Tag Archives: Mother

Missing Mother

11 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

We attend an old-fashioned country church. You know the kind, where the preacher gets excited and everyone stands to sing the Doxology. When our daughter visited she said there was so much standing and sitting, she felt like she was in a Catholic service.

I wonder what the pastor and the people in the choir think when they see my face and body language during congregational singing. Do they wonder why my stance appears poised to chase some invisible being and why my face has an attentive listening expression?

I would gladly chase the invisible being if she was indeed there. Yet, while death can take away her physical body, it can not take away the memories of my mother’s voice. She sang with the prettiest alto voice I have ever heard and she was not a timid singer, whispering the words to the hymns. She belted them out joyfully.

 When the older hymns are sung, it’s like amidst the voices of those around me,  I can hear her voice.  I tilt my head and close my eyes, trying to capture it. That is when my singing gets really funky. Have you ever tried to sing with someone who isn’t there?

I always wanted an alto voice like my mother, but was born with a low soprano. I may have been able to develop an alto voice but our family of five, needed a soprano. I think my voice became confused because when our family would sing together, my patient dad would frequently shake his head over my lack of ability to stay on key. I can carry a tune, I just carry it in many ways!

I don’t think mother approves of using the over head screens to display the song lyrics without the notes because lately, when we sing hymns  like Standing on the Promises, her voice fills in the alto part in the chorus while the sopranos hold the note.  I decided to do it too, but I do it softly…..standing on the promises, standing on the promises. I felt awkward the first few times so I decided to stop singing and listen. Sure enough, there was a faint echo of other folks singing it the old-fashioned way.

Standing on the Promises

Photo from Church Hymnal 1979

Maybe one day I will be brave enough to ask the pastor if he notices my odd expressions during the singing.  Or maybe I won’t. I will keep sitting in the back of the church and hope he can’t see that far!

Visiting Grandmother’s House Part 1

10 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

When I was about eight years old, our family went to Louisiana for a summer visit with my dad’s family.  Grandmother Lites lived in the same house where she and 1my grandfather had raised 13 children in the late 1800s.  The original acre homestead was located in the central part of the state, near the little town of Many, about 80 miles south of Shreveport.

Grandmother’s house was typical of farm houses during that period; single story, square white clapboard, with a breezeway down the middle, living room and kitchen on one side and two bedrooms on the other.  There was a small front porch with room for several slat rocking chairs, and a narrow screened 2back porch that ran the width of the house and was just wide enough for a couple double beds,

Running water in the kitchen for washing and cleaning was gravity fed from an overhead cistern behind the house.  Drinking water had to be hand drawn with a bucket from the well.  The only heat in the house came from the fire place in the living room or the old  wood burning stove in the kitchen.

3At some point electricity had been added to the house which was the source for the single bare 60-watt light bulb and pull chain in the center of each room.  The old wall mounted crank telephone was a novelty for us kids when the operator would come on the line and ask what number we wanted.

Slop jars were used at night and the two-hole outhouse during the 5day.  Baths for us kids were taken in a round galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen floor.  The girls got to go first, since they usually didn’t dirty the water as bad as us boys did.

One of our main toys was an old tire that we rolled along 6most everywhere we went.  We had races with them, tied them to tree limbs for swings, and stacked them high to climb on to get at things out of reach over our heads.

The one most memorial visit for me was the year when the U.S. Army was holding one of their war maneuvers in the woods around my cousin’s and grandmother’s property.  My cousins and I would sneak off to the camp when nothing was going 7on, and wonder around checking out all the neat equipment and asking the soldiers questions.  The men were really nice to us, even letting us eat with them when the officers weren’t around.

Sometimes they would drive us out of the “restricted area” in one of their jeeps when they 8were getting ready to fire their howitzers (with blanks of course).  Even after they dropped us off, we were still close enough to get goose bumps every time one of those big guns was fired.   Wow! What a thrill that was.  We even got to play on them sometimes when the soldiers weren’t around, pretending we were helping win the war.  We didn’t know it at the time, but many of our country’s top generals attended those Louisiana maneuvers over the years.

I got a big kick out of helping my mother and grandmother make butter in the handcranked butter churn.  It always amazed me how the milk magically turned into butter and left that yummy buttermilk.  I loved buttermilk and drank it every time I got a chance.  Then there was the time the cows got into the bitter weed, and it made the milk so bitter I couldn’t drink it.




—–To Be Continued—–

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