Many a winter night we sat around the table talking. Candles throwing bouncing lights. Casting beams of light on each pair of eyes.
Everyone sitting close together around the table. Eating pop-corn and drinking kool-aid or coffee. Snow falling and blustery winds could be seen and heard outside our old wooden door. Rattles of shutters knocking on the frame of the house. This provided the perfect scenario for living memories of the past.
Pictures would be scattered on the table as we went through them as the adults would spin their tales of their past. I always looked forward to these family nights. They didn’t happen often as there was always plenty of work to be done on the farm.
Repairs were being made to the home, inside and out. Gardens being tilled and worked. Land being chopped, plowed and seeded. A creaky barn set to the west of the homestead. This is where years of horses were raised. Plows, rakes and hoes stood erect in the corners while spiders made their homes during the quiet months.
Babies were born. A large amount people had lived on this land and born their offspring. To the east and behind the house sat a family cemetery. Each family member was carefully placed here. Wedding after wedding took place in the front yard between the dogwood trees.
Today, as I huddle together with my brothers and sisters under the kitchen table. I hear the horrific words of the powerful tornado that was passing over our part of the country. We went to the neighbors because they had a bigger home than our family.
It felt like we hid here for hours. My back began to hurt as I stayed crunched in one position. We each took turns at rotating our positions but had been warned to not come out until we were instructed.
At last the order was given. We were relieved of our position. Coming out and working to stand up we went to the windows and looked outside for damages. Our bicycles were no longer standing against the framed porch. We saw large tree branches tossed around the yard. It was if they had a party of their own.
The skies were still dark but not as gray as they were earlier. Off in the far distance we could see the peeking sun. A rainbow was forming in front of our eyes. This was a sign of hope mom had always said.
We asked the adults if we could go outside and they said, “Yes but be careful”. We went out and walked around. We started looking for our bikes and did find them nestled in the tall grasses near the barn. They were a little twisted but still able to be ridden we thought.
The adults came out of the house and told us,”We are headed over to our farm now. Let’s go children”. Making the trip didn’t take very long. Everyone was walking with a quicker step as we all were anxious to see what had happened.
Once we all arrived we stood in awe. The home that had held so many memories, so many people was nowhere to be found. Only remnants remained scattered showing us proof that there was once a house.
We gathered closely together and held hands in a circle. One of the uncles started praying. Us kids stood very still trying to understand the complexities of this situation. The prayer ended the men walked off to find salvageable goods and start a burn pile for the bad pieces.
The memories are here with us. The cemetery is still in tact. Only two of the dogwood trees are missing. We are safe and healthy and with the help of our elders and our memories our new home will be built very soon.