My Pap was a man who would ‘ruminate’ out loud, remembering the ‘good old days’ and all the adventures and hardships that they provided. His eyes would twinkle as he told of the pranks he would play on the neighbors, the pretty girls he knew in the Marines, how he had found the farm that would be his home for over 50 years…the list goes on and on. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, and if I got him in the right mood, he would tell other stories. Stories about how his father once worked all summer in a neighbor’s field for the promise of a pair of shoes in time for winter, and how after harvest the neighbor refused to pay him. Stories of how his ‘city cousins’ would visit because they didn’t have enough food, and what little he had on the farm would be shared among them. Stories of how a crooked banker tried to steal his farm, and how he had to live off of eggs and frozen apples for a winter so that he could afford to make his loan payments. Stories about some of his Marine buddies that never came home.
My Pap’s favorite stories always revolved around meeting my grandma, and the life that they had created for themselves. They had been a team, through good times and bad, and their lives had been better because they had found each other. He had bought the farm; she had made it a home, filling it with laughter and children.
Pap’s ruminating always had a purpose. He only spoke of the hard times to underline the importance of the good times. He did not become bitter over the conniving banker that had tried to steal his dream, but rather laughed, because he had persevered and come out on top.
Today, when I ‘ruminate,’ it takes the form of writing, as I do not have children or grandchildren who are eager to hear my stories. I remind myself that the bad times only highlight the good, and that ending a story with a chuckle or tear will make it live on in the minds of readers. I hope to someday ‘ruminate’ on the same porch as Pap did, and to pass the love of a good story on to a fourth generation of my family.