Monday, October 29, 2007

Love and Remembrance

Daddy died 21 years ago. He was one of five boisterous sons of my gregarious barber grandfather and my demanding, determined, assertive, grandmother. The five Shaw boys were a joy to be around. Laughing. Joking. Backrubbing. Teasing. Hugging. Four of them served in the military, each in a different branch: a marine, a soldier, an airman, and a sailor.



Only Uncle Grady is left. He is 81, I think.

We lost Jackie when he was only 47, almost a year before we lost my daddy. Eleven months after Daddy left us at 67, we lost Bill who was only 56. Uncle James held on for another six years.

Jack (the Uncle) and Janice (the Niece)

Seeing Grady feels a little like visiting with my absent father. The same joy for life. The same build, and walk, and caring. Yesterday I got that visit. It was our first Shaw family reunion in several years. Way too long without seeing these wonderful, loving, people.

A Christmas gathering at Mama Shaw's about fifty years ago.

Our gathering yesterday

Grady's wife, Aunt Margaret; my mother; Jack's widow and her husband of twenty years now; and Bill's widow, Eugenia were all there as well.

From my generation were four of my siblings, Jack's two living children, two of Bill's girls, and Grady's son. And of course several spouses. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Shaw boys filled out the 40 or so revellers.

The food, of course, was delicious and plentiful. But the joy came as we gathered the whole crowd into Mother's big den and started telling stories. Everyone participated. One Mama Shaw story elicited another as my aunts and uncle and mother took turns chiming in. We in the next generation told a tale or two from our perspectives. I picked up the shoeshine kit that my daddy carved with his initials 75 years ago and he and Mother saved from the trash heap when Daddy Shaw's barber shop was emptied after his death. We commiserated about enduring the heat in my grandmother's home (She must have had terrible circulatory problems!) and enduring the slave labor that was imposed on those in her charge - though none of us could out work her.

Mother and Daddy

I was forced to give an abbreviated version of the Swimming Hole story. Debi told the tale of my Daddy's memorable (and aborted) first day of school. Two others of my contributions included: the story of Daddy Shaw jumping prematurely from the train from Atlanta to Conyers and having to walk twenty miles; and reminiscing about pumping the spare barber chair up and down while drinking a six ounce coke filled with ice slivers and a few Tom's peanuts. Grady remembered sliding down the rocks in Botush Creek using a small stone in each hand as guiding outriggers. Eugenia remembered Bill's childhood friend who in later life claimed he was coerced into more work for Mama Shaw than he ever did for his own mother.

No one wanted to break things up! The crowd did not begin to disperse until 5:30 or so. Annie and Jerry live in central Florida and had a two day drive ahead of them!

Uncle Grady called a few minutes ago to express his appreciation and to do a little rehashing of events. I love that man.

Life happens. Our family has had its share of troubles along the way. But I'm awfully glad these are my folks.

There is still material for future reunions. There was not a single mention of Trouble the Boston Terrier or fireworks. Nobody said a word about the day the barber shop burned or the day a cow jumped in the car.

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