That’s me, my daddy, my great-grandmother, and granddad. Picture must be about 77 years old.
My great-grandmother’s favorite song was Farther Along. “Farther along we’ll know all about it, farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by.” And take a look at this first verse. “Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder Why it should be thus all the day long. While there are others living about us, Never molested tho in the wrong.” In recent decades that song has been mocked for its pessimism.
I think about her. That child of God had about half of her children come down with Huntington’s disease, one son who committed suicide (I think), two who were on the gangster’s path, no help from a Huntingtons-stricken husband, no government dole, no medical resources, no counseling or psychiatric help, no store for shopping, no car to run off in, and no TV to escape to. She did have an outhouse, wash board, water bucket, twelve kids, and God. I assure you I understand her “farther along” mentality.
Her earthly life did get easier. She lived to about 85 years of age. Her two gangster sons had become preachers and made good money honestly. One of those sons became her mentor and my grandfather. I have nothing but admiration for her and I’m not about to knock her song.
When she was sixteen, did she have a diary? Did she maybe chronicle a letter to her mother in which she expressed her feelings about being pregnant with her fifth child, or how about how she felt at the birth of the eighth one? Did she compose a song of thanksgiving that my two-pound daddy lived? Did she write a eulogy to his first-born twin who died? Did she make a grocery list for grandpa to take next time he went to the feed store? Did she make notes in the margin of her Bible?
As far as I know no one has anything left from her own handwriting. And we will not find anything on Facebook, Word Press, or in the cloud in any form.
Right now my life seems so unremarkable—live in a 2500 square foot house with heat and air, raised two sons, had a career as a teacher, had a television, and phone, —but seventy-five years from now, how will it be? Will someone down the line ask, “Jay, do you remember Grandma Neta?” She will, but maybe she can add on, “Let me show you some of Grandma Neta’s writings. You can see how primitive things were back in that day!” Or maybe she will say, “God really has been good for our family even back in her day.”
Who knows? But that’s one reason I write.
(Lesson One, Writing101)