pictures of my boys when they were small in their barn loft. Our cousin owns a farm and it was my Dad that had us go visit early on so my boys could see what farm life was like, unlike city life in West Palm Beach.

It was on this farm my boys drove a golf cart through vegetable fields, rode in the back of a pick up truck through cow pastures and got up close and personal with their first cow. They churned ice cream by hand, picked apples, and saw pea hens.

It was in this old home on this farm that I would spend hours looking at her quilts. She was a master quilter, known nationally for her beautiful handwork and artistic quilts.

This morning I made a banana pudding just the way my cousin likes it and took it over as an offering of solace, unsure of what I'd find.

And what I found was a farmer, hardened hands, and humble heart, quick to hug us, tease the boys and tell me, "There is nothing I can do. I can't change any of this. We gave her a good burial. I can do this."

He can cook. He has a cleaning woman. His memory fails, but overall is very sharp. He is lonely and he is sad, but he said he can do this. He has the farm to keep him busy, two cats and a funky dog.

It's not the same as having his wife, but it will be enough to get him by.

I told his daughter when we left today, "This is where he belongs. One day, you will call and he won't answer. It will have been his time. This is where he'll want to be when he goes."

An end of an era for us, it is coming. But these people made great memories for my boys.

For that I am forever thankful.

Posted by Boudicca at July 7, 2014 11:35 PM

Good people are a blessing, and what we learn from them benefits us for the rest of our lives. It behooves us to recognize these good people when we are around them, to be thankful for what they share with us and our family's, and to be one if we can.

Posted by: Web at July 8, 2014 06:28 AM

Today's young people need to know the old farm folks from the "greatest generation". Those are the people who sacrificed to defend the nation that our ancestors built. Sitting and talking with them is akin to reading books from a bygone library replete with stories of rural life: planting and preserving your own fruit and vegetables; raising, slaughtering and preserving your own meat; walking or riding in a wagon wherever you needed to go; making your own wardrobe; and the joys of just living and being. When one of these old people dies, ask not for whom the bell tolls.....

Posted by: Angus of Jura at July 8, 2014 04:55 PM

What a lovely tribute!

Posted by: PeggyU at July 9, 2014 01:32 AM

Your boys will definitely remember their time on the farm. And they will remember your cousin.

My daughter has spent a week up at my parents ranch, that my dad at 80 still runs to his specifications. ;-) She was pretty excited to learn how to cut hay. In fact, given how much hay we have to cut, rake, and then bale - we'll likely be up there for a few days lending a hand.

Those experiences will stick. And they will make an impression well into the future just as your cousin is doing with your boys. ;-)

Posted by: Nina at July 9, 2014 08:10 AM

They are good hardworking people. You can never expose kids to that too much...

Posted by: Bou at July 10, 2014 09:20 PM