Little Mary Phagan, she went to town one day
She went to the pencil factory, she went to get her pay
She left her home at eleven, she kissed her mother goodbye
Not one time did the poor child think that she was goin' to die...
Have you ever heard of this song? (complete lyrics here)
Well, my Mom and grandma used to sing that song to me when I was little. And each time they'd sing it, I'd always hope that this time, Mary would get away and make it home. I actually never knew the whole story until I was older. I guess maybe it's one of those southern things, but it's still interesting to read, to me anyway.
What brought that up is that it was mentioned last night at dinner. We went to O'Charley's for Mom's birthday. (Yes, I know, they had screwed me twice and I hadn't been there in nearly two years, but that's where she wanted to go. It actually turned out to be decent.) I decided to surprise Mom by inviting some of her siblings to dinner with us. So it ended up being Mom, my sister and her husband, two of Mom's sisters, one of Mom's brothers, his wife, their two kids, and me. So ten of us in all.
Almost anytime any of my Mom's family is together, talk will eventually turn to things from their past, from my past. Much of it is repetitive, but I still love to remember it, and to hear them tell it. And occasionally, someone will mention something that I hadn't heard before, and I learn something new, about my family, my heritage. I don't get to see my aunts and uncles and cousins as much as I did when I was a kid. I guess everyone gets busier, and life gets in the way sometimes. But I have learned to cherish those times more now. I was looking at my aunt last night. When I was little, I always thought she was one of the prettiest women in the world. She's 53 now. Still looks about 40. But everyone is getting older. Myself included.
Another story that got brought up is a game my grandma used to play. Living out in the country, with no stores nearby, and no toys around, we pretty much created our own fun. Fishing in the pond, or skating on it in our shoes when it froze over, exploring in the woods, throwing rocks, etc. Anyhow, sometimes she'd play this game which would pacify us for long periods of time. You'd sit in her lap and she'd pat you on the back, singing: "Jicama, Jicama, (pronouncing it Hick-uh-muh Jick-uh-muh) honey cups, how many fingers do I hold up?" And you'd guess a number between 1 and 5. And she'd say something like, "Four you said and two it was. Jicama, Jicama, honey cups, how many fingers do I hold up?" And it would go on. Until you remembered something fun you could be doing outside. Or until she got a phone call from some family member. Her phone kept her in contact with everyone. And I remember everytime I would think I had her guessed right, she'd pull out the ol' "One you said and NONE it was." Argh! Such a trickster was she. I miss her.
Mom had come by to pick me up last night because she was test driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee. On the way home, she told me, "I didn't know all them were gonna be there. That was a surprise. I never get to see them anymore. I liked that as much as anything."
"Remember when the days were long, and rolled beneath a deep blue sky. Didn't have a care in the world, with Mommy and Daddy standing by..."