Last Monday we gathered again in Broken Bow to say goodby to my Grandma. We came from three of the four corners of our country with the majority arriving from the Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota area! We traveled by plane, by car, and even a few of us in the “one eyed wonder”. We came, sad for our loss but so thankful Grandma wouldn’t be suffering anymore. We cried, we laughed, we sang, we shared memories, we ate great food, and… oh yes… I sold books. Yes, I did. I admit it. I sold books out of the trunk of my Daddy’s car.
What??? How could you? Well… read my book and you will understand. Or, at least, you may begin to understand. You see… it’s a tradition.
My great-uncle, Ervin Jones was known as Trader Jones. In my book I very creatively (hah!) called him Trader Johnson. He was called this for an obvious reason. He always had a trunk full of interesting stuff, stuff that someone would NEED. As in my book, he always showed up at the ranch with cowboy boots in various kids sizes so that we would have them to wear when we visited. Once he even traded the hat right off his head. In the book he is the one character that is completely recognizable. He would have been proud of me! Especially when I sold his granddaughter a book.
But what about your grandparents? Let me tell you about my Grandpa Jones. When he was in his mid-seventies he decided that he remembered a lot of things no one else did. He had memories that would soon be lost to everyone. So he wrote them down. He wrote three books over the next several years and self published them. He then spent the next several years selling them to anyone and everyone he came in contact with. He carried them around in his Bronco. I remember him selling them to people sitting beside him at rodeos, around town, anywhere he went. I’m pretty sure he had them in his Bronco at a few funerals…
Then there is Grandma. My Grandma was extremely proud of the fact that I was writing some of our stories down. Stories that happened on their ranch. Stories that were from one of the best times of her life. She had a hard life, especially as a child and a young bride during the depression. When someone commented to her about “the good old days” her response was… “they weren’t that good.” So once they started making a living on the ranch it was easier to enjoy life. She loved having her children and grandchildren around. They were the best times of her life. Even up until her death she always perked up when the children came into her room. She lived the last few years on anticipation for the next family reunion or gathering when she would see all of the new babies.
So, while it may seem strange to an outsider that I would have books with me at the funeral it seemed completely normal and expected. I didn’t pull them out until someone asked for one. Then no one blinked an eye. They grinned and told me I was turning into George Jones. I’d call that a compliment! They laughed and questioned if I was becoming Uncle Ervin. And they were glad I brought books. After all, why spend money on shipping if you don’t have to. Oh, but that’s another thing we learned from our grandparents. Frugality!