large family

My Aunt Sandy Pattan is the family history guru in the Byer family. As a child, she was sickly, and so spent a lot of time in bed. Being home from school, just Aunt Sandy and her mom, my grandma, Hattie Byer, gave them much time to sit and talk. Remember that while television did exist, it was not common in most homes, and I don’t believe that my grandparents had one when the kids were growing up. There were too many other things that the family needed in the home, like food, for example. Video games were not invented yet, so Aunt Sandy was left with books, and Grandma’s stories to entertain her through the hours over recuperating from this cold or that flu, which seemed to attack her often.

My grandmother grew up in the early 1900s, and by the time Aunt Sandy came along in 1945, Grandma and Grandpa had eight other children. Aunt Sandy would be their last child. While Grandma and Grandpa disagreed on her name, Grandpa honored their decision to let the older kids decide between Sonya and Sandra. He was an honorable man. Grandma told her youngest child about a time when the Indians being around, wasn’t all that unusual. Many of her stories might have come from her parents and in-laws tales, but she remembered them all, and passed them on to her daughter, who absorbed them like a sponge. I recall my history classes in school, filled with dry boring date memorization, but when history is told like the story it is, it is amazingly interesting. That’s how Aunt Sandy got to learn history…or shall I say really learn history. When you think about an Indian who spends hours sitting on his horse looking at the wife of a respected friend, because he thought she was beautiful, and still never disrespecting her, because she was the wife of his friend, and you know that the woman was your grandmother, you can begin to relate to history as a story.

Aunt Sandy has never lost her love of history, and especially family history. Her parents came from large families and then went on to have a large family, so there was a lot of interesting activities. From the days of gunslingers to the first planes, cars, television, and so many other inventions, her parents had seen it all…or at least heard all about it. The events of history are so amazing, that the current days seem to pale in comparison. I now that my Aunt Sandy loved hearing all the family stories as they were passed down from mother to daughter, and I’m sure that she thought her family was the most amazing on in history, but the reality is that they were probably just a normal, every day, run of the mill families, living their life in the normal way for the times. It’s just that to the hearer of the story of history, it is so far back in time, and so unusual compared to today’s world, that it seems almost far-fetched, except that it isn’t. It’s the true story of history, and like Aunt Sandy, I will always be grateful to be the one the stories are told to. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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