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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mama Still Sings

Thinking about mom, Mollie Callie [Arington] Blumenberg

“Does your mother always sing?”

The question was asked by a schoolmate who had come home with me for the night.

“Well no,” I answered, “but I guess she does sing a lot.”

As I thought about my friend’s question I realized he was right. Mom almost always sang as she worked around the house. It was so much a part of my life I really didn’t think about it until he mentioned it, although I knew I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was just one of the good things in life I had always taken for granted.

That conversation took place many years ago, but I still remember because it helped me realize another thing for which I was thankful. Throughout my life I enjoyed Mom’s singing more because my classmate’s question made me realize it was something very special.

Later, as an adult I became interested in genealogy and began to do family research. I had faint memories of my great-grandparents, but until I began to trace our family tree I knew nothing beyond that. As I searched, researched, and talked with the old folks, I began to see patterns emerging that made me realize Mom’s singing went back for several generations.

One of Mom’s favorite Aunts, was Grandpa’s sister, Ethel Elliot. She lived into her nineties and a couple of times I visited with her and listened to and recorded her family stories. Born in the latter part of the nineteenth century (1899), she grew up on various farms in Western Kentucky where her father was a tenant farmer and her grandfather, my great-great grandfather, was a Baptist Preacher, church-planter and farmer. Great-great grandpa Wiley Jackson Arington moved his family to Ballard County, Kentucky from Obion County Tennessee in the late 1860s, shortly after the Civil War. He was a farmer by occupation and a church-planting minister by call of God—founding pastor of First Baptist Church in Wickliffe, Kentucky.

His Granddaughter (Aunt Ethel) recalled growing up in a time when life was primitive and you had to make your own fun. One way they did it, that brought back such good memories for her, was when her Dad, my Great “Grandpa Jack” Arington would get out his pitch pipe and the family would sing together. They sang gospel songs and fun songs and Tennessee mountain songs—in the summer on the front porch and in the winter around the stove, in the fields as they worked, and in church when they worshipped.

So Mom’s singing was in her genes. Her brothers and sisters sang naturally and beautifully at the slightest opportunity, or as they would say “At the drop of a hat”. Many played instruments, not so much to entertain others, although they sometimes do that, but just to entertain themselves, for the sheer joy of singing, and to worship the Lord.

At an Arington family reunion there is always a lot of “pickin’ and singin’”— and the songs continue now into at least the sixth generation. The Arington Family Reunion is held every year on the Sunday of Labor Day in Cunningham, Kentucky. The first one was held at least some time before 1869, somewhere in Tennessee.

Mom died about six and a half years ago on July 31, 2004, after living for years with Alzheimer’s disease. In those last years she usually didn’t know who we were when we came to visit until we would tell her. But she still remembered the old songs and until the very last, if you told her it was your birthday she could still sing “Happy Birthday” to you in a voice that was sweet and perfectly on key.

Now she’s in heaven, and I have no doubt the angels often stop to listen as she sings. But she won’t notice, or be aware of their attention, because, as she sings, she’ll be putting something in the oven or maybe hanging out the white robe laundry.

Mom, we were so blessed to grow up in your home. Your beautiful songs were typical of how beautiful you were.

I’m Rick Blumenberg, and that’s My View from Tanner Creek.


William said...

I love this, Rick, thanks so much for sharing. I thank God for your ability to take pen and paper (keyboard & word) and write your thoughts for all to see.

Music, was so much of our lives, and still is.

Love you a bunch.


Rick Blumenberg said...

Thanks William,

That's another gift from Mom. She was a great writer.

You're right about music being so much a part of our lives. The nice thing about this "earthly treasure" is that we can take it to heaven with us!

I love you too, cousin! I especially love hearing your high tenor on the Beulah Land CD and when your sing it with your brothers.


Tony said...

Thanks, Rick, great story on Mom and our heritage. We are blessed!

Love you!


Rick Blumenberg said...

True. We are blessed. I enjoyed the Facebook pictures of your girls coming home too. The blessing continues. The greatest earthly blessing is a good family life.