Sometimes as we lay in bed, I ask My Handsome Prince to tell me a story. I love the sound of his voice and it lulls me to sleep, so the content of the story does not matter. Most of the time he just tells me of his day. Sunday night, he whispered "Did I ever tell you of the only time my Grandad spanked me?" And he told the story of how he would go back and forth from the Tire Shop that Shorty owned to the Grocery store across Rt. 50 that was owned by his Uncle Ed and Aunt Rene on the Miller side, (it was also owned at one time or another by Shorty, Sylvester Miller, Uncle Foster, Uncle Jim, and is still in the family as a real estate office). He told how Shorty would cross him or signal him to cross and under no circumstances was he to do it alone. MHP does not remember whether he did not listen or misundersood his Grandad but he says he can still feel the breeze of the tractor trailer that came within inches. Then Shorty smacked him on the butt. And that was the only time he was ever spanked by his Grandad.
Shorty hired a negro to work in the tire shop, that's what African Americans were called in his day. He was a family man, down on his luck, and needed a job. Another employee of his refused to work in the same place as a negro. Shorty shook his employees hand, told him he was a great worker and would miss him.
There were other stories told yesterday at the funeral for Shorty Grapes. It was held in the largest church in Romney WV expecting a crowd for he touched the lives of many. While the stories were told, I could hear his youngest Great Grandchildren behind me, a 3 year old boy and a 4month old girl, cousins, their mother's sisters. The boy would make a face or say something and the baby would squeal. It was lovely. My beautiful daughter attempted to sing "His Eye is on the Sparrow", one of Shorty's favorite hymns, and almost made it but broke down, Ellen's voice, cracking with tears tried to continue the song and got the crowd to finish it. Wayne, MHP's cousin, spoke so eloquently, trying to control himself, but it was not possible for anyone to contain their true grief. He spoke of the things that Shorty taught the Grandsons, how to be providers, work ethic, and how to love a woman. My Handsome Prince and his cousin embraced each other and cried together with an understanding that only Grandsons would know. It was a wonderful day, it was a terrible day.
All last week, Audrey was working on a family tree. Stories were read from various sides of the family, stories were shared. We heard a story on suspected Native American heritage. We read of a disagreable woman. It was quite interesting and funny how some are remembered. On our way to the service yesterday, Bill, my FIL, told us stories of growing up, of his siblings, he even took us on a detour through the town of Harpers Ferry where MHP was born. We have talked before of the importance of our stories. What are you stories? What will be said of you? Check this out.