The other day I was visiting my in-laws and picked up a little book they had been given years ago called, “The World According to Mister Rogers.” It was simply a collection of Mister Rogers (Fred Rogers) thoughts on “Important Things to Remember.” One of the quotes struck me as quite appropriate. On page 181, Mister Rogers had the following to say, “I find out more and more every day how important it is for people to share their memories.”
That is so very true…
It reminded me of a story “Mr. T” had recently shared regarding his family. No, not the “Mr. T” with the Mohawk haircut and jewelry who rode around with “The-A Team” in the 1980s and fought Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III. My “Mr. T” was my high school history teacher, who everyone loved and still loves years later. He and his wife just had that kind of impact on their students.
My Mr. T was sharing a story about his trips he would take to his grandparents’ house with his brother. This particular memory was of “what was out back.” He noted that when you would go out the back door and through the tin-roofed well shelter, his grandmother had a bed of what he called, “White Cane.”
In the South, we know about “Decoration Days,” when churches celebrate the lives of those who have gone on by decorating the graves in the cemetery and more than likely eating potluck lunches from a long concrete table.
His memories of the White Cane were paired with those of snow white sand that his grandfather would have delivered to the cemetery before their Decoration Day, “the first Saturday in May.” Their tradition was to rake that white sand into mounds on their plot at each tombstone (to make it look pretty). Since his grandparents were still “above ground,” his grandmother called this routine, “grave-digging.”
It makes sense when you think about it. Grandmothers are known to make a lot of sense when you take the time to listen to them.
Now this piling of the white sand was not all that had to be done on Friday. The White Canes had to be combined with “glads” (gladiolus) that his stepfather had gone to town specifically to buy for Decoration Day.
It was imperative to get all of this done on the Friday before Decoration Day so that his grandparents and everyone else could sit back and enjoy it and talk about how pretty it was… I am from the South, I know this not only to be true, but to be very important.
Mr. T in his story paints the prettiest picture of a huge oak tree covering his family’s plot and how everyone would bring folding chairs and sit there amongst his grandparents - admiring their work. And as you would expect, there to the side of the Methodist church was a long covered pavilion where everyone would place their home-cooked dishes for everyone to enjoy for lunch. I bet they had that “Pink Stuff with little marshmallows” I always loved eating and fighting the flies for, and a lot of other colored jello stuff with neat things suspended in it.
The point of my history teacher’s story was to emphasize how important it was that the bed of “White Cane” was preserved and why he transplanted into his yard. And now when he sees it, he sees his grandmother smiling as she trimmed it and added to the glads that were specifically bought for that purpose.
Mr. T, who never stops teaching, noted that with the White Cane, you have to cut it back each year in July because it turns green as it grows taller. In a few weeks after it is cut, the “white canes” come back.
Mr. T called his grandmother, “Granny,” and his grandfather, “Pop.” In his wisdom, he noted that “Memories are the fabric of our soul!”
That is so true, because not only is Mr. (and Mrs.) T part of the fabric of my soul, but now so are his Granny and Pop.
Good teachers never stop teaching, as a matter of fact, they just get better.
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I'm BN Heard and I like semicolons, dogs and eating "pink stuff" under a shade tree outside churches in Alabama.