Earlier this spring, in March, my son and I took my granddaughters back in time several generations. Our first stop was the Chisholm Trail Monument in Addington, Oklahoma. They received a lesson about the cattle drives of the 19th century. My mind went immediately to my history class in 1968 with Mr. Jerald Haynes, Lovington, New Mexico. He taught in such a way my heart opened to the history around me.
Our next stops were the Addington Cemetery and the Waurika Cemetery where they met their great grandparents and great-great grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Teaching moments! That day they learned family history is important.
Our last stop was the Bennett family farm. The home place. In the blink of an eye that falling down, paint peeling, dangerous place became the special small, white house where my grandparents lived. The kitchen window looked out toward the dirt road and my uncle's home. The gray porch was a gathering place. I remember my grandfather sitting there and laughing. He laughed songs. His laugh started in his toes and rumbled out. God, I miss that. Later, in 1969, my parents moved into the home place. The porch, that porch, the place of gathering was also a place of tragedy. My father was the youngest of six boys. He died on that porch at the age of 60. He had a heart attack. Years earlier two other brothers died on that porch. A. W. died on June 11, 1940 of a heart attack at the age of 21. . Dale died on July 14, 1941 at the age of 17 of a gun shot accident.
I learned to shell peas and snap beans on that porch.
As a girl the propane tank became my beautiful horse. We galloped and roamed. Adventure after adventure. A large tree with red berries became a resting place.
Other favorite buildings on that old farm were the old garage with heavy, sliding doors and a dirt floor. It was dark in there and full of stories just waiting to be told. I accompanied my grandmother to the milking shed early in the mornings. And, sneaked into the feed house to grab a handful of cow cake to gnaw on (it's the small round building, the milk shed is behind it).
The fresh milk was kept in a blue spatter ware pitcher in the ice box. Green bottles of 7-Up sat right along side it. A candy dish of Kraft caramels was always on the long kitchen table.
My Daddy and uncles learned to drive in the pasture. My brother, cousins, and I learned to drive in that same pasture. I, however, preferred riding on the tail gate so I could touch the cows. My sons and their cousins learned to drive in that pasture. And. on this journey with my granddaughters, they drove on their Daddy's lap in that same pasture. Life is full circle.
At my age trekking down memory lane is bittersweet. I remember the good times, I remember words. I remember words not said. How can one be sad, yet happy at the same time? I'll remember this day in the spring of 2016 until I take my last breath. I hope my granddaughters will remember it with fondness.