Blog Your Blessings Sunday: Uncle Bruce

Walking on an evening scented by myriad barbecues, I found myself thinking tonight of backyard family picnics and wondering if it ever happens that non-members are invited to these things. I can think of many backyard hoolies over the years, and they fall into one of two categories without overlap: picnics with friends or picnics with families.

The reason is simple: to borrow the words of my mother from a long time ago: "I don't explain 'em." Probably can't either.
Sit among a bunch of somebody's relatives, and you hear the lore, the old stories, the inside jokes, and the allusions that make sense only to an insider. Try to interpret for the newcomer and you stop before you start. The silliness, the joy, the strangeness belong to the whole experience. You had to have been there.

We don't explain 'em. Nevertheless, there are both beauty and magic in the stories of experiences that make a family a family. There were plenty of both in my mother's family--all the members of which it seems have a keen wit, an iron-clad memory, natural intelligence, and an alias.

Recently my mother's Uncle Bruce has sent me stories about this family. He doesn't explain 'em either--just puts it out there for me to enjoy and, more important, to join in the story. Looking at these last week, I realized my uncle was handing me an oral history of our family, a slice of American life in middle America in the middle of the last century. What a gift. What a blessing. Via email he is making these bits and pieces of the fabric of our lives available to all of us. Here's some:

When Pop first saw Nan he at once knew she was the gal for him. However, Nan's family felt she was way too young to be going out with a man so Pop used to dress up as a girl and come to see Nan.
Couppie [my grandmother] was one in a million. She always saw to it Fred [my grandfather] had the best of shoes available. By the way, did you know where the name Couppie came from? She was always called that around the house. One time she went in for a job with the railroad and was introduced as Couppie. (meaning Kewpie doll), but the interviewer though he heard her name was Poopie. This was the joke of the day for a long time which Couppie never liked hearing. Can't blame her.
Dorothy's told me about the day a telegram came via messenger. Nan took the telegram in hand and sat down next to the front door for a long time. Finally Pop asked if she was going to open it. She handed the telegram to Pop and asked him to open it. Pop pulled open one part of the thing and Nan asked "which of her sons was lost." Pop said Larry. Things like this you never forget. Even now it brings me to tears thinking about it.

(Photo: My grandmother, Marge Wiley, when she ws a schoolgirl.)


  1. Great writings! You are a blessing! Your blog is very inspiring. Have a great day.

    All the best,

    My Art Blog:

  2. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the encouraging words!

  3. I liked the the post and in particular the notion of things "you don't explain." Just one of those don't explain :-)

  4. What a wonderful post. That last story reminded me of the scene in "Saving Private Ryan" when the mother looks up to see the pastor arriving with the military group to bring the news and she collapses on the porch. So sad.

    Hope you're having a wonderful Sunday and thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hey Sandy. You had me from the first sentence. Great post! Happy BYB Sunday!

  6. Anonymous5:21 PM

    What a blessing that you are able to pass on family history by oral and now written tradition.

    Happy BYB Sunday

  7. Anonymous5:57 PM

    The stories that link us to the past and to our families - both biological and chosen are truly blessings.

    Great post... and I love your grandmother's name: Couppie. My grandfather was called "Boggy". :-)

  8. I agree (once again!) with Jude: "great writings!" Your stories are full of heart! Mahalo for the book recommendation!I just noticed some of the goodies on your sidebar, so I'm going to go explore them!

  9. Those stories are priceless. Every time a person dies, our history dies with them. It is sad.

  10. a certain tune to the story that brings up pictures of yesteryear with sunlight streaming in

    peace. somehow.


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