Why Didn’t I Ask?

I was talking to a close friend of the family the other day about times gone by, and we both — at the same time — questioned why didn’t we ask more questions about how something happened.

There are any number of events or moments that now come to mind that I wish I had asked my Mother or Dad about, as well as my grandparents. With all these family members now gone, I have no one to ask, no way of knowing.

I never asked for details about how my parents met. I know it was the War years, my Dad served, but when and where did they actually meet? Before he left or after he came home? The same for my paternal grandparents, on whose farm I grew up. Way back in those days, people didn’t travel.

Did they meet in school? In church? At a family picnic, maybe?

My mother did tell us that, when she graduated from Beverly High School, she went to Baltimore to find work. I recall one picture of her and a close girlfriend, so perfectly dressed for the 40’s in their skirts and silk blouses with black high-heeled shoes. Both brunettes with long hair, down on their shoulders. But that’s it. Why didn’t I ask about exactly where she worked, where they lived, how long did they stay, etc.? I’ll never know now because there aren’t even relatives living who would know.

I have concluded that, when we can ask these questions, our own lives are filled with what we are doing, and there’s no concern for the past. We are living in the present, making our own way in this world. Then the present passes and passes and passes until life slows down, and we begin to wonder where it all went. And it’s, more often than not, too late to find out.

I am grateful for one story I heard for the first time recently, related by my Dad’s only living sister. Their mother, my Grandmother Piercy, was quite a cook and baker. I do know that Mother told me this, having come to the family farm as a new bride with no kitchen experience. Grandmother taught her nearly everything — how to bake bread, all the garden canning, roasting the Thanksgiving turkey, etc.

Aunt Lois related that, to make some extra money, Grandmother spent one day a week in the kitchen baking and the next day went to Elkins to sell her wares. Pies, bread, cakes, etc. They had no car and she traveled in a horse and buggy. That fact fascinated me! How I wish I had been around to ride with her.

On one particular trip, in a sharp curve on the Laurel Mountain Road, she met a car. The two vehicles were too close, and the horse’s bridle caught on the side mirror of the car. Anyone can guess what happened. The horse, buggy, Grandmother, and all her baked goods were upset in the road. Thanks be to God that she and the horse were unhurt, but, of course, that was the end of the baked goods.

There was no money made that day, but it could have been so much more serious. How I loved hearing this story! And all I could think was how many more stories Grandmother could have told me, but she never did. I spent a lifetime before I heard this one. And it was like handing me a gift with a big yellow bow! Still, there had to be a hundred more that would have told me so much about her life.

My reasoning is that she considered her life completely normal, nothing out of the ordinary to talk about. But I’m sure it would have been extraordinary to me.

So, I conclude that, if you still have the opportunity to ask, don’t hesitate! Don’t let it be too late. And you might even consider sharing your life with those around you. It could be extraordinary to them, even though just ordinary to you.


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