Friday, March 4, 2016

Family lullabies, family legacies

Our new granddaughter makes life better in so many ways, whether it is her hearing a bird's song for the first time or gazing quizzically at a white tail deer eating the end of the squirrel feeder's ears of corn.  Life is new and fresh again every day.

It is also a return to yesteryear.  She enjoys some of her mother's same toys saved with hope and prayer for then an unknown grandchild.  Marisol, as did her mother, enjoys the blocks that her father lovingly crafted and painted for her, as well as the wooden shape puzzles he also sawed and sanded.

And me? I hold her on my lap as her tiny fingers play the same piano keys I did, and her mother did, as children. One of our family legacies, that piano made the trip to my childhood home in the back of an old pickup truck, down State Route 60 from New Lexington to Marietta.  The price was right --free--for a poor family with a daughter eager to learn to play.

In addition, each day, Marisol and I sit in the very old wooden rocker that belonged to my grandmother's cousin whom we knew as cousin Jane.  Jane lived in a rather dilapidated apartment building close to the river at the corner of Second and Green Streets.  I was never sure of Jane's age, though she was older than my grandmother, who was born in 1888.

As we sit and rock, the old chair, a family hand-me-down with well-worn arm rests, provides the perfect setting for rocking Marisol to sleep with the two family lullabies I learned somehow, at some time from my family.  Two of our best family legacies.

The first is one I remember my Dad singing, the only time I remember him singing anything.  I sang it to our baby daughter daily, and I do the same to Marisol.

"You're the end of the rainbow, 
The star on the tree,
The Easter bunny,
To your Mommy and me,
You're sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
You're your Daddy's little girl."

I change the parental references but other than that sing the same tune.  It is special to me, as it not only reminds me of my father, but of singing it to our daughter.  Hopefully it will continue in our family, and in the hopes and dreams of future generations.

The other is one that I remember my Mom singing to my nieces and nephews, her grandchildren.  I remember asking her about its origin.  She explained that it came from the hills, and she remembers the older people in her family singing it to all the babies in her family.  All of her family grew up on Archer's Fork off Rt 26 in southeastern Ohio,  

It goes this way:

"Rock a bye, don't you cry,
Daddy's gone a-hunting,
Up on the hill, beside the mill,
To get his baby's bunting."

Even typing the words of these lullabies floods my brain with smells and sights of a time far away.  Sitting in the old rocker singing these family songs, I sometimes try to imagine all of the new babies, born in earlier days when life was simpler, being lulled to sleep.

Collicky babies, smiling babies, grabbing for the hair and necks of their mamas and grandmothers, until finally closing their eyes to the tunes of their families.

The lullabies of generations. Family legacies.

For their gifts from God.


  1. Beautifully shared family treasures! When my daughter was little, she made up or revised songs all the time (most famously- "Jump, jump, jump on the bed, The Bible tells me so!). Our favorite lullaby was our own made up song, too. It always started out "Mommy loves Miranda, Daddy loves her, too" and it could be short and sweet if she was sleepy or it could go on endlessly adding other family members and friends if she was resisting sleep...

    1. Thanks so much for your reply. I love the made-up songs. My family laughs when I do it. I love the joy you shared from your family. Thanks!


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