Listen a little harder to their stories

In his book “Illusions,” Richard Bach penned, “You teach best what you most need to learn.”
I write about a lot of life’s little quirks, home runs, jagged points, and ocean waves. I’m not sure I do this to teach anybody anything.
In fact I write to help heal my life and learn from my somewhat windy journey. However my readers often tell me that what I write about helps them, too. I appreciate their feedback very much.
Today I miss my grandparents, Joe and Florence, who died in 1996 and 2006 respectively.
They made me a very rich woman, though not in the “bullion” sense. And though it be true that I live on the farm where they once did and I am land rich in a smaller sense of the word “acreage,” this also is not the prosperity I now attend to.
I’m talking about the “helping Grandpa in the barn” rich, the “lunch at Grandma’s on Fridays” rich, the “listening to them talk about the past” rich, and “all the lessons about life they taught me,” rich.
I once asked Grandma what she thought the most important life lesson was that she could offer me. She said, “Tell the truth.”
I live by that rule as best I can.
My grandfather taught me not to refer to anyone as “she” or “he,” but to use their proper name. I still am learning to do that.
There are days, though far less frequent than when I first moved to this house, when I come home from town and walk in the door and the smell of “Juicy Fruit” gum tickles my nostrils and I swear my grandmother’s spirit has been here, checking in to see how things are going.
I always hope she likes what she sees and that the old place still feels like home.
I shake my head at how much time has passed—and seemingly quickly. So much has happened in my life since 2006 and sometimes I feel like I have just begun to live again—and of course once again, I have.
Funny enough I still find myself on a graduating path to change my surroundings to reflect me.
I stepped into a fresh goal path to that end recently, fueled I suppose by the newly shingled roof on this aged farmhouse. Strangely the old white siding, peeling in the sun, was tempered a bit after a 40-year-old scabby roof was made anew.
So I started to think about changing up color and space and found myself in discovery of cabinet drawers and old trunks that still contained some of the “old world” charms of yesterday. Interesting how that is still possible after six years.
As I was perusing the charisma that spoke to my grandfather’s DNA of keeping everything, such as vintage Massey Ferguson tractor parts boxes stuffed with the old broken piece he’d replaced, I suddenly longed to ask him more about his life as a boy and as a farmer.
I wanted so much to again listen to him talk about the old days of logging the bush with horses and building fires to keep warm on cold winter days. I wanted to ask him all about the barn and what he thought I could do to save it from the winds of time.
I found a rolled up felt pouch lined with countless knitting needles laid carefully by size for the next time my grandmother would have been looking for the one to complete her latest knitting project.
And then there was the sewing kit—a beautiful small wicker box layered on the bottom with buttons, oh the buttons, and filled with old thimbles and darning needles laced with bits of thread from the last repair.
I touched everything in that box and my longing to ask my grandmother about the women who taught her how to quilt and sew, flowed out of my heart. And I wanted to listen again and again to her tell me about how this old house was moved here on a trailer bed in the 1940s.
I wanted to ask both of my grandparents about everything they could remember about their lives, so that I could write down the things I had missed and thus not have so many answered questions.
In his song “Smile As He Goes Home,” Kim Churchill—a most amazing singer/songwriter from Australia who performed at Cornell Farms in mid-June—sang about the importance of the older generation and the value of their legacies and to connect with them before it’s too late.
I did do that with my grandparents and I have much to be thankful for in what they taught me about their lives and how my own has unfolded in their light.
I still wish I had listened a little harder to their stories. Don’t miss your opportunity to do that with the people you love.

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