A Haven for Vee

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tell Me a Story

Tell me a story. In this century, and moment, of mania, tell me a story.  Make it a story of great distances, and starlight. The name of the story will be time, but you must not speak its name. Tell me a story of deep delight. ~Robert Penn Warren

My grandmother was a great teller of stories. Not lies, rather the facts and impressions that shaped her world and the world of her parents and grandparents. It is a fascinating oral family history that I have loved hearing all my life.

For example, I know that my great-great grandmother died of typhoid fever. Serepta was her name. I know what she said as she lay dying, I know that she was the first cousin of the only Canadian Premier (Prime Minister) to hale from New Brunswick. I know, I know, I know so many intriguing tidbits.

My mother was a storyteller as well and so I think I come by storytelling myself quite naturally. Now whether anyone is interested in the stories...



I'm feeling so Paul Harvey-like this morning. Here is the rest of the story behind *the making of the pillow*,  written about day before last, and a bit about my grandparents' love story as first told to my sister in an email sent after she had received the pillow, which did, as some have suspected, make her cry.
                   
                    Dear Sister,
A few years ago, when I was giving Nan her baths, *I found a stack of letters tied with a ribbon on her side table with these words printed on the top: "To Be Destroyed."

They were the letters that Jack had mailed to her through the years and, when questioned, she'd said that they weren't anyone's business but hers. I asked Mom to do something, if she could, to rescue those letters.

So I was delighted to find a few...a precious few...among the letters and cards here. Somewhere, I even have the "to be destroyed" note.

Anyway, I noticed that Jack often used the phrase you see lifted out there to close his letters: "Hope that you are well and happy, Honey."

About two months ago, I entered a contest at a blogging friend's  blog for a fabric design. Incredibly, I won, which meant that I had a bona fide fabric artist create this fabric using the images I sent her. I wanted a way to tell the "love" story if you will. The letters turned out to be chatty descriptions of Jack's days and not so much about being "love letters" after all. (You will remember that Nan spent summers between the lake and Moncton and not home in Maine. Since he was a railroad man, Jack could meet up with her at either location.)

My friend was so patient with me as I kept adding this and that or taking it away. When she had it all done, I was still feeling that it wasn't
quite right even to the point of sadness and then I realized that it wasn't quite right because the pillow did not have any reference to Mom who, as their only child, was a huge part of their love story. So that's when Mom's little girl self got tucked in as well.

You probably remember the story of their courtship...how Jack owned the taxi service and picked Nan and a friend up for a dance the first evening and dropped them off. The friend was going to sit in the front, but he said that Miss Delahunt was small and would fit better. Then he asked her if she'd go out with him sometime and she said,"Why don't you call me and find out." Cheeky little gal that Nan of ours!

He made her an offer that she couldn't really refuse...that of being able to call for a taxi free of charge at any time. That's why I really wanted to get that business card on there because Nan was certainly pleased with that.

Then when they started going out, he was very impressed with her musicality and on their first date, he asked her to sing "My Pal" or "My Buddy" which was a song about a man and his son. (Very sad song...I know since she sang it for me sometime within the last decade while we were going through her sheet music one day.) He would repeat that request one September evening in 1951 just before he died and she sang it without breaking down. When someone asked her how she could manage that, she replied that it was the least that she could do for him.

I didn't include the older picture only because I couldn't find it in time for the fabric to be done. In the end, I think the younger photos look best. The young lady Nan would have been the right age for when Jack met her; Nan with the chipmunk was taken the summer Jack was ill. I included both passport photos just to get the link between Canada and the USA, which is so important in family legend and lore. That pretty much explains it, but if you have questions, I may come up with more answers.

The back of the pillow is made with the Irish linen that Sharon had me pick up last summer. It's kind of fragile, actually, so I doubled it. I thought that it would be a nod to Nan's Irish roots. I did the best I could with making it, but don't look too close because, since I sewed it, it is full of flaws. I did bind all raw edges in a hope to keep it around for a long time. And I made it so that it can be removed and washed by hand in Woolite.

Now I have enough fabric to make another for myself. Don't know when I'll get to it...
          
Since my grandfather John "Jack" died before I or my sister was born, we've always referred to him as Jack just as his friends and my grandmother always did. Interestingly, he always signed his letters to her "John."

And, of course, the story has many more tendrils as all stories do. Thank you for reading...

A happy and relaxing weekend to you!

*First discussed *here* and proving that eventually everything comes full circle on this blog.

32 comments:

  1. Vee,
    Just lovely. I hope to preserve some stories this year. I have scanned photos and have some written info. Time just keeps flying by. Some days I would like to just curl up with a good book under a quilt....
    hugs,
    Carol

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  2. I believe that our Heavenly Father had a hand in you winning the contest. I can't imagine anyone else appreciating this gift and giving it the thought and time for perfection (filled with love) than you. I'm returning later to read the links. Thank you for sharing this story with us. Oh, and you are definitely a gifted writer.

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  3. Vee, there is nothing, I mean absolutely nothing more, to add to the pillow or this to make it anymore perfect than what it is. After reading the story, I clicked to enlarge your sister's pillow, perfecto!!
    What a beautiful heritage you have, and now to see and hold a part of it is !
    I well remember you sharing your Nan and Mother with us, you indeed have a gift of not only story telling, but a gift of writing. I keep waiting for that book!~smile~
    I will be waiting for you to make your pillow, and please share it and another story.
    As always a joy to visit.
    Sue

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  4. Beautiful!! Thank you for making me smile. Blessings

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  5. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For sharing...

    Now, do you have each and every one of these remembered stories, written down somewhere? So they won't be lost, to future generations. :-) I know, this one is here and I know what you plan to do with your blog, eventually. But... Other stories...?

    Gentle hugs,
    "Be like the sun and the meadow,
    which are not in the least concerned
    about the coming winter."


    ~ George Bernard Shaw

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  6. And does your Post Label of "Family" show that this is a remembered Family Story? I don't know how you do your Labels, so I ask...

    And I mean, for future generations, to be easily able to find such stories.

    I know! I'm anal!!! >,-)

    Gentle hugs,
    "Be like the sun and the meadow,
    which are not in the least concerned
    about the coming winter."


    ~ George Bernard Shaw

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  7. Oh, I love this sweet story!!!!! What a blessing to have the oral story and then to have the wonderful keepsakes to go along with it!!!

    This reminds me that I must sit down and write some of our families oral history to pass along to our children.

    Thanks for sharing!!!
    Hugs!

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  8. I love that you have preserved some history in your family....what a wonderful story!

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  9. I love this. I love reading stories about real people who are loved by people I know too - hearing a little history is so special, Vee. And I love that fabric too. Lots to "love" today!

    PS If John would like to discuss his hyperventilating views, I would LOVE to hear them! He can email me!

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  10. What a wonderful story! You really were surely meant to be the one to win this contest and create a family treasure/family blessing with it.

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  11. I adore stories like this! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Precious memories. And I have now traveled to Moncton, so I have seen a tiny bit of the area. It has a quaint downtown area and we had a delightful dinner at an Irish pub, LOL.

    I believe you brought your sister great joy with that beautiful gift.

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  12. Vee, this is such a lovely story. I really enjoyed reading the history behind the fabric and ephemra. You are a story teller! Also, I enjoyed it because they are Moncton people :) I knew a Delahunt or 2 there but the first names haven't come to me at the moment. I hope you get your history pillow made soon and put it in a special place for all to see. Enjoy the weekend. It's a beaut! Hugs, Pam

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  13. Hi Vee!

    What a beautiful story to pass down through the generations! Being able to tell a story and have it become so real, is a true talent - and you possess that talent! I could just see your nan in that taxi - and hear her singing, "My Buddy", to her sweetheart... :0)

    Hugs,
    Barb

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  14. It is amazing what we can do when we have to...singing that song without crumbling is very impressive. I'm so glad she could carry that memory with her all of those years.

    Thanks for sharing this. So very special.

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  15. Your sister is lucky to have a loving sister like you who has passed such special memories of her grandparents along so lovingly. This is a wonderful story Vee and will be inspirational to many of us. thanks for sharing it.

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  16. I loved reading your story!
    What a treasure to know so much about past generations.
    I had an Uncle Jack (died a few years ago) and his name was John!

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  17. You have such a loving heart Vee. That gift is one of love, about those whom you love! I like your Nan's answer to Jack! She had some sass...

    I am reading Elizabeth Elliots book "The Shaping of a Christian Family" and in it are the recollections of her mother and her father's aunt. Your telling of Nan and Jack's story reminds me of that.

    Having spent the week with my mother in law hearing so many stories, I feel full up and near bursting with them. The trick is how to get them out and make sense!

    Blessings,
    Deanna

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  18. I've just bid my mum and dad farewell as I head home after a week in the east , so your post has made me teary eyed. Just wanted you to know how lovely I found it.

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  19. Vee, you are blessed to know much of your family's history. And we are blessed that you shared this family story of humor, and tender, faithful love. Thank you.

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  20. A beautiful story, Vee. You are blessed to have so many stories. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  21. You are very lucky to know so much about your grandparents. What a sweet story.

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  22. Family stories, they are so important to remember. I so wish I had "inteviewed" my loved ones before they passed away. I know some of their stories, and many were to painful to ponder.
    You have prompted me to begin writing down the ones I can still recall, they are worth keeping :)

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  23. P.S. that pillow is an instant heirloom!

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  24. I love the letter story so much. I have every letter that Mr OP sent me while he was in the Airforce, all tied with ribbons and tucked away safely in my cedar chest. You my friend certainly got the story telling gene:D

    Thanks for the Sunday post - I needed this - just got back from
    Linda's house.

    Leann

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  25. Vee, you are a natural born storyteller - it's in your genes. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

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  26. This was so interesting to read, Vee. Each of us has a story to tell and we are lucky when there are loved ones who are really interested to hear them. Your dear Nan was lucky to have your Mom and YOU! I'm sure your sister was thrilled tpo receive this beautiful gift.

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  27. This is all so beautiful, Vee.
    You did a fantastic job on it....I so love family history..I think I will repost a little MEMORY BOX I made for my son and daughter a few Christmas' ago...
    And, I can not believe that you don't own a waffle iron. My goodness, woman...don't you just love waffles?? So easy to make...(especially now with canned biscuits..;))

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  28. I love to hear old stories from my grandmother! Full of history, sad and happy. My grandfather's name was Jack! He has been gone for 8 years this Christmas day. I enjoy reading your family stores. I am a very nostalgic person...Thanks for sharing!

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  29. Keep telling this story! What a precious gift you gave your sister.....and thank you for sharing with us.

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  30. What a sweet story! Bless you for being so thorough both here, and in your letter. Details matter! Thanks for bringing it full-circle! :)

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  31. Wonderful to have all those views of the past and to know so much about your family. Such a blessing.

    Grieving for loved ones. Your friend is right, we do not grieve for the ones who have passed if they belong to the Lord, what we do grieve is for our own loss. Just feelings in our soul and the hope is in our spirit.

    Blessings.

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  32. Your grandmother was a great story teller and you were a great listener. Sometimes I wonder how well the younger ones listen or care to listen to stories of yesteryear. Now you have all those precious facts to sort through in your remembering and now WE are the story tellers! I loved the printed fabric on your pillow. What a keepsake to pass down to your children and grandchildren!

    Interesting how Nov. 5th is the date that I hold dear. My Mom's birthday was that day, as well Dad and Mom's wedding and anniversary.

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