As I stated in last week’s post, “Halley’s Memories,” comets come and comets go. Some comets, like Halley’s, come close enough to be seen by the naked eye, then travel back into parts unknown, only to return eons later. But! No matter which of these types they represent, they all have one thing in common; they leave “tales” in their wake. Oh yes! You are correct, they leave tails too, but my focus is on the “tales.” Scientists have found that the tails of comets contain “stardust”. Well, a comet’s “tale” contains “stardust” as well, the stardust of memories.
My grandmother, “Gramp,”was one of these comets; not like the ones who burn brightly and then just fade. She was/is more of a Halley’s type of comet, for although she is no longer physically with us, her “stardust” remains in the form of her stories; stories told and retold by those who had the honor and privilege of sitting in her kindly presence as she told them. My brother, sister and I were among the honored few. We often review them in our conversations, trying desperately to cling to the details; not just for our sakes, but for sake of our posterity and even the world.
As I stated last week, in “Halley’s Memories”, there are; “long period” as well as “short period” comets. Well, memories have similar characteristics for there are; “long term” memories as well as “short term” memories. Long term memories are the memories of those things that happened long ago but you still retain them in detail. They can be recalled with little or no priming. As Gramp ascended the stairway of life, the rungs of her memory began to creak and groan with the pressure of each step, but the amazing thing was that the “long term” memories were completely intact while the “short term” memories were vaporous.
For example: Her best dish was her fried chicken. Her chicken was always the first to disappear at church functions. I always relished the occasions when she made fried chicken and biscuits for supper on Saturdays (talking about some syrup sopping, ooh wee!) and fried chicken and “the works” on Sundays; however, when she started to lose her memory, she made fried chicken EVERY day! She would forget that she’d made it the day before, but we ate it, DAILY. For you see, she didn’t forget the recipe just that she’d made it yesterday! Later on, we had to stop her from cooking altogether, before she burned the house down!
Gramp had six brothers and three sisters; one of which was named Verlin. She was the one that my siblings and I called Aunt Vulla. We didn’t know her name was actually not Vulla and her kids and grandkids—my second cousins—didn’t know that we called her “Vulla”. I thought her name was Vulla until I tried to do some family history using Ancestry.com. I found that I was having trouble locating Vulla in any of the historical records. I knew she was also called Flossie, but, I couldn’t locate a Flossie until the 1940 census. There, she was listed there as Flossie Carter (Carter was her married last name).
In earlier censuses, I found a Verlin in the Smith household. So there I was with no Flossie and no Vulla and an extra child whom I’d never heard mention of named Verlin. Then one day, like a light coming on in a dark, dusty room, I realized that Verlin was Vulla. Someone, at some time, possibly me and my siblings with a little help from Gramp, had transmogrified Verlin into Vulla. These sisters seemed to have a language all their own; a language like the language that some twins are said to have although, they themselves, were not twins at all. One of the words in this language was the term, “STORNADO”. If you come back next week, I’ll tell you about “STORNADO”! See ya next week!