Friday, December 07, 2012

Following the Star, Dec. 7

My great-grandmother kept a consistent, yet simple journal for much of her adult life.
One line a day, on the pages of a notebook.
She recorded the rhythms of daily life, one line at a time.
I have paged through the journals that remain.
I have looked at ordinary days and extraordinary days.
Almost every Monday, the one-line entry was reduced to one word: Washed.
Tuesdays: Ironed.
Some days, she simply wrote: Usual work.
She recorded visits from neighbors and income from selling eggs or meals. She noted sewing project and the weather. And frequently an entry ended with: Fished some.
She had a passion for moving pictures, noting by name each one she saw on occasional trips into town.
Years have passed since I paged through those life lines.
It strikes me now that it could be a comforting gift to page through her lifetime of Decembers.
Christmas was present in her life, yet simple, spare.
The only December entry that I recall is for this date, Dec. 7, 1941.
That date that year, she wrote three lines.
She was shocked.
She worried for the world.
And she realized, seemingly as she wrote the lines, that her son, who had completed his service in the Navy, would be called back up, would be sent into war.
Mamie and Grandad Hanna had four children: Jewel, Elizabeth, Willard, and Rebecca.
When I arrived on the timeline, they were called by the names a generation of nieces and nephews before me had conjured: Jujer, Aunt Bea, Uncle Brother and Auntie.
Uncle Brother survived the war and lived to see many more Decembers.
Yet when I read the pages of Mamie's journal, I still feel the advent of the maternal awakening of concern she had that day not only for her own son but for all the children of the world.
Mamie and I shared less than a decade of Decembers. Though I have many rich memories of her, I don't recall many Christmases.
Mamie had a tradition at Christmastime of making popcorn balls.
Some late afternoon, probably a Sunday, when I was very young, likely a toddler, we were saying our goodbyes after a visit to her home. Someone must have asked her when she was going to get started on her popcorn balls -- probably someone eager for the annual treat. I asked what they were and someone tried to explain, but I didn't understand because I didn't understand the basic ingredient.
What's popcorn?
My great-grandmother halted our exit.
She took me into her kitchen, put a pan on her stove and popped corn for me.
From my toddler's eye view, that first test kernel flew from the pot across the room like a shooting star.

1 comment:

Jeri said...

I love this one...I can see your eyes, those Ryan eyes when he is surprised by something.