Mamaw's Upright Piano
Mamaw had an upright piano in her small house. When you walked in the front door, the piano was to the right of the front door, right up against the wall. There were many books in the seat. Everything was church songs. Nothing else. When I was 6, I got to spend the summer with her. One day, doing dishes, I was under her feet a little too much. "Why don't you go and play on the piano?" She asked, pulling me to the upright.
"I don't know how, Mamaw." I replied.
"Just plink along and figure out a song." She said, lifting the cover to the keys.
I banged along the keys, looking for where a song was hidden. Nothing wanted to be found that day.
Everyday after that, Mamaw would wash our dinner dishes after her stories played. I would cause all of the great pianists of the world to roll in their graves as I massacred the keys on the keyboard.
For weeks this went on. As soon as the dishes were washed, she would sit next to me and play the songs that she was going to play on the organ at her church. Sometimes, she would move my fingers and show how to play a few notes. It was amazing to watch her play with no book in front of her, just the memories of the song strongly in her head.
"Let's play Amazing Grace, baby." She said one day. I got so excited. I knew this song from my church with Mama and Daddy.
Mamaw played the notes. Then she began singing. She sang a line. I sang a line. With mistakes I never knew were mistakes. (Read below)
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I be
Mamaw: Through many dangers, toils, and snares
Me: I've already done
Mamaw: 'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
Me: And grace will lead me home
Mamaw: When we've been there ten thousand years
Me: Right, shining as the sun
Mamaw: We've no less days to sing God's praise
Me: Than when we first got done
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw kept her cool. She did not scold. We sang it one more time, and she was laughing, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Where did you learn that, baby?" She asked.
"At Grandpa's church where Daddy goes to." I answered, afraid I had made God mad.
"Well, today you get a special treat. We are going to learn lyrics."
She stood up, put me on the floor as well and lifted the lid of the bench seat at the piano. Thumbing through the books, she found Amazing Grace. Sitting us both back down, she settled the book onto the stand and got back into playing, wiping her eyes and clearing her throat.
"Am I wrong, Mamaw?" I asked, still not knowing what happened.
"No, baby. Not wrong. You didn't know. Now, we can both learn. I might have forgot some of them words, too."
I bless her for teaching without taunting. I miss her terribly.
Happy Birthday from Trains and Trucks
I was so excited that I could hardly wait to get out of the bed that morning. My birthday was here! Could you believe that I had been waiting for it a whole year?!?!?!?!?!??!
Mamaw made me 3 boiled eggs and biscuits with butter and jelly. I ate as quick as I could. Billy Ray's cousin was going to take me with him in his fine 18 wheeler to the loading docks to watch them put in strawberries! After that, we were going to get cantaloupe for me and Mamaw! This was going to be the best year ever. I was 5 years old and ready to go!
Billy Ray pulled up in his big pickup truck. I was ready to run out the door, but Billy Ray walked in. "Mornin', Miz Ida, here to pick up a passenger." He said, looking at me and smiling, his missing tooth looked funny to me and I laughed.
She made him a plate for breakfast and Billy Ray talked between bites, barely stopping to breathe.
"Go to the bathroom and pee. Wash your hands and face and brush your teeth." Mamaw said to me, motioning for me to get my morning "deeds" done.
I scampered off, hearing them laughing and talking in the kitchen.
When I came back, Mamaw had cleared the table, she sat me down and braided my hair into two long braids that she formed into a headband that went over the top of my head, set in place by bobby pins.
She pulled off my sundress and fitted me with a pair of tiny overalls and a t-shirt. "You can't wear your sandals and dress today, sis. You are gonna be climbing all over stuff. Aunt Dotty sent over one of the boy's overalls and shirt for you to wear. Plus a pair of their boots they outgrew."
I looked down. These were like what the men wore. I had pockets galore! I had on boots! I was a worker bee!
Billy Ray scooped me up. "Alright, Ida. You've dolled her up enough. She's cuter than a box of puppies. See you after a while!"
"Mind your manners!" Mamaw called after me. I waved and before I knew it, I was in Billy Ray's big truck, bouncing along the road, singing with Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves.
We reached the truck yard, where Clive was waiting for us with his friends. "Sis! Sis! he called out, scooping me up into a hug. "Happy Birthday, Sis!" He sat me on his hip. Billy Ray left, telling him to run me back to Ida's when we were done.
We went into the office, where I was introduced to everyone. I had the best day ever. Clive took me out to his big truck. He showed me where to climb. Before I knew it, I was up in the truck, looking down on the world.
My heart soared. When the "roach coach" came for the truckers, Clive bought me a sandwich and we sat with all of the truckers.
Bo, who was with the trains would tell story after story. I crawled down from Clive's lap and sat on the dirt next to him, where everyone else was crowding him, listening to his every word. I was completely unnoticed. Bo would pause at the end of a tale and everyone would erupt with laughter.
I didn't understand his stories, but he seemed so likeable.
When he was done with one of his stories, I pulled on his cuff. "Excuse me" I said, as I had been taught to do with grown ups. "Excuse me. I didn't understand the story." I said, looking at him. Bo's face went red. "Well. Well. Um. You'd have to drive a truck or a train to get it."
"Can you tell the one about the 3 little bears? Or the one about the 3 little pigs? Or the one about the Princess and the Pea?"
He put out his big hand for me. "I am Bo. See the train over there? When the lunch whistle goes, I will take you on the train before it is ready and give you a tour."
I nodded and found Clive, who was amused that I had embarrassed Bo.
"You got Bo good, sis!" He said, chuckling as we finished off our lunch. He took me to the bathroom and cleaned me off, and when the whistle blew, I found Bo.
"Time for the grand tour." Bo said, telling Clive that he would bring me back in time for college.
Bo walked me around the train, pointing out parts and telling me what they did. Every 3 or 4 parts later, Bo would test me. If I got it right, he would clap his hands together and say "there goes a bright girl."
We climbed into the front of the train, I was lifted up and Bo showed me different things. As were were touring, a man came up to Bo. "All ready, tracks clear."
"We go in 5." Bo said, looking at his watch.
Bo walked me back to Clive and looked down at me.
"Happy Birthday, Sis! Be good!" Bo said and walked back to the train.
Clive walked us over so I could see the train leave.
As they pulled off, Bo played the 6 notes from Happy Birthday on the train horn! I was in awe. The train sang to me!
Clive drove me home with a basket of strawberries and other produce for my birthday. I was asleep in my own bed when I woke up. Mamaw asked me if I had a good time. "Even the train knew it was my birthday, Mamaw! It sang Happy Birthday to me!"
One of the hardest things in doing research is the reality vs. perceptions that a lot of people have about research into their family tree.
For some reason, we like to think that all women in our family are prim and proper and sweet little virgins when they met the men in our family.
Let me assure you. Not true. Not true today, and not true back in the day of our ancestors.
My mother was never married to my biological father. I have never laid eyes on him, although I know believe that I know who he is. (It is either him or one of his brothers, but his brothers were never in the part of the world I was born in.)
Do I believe that my mother was a sweet, virtuous angel before I got here? Of course not.
She had desires. She had attractions, crushes, encounters. All of the things that normal people have. Sex drive is not something that is limited to men. Women have urges, too. The only difference is not what they do with those urges, but instead, how they are treated for having those urges and acting upon them.
My mother, when it was obvious that I was looking for my biological family threw me on a trail of bad information and lies. To protect me? Perhaps. To protect herself from rejection and judgement? Of course.
I belong to a lot of different groups on social media. Repeatedly, adoptees who are looking for their biological families will have so much more luck with their paternal family than they have with their maternal family. It is so contradictory of everything that we see in movies, etcetera. But it is the truth. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, that goes without saying.
In one of the groups that I belong to on Facebook, the ratio of paternal family being open to meeting and knowing is about 3 to 1 compared to maternal family.
I know that when I had my son and placed him for adoption, it was deeply instilled in me to make sure that I did not interfere with the adoptive family or the child that I placed for adoption, after all, they were doing me a huge favor.
Wasn't I doing them a huge favor as well? Isn't having a baby and giving it to the adoptive parent to raise a big favor as well? I would think so, but the adoption agencies of the time did not really address that angle. Another reflection of women being punished/held accountable for her sexuality.
That leads me to DNA testing and reunions being made outside the parameters of the adoption agency.
Adoption agencies made the promise to people that they need not worry about being contacted. That their little secret was safe within the walls of the agency and the sealed birth certificate. With the event of at home DNA testing (Ancestry, Heritage, 23AndMe, Family Tree DNA, etcetera) becoming so affordable, more and more people are turning away from the agencies and the archaic laws of sealed adoption records. They are instead choosing to take tests that cost less than 100.00 per test. In less than 2 months typically, an adoptee can find their birth family on both sides. With social media being free and open, with a few clicks of the mouse, an adoptee can look at the faces of biological family.
The problem about this is for any member of the adoption triangle that does not want to be found. For the birth mother who wanted the secret of her pregnancy and childbirth hidden, her privacy is no longer assured or guaranteed. For the birth father who may not even know that a child was conceived, his life can be thrown into hell if he has never told his family of the existence of a child.
An adoptee that has never been told that they were adopted, or does not want to know their biological family and finds themself facing issues they were not prepared to handle can be a disaster.
Am I against DNA testing? No, not at all. I support open records. I support the right of people to know where they came from as an adoptee. I support the right of birthparents to know their biological child is well and cared for. Open adoption removes all of the mystery from adoption and allows for open communication. In medical emergencies, if the biological family is available for contact, information can be exchanged that is literally lifesaving.
As long as we continue to have a one sided stigma of women having sexuality, of women expressing their sexuality and of women having sexual relations, we will continue to have shame for an event that needs to have no shame.
As I continue to know my paternal family, I am greatly saddened by all of the years that I was denied these relationships. I have aunties and cousins and grand cousins. I had grandparents while I was alive on my father's side. From all that I have heard, they would have been very loving and kind. I have pictures of people who I look like. Who I share the same body type. Who I have common interests. I would still be searching for these wonderful family members if I had not taken a DNA test.
This teddy bear in incredibly sentimental to me. A friend got it for me when we went to a sporting event. My dad, every time he would see the bear in my car would ask if my "hippie bear" was having a good time.
This bear is NOT a beanie baby, though he is about the same size.
Ancestry is having a sale until Father's Day, $10.00 off their normal price. Go and check them out and get a few kits if you are planning on doing multiple tests.
Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and check out the questionnaire to ask the men in your life. It will be up before Father's Day, which falls on the 18th of June this year.
In Honor of National DNA Day, 23 and Me is allowing a FREE transfer today only of test results from Ancestry.com. If you have tested with Ancestry and have wondered what 23 and Me has to offer, this is an excellent chance to have a free look!
This expires tonight at midnight. Share! Download from Ancestry and Upload to 23AndMe!
I truly cannot believe that it has been a year since the last National DNA Day!
Since last year's DNA day, I now know my paternal family, who they are. I know what people I descend from. What a strange thing to write. I have still not made contact with my biological father for reasons that I can't go into here, but I have spoken with cousins and aunts. I have been friended by people who actually share a blood tie with me. What a strange range of emotions to experience.
We have also narrowed down the line that my sister comes from. We are gently verifying everything. It is a strange blessing to me that both of our biological fathers are alive. It is also strange to me that neither of us have had contact with them.
If I had to do the tests all over again, would I? Absolutely. I have learned so many wonderful things about myself and the people that I am blood linked to. I have looked at photos and seen people that I look like. I found most of my matches through Ancestry.com.
Currently, Ancestry is running a special through the 29th of April, 2018 for 59.00 DNA tests.
If you are thinking about getting a test, this is their lowest price of the year.
Family Tree DNA is also running a DNA Test special. It expires on the 29th as well.
23 and Me has a special, 69.00 for their tests.
Please let me know about your experiences with DNA!
I am still working out all of the details for the trading card instructions that I will be posting.
I have been creating questions that will fit well on a trading card, and that has forced me to get really creative. This has been really beneficial for me, and I think that you will like it to.
Here are some questions that have really given me some detailed answers. Let me know how they work out for you.
1. What should you be famous for?
2. What is your superpower?
3. Family know you for your.....
4. Favorite Car
5. Favorite Pet
6. Favorite Color
7. Best Friend
8. No one knows that I.....
9. My vice is....
These questions will really flesh out your family members in your trading cards. The question that gets conversations going is the first one, so I would probably save that one for last, when the person that you are interviewing is warmed up.
Mother's Day is right around the corner, so get your questions ready for all of the mothers in your life!
My review of Simply Me Beauty lipstick, which is exclusively being sold at 7-Eleven cosmetics.
I hope that you will like the video. Feel free to leave comments here or on my YouTube channel.
Thanks for viewing!
April 10 National Siblings Day
Today is National Siblings Day, a day to celebrate the special bond that siblings share with one another.
For family tree work, today is the day to make sure that you have all of the family members of your sibling's tree built out.
National Sibling Day was created by Claudia Evart in 1995 to acknowledge the special bond that siblings share. She lost two of her siblings in separate childhood incidents. You can visit her website at: http://www.siblingsday.org/
RIP Sam Kinison.
December 8, 1953 – April 10, 1992
I was only 23 years old when Sam Kinison died. I had heard some of his material at a friend's house. She pushed the cassette into the car stereo and we laughed and laughed at the maniacal frenzied energy that Sam had. It would be a few more years before I would get to see Sam on video. He was very memorable.
I am now older than Sam was when he died. I look back at his comedy as very memorable. He made choices that in today's society would be very unacceptable. He made me laugh at some low parts of my life. You either loved Sam or hated him. There are certain of his acts that I don't like, but Sam himself, I liked a great deal. He was brash and brazen. He was caustic.
It is surprising to me that his reputed last words are asking an unseen someone why he had to die and then responding with "Okay, Okay, Okay."
This brings me to the point of this article. In your genealogical research, have you recorded or found any of the last words of your family members?
I have made it a point to go an update some records this week, because I do know the answer to this. Additionally, where there is a death story, I have made it a point to include the death story as well.
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com