You know those hotel points you accrue when you make room reservations? We had a bunch of them due to expire, so we decided to make a one night hotel reservation to save the points. But where to go for a quick one-night mini vacation?
We decided to go north to try again to find the burial place of my great-grandfather. We drove up to West Jefferson, NC and traveled a short distance on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is so beautiful anytime, but especially lovely when the clouds are low.
In West Jefferson and Sparta we spent some time digging through old records. Not much luck, unfortunately. I was able to confirm a few things and managed to fill in a couple of gaps. But such is genealogy. You must be in it for the long haul.
We plugged in the GPS coordinates for the place where I believe my ancestor is buried. We got within a mile. Then this:
Some notes we found later on indicated the cemetery is buried until heavily overgrown brush covered in poison ivy. The notes said you would need a machete to cut through the trees and brush. There was a list of all those interred and my great-grandfather’s name was not listed. That does not mean he is not there, but there is only one way to know for sure.
There is something about this area where my ancestors settled that grabs me and makes me feel at home. It is almost like it is an integral part of my DNA. We even joked about buying some property there.
Who knows. The next trip we may be more successful.
This morning I started my day responding to the wonderful comments people have left on my blog. It gives me insight into what I am writing and how people are responding. We all see and hear differently and that is part of what makes this journey so interesting to me.
I then moved on to reading my co-blogger’s blogs. I am always inspired by what they write and sometimes, like today, those blogs spark a memory in me that serve as an inspiration for my blog. Today, that inspiration came from Tanya’s blog about her favorite music.
So many major moments in my life have been highlighted with music but music also seems to surround all the everyday moments in my life as well.
My paternal grandfather was a gentle giant. Those are always the words I choose to describe him. As a young girl, l remember him sitting me on his knee and singing “Old Dan Tucker”, an old ‘folk’ song that has as many added lyrics as it does explanations of its origin.
My paternal grandmother played the ukulele and sang a little. I remember her playing and singing “Little Mohee”. I can still close my eyes and see her sitting in my grandfather’s red recliner. When she sat down you could always see her nylons rolled just below the knees. I can see her strumming the ukulele, her gray hair braided and rolled into a bun singing this song.
Of course both of these songs are probably not politically or socially correct, but they are the songs my memories are made of.
Broken Records – Broken Hearts
The first time I realized how important music could be to someone I was probably about 7 years old. My grandmother had a Victrola in one of the upstairs bedrooms. She had maybe 10 or so 78 rpm records.
One day she was upstairs listening to records and cleaning. I came bouncing in the room, ran and jumped up and sat on the bed. Then I heard it. A deep cracking sound. My grandmother had laid one of the records on the bed and I broke it. She started to cry. I will never forget it. I was so sorry I broke her record. But I discovered it wasn’t just any record. It was her favorite — “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”.
I do not know why this record or this song was so meaningful to her. I will never forget her heartbreak, even as she hugged me and told me it would be okay. That song will always be burned into my little girl heart.
Music with Mom and Dad
My Mom and Dad loved music. When we were growing up, it was the music of Chubby Checker, Sonny James and Eddy Arnold. We sang in the car frequently. It seemed we were always traveling somewhere. Lots of folk songs and silly songs and songs we learned at camp.
I also learned the music of Vaughn Monroe (“Racing with the Moon”), Ned Miller (“From a Jack to a King”) and also The Browns (“The Old Lamplighter”). I most associate those songs with my Mom.
When riding in the car, everyone would drift off to sleep. I was always the one awake keeping my Dad company. I can still hear my Dad’s deep bass voice singing the hymn “Steal Away”. It always calmed me to hear him sing so gently. Many of the songs and hymns my family loved were old Negro spirituals – and “Steal Away” was one of the best.
Singing from the Heart
I mentioned the hymns which my family sang. My mother’s favorite was “His Eye is on the Sparrow” which still brings me great comfort. My paternal grandmother always sang “Peace in the Valley” as she cleaned house. I can almost hear her now.
When my sister passed away a few years ago, my niece asked my daughter (her cousin) to sing at my sister’s funeral. My sister and my daughter were so close I did not think she would be able to do it. But she did. Beautifully. She sang my sister’s favorite hymn — “In the Garden”. She stood in the front of the church and said she wanted to sing the way our family always sang — a cappella. It is one of the most difficult and most beautiful moments of my life.
So Much More
There is so much more to write about this, but the memories this post brought up for me have me spent for today. I will revisit this at some later time.
“Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Andersen