Deep roots make lasting family ties
My mother’s roots came from Kentucky. Beginning forefathers were named Childers and Hammock. One of my most memorable stories my mother would tell me is when her grandfather, who was the Sheriff of Rock Castle County, was gunned down on the porch of a church where he was hanging his guns before he entered the church service. I have tried to visualize that day so many times.
Since I was a child, the Childers and Hammocks celebrated Memorial Day at the cemetery in Middletown, Ohio. I remember my great aunts decorating the graves and sharing stories of their loved ones. As a child, I loved listening to my ancestor’s antics and accomplishments. After singing some hymns accompanied by guitar and banjo picking uncles and cousins, we would go to Armco Park and have an all day picnic. Apple stack cakes, fresh green beans with ham hocks, scalloped potatoes, crisp country friend chicken, creamy potato salad, home made breads, and collard greens were just part of the menu. It was one of my favorite holidays because of the stories, the food, and the banjos. I loved singing old hymns with my family. There were so many cousins that came from Cincinnati, Washington DC, and nearby areas that I could not know all of them. Since mom was one of nine children, there were many first and second cousins.
This memorial day we gathered in Springboro, Ohio at my cousin Billy Hammock’s farm. It is no longer a family tradition to go to the cemetery. Younger cousins don’t even understand how important decorating family graves were in the 50’s and 60’s. Yet, our family still comes together to share wonderful food, tell stories, chase little cousins, calm crying babies, and gather on the porch to hear Billy tell tales of our families who fought in the wars to maintain our freedom. Civil War stories are the best when Billy recounts the roles of our relatives in the war. Names like Enoch, Eli, and Levi are repeated through the generations. It is still a blessing to gather together, to pray together, and sing those old hymns. Tears stand in eyes as we share stories of recent aunts and uncles and cousins who have gone on to be with Jesus. It is a blessing to have deep roots in our family but our deepest and sustaining roots are in Jesus of Nazareth.
The featured photo is a 1913 gathering of brothers and their dad. It is obvious there is dramatic flair back then. I cherish this old photo because it shares some of my family’s other interest. (Snickering by me) So, as in any family, there is tomfoolery and partying as well as the deep roots that have kept us celebrating Memorial Day together.