|My Neighbors and Friends: Jerry and Ed Bernier|
We all want to tell our stories, and we all want people to listen.
Being heard is a basic survival instinct, and most of us want and need to survive.
In response to my post titled We Must Be Allowed To Tell Our Own Stories, my neighbor and friend, Ed, wrote this poem:
based on a poem by Nikki Giovanni
childhood remembrances are always a drag
if you’re from a French family in a valley full of Scandinavians, Selah, WA
you always remember things like living in Selah
with no inside toilet (yes we didn't have an inside toilet until 1944, 5 years after my father finished building the 16' x 32' wood frame house using lumber from an old house he dismantled on our property, and we were 5 kids and 2 parents.) We heated in the winter with a pot-bellied wood stove in the linoleum-floored living room and cooked on an ancient wood-fired kitchen range.
and if you become famous or something
they never talk about how happy you were to have
your mother, father, brothers, and sisters
all to yourself and
how good the water felt when you got your bath
from one of those
corrugated iron tubs that Mom put down on the kitchen floor and filled tea kettle by tea kettle so we three boys could bathe each Saturday night.
and somehow when you talk about home
it never gets across how much you
understood their feelings
as the whole extended family of grand parents, 8 uncles, 3 aunts, mother and father, and we five kids got together at least once a year
and even though you remember
your biographers never understand
your father’s pain as his father and 9 sons lost everything in the depression and he had to go to work for the WPA at 12 Cents an hour plus a bag of flour once a week, but he didn't give up on his dream and neither did we.
Yes, we were taunted for being poor, and often left out of things other kids did because we didn't have any "party" clothes, just simple cotton coveralls, one pair of shoes per year, and maybe a couple of cotton shirts your mother sewed together using empty flour sacks (yes, that happened)
And though you were poor it was not poverty that
concerned you, nor was the fact that your father was out of work for months on end. What made a difference was that your grandfather, grandmother, 8 uncles and 3 aunts, plus your parents and sisters
and your brothers at Christmas got together once a year at Christmas. Though not once in your childhood did you have a "birthday party, your mother baked a soggy chocolate cake for the occasion, and Uncle Maurice and Uncle Sidney stopped by and gave you a $1.00 bill and said, "Don't spend it all in one place."and I really hope nobody ever has cause
to write about me
because they never understand
what it means to be brought up poor, no, poverty-stricken yet to succeed in live beyond any childhood expectation, being happy all the while.
Everyone Wants To Be Heard......