I never got all of Mom’s stories. Or if I did hear them, I didn’t think of them as important. I always thought there was more time. Now, Mom’s stories are gone.

Before I lose more stories, I want to capture them. Each Sunday, for as long as I can, I am going to use this space to tell my family’s stories. Here’s two I captured today with my Grandpa Lou and Grandma Betty.


Today, Grandma told me about her grandfather Lord Byron (I kid you not – those are his given names) who was a “pow wow doctor.” Apparently, in a long tradition of Pennsylvania Germans, people would knock on his door to get treated for ailments. As Grandma describes it, someone might have a pain in her arm, and Grandpa Lord Byron (how do you not use both names?) would lean forward, say some sort of “mumbled phrase” over it, and “puff puff on it.” The pain would go away.

Apparently, Grandpa Lord Byron also once cursed a man to death by shooting a dime into a tree with his shot gun. That’s a pretty tough dime . . . my question is, “Why didn’t it kill the tree and the guy?”

As Grandma says, “you can’t make this stuff up.”


Grandma certainly has an amazing wry sense of humor and gift for comedic timing. As Grandma says, Grandpa is her straight man.

“Your grandfather had been walking around church like usual, greeting everyone and touring around the sanctuary. He came back to our pew, and facing the back of the sanctuary [and most of the now-seated congregation, apparently], he leaned forward a bit. At which time, his fly gaped open.

‘Your fly is open,’ I whispered.

‘What? My what is open?’ your grandfather said.

‘Your fly is open.’ Here I am trying to look dignified in my pew.

Your grandfather then says, “It’s open for business.”

To which I reply, “That business went bankrupt years ago.'”

I nearly fell out of my seat laughing at that one.


Stories are what keep us alive in times of loss, and sometimes it can seem life is a series of times of loss. So if we can mumble of few phrases and breath some puffs of life onto each other’s pain, and if we can laugh – oh if we can laugh – we can make it.

Happy Easter, Everyone.

Grandpa, Grandma, and Mom

Grandpa Lou, Grandma Betty, and Mom