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With the phone on speaker, my brother-in-law's southern drawl filled the car as he shared the directions he remembered -
"From there, you go down a big ol' hill; at the bottom, on the opposite side of the road from a pasture, there's a big Sycamore tree. We lived right up the road from this bend..."
Yesterday, I spent time typing up notes I had taken on a very special driving tour with my husband and in-laws. When we were in Georgia in February for my sister-in-law's funeral, my husband Tony and his two remaining sisters decided to drive around and visit the places that they had lived as children. They called their brother up on speaker phone, so that he might help them find their way around. I went along as the "scribe," bringing my trusty notebook and pen. I tried not to interrupt their conversation, and to write down every tidbit I heard them sharing. I knew this was an all-too-rare opportunity to capture family history.
Tony is second youngest in a family of 13 children; the sister-in-law that died was the baby of the family (and it doesn't seem right for the youngest to die before others, does it?). One of the first thoughts I had when she died, in the midst of all the grief, was that we had just lost a lot of family history. The baby sister was the one who kept tabs on everybody and everything that had happened through the years. She truly treasured her family.
Their father worked as a preacher, a cabinet maker, and a tenant farmer, which meant that the family was uprooted many times, moving to new locations in the state. A number of years were spent in the vicinity of Hickory Flats, which was near to where we were staying. (It's amazing to think how much population has grown in this area - Hickory Flats was considered 'the boonies' when my husband and his siblings were growing up, but is now considered the outer environs of Atlanta.)
Now, there are only four living siblings, of the original 13 - Tony, an older brother, and two older sisters. It was a very special day to drive around and hear their reminiscing. It was also fun to type up all the notes from this grand tour and share them with everyone. Tony and his sibs are making edits, adding details, and sharing new stories to the ones I captured - there is a touch of healing in this memory-writing.