The Winding Stream

The Winding Stream

I just watched an outstanding video, The Winding Stream. It is about the Carter Family and if you want to settle into a meaningful hour and a half or so, it will lead you inside your own winding stream of consciousness. It did mine.

We have people standing on both sides of the stream, some we don’t even know, because they died before we were born. Our ancestors live on through us, and the children who died young do as well.

My heart is still constricted with sorrow as I just turned off the TV. You see, I repress the deep sorrow that runs through my stream of consciousness. That is because I am told to do so. But that stream, with its poignancy, is what makes me the kind of writer that I am.

I go so long without writing a tearjerker, and then I watch a movie like that. People had it tough back in the old days. This is about people from Virginia, but they could be from anywhere. Mine was a country family as well. We heard stories of babies dying routinely. My grandmother buried 2 little boys and she would sing “Babes in the Woods” in a whiny nasal voice as she rocked us. But she was stoic; she had to be to go on living.

When I buried my little girl, the stream within me was often flooded by my tears. There must be beautiful wildflowers growing nearby. At a particularly poignant part at the end of the movie, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash travel to see A. P. Carter’s grave. Johnny said there was a shaft of sunlight playing on it. There was a gold record on it and below it said “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

If you feel mournful, an old-fashioned word now, just know that you are part of a pilgrimage here on earth that is very ancient. And pilgrims play music and dance to forget their sorrows. I know my little girl would want me to do that same. And in the mist there are others wanting me to love and live deeply while I am down here on earth.

No one will miss me when I am gone, unless they remember words that consoled them at a time when they felt no one heard them. We all hear each other; it is just too much for us to take in, so we close down.

I feel these people of the winding stream would want me to see them, remember them and dance for them. In that way, the stream continues on. If you weep, know that you are not alone; that innumerable broken hearts together make beautiful music. That is simply how it goes.

Vicki Woodyard

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