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I used to settle at my grandmother’s feet and listen to her weave the stories of her life, adding the weft of daily life to the warp of womanhood, faith, and family. When she talked about her husband who had died forty years ago, the love light still shone clearly in her eyes. When she talked about her children, I could hear in her voice every time they broke her heart and mended it. Tales of gardening brought back the scent of fading summer roses. With each meal remembered, I could smell every slice of bacon and cornmeal mush that old iron skillet ever turned out.
I am thankful that some power greater than my adolesence made me, usually, sit and listen. If I had anything in my hands, it was a piece of crochet work that she would oversee. Grandma didn’t live far into the days of cell phones and laptops, and I either didn’t care for or knew we couldn’t afford whatever hand-held gadget was considered high-tech at the time.
Thank God. Thank God I didn’t miss that. I would not have the my strengths, my straight and narrows, my warp strings, if I did not have those stories.
The closest I’ve come in recent years to those moments at my grandmother’s feet was this past weekend. I listened to a teller of tales, a folk singer, a woman Grandma would have appreciated. Through her stories and songs I felt the dust of a hard road in my shoes, the breeze off a fishing lake, and the dampness of tears rolling down my face as Grandma’s coffin was carried into a little country church where voices were raised in old songs.
And I might have missed it. I might have missed it by answering a text. I might have missed it because the open laptop in front of me danced with distractions. I would have justly kicked my own ass if I’d missed that feeling for a damned tweet.
I’m not knocking all tech goodies and gadgetry. I’m writing a freaking blog post, for goodness sake, one tangentially related to a bloggers’ conference. There’s a reason, however, aside from being broke, that I don’t live life tethered to technology. There are things in life that will never fit on a three-inch screen, ideas that can’t be expressed in one hundred forty characters, big pictures that don’t translate to thumbnails.
And I don’t want to miss them.