Monday, October 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye So That They Can Say It's Good To Be Home

Growing up, I was blessed by maternal grandparents who provided me with ten of the "world's greatest" Aunts and Uncles, not to mention a whole passel of playmates, first cousins whom are now spread all over the world, as in "big wide world."

It fascinates me to consider what life must have been like during those hard-scrabble days of the early twentieth century to parent eleven very active children. The sheer hustle and bustle of the whole process is perplexing to me, the mere logistics of the task is daunting to say the least. Owen B. and May Curry spent the earliest years of wedded bliss living in the sawmill company town of Cass, West Virginia prior to moving their ever-growing family to the County Seat of Pocahontas County, Marlinton, where O.B. served as the jailer and the family occupied the living quarters attached to the large stone building that housed the county jail.

The emanation of an acclaimed family legacy undoubtedly had it's origin amidst the life and times of the Curry Children's occupation of the Pocahontas County Jail. After their stint in the jail, life took a somewhat mundane turn as O.B. Curry transitioned from jailer to grocer and butcher at Curry's Semi-Self Serve Market. That is, as mundane as life with eleven children could be. How hectic life must have been in that big white house at 711 Ninth Avenue with teenagers coming and going to football and basketball games and cheerleading practice, it must have been a constant flurry of activity. And from the assiduous clan was spawned a compilation of accolades, awards, distinctions and degrees that you would not predict from a brood native to a tiny isolated mountain village located hundreds of miles from the sophistication and urbanity of the Pre-World War II American cities of the Eastern United States. There were decorated military veterans, nurses, a physician, a lawyer and a pharmacist. The family had state officials and a sheriff, and over the years the siblings migrated to San Diego, Atlanta, Wisconsin, Washington D.C. and locations in between.

I maintain an ardent envisage of the gaiety that emanated from that house on 9th Avenue when the entire family would gather at holiday time. If there is one characteristic that embodies the descendants of O.B. Curry it would be frivolity.

Not all of the Curry Clan scattered across the land. The oldest son, Wilbur, stayed back in Marlinton where he joined his father in the grocery business. And Dale, the pharmacist, returned to his hometown to own and operate the corner drug store, just down the street from the market. As the years passed and the family grew with a new generation of progeny. A trip to Marlinton to visit Grandma and Grandpa Curry was always a highly anticipated event. Of course a trip to Marlinton also included a chance to hang out with two of your favorite uncles, Wilbur and Dale. I can only imagine the excitement that both of them must have felt in the days leading up to visits from their nieces and nephews. Their excitement probably matched the "dread" that their siblings, the parents of all of those nieces and nephews must have endured in anticipation of all of Dale and Wilbur's fun aimed at spoiling the kids.

Recently during Uncle Wilbur's last days I was talking with one of his grandsons, and I told him that long before there were grandchildren, Uncle Wilbur had practiced on nieces and nephews, and he did. And I might add, he got it right. Unfortunately, saying goodbye has been all but to frequent in our large family. All but three of those FABULOUS aunts and uncles are now together in heaven, leaving us behind with lots of fabulous memories and the grief of missing them. But as we grieve over the loss of those great fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents we are sustained by each other. In fact, they live on through our lives. The lessons they taught go with us no matter where we are. We can all be proud of our lineage and heritage. We are lucky, we have a tremendous family and as we say our goodbyes to those who have gone before us, we will always see reminders of them in each other and with this our blessing and their legacy will continue to live, even as the tears fall upon our cheeks our hearts are strangely warmed knowing heaven has gained another angel in the form of a Curry kid and oh what joy there must have been in heaven last Thursday as the oldest son Wilbur came walking through the gates.

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