Sunday Morning Bliss

When I was a little girl, I went to church every Sunday with my parents. Church, for me, is pretty important for obvious reasons, but what I really love, is that every time I smell the inside of the church I attend with my husband, as I walk through the door, I am flooded by memories.

But not of this church.

Or my parent’s church.

But my grandmother’s church.

A little country church that my grandmother has gone to her entire life. A church where, as a little girl, she would sneak in and swim in the baptismal pool behind the church on scorching hot Mississippi summer days.

A church that my grandfather helped renovate and rebuild many years later.

A place where I feel closer to God than any place on earth, and can still feel my grandfather’s calloused brick mason’s hands as he would lead me inside. I can still see the mud on my little white, lace trimmed gloves, and I can still feel the weight of my little patent leather pocketbook that I would fill up with dozens of pretty rocks that I would find out in the gravel parking lot before the service.Screen Saver 427

I can still hear my sweet grandmother singing “Just as I Am” so terribly off-key that, even as a child, I knew those notes were definitely not right.

I can still hear Brother Floyd’s booming voice as he taught about Heaven and Hell from the pulpit, making me jump when his voice would get louder and louder as he was making his point.

And I can feel the hardness of the wooden pew as I would adjust and readjust to keep my butt cheeks from going to sleep. I am convinced people made those pews so uncomfortable simply so that no one would fall asleep during the service.

But church wasn’t always entertaining for a child, so I would find ways to amuse myself. I’d draw on the bulletin that was handed to my mother as we walked in the sanctuary. I would play “I Spy” with myself and try to go through the entire alphabet trying to match items with letters.

Or, as I did one particular Sunday morning, got up from the front pew and proceeded to do somersaults down the center of the aisle. My mother was mortified, and my grandmother, who was also the organist, just laughed.

Luckily, this was also a church where 99% of the congregants are related to me somehow because the town is so small, so no one was really surprised when I did that.

As an adult, I no longer do somersaults down the aisle (although there ARE a few rocks in my purse), but I have come to realize that no matter where I go, or what church I attend, I know my love for the church started there.

And that is a very good memory, indeed.

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Letters To Banma

Every Monday morning after I have gotten my step-son up and ready for school, I sit down at our breakfast bar and get out my nice stationery and pen.

I begin to write.

I write about what went on that particular week. I write about how my son is doing in college and what my step-kids are doing. I write about how cold the weather has gotten and how I can’t wait until spring time so I can plant in my garden. I write about the cold I think I’m getting and I hope I don’t pass it on to my husband. And how I probably should have gotten a flu shot but because I am mentally allergic to needles, I never made the time to get one. I write about the house we just moved into and how I am finally getting everything unpacked.

This letter, I write each week, is to my 93-year-old grandmother, whom we call Banma. Banma, Ninny, and me.

She lives in a little town in Mississippi and since my grandfather passed away in 1987, she has lived by herself. She doesn’t have cable TV so she only gets three channels using the bunny-ears antennas, and usually repeats of Lawrence Welk can be found on at least one of the channels.

She doesn’t own a computer and other than taking care of her dog and working in her vegetable garden during the warm weather, there isn’t much for her to do.

I picture her sweet face each week as she walks the length of her driveway (which is fairly long) to check her mail and when she opens her mailbox, she sees my familiar stationery. The thought of her smiling upon seeing my letter makes me so happy.

I could call her on the phone but since she is getting older, I find myself repeating things over and over, and louder and louder. She gets frustrated because it’s hard for her to hear me and so she ends up saying “Well, isn’t that nice?” to no matter what I’ve said.

I want her to KNOW what’s going on in my and my family’s life, so I write to her.

My mother, Ninny, says that when Banma gets my letters she doesn’t just read them once and put them away. She will leave them out on the coffee table and several times during the week, she will sit down and read them over and over.

Each day we all receive junk mail, report cards, tax information, and of course, bills. How nice does it make you feel when you open your mailbox and get a surprise card from someone? It kind of makes you overlook how stinky the rest of the mail can be.

So the next time you feel like texting someone or just making a quick phone call, consider writing a note or letter to them instead.

Because the day they receive your letter may also be the day they find out they’re going to be audited by the IRS and it may be the only bit of happy coming out of the mailbox that day.

Capture Generations of Stories Before They Are Gone

My 18 year old son Matthew is visiting my 93 year old grandmother this week in Mississippi.  Last night I called him to see how things were going.  He interrupted me mid-sentence and said “I have to call you back.  Banma is telling me old stories.”  (Yes, we call our grandmother Banma – it’s got to be a Southern thing to call your grandmother by some silly name, which clearly we do.)

Later he called me back and said “That was so awesome.  I just heard all kinds of stories about this house.  Did you know that my great, great, great grandfather died in here?”

The house was built in the mid 1800’s and generation after generation was born there, all the way down to my mother.  (The tradition stopped when I was born due to the invention of epidurals.)   There were weddings and even deaths in that house.

Banma told Matthew stories of how the house was framed on top of huge tree trunks that were brought up from the back woods.  He heard about my great, great grandfather who literally died of a broken heart upon hearing that his wife had just passed away.  He learned that my grandmother gave birth to my mother in the front bedroom on a cold Christmas morning.

These stories, like many other generations of stories could one day be lost.  This is one of the main reasons why StoryMark was created…to capture those memories and stories before they are gone.

Sit down with your grandmother or grandfather and have them StoryMark their old photos.  Use the camera on your iPhone to capture the images, and let the story telling begin.

You may also find out interesting tidbits like we did. For example, following the birth of my mother, my grandmother got up and cooked Christmas dinner.  Boy times have changed.

Twitter @danamcintyre1

For more information, please visit www.storymarklife.com or download for free in the iPhone app store or Android Marketplace.