[A note from vanilla before today's tale: Today is the 106th anniversary of my mother's birth. Mother has been with her Lord and Savior many years now, but I still miss her here on this orb.]
Years after Uncle Jep and Aunt Grace had passed, I was conversing one day with one of their nieces. Dora was daughter to Aunt Jean. She was a mere slip of a girl when Jep and Grace got married in 1894, but she remembered being at their wedding. At the time of my visit with her, Dora was set to turn ninety the following month, and although she may have lost a step or two, she was still in full possession of all her marbles, so to speak.
Dora had grown up in the area with Aunt Grace and Uncle Jep, knew them well in her formative years. As you know, my time with this wonderful couple was during their later years. I shared a few of Uncle Jep's stories with Dora, then she opened my eyes to a side of Uncle Jep I had not known.
"Uncle Jeptha used to tell me stories, too. They seem to be somewhat different, though, from the tales he told you. Fortunately, when I was a girl I kept a diary, and when Uncle Jep would tell me a story, I would faithfully record it in my journal. I was but thirteen when they moved to Colorado, so you must remember that the stories were told to a very young girl.
"My diaries from that time in my life were recorded on newsprint Daddy got in Rogersville. Mama always said fancy books for writin' down stuff simply were outside the range of our needs. 'But,' she said, 'if you really think your life is worth writing about, you will find a way.' And I did. Leftover ends of newsprint rolls and stubby pencils, that was my way. I cut nice sheets, kept them in a special drawer, then when I had enough done, I would punch holes in the corners and tie them together with knitting yarn. I am not long for this world, and there is nothing in those books of which I am ashamed, so if you would like to have them, I will get them to you."
I felt as though heaven had opened and manna had dropped into my hungry mouth! To actually have records of Jeptha's early stories seemed a dream bigger than any I had dreamed before! I was so excited that I actually told Cousin Dora that very thought. She smiled and quipped, "Waal, as Uncle Jep would have said, don't get yer hopes higher'n you can reach. They are only the scribbles of a youngster, and the tales are certainly different from what you are used to."
Dora was true to her word. She could have been home not much more than a few days at most when she mailed the package to me. It contained two "books" bound with red yarn. Though she had started the diary when she was seven years old, and though it was written "with a stubby pencil," the treasure was every bit as wonderful as I had hoped.
I mailed a thank-you note with birthday wishes the very next day. Crossing it in the mail was a letter from Dora's son, Ephraim, telling me that his mother had passed, and that she had mentioned, during her last day of life, how much she appreciated the time spent with me reminiscing about the Old Auntie and Uncle Jeptha.
© 2014 David W. Lacy 45