I am moved by story. My favorite are stories told by elders. When I hear an elder telling stories of their younger lives or stories past down from their parents or grandparents, I am captivated. I have also been fortunate to be around many great story tellers. My Grandmother was one of those natural story tellers. She was old fashioned, hardworking, tough, had a limited education, and spoke a combination of English with some German words sprinkled in here and there. I would visit her and my Grandfather when I would come home from the Air Force. She would make "lunches" as she would say, and she would tell stories of the old times. When she told stories she would often become deeply emotional. She often talked about her Pa, and how he worked. They lost two homes to fire, and her father, my great Grandfather died at the age of 44. She would reminisce about his blacksmith shop, and the horses.
One story that she often told around Christmas, has stuck with me. She shared how her Pa, on Christmas Eve, would get the horses hooked up to the sleigh, and he would go around the countryside and pick up the children from the Country Church. He would take them for a ride in the woods, eventually arriving at the Church for Christmas Eve service. She would then describe how after the service they would go home and get bundled up, hop in the horse drawn cutter and travel to relatives homes several miles away. The families would spend the night drinking, telling stories, playing music, and then early on Christmas morning when all were tired, they would pack back into the cutter, place some warm rocks or potatoes on the floor, fall asleep as the horses, knowing the route, would return home with all sound asleep.
I share this story because for me, it's a little piece of my Grandmother that I can hold onto. When I am struggling or feel overwhelmed, I think about some of the stories she shared, or try and I recall sitting at their kitchen table, talking. I can feel, smell, see, taste, and remember all the small details of being with them, it humbles me, to know that those are the moments we hold, they seem simple at the time, but they last a life time, and often brings us strength and perspective when we need it the most.