Wednesday, May 08, 2019

GRIOT: The Family Griot

When my sister died, she took with her a lot of our oral family history. My mother used to talk to us all the time about her life as a young woman back in Texas. I didn't appreciate her stories until I got older and there are so many times I wished I had tape-recorded her telling them. Being ten years older than me, my sister knew and remembered more of the people and things my mother talked about. Now, there are only a few members of the extended family who have this knowledge. But I do remember some things.

Can't remember where I found the image a while back

Some of my favorite stories are of the times my mother and her cousins would have "play church". There were a lot of cousins to make up the congregation, but it was Vera Lee who usually played the part of the pastor. She could stomp, preach, and hold her ear and yowl like the best of the Southern 'negro' preachers.

One time during one of these 'church' services, the cousins decided to hold a funeral. They also decided that the funeral needed a body. Cousin Bunky was the snitch of the group and she had recently gotten some of the other kids in trouble with her tattling. And that is how Vera Lee decided that Bunky should be the body. Bunky had forgotten all about the recent whoopings she had caused for the other kids so she was fine with playing the corpse at the funeral. Until the other kids got to the part where they actually tried burying her.

There were so many of these stories from my mother. I'm glad that I have old notebooks and blog posts with some of the tales recorded. I thought that I would share (or re-share) some of them here. So, every now and then, I will do those post filed under "Griot" and hope that other people will be encouraged to enjoy their own family histories.