The enduring power of 'busy hands'
Salvation South editor Chuck Reece attended a whole lot of funerals when he was a child, but he never tired of hearing loved ones share sweet stories about the dearly departed. In this week's commentary Chuck discusses one recent remembrance that struck a particular chord.
Chuck Reece - Salvation South Editor: Not long ago, I went to a country funeral. Now I have a lot of experience with country funerals. When I was a kid, I went to dozens of them, tagging along with my musical father, who always answered the call to find the appropriate songs to send someone off to glory. Now, oddly enough, I have many good memories of those funeral. Grieving friends and family members told beautiful stories. They talked about why they loved the deceased, how this person, now gone, had played a pivotal role in their lives.
The funeral I attended a few weeks ago was for close family friend, and I was struck by the sweetness of the whole affair. The highlight came when The Departed, his brother-in-law, who is a methodist minister, shared his recollections. He delivered a beautiful, enduring eulogy filled with precious memories of his sister-in-law. And one of the things he remembered in particular was what he called Eleanor's busy hands. Evidently, the late Eleanor was almost never without a crochet hook and a basket full of yarn. She crocheted Afghans for almost every member of her family and sometimes more than one. She had a big heart, and she showed her love through the work of her hands.
Hearing about Eleanor. It got me to thinking about all the ladies with busy hands and my own extended family. I had an aunt named Victoria, Aunt Vic for short, who was also frequently attached to crochet. Almost every one of my aunts and I had more than a dozen of them were handy with crochet hooks, knitting needles, sewing machines.
A few months ago, a writer named Shelley Johansson gave Salvation South a story called Sewing Lessons. The story was about her great grandmother, Eva, who sewed all the time. During World War II, she sewed bandages for the wounded, working with her friends at the local Red Cross, even as she worried about her son, who had been taken prisoner by the Japanese army. Today, Shelly has Eva's diaries in her sewing box. In her story, she quotes something her great grandmother wrote in 1975, 'I don't miss anything about the past. I take things as they come. We have been through great depressions and came through them with flying colors. Of course, having the fine husband I had and the fine family I still have and the sincere faith in God has everything to do with my feelings. I have sewed almost all my life for my family and others and I made so many choir robes I feel I could supply the heavenly choir.'.
Now, if you grew up in the rural south, you probably know some folks who had busy hands. Cherish those folks if they're still around. Cherish their memories as if they're gone. Because what comes out of every set of busy hands is love.
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Salvation South editor Chuck Reece comments on Southern culture and values in a weekly segment that airs Fridays at 7:45 a.m. during Morning Edition and 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on GPB Radio. You can also find them here at GPB.org/Salvation-South.