Isaac Watts wrote the words to what we know as the Christmas Carroll: Joy to the World while the tune may have come from several sources, I found myself focused on these words:
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
It seems like you have all the time in the world, and then suddenly there are only days, perhaps hours to bring people together who may have known each other decades ago. For me, that was how it was one day last week. My friend Diana Duran has lived in Miami for the last few years and worked at the Miami Public Library. She had told me her mother had known Leaford and Barbara Bearskin twenty years ago and had asked if I knew how to find Barbara. Of course, I said yes, but had not brought them together yet and suddenly there were few days left to make that happen before Diana was set to move from Miami for keeps.
We arrived at Quapaw's premier elder estate where Barbara currently lives and marched right in on her, the day after the facility's Christmas party. We found her sitting beautifully covered with the softest red velvet cover with white fleece trim.
I introduced Diana and she began describing her mother and where she lived in Wyandotte and how her antique business might have been the connection between her and the Bearskins. Diana gave clue after clue and then it was the most amazing thing, Barbara remembered Diana's mother's ashes had gone to Scotland and wondered why.
As we visited, Barbara provided more and more remembrances to Diana of her mother while she had been living locally. Bobby had died twenty years ago of breast cancer at age 66, near the age Diana is now, so to hear stories of her mother, things she would have said, details on her "attitude" and how she looked. Well, I have to tell you each remembrance was like a brand new gift. Each comment relished.
There are few things you can give a friend, but these words Barbara Bearskin shared with this daughter, a woman she had never met, were treasures that could not be bought. The acknowledgment of the love Leaford emitted to people he encountered was voiced only then to become an endearment deepening Diana's connection to her mother. The graciousness Barbara gave, to listen and to remember will long be treasured by that motherless woman, my friend Diana.
Diana's mother had lived in a beautiful home I understood was near the old Seneca Indian Boarding School. The conversation came to describe the home and the surroundings near the Boarding School, which had been prominently on my mind lately. I had been given the opportunity to review the results of a project Juanita Bigheart had completed involving the former boarding school. She had learned by listening how those who had attended school there described the site, their days on that hill in Wyandotte and their recollections included the sounds of the bells ringing and the friendships they developed that lasted throughout their lifetimes.
It becomes more important to value not only the stories, but how very important it is to be asked to remember, to then take the time to pull out, perhaps slowly at first the strands and then to accept and take the time to listen to the flood that may follow as these memories begin to flow more easily from that bank account we have stored in our brains.
Big gifts or small, breaking the silence with answers to questions left long unspoken, sharing time with old friends and celebrating lost acquaintances and wrongs made right. All good, all real. These are bringing lasting JOY this year.
Find the things that bring you joy and fill your life with them.
And as poet Mary Oliver would say,
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
Surely your answer will include what brings you joy.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim