On Friday I journeyed back to Murfreesboro to stay with
Mother for a few days while she is recovering from a fall and many other blows
life delivers to us when we grow older.
Saturday was a day of long-standing tradition (the third weekend in
October): we got up early and traveled an hour or so to enter the doors of
the old Commerce Church, in Commerce, Tennessee, which once again received
the descendants of the Floyd Family for their 15th annual reunion!
Floyd Family members have gathered from miles around to
honor their deceased, tell their stories, share their crafts and adventures and
entertain one another with their music and games.
These activities are outdone only by the kitchen staff, who work diligently,
preparing and serving many delectable potluck dishes, desserts, cold drinks and huge pots of hot coffee…Of course, none of these things
happen before a prayer is said, the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of
America is recited, and the National Anthem is sung.
This year featured: Family
music by brother Hugh, Cousins Mike and Nicholle.
of a special cake that was designed to disclose the gender of Aunt Polly’s (now
called Mimi) first grandchild. (IT’S A
to Uncle Edsel Floyd, who died this year and after whom a local bridge was named
and dedicated by state officials.
shared her journey of receiving a miracle; the Cochlear transplants! She told us that she is learning to hear
sounds that she hasn't heard in years; and it is getting better with every day
that passes! Unlike her father and her
grandmother before her, she hopes to recover up to 78% of her hearing loss in
wonderfully illustrated lecture about quilts was offered by my sister-in-law Natalie,
as she told us about her introduction to quilts, and the way her hobby grew into competitive
quilting, guilds, forums and a business!
(I love this lovely Ukrainian lady who makes the most out of everything
she touches…including her family!)
Because I had
the good fortune to know at least something of the above material, the next item
on the program I had been waiting anxiously to hear…Mama’s Poems.
Uncle Kenneth stood up to tell us about a very special
woman, one responsible for many of the Floyd family members that came this day to honor
her. Uncle told of a brave and dignified
woman that came to the Floyd family with “fine” things, who dressed for dinner
and who had an eighth grade education. “She
accepted whatever was happening in her life”; but it seems to me that her life wasn't at all easy after marriage, though she remained dedicated to Christ and
family and was determined to use her God-given gift of rhyme to glorify her
Lord and Master. She wrote on every
scrap of paper she could find, woke up in the middle of the night to write down
what came to her in a dream, wrote every chance she got, then put the rhymes
away in boxes and other places out of sight.
Never did she write for her own glory, just for God’s …and for the joy
of it, just because she could!
Well, long story short, these poems were retrieved by my
Uncle Kenneth (her grandson) and he re-typed the brown, torn,
faded scripts as he found them, and compiled them in three separate volumes of ‘Mama’s Poems’,
the Poetry of Ethel Mai George Floyd.
I only knew Ma as an ancient, old great-grandmother who couldn't hear, and who was therefore hard to talk to.
She was always kind, and gave us packaged sweet cakes and strawberry soda
brought down to her from my grandfather’s grocery store. I remember her loud, deep voice and the way she pushed strands of her gray hair back up off her face and into the bun on the back of her
head and later at the nape of her neck.
I tell these things because it never ceases to amaze me that I was not
told what an incredible great-grandmother I had, and that she never read her
rhymes to me…I guess because I never asked her to. I don't think anyone else did either.
“Ma” (great-grandchildren’s name for her) died in 1958. I was eleven years old.
Today, along with each grandchild and
great-grandchild who attended the Floyd Family Reunion, I got to read aloud one
of the poems from Ma’s collection. As each descendent
read a poem, chosen and meaningful to the individual, there was a powerful and sweet sense of
pride that we could honor her work at last.
Thank you, Ma for the gift of your poems. Thank you, Uncle, for painstakingly putting
them together in book form and offering them to us to read. They are now among my dearest
Boston Tea Party
Old Ironsides (USS Constitution)
Boston Commons and Public Gardens
John Hancock Tower
Paul Revere House
The Old North Church
Paul Revere Park
The Cheers Bar
Bunker Hill and much more!...
Last weekend Boston provided me with many wonderful things to see while Terrence was learning, sharing and perfecting his craft with the International Academy of Mediators ("127 of the best commercial mediators in the world!"). We also found some time to walk the campus of Harvard together, sit and read in the Law School's lounge and have dinner at the Harvard Club. Alone I took a walk near the university campus and stopped in the "Coop" bookstore for a look around and a quick sandwich.
It was really interesting to be in the places where so much of our nation's beginning took place...and the fact that the air turned cold and the leaves were beginning to change just made it that much more invigorating and exciting. Those of us who went on the tour of Cambridge and Boston were treated to an articulate and knowledgeable tour guide who threw out a lot of information for us to absorb.
...and by the way, I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon!
Okay, so there was no LSD involved on this Lake Shore Drive
but some of the artsy things we saw there were wonderfully strange! I mean, have you ever seen a Floatzilla?
Local art, wonderful food, music, face painting and chalk
drawing contest were among many things to do at the annual, local Lakefest but the most fun of all was seeing
where the family is now hanging their hats.
It’s a terrific home and we wish them many happy years there.
P.S. Note the
playground just across the street from Shannon and Molly’s deck (where I zoomed
in and took pictures of Andrew being a good big brother, playing with William,
and the girls getting a little play time in after taking them freshly baked
cookies), well, there are picnic tables there…a perfect place for a family
get together for pot luck! I'm just saying…