It’s time for a lullaby on The Story Woman Blog. Time to enjoy another story excerpted from my guidebook, TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit. This story begins on page 95 of Act Three in the section entitled “Adding Depth, Design, and Color.”
You can easily find other stories I’ve posted from the book by searching “Bio-Vignette No.”
In the first stages of writing as a Telltale Soul, Robin began to hear bits of melody and some of the words from childhood lullabies sung to her by her grandmother. Astonishingly, the songs floated into consciousness on the very voice of her grandmother.
Dressed up in a gown that trails on the floor
In a picture hat your mommy wore
Living in a world that you never knew
My little lady, make-believe.
What a pair of shoes for two tiny feet
What a pair of gloves, the fingers don’t meet
Posing in the glass, your joy is complete
My little lady, make-believe.
In your little arms a doll you enfold
Means the world and all to you
But you could never love the doll you hold
Half as much as I love you.
Dream your little dreams, may they all come true
May the coming years bring happiness too
All my future dreams are wrapped up in you
My little lady make-believe.
I need them—the lovely lullabies that were passed down from my great grandmother. Just a couple weeks ago, I asked my grandma to write them down for me. When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I wasn’t aware of it then, but now I see how very lucky we kids were that Grandma Edie and Grandpa Wayne lived only five miles from us in a suburb just outside of Dallas.
We spent so many memorable weekends with them, and sometimes in the summers we’d stay with them for weeks at a time. I loved most every minute of it, but my fondest memories revolve about our bedtime ritual with Grandma Edie.
Each night when it was time for bed, my grandmother would put my sister, Jamie, and me in the front bedroom, where we shared a bed. A twin bed. Jamie and I would crawl into our cozy little bed between the softest sea-green sheets that matched the sea-green carpet and the sea-green walls. We took turns as to who had to be squished against the wall and who was to be on the outside, nearest Grandma. We always took turns with everything at Grandma’s house; I figure that’s how she kept the peace.
Just as soon as we were snuggled in, Grandma clicked out the lamp adorned with a sea-green shade and got into that twin bed with us. We’d all three be in flannel pajamas in the winter and cotton nighties in the summer. She’d pull Great Aunt Bonnie’s handmade calico quilt in around our shoulders, slide one arm under our necks, the other over the top, making sure to encircle us both in her arms. Then, in a whisper-soft soprano, she would sing the same lullabies to us that her mother had sung to her. But first, she never failed to promise, “I will sing to you until you fall asleep.”
They were wonderful songs. We enjoyed them immensely. And with equal enjoyment, we anticipated what was to come, as Jamie and I always knew what was going to happen within the next ten minutes. Grandma would sing and sing in her soothing voice. But, after four or five of the lullabies, instead of singing us to sleep, she would have sung herself to sleep. This happened every single time. My sister and I would get so tickled seeing Grandmother fast asleep from her own lullabies that we would giggle ourselves to sleep.
When we woke up the next morning, she would be gone from our bed, having crept quietly in the middle of the night down the hall to the bed she shared with Grandpa. But how she left our bed at night did not happen in the same way each time. On occasion, I would be awakened by a very loud snore. Yes, Grandmother’s snore. It was hard to believe this woman who had perhaps only an hour earlier sung to us in such a soft, melodious voice could be sawing logs with the best of them. Although she was asleep, I would shake her shoulder and tell her to get up and go to her own bed.
She wasn’t hard to awaken, and Jamie slept through the snoring, but I was wide-awake. So I would lie there for the next little while, watching the lights from passing cars filter through the white sheers covering the window, rounding and retreating, rounding and retreating, and hum myself back to sleep with my favorite of Grandma’s lullabies:
Robin is going to bye-lo-land
Going to see the sights so grand
Bye-lo, bye-lo, bye-lo-land
Robin is going to bye-lo-land…
I guess it’s pretty simple, but I loved it.
My grandmother continued “singing us to sleep” until we were well into our teens. Even though, by that time, we had experienced the delightfulness hundreds of times, each time was as comical as the first. My sister and I invariably fell asleep with smiles on our faces.
Robin Monigold: “I’m now in my 40s and have recently graduated from nursing school. My grandmother was my mentor in living life. Specifically, she was the driving force to fulfill my dream to become a nurse. I wish she could have lived to see my dream become a reality. I now realize that if I hadn’t written my story and asked my grandmother to write down the lullabies she sang to me as a child, those lovely lullabies would be forever lost. That would have been tragic.”
Daughters and sons from 9 to 90 use The Story Woman’s TELLTALE SOULS METHOD to move memory into memoir in a uniquely creative way, “Keeping Spirits Alive.”
You can easily find the stories I’ve posted from the book by searching “Bio-Vignette No.”