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Memories in the story of my friend and me playing walla walla

In the end, only the stories survive April 28, 2017 by Courtney Dunham There is no greater power on Earth than story. We all come from them. Even when we die, the stories are what will go on. Without them, I would never know who my grandparents were. Sadly, they both passed away when Mama was pregnant with me. Gratefully, the past beats inside her like a second heart, making Nana and Pa Kelly never lost, as they live on through our memories.

As a wheat farmer, Pa would step outside on the front porch, take a sniff of the air, and predict that it was going to rain. He was always right, Mama said, even if there was not a cloud in the sky to see.

  1. Like Pa and me, she had itchy feet too and took her first job in North Dakota. I often thought about how scared, excited, lonely, overwhelmed, and full of hope that 16-year old boy must have felt those first few months in the big city.
  2. As Nana was dying in the hospital following a heart attack, Mama told her that she was pregnant with me.
  3. They eventually started dating and raised five children on a farm just outside of Walla Walla.
  4. As I started traveling and moving to new cities in mid-life to start over, Mama told me that my adventurous spirit reminded her of her mom. He was always right, Mama said, even if there was not a cloud in the sky to see.
  5. Pa would come visit his baby, Louis, who a family friend was taking care of while he worked. He was always right, Mama said, even if there was not a cloud in the sky to see.

Pa loved going to baseball and football games. Just as he would often feel her face, so he could picture her, as she grew up. Pa never saw my Mama with his eyes, since he became blind before she was born. Nana of course possessed her own powers as an adventurous and fearless woman, who would take her family of seven on two cross country road trips from Walla Walla, Washington to New York City — something not many people did back in the 1930s and 40s.

And that was just on their first trip to the Big Apple. Both Nana and Pa were fearless in their own way, which I suppose drew the Irishman and young lady from Iowa together back in 1920.

After his parents died in 1902, Pa, Edward Vincent Kelly, decided to travel from Ireland to America at just 16 years old to join his brothers in New York. When my sister, Kimmie, and I visited Ellis Island a few years ago, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude come over me, as I strolled through the Great Hall. Knowing that Pa had once walked through this room too, made my heart race, as I heard the stories of what the immigrants went through.

In the end, only the stories survive

Upon arrival, they were ushered into this room and paraded before a series of medical officers for physical inspection. Most were allowed to pass by in a matter of seconds, but those whom the doctors deemed physically or mentally deficient were marked with chalk and taken away for additional screening. Then the guilt that would no doubt follow, as they saw the many people — some of which were often their own family, not be allowed entry and instead have to go back to where they came from.

I had moved to Manhattan for a new start and the irony is that I learned that day, as I sat on a bench in the Great Hall, that my divorce was finalized. I often thought about how scared, excited, lonely, overwhelmed, and full of hope that 16-year old boy must have felt those first few months in the big city. I had a good idea since it was exactly how I felt when I arrived. She was the first in her family to go to Teacher College.

Like Pa and me, she had itchy feet too and took her first job in North Dakota.

  • After a year of fighting bed bugs in her room for rent and never feeling warm during the long winter, she moved out west for her next job;
  • As a wheat farmer, Pa would step outside on the front porch, take a sniff of the air, and predict that it was going to rain;
  • Both Nana and Pa were fearless in their own way, which I suppose drew the Irishman and young lady from Iowa together back in 1920;
  • Their children decided to spare Pa the news that his bride had passed away;
  • I often thought about how scared, excited, lonely, overwhelmed, and full of hope that 16-year old boy must have felt those first few months in the big city.

After a year of fighting bed bugs in her room for rent and never feeling warm during the long winter, she moved out west for her next job.

That is where she met Pa, who was a young widower that had lost his wife during the great flu epidemic of 1918.

  • I had moved to Manhattan for a new start and the irony is that I learned that day, as I sat on a bench in the Great Hall, that my divorce was finalized;
  • After a year of fighting bed bugs in her room for rent and never feeling warm during the long winter, she moved out west for her next job.

Pa would come visit his baby, Louis, who a family friend was taking care of while he worked. Nana was staying in a boarding house next door, and her heart went out to him and his young son. Tragically, Louis died soon after of Tuberculosis at the tender age of two.

  • Both Nana and Pa were fearless in their own way, which I suppose drew the Irishman and young lady from Iowa together back in 1920;
  • Most were allowed to pass by in a matter of seconds, but those whom the doctors deemed physically or mentally deficient were marked with chalk and taken away for additional screening;
  • Pa never saw my Mama with his eyes, since he became blind before she was born;
  • Without them, I would never know who my grandparents were.

They eventually started dating and raised five children on a farm just outside of Walla Walla. Like me, Mama, Mary Therese, was the youngest. As Nana was dying in the hospital following a heart attack, Mama told her that she was pregnant with me.

Mama had driven down to be with Pa initially, who was already in the hospital when Nana suffered a heart attack. Their children decided to spare Pa the news that his bride had passed away. But remember, Pa had super powers. As I began my own cross-country road trips with my friend Shell, Mama started to pass on these stories.

And more stories how my bold Nana bought scalped tickets from a cop outside Yankee Stadium so they could see a game. These are the stories of my grandparents.

They are the stories of my Mama. They are my history. Although my heart aches that I never got to spend time with or hug my Nana and Pa, I feel like I know them through story.

Walla Walla

I always felt a pull to live in New York City that I could never fully explain. Now I know it was a calling, a legacy — a duty. As I started traveling and moving to new cities in mid-life to start over, Mama told me that my adventurous spirit reminded her of her mom. I can hear all about their super powers, which inspire me to persevere and take the road less traveled, like that yellow brick one.